When I first auditioned for the Juilliard Drama Division, I was seeking training.
I wanted to deepen my understanding of the craft, gain more skills, and feel more confident about my creative process. Now, a year into the program, I feel that was only the tip of the iceberg. Technique is crucial. However, this process is much more profound.
Before coming here, I was a grown woman: a professional journalist who was already paying taxes and saving for retirement. I left it all. I chose to come here. As soon as I stepped into these studios, that was no longer who I was. I felt a stream inside me. Every mechanism of self-defense I had developed over the years started crumbling down. The masks came off, and in their place, there was the rawness of a child—tender, curious and messy—as the heart quickly opened to its full extension, with its splendor and its wounds.
At first, I was confused and afraid. Now, I consider it the main beauty of this place. I keep falling deeper and deeper into the core of our humanity. Following the guidance of my faculty, witnessing the work and generosity of my classmates, hearing the musicians practicing in their rooms, seeing the dancers in their studios, diving into the stories we tell, letting myself be taken over by the craft itself, I feel inside me that profound well of sorrow, joy, pain and beauty. Humanity. Every fiber of my body has turned more sensitive, vibrant, delicate and free.
I was born in Havana, Cuba, and I lived for a long time in San Juan, Puerto Rico. To me, both my hometowns are a cause for celebration. Leaving chauvinism aside, and without disregarding our many struggles, I am such a proud daughter of my land, the piece of Earth I was born into, my cultural landscape, my complex history, my mountains and rivers, the mentors who guided me here, my people. Latin America is part of my body; I feel her running through my veins. I was fearful about coming to the United States and having my identity compromised, threatened, torn down, and destroyed. I was cautious and alert.
At Juilliard, I immediately felt at home. I felt that my story, my journey, my language, my roots, my body, my soul—everything that is authentic about me—is an essential and extraordinary part of my toolbox as a storyteller. Since the first day of auditions, I felt my full self walking in. These rooms hold everything: our fears, our contradictions, our longing for beauty, our chaos, our doubts, our glimpses of understanding, our courage and vulnerability.
Within these walls, I have felt limitless. In my first year as a drama student, I have worked on a young noblewoman from Verona, a quartet of dance moms from Ohio, a successful Latina businesswoman, an Italian-American orphan, an elementary school teacher from St. Louis, and a southern preacher’s daughter. The possibility to transform into this wide array of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual lives is a gift.
College applications for fall 2020 are now open.