#WeMetAtJuilliard: Ana Valdes Lim and Marcia Cross

Tuesday, Nov 14, 2023
Juilliard Journal
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Ana Valdes Lim and Marcia Cross, dressed in warm winter coats, pose for a photo in front of a suburban house
Marcia Cross and Ana Valdes Lim

The Juilliard community is built of relationships forged during years of a shared life of creating, performing, living, and dreaming together.

Do you have a story to tell? Reach out at [email protected] or post to Facebook, Instagram, or X with #WeMetAtJuilliard.

Ana Valdes Lim and Marcia Cross

Ana Valdes Lim, an actor, teacher, coach, and director who’s based in Nagoya, Japan, and Manila, and actress Marcia Cross, met in Group 13

The day before Thanksgiving in our first year, 1980, Marcia asked what I was doing for the holiday. “Nothing,” I said. “I’m staying at Swiss House.” That was an all-girls’ dorm on West 67th Street with 35 beds, mostly occupied by ballet dancers. [The Juilliard residence hall didn’t open until 1990]. I explained that we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the Philippines, where I was from, and that I didn’t really know what it was. Marcia invited me to come with her to her home in Massachusetts. I had never been elsewhere on the East Coast and didn’t know much about Americana. But we had a cozy Thanksgiving, shared a room with her sister, and I met her lovely Nanna, who fed us and embraced us with so much warmth. I never will forget it. The turkey, the trimmings, the eggnog, the small town where we walked to neighbors’ homes and sat on porches. And the day after Thanksgiving, she introduced me to another American tradition: shopping at Ross and Marshalls.

Through the years, we remained close friends, even if we weren’t always in close touch. Our paths sometimes aligned, and when we were both living in Los Angeles, Marcia was at the hospital the day I gave birth to my first son and became his godmother. Fast-forward to 2023. Marcia mentioned she was interested in teaching, and I invited her to coach one of my online classes, with students from around the world. The proceeds would go to supporting the Theater Arts project, a theater class I have run at the women’s prison in Manila for 10 years. Every actor submitted a video monologue, and Marcia critiqued them. She was generous and firm; constructive, practical, and specific. One of her pieces of advice: “If you’re going to play some evil wicked person, I recommend that you find the specificity of that particular woman and why she’s so horrible and what she needs, so that she’s not a generically evil woman,” she said. “And it’s probably not going to be in the script.” My students’ faces lit up with the glow of “aha.”

It was like watching Marian Seldes (faculty 1969–92) coach us for the Discovery Play in year one at Juilliard. A few Group 13 classmates—Derek Smith, Terry Vorwald, and David Gregory—Zoomed in, and Derek texted me, “Marcia is working her ass off!” I agreed. Marcia was prepared, and I was filled with gratitude—40 years of gratitude that had started with my first American Thanksgiving. Of course, at the time, neither of us could know how far and how deep that invitation would go. And I always celebrate American Thanksgiving, wherever I am!