Broadwayblogspot is happy to bring you a special interview by guest reporter Rori Nogee.
DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGA: In Her Words
I recently sat down with two-time Tony nominee, Daphne Rubin-Vega, during her lunch break from “Romeo and Juliet” rehearsals. She will soon tackle the role of the “nurse” at Classic Stage Company from September 27th through November 3rd. Between bites of Pad Thai, she candidly discussed the road to Broadway, balancing family and career, and the importance of ignoring the bullies. -Rori Nogee
RN: What was your worst Day Job?
DRV: I had some really miserable waitressing jobs. There was this place that had schwarma, and everything was really disgusting and dirty. It was like 10 or 15 degrees hotter than it is now and the boss was abusive…a knife wielding maniac! I worked off lousy tips that came from other artists that had no money.
RN: What do you love most about New York City?
DRV: The people. The street. The neighborhoods. The different colors, the variety, the accessibility. It’s like living in a huge computer chip. I come from Panama. I come from a place where the idea of being who I am, in fact, is unfathomable. Impossible. I didn’t have a chance. In New York, I grew up below Bleecker Street with a Jewish father and a black Latina mother. Here, you can find anything you want; you can DO anything you want.
RN: What interested you about acting?
DRV: You know how Michaelangelo says you strip away what isn’t David, and then there’s David? Everything that I did made sense in the context of being an actor. All the experiences good and bad, actively fit in an acting context. My life has been a very emotional kind of palate, so it made sense to apply it to acting, writing music, and singing and dancing.
RN: Your original one-woman show, Frequently Unanswered Questions (F.U.Q.’s), was presented in the fall with the Labyrinth Theater Company. What have been the hardest and most rewarding parts of writing your own work?
DRV: Three words to answer both parts of the question: Telling the truth. Life is so apt to interpretation; it’s all about how we focus our lens. The structure of my life has been a contradiction in terms, so I’ve been learning about structure and boundaries in a literary way. What’s difficult is trying to have you come with me on that road, without giving you whiplash. I don’t wanna lose you.
RN: How do you balance motherhood and a career?
DRV: Motherhood, MARRIAGE, and career. Don’t underestimate marriage. One of my beloved teachers says “Marriage is the greatest meditation.” How do I do it? I know that I would wither and fade if I didn’t do what I do. I’m really lucky to have the luxury to be able to do that. That’s the bottom line. It’s a privilege to do what I do and an honor and I treat it as such. I didn’t know how to wait tables. But I knew I could get good at it. I didn’t know how to live the life I’m living. I had to learn how to do that. You learn how to live the life.
RN: What were your best and worst audition experiences?
DRV: The Rent audition was fulfilling because I actually got the role after many callbacks and a lot of competition and my attitude was very much like “Okay, this is how it should be done.” That confidence is invaluable. Like, you’re in the zone. There are moments on stage when it’s a transcendental moment, and you can’t really expect to always achieve that. That’s unrealistic. It’s not like you’re gonna deliver a shit performance if you don’t hit the zone, but that’s what the junkie in me always wants to go for. And bad auditions…there was a really demoralizing Rent audition when the film came and I actually went in seven months pregnant in spandex pants, and it was just completely inappropriate.
RN: How did you enjoy the process of rehearsing Shakespeare?
DRV: It’s fascinating. I had to hurry up and learn the laws in order to break them. I’m a big fan of breaking laws anyway, but it’s good to learn what the rules are. It’s vital. It’s very deconstructed, like another lexicon. What’s so great about Shakespeare is that it’s built in. He’s sort of [foolproof]. You’ve got the meter, you’ve got the characters, you’ve got the story…once you figure out what’s being said, it’s extremely florid.
RN: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
DRV: Eating pineapple ice pops at night and playing Candy Crush on the Ipad. I don’t go on Facebook except to ask other people for their Candy Crush lives. I really need to stop it.
RN: Will you let your son, Luca, follow in your footsteps?
DRV: I really don’t want to discourage him actively. He’s musical but he’s not show business-ical. My fantasy is that he’ll be a producer. He’s got some beats. Yeah, do some tracks for his mom.
RN: What do you think about Miley Cyrus and her twerking?
DRV: I remember when twerking was kind of like a face-off between the women and the girls. You had to bring your A game if you had the balls to twerk. I wanna commend Miley; I loved her outfit, I loved what she was doing…her bravado -- go girl! What I really hate more than anything is how we’re like stone-throwing haters. We want to crucify people. We talk about not bullying, and yet we bully so hatefully. I hope she doesn’t give a %$#$ what people say, because that’s the best advice I can give her.
RN: What advice do you have for people just starting out in the business?
DRV: Separate your ego from your spirit. Surround yourself with the community to the best of your ability. Be teachable and yet take notes on what feels right and what doesn’t. Listen to everything and accept that you don’t know anything. There’s a lot of trial-by-fire in this experience. It’s really not about here to there; it’s about how many times you get back up on that horse. If you play anything, if you do anything well, you need to build up a callous. Our callous is that people go, “No sorry, thank you, goodbye.” But it’s not your finger, it’s your soul. If you really want do this and you’re really willing to pay the price, know that it’s a very costly price. I know what it’s like to literally scrub other people’s toilets. My life could have gone a whole lot of other bad dark places. But it didn’t. I am forever grateful.
DAPHNE RUBIN-VEGA Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire(Stella), Les Miserables (Fantine), Anna in the Tropics (Tony nomination, Best Featured Actress/Play), The Rocky Horror Show (Magenta), Rent (Mimi, original company, Theatre World Award, Tony and Drama Desk nominations, Best Actress/Musical). Off-Broadway: Blood From A Stone (New Group), Jack Goes Boating (Public), Everythings Turning Into Beautiful (New Group), Bernarda Alba (LCT), Between Us (MTC), Fucking A (Lucille Lortel nomination), Two Sisters and a Piano (Public) and Gum (Women's Project). Selected films: Jack Goes Boating (Independent Spirit Nomination: Best Supporting Actress), Flawless, Virgin, and Wild Things (Blockbuster Entertainment Award). Daphne is an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Kean University, and a proud member of the LAByrinth Theater Company since 1992. Her CDRedemption Songs is available from Sh-K-Boom.Daphne Rubin-Vega :: Official Website