…Cultural appreciation of differences. My daughter was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. She’s considered twice exceptional. She’s one the smartest people I know. If I had to start a movement, it would be a movement towards empathy and inclusion via education. We are all trying our best.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marita de Lara. Marita is an American actress and comedienne. She recently starred as Kat in the award winning sci-fi series, “Sons of the Universe” and as Jocelyn in the indie film, “Bubble.” Marita originated the role of Pocahontas in the Disney/MGM stage musical, “The Spirit of Pocahontas. Other credits include General Hospital, The Shield and Days of Our Lives. As a comic, she’s been featured in clubs across the country including The Comedy Store, The Improv and Caroline’s NYC.
Growing up in Baltimore, I had to navigate different ethnic and socioeconomic circles for survival. When people hear Baltimore, they always say, “You mean like The Wire?” Yeah, like the Wire, a Barry Levinson movie and a John Waters film. My Yiddish is on point.
My dad is a physician. When I was 7, he picked me up from school and had to race back to the hospital for an emergency and he had forgotten his doctor placard. I heard the siren and saw the flashing lights. He got pulled over for speeding. Remember, this was Baltimore in the 80’s. Dad panicked. As the officer approached the car, Dad turned to me in the backseat and said, “Follow my lead. Lie down. Pretend your diabetic.” My dad told the officer we had to get to the ER while I acted out insulin shock. The cop escorted us to the hospital.
I was always cutting school in high school. I was so good at impersonating my friends’ parents on the phone that I was the go to gal for fake parent calls to school. The power of acting!
I was auditioning for this big national commercial where they wanted moms who could krump. Krumping is an aggressive battle form of hip-hop. I was a professional ballet and musical theatre dancer before acting. The audition was not in a safe dance studio, it had a concrete floor. I krumped so hard that I tore my ACL. That’s the main ligament that connects your upper leg to your lower leg. It sounded like a gun went off. I kept dancing and finished the audition. I thought for sure, I didn’t get this gig. And I need a hospital. I worked that commercial a week before i got my ACL replacement surgery. This was my big aha come to Jesus moment that I knew I was in this acting biz for life.
When I went to Syracuse University for acting and musical theatre, we had to sing for the music department to assign voice teachers. I was 17 and I wore my favorite Soundgarden shirt that said, “Louder than F*#k” on the back. The conservative faculty did not appreciate my wardrobe. I learned that I should dress the part in the future. Oops. That said, I got the perfect voice teacher for me who thought it was hilarious.
I just wrapped on an indie film, “Bubble,” directed by Alyssa Lerner. It’s doing the festival circuit. It’s a coming of age story about the collapse of the housing market in 2008 seen through the eyes of a biracial, queer girl. The crew and creative team were primarily female. It was thrilling to work on material and in an environment that couldn’t have existed 3 years ago.
Famous person? I remember the day I met Oprah. My Baltimore Montessori pre-school was having a school fair. Oprah was behind me in line at the Filipino BBQ booth. She asked me if this was good BBQ. I said, “Yes ma’am.“ She bought a skewer and walked away.
When I was Pocahontas, we worked with the Make a Wish Foundation. I got to meet these amazing kids whose last wish was to meet a Disney princess. It was very humbling.
Cultural appreciation of differences. My daughter was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. She’s considered twice exceptional. She’s one the smartest people I know. If I had to start a movement, it would be a movement towards empathy and inclusion via education. We are all trying our best.
“What we think to be our greatest weakness can sometimes be our biggest strength.” -Sarah J Maas.
Too tall, too brown, too loud, too athletic, too funny, too much. The very things I got criticized for are my gold, now.
I’ve been blessed with many angels in this life. My high school choir director, Mrs. Bishop, heard me singing in the bathroom and recruited me for the Bryn Mawr acapella group. I was running with a bad crowd and she got me to fall in love with music.
Shonda Rhimes. She writes women as strong, smart, feminine and imperfect and men as vulnerable. I am fascinated by her empire and all she has created. It’s a dream of mine to play a Filipina American doctor on a Shondaland show. I grew up with so many talented Filipino doctors and nurses and I would love to bring those untold stories to life.
on instagram @maritadelara