Collegiate Theatrics: USC's Isadora Lee Cintrón Moya
Theater's next generation of actors will come from all over the globe, to be certain, but one might find an impressive concentration of artists on the campus of the University of Southern California, where the 2018 list of candidates for the Master of Fine Arts in acting rivals any group to be found anywhere.
Take Isadora Lee Cintrón Moya, for example. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she earned her bachelor's degree in theater from the University of Puerto Rico, where she was a member of the university's acclaimed Traveling Theatre Group.
"I worked in plays like Hamlet, Days of Significance, Spanish Golden Age plays, Machinal, commedia dell'arte and many others," she recalls.
"While in the group I also performed in the play Platero y Yo by Juan Ramón Jiménez, where I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the 2012 Edinburgh's Fringe Festival in Scotland," she says. "Afterwards we got invited to participate for the first time in the KCACTF 2013 festival where we won outstanding production of a new work, outstanding director of a new work, and outstanding performance and production ensembles, taking us to perform the play at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and later in Santiago de Compostela and Madrid in Spain."
Prior to moving to Los Angeles to start work on her MFA in acting at USC, she was working as an actress and theater teacher in Puerto Rico: "Before leaving the island I was blessed to work with director Arí Maniel Cruz in the film Antes que cante el gallo/Before the rooster crows, an official selection of the 46th Rotterdam International Film Festival, winner of the UNICEF prize at Bogota's film festival, winner of the Yellow Robin Award Curacao Film festival, winner at the international Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival, winner of Trinidad and Tobago's film festival, among many others. I also worked in short films and local commercials with different local directors."
In USC's Three Play Repertory, which continues through March 4, Isadora is cast as Agnes Eggling in Tony Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day (Revisited) directed by David Warshofsky, Isadora Cintrón in Buenaza/Cabrón (a unique collaboration between program head David Bridel and the 2018 MFA candidates), and Miss Flora Van Haysen, Rudolph and Gertrude in Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, directed by Drew Barr.
Here is your opportunity to get to know USC's Isadora Lee Cintrón Moya in our latest installment of Collegiate Theatrics. She recently found time in the harried schedule and demanding life of an MFA candidate in the final months of study to tell us about her life at USC and to talk about her theatrical aspirations for the future...
What's been your favorite part of studying at USC? Meeting David Bridel, David Warshofsky and Natsuko Ohama. They have made me want to get out of bed almost every morning and go to class; and believe me that's a lot. I am not a morning person. They make me laugh and cry at the same time. They are one of the best human beings I have met in my life; not only as acting teachers but just teachers of life! I will thank them infinitely.
Has graduate school at USC lived up to its advance hype? Definitely! Well actually it has surpassed my expectations. I never thought it would mark me the way it has. It has definitely humbled me in many ways and forced me to leave my ego at the door; well to literally bury it, and it's hard. It has been a crazy but fun rollercoaster, but I love rollercoasters.
What's your best/favorite/most impactful experience in grad school (I hate the word "impactful," but it works best for me here...) SINGING! Before coming into this program, I would have never dared to sing in front of anyone; not even an ant. I had the blessing of working with Vicky Lewis and Brett Ryback in the class singing for actors in our second year of the program, and I discovered an inner voice that I had never seen before. It has made me go to places in my acting that I never thought I would and has made me fall in love with singing to the point that I'm singing in one of the shows! I get to sing a little bit in Buenaza/Cabrón and even though it still stresses me out each time I'm gonna go up, it excites me in a very challenging but amusingly way! I can't say I'm a singer, but I definitely want to continue exploring the singing part of my acting in my career.
What's been the biggest difference of studying theater in grad school as opposed to undergrad? Coexisting with ten other human beings almost 24/7! That has been a blessing in a very difficult, but beautiful way. Without them, my grad school experience would never be as fulfilling as it has. Like all families we fight, we laugh, we cry, we eat, we sleep, we dream, we do everything together; and like all families it can be difficult, but it's love and the passion for acting that always keeps us together.
Have your dreams and aspirations changed over the course of your time at USC? Definitely! I came here thinking I was going to be a teacher and that I would probably have to go back to Puerto Rico and apply for a teaching job. It seems kind of boring now, but that was the thing for me to do back then. I'm not saying this will never happen, but it's not what I would like to do as soon as I finish the program. I would definitely want to stay in between Los Angeles and New York pursuing an acting career and I have also discovered there's a little director inside of me during these three years, so that's something that I would definitely would like to explore in the long run.
Where do you hope to find yourself in five years? At a cafe in Paris, drinking wine and looking at the rain, while waiting for my loved one...then back to set!
If anyone could play you in a stage or film version of your life story, who would you choose? And what would be the title of the project? It would be a mix of half young Susan Sarandon from when she starred in Atlantic City, with an old Bette Davis probably from Return from Witch Mountain. The title would be Isadora...not Duncan.
In addition to the MFA Acting Repertory through March 4 (for tickets and other information, go to dramaticarts.usc.edu/mfarep2018), USC's MFA Class of 2018 will be featured in a pair of showcases in New York and Los Angeles:
NEW YORK: Wednesday, April 11 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at The Ailey Citigroup Theatre at The Joan Weill Center for Dance, 405 West 55th Street at 9th Avenue
LOS ANGELES: Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, April 18, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Boulevard
For more information about USC's Class of 2018 MFA Actors, who also will be featured in Collegiate Theatrics for the next several days, go to https://dramaticarts.usc.edu/showcase2018/