Evelyn Perez has been working in her field since she graduated from FIU in 1987 with a BFA Performance degree. In addition to being an actress and teacher, Evelyn has helped bring numerous productions to life for theatres such as The Coconut Grove Playhouse, GableStage, Hollywood Playhouse, New Theatre, and many others. Currently, she is the Assistant Director and Acting Coach at Miami Children’s Theater, and loves working with children. Some of Evelyn’s theatre credits include roles in The Rooster and the Egg (Nati Rafferty), The Cuban Spring (Olga), The Clearing (Roberta), and Property Line (Bianca). Evelyn drew on almost 27 years of experience to share her thoughts and wisdom with our students.
Many aspiring actors think they need to move to cities like New York, Chicago, or LA to find work in this field, so what made you decide to stay in Florida?
First of all, I love Florida, the diversity, the beaches, the culture, everything. This is my home. I often thought about leaving but I saw how difficult it was for people to make that move and how much they struggled. I decided that if I was going to struggle, I would prefer to do it at home. I have always wanted to work in my field, but I was never in it for fame and I learned that I didn’t have to leave Florida to do what I love. There are opportunities for actors right here, I have been able to find some of them and some of them have found me. I am very happy for the people who have left and achieved great success and fame, but it was never my calling to leave Florida.
What would you say to students who are thinking of leaving Florida in search of fame and great acting careers?
Information is at your disposal, use it. Students are always welcome venues such as Mad Cat Theatre Company, Artistic Vibes, and Micro Theater. At these places, they can get experience in writing, directing, and acting. The Florida theatre scene is a tiny community and we all know each and try to support each other, so reach out. There are agents right here in Florida, more studios are opening, and local theatres are doing great things, so get informed before making that decision to leave.
What challenges have you faced in your career?
Early in my career, I auditioned for many roles and was turned down because I “didn’t have the right look.” Truthfully, that felt like a glass of cold water in my face. Luckily, actresses like Sofia Vergara, Eva Mendes, and Salma Hayek are paving the way and breaking down barriers for women and women of color in this field. It is a fact that there are less leading roles written for women and minorities, but that cannot stop you. If you are the only woman, the only Latina, the only African American, in an audition, be the very best you can be and trust that someone will recognize your passion and your talent, and cast you. If you are passionate about what you do, you will get ahead.
What do you think is lacking in the local theatre scene?
I think there should be more workshops and more opportunities for actors to get to know each other and network. Maybe people would be less eager to leave if they knew where to find work and and whom to contact. I live in a place where talent is abundant and new venues are popping up, but I would like to see greater community involvement. In my opinion, the issue is not lack of interest, but often lack of awareness. Somehow, we have to to find a way to engage this great community.
Do you have any advice for our theatre students?
Try to focus on solutions. We all know that there are obstacles in this field, just as there are in all fields, but concentrate on finding the solution instead of pouring too much energy into pointing out that the problem exists. We live in a technologically advanced world, so it is quite simple to create your own work and put yourself out there. Be your own PR person and remember that if you are passionate and persistent, you will get ahead.