Who’s Next: Roberta Colindrez, Actress

Playbill Pride   Who’s Next: Roberta Colindrez, Actress As part of Playbill Pride 2016, we set our sights on the next generation of LGBTQ artists. Meet actress Roberta Colindrez.
Roberta Colindrez
Roberta Colindrez Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Throughout the month of June, we will profile 16 LGBTQ artists whose work is changing the way we view gender, sexuality and life both onstage and off. Check back tomorrow to see who is revealed next.

WHO:
Roberta Colindrez

WHY SHE MATTERS:
The Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home has been a game-changer since debuting at the Public Theater in 2013. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s heart-wrenching adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir marked the first time a lesbian coming of age story served as the driving force of a Broadway musical. Colindrez, 30, originated the role of Fun Home’s Joan (as in the hit song “I’m Changing My Major to Joan”) at the Sundance Theatre Lab in 2012 and currently plays the part on Broadway.

Who has been especially crucial in your creative development?
I have been a longtime ensemble member of a theatre company called the New York Neo-Futurists. It was the first time I felt at home as an artist because the company is built on—in fact was created for the purpose of—giving performers, writers, directors the freedom to be specific about our voices and what we want to say about ourselves and the world around us, both individually and as a group.

Who do you regard as a mentor?
Laura Lane was my professor in college who was able to see the little part of me that stuck out above the water when there was so much below. I use that metaphor because she used to call me an iceberg. I have had an incredible support system my whole life of which I've felt supremely fortunate, but she was verrrrry important in the formation of who I am as an artist and a person.

What’s one thing that surprises people about you?:
My cast mate Perry [Sherman] just said he’s surprised I have an iPhone. I love the look of surprise when people first learn I'm super particular about manners: social manners, table manners, etc.

LGBTQ theatrical moment that had the biggest impact on me:
Does it count to say, “When Ellen came out on her show?” Because that was huge for me. I remember watching that as a kid and being like lesbians are real. It was just incredible to see that amount of courage, especially because I was aware, even then, that it was groundbreaking because it was a tremendous risk for her. But... You know... It turned out alright for her in the end.

What is the best thing you’ve heard from a Fun Home fan about the impact of the show?
I sat in a train car next to this one lady for 45 minutes once, all bummed about someone breaking my heart, and when she got up to leave she left me note that said, “Thank you. Fun Home got my closeted mom to finally talk to me. It's changed everything.” It would be a gross understatement to say that that made my heart burst. It did so much more.

How do you think Fun Home will be received on the road?
I think this question is being asked because the implication is that Fun Home contains such controversial material. I think as audiences come out to see the show, little by little, the fear of it being so dark or forbidden will vanish, and people will receive the true message of the show which is, quite simply: love, accept and be honest with each other.

I wish the theatre had more…:
Diversity. Not only demographically, but also in subject matter. I wish it took more risks.

*
Previously Revealed:
Who’s Next: Tarell Alvin McCraney, Playwright

Recommended Pride Stories: