When Ana Villafañe was nine years old, she saw The Wizard of Oz and knew she wanted to be a Broadway performer. While her career took her first to Los Angeles, working on shows like Los Americans, she harbored a dream to wind up onstage and ”the fact that I knew every single original Broadway cast album forwards and backwards was my own little secret while I was like pretending to be this L.A. actress.
“When I got cast as Gloria Estefan, everything changed,” she tells Playbill from the Cadillac Lounge in the video above. “I got exactly what I asked for. I didn't feel like I had ‘made it,’ but I felt like I was enjoying. Even moments backstage where I remember being like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Because I was out of breath and six people were changing me and I had to do my next entrance and like be at an 800 percent energy level onstage. It's just interesting what you're capable of when you actually challenge yourself.”
But Villafañe has a track record of challenging herself. On her road to success, she fought for what she wanted. Even as a child, her ambition drove her. Back in Miami, she chased down the woman who is still her voice teacher.
“I heard about her because of all of the musical theatre kids, um, that would work at this one regional theater in Miami where I kind of started,” says Villfañe. “I followed her into a bathroom at an event, when we were doing Annie, and I was like, ‘I want to take lessons with you.’”
Though Villafañe fulfilled her dream of first making it to the Broadway stage, her career is just beginning. “My dream is to affect people. And my dream is to like go to sleep at night, feeling fulfilled and feeling like I did what I love,” she says. Up next, she’s about to begin work on a biopic. (Though she can’t reveal about whom.)
“I’m excited to see how far I can stretch myself, because that's what I love about being an actor is that it's dreams of one dreams upon dreams and like accomplishments after accomplishments. Like you, you're, you're constantly building on yourself,” Villafañe says. “There’s no settling.”
Watch Villafañe and over 60 other Latinx stars of stage and screen in Playbill and The Broadway League’s ¡Viva Broadway! Hear Our Voices, sponsored by Cadillac. The star-studded concert event is a benefit performance for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Broadway Bridges. Tune in to the premiere October 1 8PM ET at Playbill.com/Viva.