By Janis Fontaine
The #MeToo movement that exploded onto the cultural scene in 2017 with allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – who was indicted this week on rape charges in New York – has upended the careers of major figures in entertainment, media and government, among other professions.
Palm Beach ArtsPaper sat down in April with three women graduate students in acting at Florida Atlantic University to discuss this cultural paradigm shift, how it has affected their careers so far, and whether it has changed the way they are approaching the profession they plan to pursue.
The young actors are Erin Williams, 24, of Stratford, Conn.; Amanda Corbett, 24, of Salt Lake City; and Gabriela Tortoledo, 30, of Caracas, Venezuela. All three will graduate with master’s degrees in acting this August. Our conversation has been condensed for length and clarity. The full interview can be found online by clicking this link.
PBAP: Do you remember where you were when this story started to break?
Tortoledo: The first time I heard about it, we were in voice class and one of our professors, Kathryn Johnston — as a woman she’s an example to follow and she is all about us being brought into this industry from a perspective of respect and empowerment — and she paused the class to let us know what was happening, and to explain the situation in detail and pretty much gave us a caution, a class on theater etiquette and what we should be wary of coming out into the real world.
Corbett: We were able to discuss what we would maybe do in those kinds of situations and if we’ve ever experienced things like that. I remember that day really specifically, too, because I had read about the Harvey Weinstein stuff a little bit before we talked about it in class, but just opening up that discussion really sat with me.
Williams: But it’s interesting that the topic had never come up before that and it was kind of like, it got me thinking … I mean, it’s great that like something happened and like that opened up discussions, but I was like, this has literally never been talked about and I’ve already had a four-year undergraduate degree in his profession and now I’m in my second year of a graduate degree and it’s never even been brought up or a topic and it’s not even something that I necessarily personally thought about all the time, I just kind of went along. So that day was definitely, OK, this is the first time I’m going to talk openly about this in a community of theater people and get female and male perspectives on it.
PBAP: Are people still talking about it?
Williams: Across the board, like anyone who talks to me. “Oh, you’re an actress! So, Harvey Weinstein.” That’s all they want to talk about. Even in an Uber. They’re like, “What do you do?” “I’m an actress.” “Ooh, how do you feel about what’s going on?’”
PBAP: Why do you think people are paying attention now?
Corbett: Remember on Facebook when everybody who has experienced some sort of sexual violence posted “MeToo”? I feel like that opened so many eyes. And I remember I was really scared to post #MeToo because I definitely had experiences with sexual harassment; I think all of us have, and I was really scared but it was it was like, nice, to see “Wow, I’m not alone in this.” This happens all of the time. Not just to women. It happens to men. It happens to every gender, any person, whatever you identify as, it happens to people of all kinds. And I think opening eyes to that and bring awareness to it is important …
PBAP: Can you speak to your personal experiences being harassed?
Corbett: Basic catcalling. All of the time … (I was) walking down the street going to the club with friends, and I’m in a full-length dress, nothing’s showing. And I was walking with some friends, but I was walking kind of behind because I was in higher shoes, and a car pulled up by the side of the street and these boys in the car were filming me and catcalling me, and filming me while they were catcalling me. And I just flipped ’em off. And I was like, “Why are you doing this? Do you think this is funny?” But my words had no effect on them because they were doing it anyway. Things like that happen all the time. People think they can just touch you whenever they want to … It’s getting better, but it’s getting better because people are making some noise.
Tortoledo: The “getting better,” it’s relative. I believe it is getting better in America, but it’s not necessarily getting better worldwide. I come from a Third World country where sexism is definitely present all the time. I was sexually harassed my whole life. I remember being in high school and receiving comments from my high school professors. Then my boss: I used to work in an engineering firm, and I was the girl, so (it was): “Hey honey, how are you? Oh, you kind of look fat today. Wear something cute.”
PBAP: Did you think that was harassment at the time, or did you think that’s just the way things were?
Tortoledo: No, I definitely knew there was something wrong … but my voice wasn’t heard at the time. Having lived here for the past six years, I’ve also had terrible experiences with harassment in local theaters, to the point where I had to quit a show because I was being harassed by the director and the producer. And it’s not something I wanted to talk about at the time, but this whole movement has definitely empowered me to be able to share my stories and feel supported by the group and know that I’m not the only one.
And as terrible as social media might be for some things, it is the best free publicity that you can ever get. It is helping us women support each other, for free, and (to) know that someone from Utah, someone from Connecticut and someone from Venezuela can all have the same issue and we can support each other. And it just gives me chills of excitement to be able to know that that’s there.
PBAP: How are you supposed to talk about sex but shut off your sexuality?
Tortoledo: That’s something we have encountered in our rep here. We did Sense and Sensibility, which was all about women struggling for their rights. We did The Rivals, which, sentimental comedy as it was, was about sexuality. We did the Merry Wives of Windsor, which is all about the women taking control and fooling this man who is trying to exploit them for their sexuality. And we’re doing Cabaret in the summer and Easy Virtue.
We’ve been blessed to be in an environment that is really supportive of women’s rights and is always looking to promote that message. Our patrons leave here not having maybe realized that they got a lesson in female rights, but they are getting it anyway. And for me, it’s extremely exciting to be part of it.
PBAP: Do you think, because of your career choice and because opportunities are limited, it makes you easier to exploit? Maybe you’ll put up with some bad behavior because you want a role so badly?
Williams: I think it’s up to the individual and what they’re willing to go to, and stand up for themselves. Now, I feel very comfortable standing up for myself and saying no to directors when they want me to do something that I don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable doing or they’re objectifying me for no reason at all other than so that the men in the audience can go “Ooh, that’s great.”
I just had an experience where I was doing a show and the director wanted one of the male characters to slap my ass and I then I just had to turn around and slap him and then giggle. And I was like, no, I’m not going to do that because what that says on stage is that it’s OK to sexually harass a woman by slapping her ass, and that it’s just going to be fine and it’s a funny bit. When someone sees something on stage, they learn something from that, and no, I’m not going to teach everyone in the audience it’s OK to do that. I’m not going to laugh. I will not allow this. Absolutely not.
PBAP: What was the director’s response?
Williams: He changed the blocking, so I didn’t do it … I had a conversation, and it was just like, “OK, hahaha, I guess I’ll change it around, hahaha.” There were some comments made after that I felt were a little bit derogatory towards me, but it ended up not happening.
Corbett: I’m really glad that you did that. Going back to your earlier question, though, did I know when I was younger that those things were not OK? I felt uncomfortable when somebody would catcall me, or when somebody would touch me, or I when was alone with a professor in a room working a monologue. Now I look back at those things and I’m like, “That wasn’t OK,” and I know that wasn’t OK, but somebody had to tell me that those things weren’t OK.
So I had to learn that, and this movement has definitely helped me learn that.
I know now that if I was put in a situation I didn’t agree with, and if I wasn’t being treated the way that a human should be treated I would step away. No work, no job, no money is worth being treated like less than you should be treated, so I would absolutely step away from a situation like that.
Tortoledo: I think this is such an exciting time for women in all levels of the industry. We are living this on an everyday basis, but we see at the Academy Awards, we see Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep just promoting this message of empowerment, and I think the industry is going to change. Not because of fear of getting called out on something but because women are starting to understand that other women are not the competition, we’re the supportive friends that you go to when something like this happens, and we’ll be the ones to back you up, and give you work and create opportunities for you where you don’t have to go through uncomfortable situations.
I think as tempting as it might be to get that role, it’s not worth lessening yourself for it. And if you’re a true artist and are true to your message it shouldn’t even be a temptation. It’s a no-brainer. Find a company who will respect you for who you are or make your own company. Make your own opportunity.
Corbett: Empower yourself.
PBAP: There’s a big difference between (director James Toback), who is accused of harassing more than 300 women, and (act0r) Casey Affleck, who had two women make negative reports about him. Do we just assume that everyone is guilty?
Corbett: No. Absolutely not. I think you have to start with believing somebody when they say they’ve been harassed, when they tell you that they’ve had an experience like that, you have to believe them.
Tortoledo: How many times have we heard, “Oh, they’re just hopping on the ‘Me Too’ train. They just want the attention. They want to be part of the group.” How many people do not speak up because of the fear of being dismissed because of it? I know I struggled with that for years. “Why are you complaining? Then why are you wearing those shorts?” Or, “You’re Hispanic; that’s part of your culture.”
Corbett: It’s hard because when I was younger I didn’t know that was wrong. And now I do because someone told me. People who have done these things – men, are also learning that it’s wrong.
Williams: That’s behavior that they’ve been taught since they were children.
Corbett: It’s “locker room talk.”
PBAP: I’m wondering why guys are still driving by you when you’re jogging and catcalling you.
Williams: I’m wondering the same thing.
PBAP: Didn’t their mothers tell them that was wrong?
Williams: What did their fathers tell them? Their mothers probably didn’t tell them that because their mothers went through the same thing. And that was just how it was.
Oh my gosh, in high school, I never questioned it. That was just how it was. That was normal. Especially in theater growing up. When I was 14, I was put on stage in musicals; I grew up doing musicals. I was the classic chorus girl, which is nothing but an object of sexuality in a tiny little leotard dancing in the back and kicking my leg. There’s no depth in that; you are just there for entertainment. And there’s value in theater that’s just for pure entertainment. But I didn’t need to be a 14-year-old girl in heels showing off my tits and ass. And I didn’t even realize what I was doing. That is just what it was. That’s what I was told to do.
And it was like, “You need to look sexy in this,” and “You need to lose weight. You need to be skinny because men like this. This is the aesthetic. This is what we want.”
Tortoledo: It was seen as a good thing if you were the one with the big boobs and the big ass and you were skinny, and guys catcalled you. It was a good thing. That means you’re hot, you’ve made it, you’ve arrived. It was a culture of ignorance.
Corbett: Some people still see it as a good thing.
Tortoledo: Exactly. And that’s a definite problem.
Corbett: We know people who still see it as a good thing.
Williams: I never saw it as a good thing. It was more like, scary, honestly, if I was alone, it was very frightening. It was terrifying, honestly, walking home from school. Okay, someone’s yelling at me, are they going to get out of the car, what are they going to do, where am I going to run to, who knows I’m here, how can I fight and get away, is constantly what goes through my head. I mean, still.
Corbett: Your keys between your fingers. Always.
PBAP: What do I do with all the art these people have made? Can I love the art but hate the man? Should it make a difference?
Williams: That’s a very tough question.
Corbett: I think in some cases, I think if you watch that movie now you’d see it in a different way. If I watched something knowing that Harvey Weinstein produced, I know I would view it in a different way.
Tortoledo: It changes your perspective on it. Absolutely. Whether you can live with liking it or not, there’s definitely a shift in your perspective towards it.
Corbett: It’s our history, the history of our business. And you can’t ignore history, because when you do that, bad things happen. So … I would not support those things, but watch those things to learn from them and be like, “OK, what was going on in this that may have been uncomfortable?” Using it to learn from. But that’s hard. Do you enjoy it still? I don’t think I would.
Williams: If there was some movie I had watched at the time I just think, “Well, this is the art they created at the time I saw it. I didn’t know any of this history.” But these people as actors, something happened in that performance and it affected me. Maybe I liked the movie, maybe it made me happy, maybe I laughed because of this person, maybe I was sad because of this person, and that still going to be with me always, no matter what.
So, it’s not like you’re not a bad person, you shouldn’t feel guilty for having had those experiences now. But it’s not like we’re going to go off and support them …
Tortoledo: So how is it OK to stop liking Kevin Spacey in [American Beauty] and it’s not OK to point out the elephant in the room, the fact that your president is a sexual pig. I mean, why isn’t he losing his job and why are other actors and producers are losing their jobs?
Williams: Why are politicians held to a different standard? This famous actor comes out and everyone is, like, Oh my god, and a politician says, oh, I’m just going to continue to do this job.
Corbett: They don’t lose their jobs because people do exactly what we’re doing now. They teetered about it. I think we do have to say we can’t excuse these behaviors in anybody. It’s bad all around. This reminds me of a quote that I read by Holly Hunter. Harvey Weinstein produced the movie that she won her Oscar for, The Piano, and even in her Oscar speech she thanks him. And I read her statement after this whole thing came out and she said she never experienced anything like that with him when she worked with him, but she does not excuse what he did and she thinks it’s horrible and that she’s so sad that it happened and so mad that it happened but she doesn’t excuse it any way, shape or form. And this is someone she worked with.
Tortoledo: And had a good experience with, with an amazing outcome.
PBAP: How about the environment here? Do you feel confident you could talk to someone here if something happened?
Corbett: I do. But I do feel there are ideologies from the past about women, and the way women should look, and the way women should behave, that are still put upon us here. It’s happened to me. I’ve been told my body type is not good enough, you know, by multiple professors here, because I’m a woman and the way that I look, they think it’s going to hold me back in this business. To them I say, “No, you’re wrong, you’re old, and it’s changing.” I look like a real person. I’m sorry, but I do. We all look like real people. This is what people look like.
PBAP: In TV and film, you do see people who were chosen for their beauty than for their talent.
Tortoledo: We see it all the time. Not naming any theater companies, but many of the theater companies here, they’re hiring you because you have the look, not because you have the talent. I believe that’s something that’s still an issue worldwide. People want to see “pretty” people.
But what I think what needs to change is our concept of what real beauty is. It’s not a stereotype that’s been Photoshopped. God knows, I participated in a photo shoot when I was 18 and I remember looking at the end product and my boobs were this big, my butt was this big, I looked like I was 6 feet tall. People would walk up to me in the street, and be like [making a face], “Oh,” like (I was) some sort of disappointment, and I remember how I struggled with self-image for so long because of that mentality.
It’s just not where the real world is anymore and I think it’s up to us to educate our older generations that didn’t grow up with that, and teach them that there’s entertainment value in not just the “sex sells” mentality. People are drawn to so many other things and beauty can be found in every type of body shape and form and color and size and nationality.
Corbett: We as humans find beauty in everything, all people, every single day, and I feel like on stage and in film all we’re doing is recreating the human experience and trying to make it as real as possible. So why on earth – we’re just Photoshopping movies and Photoshopping stage when we’re putting these standards on people. Just let people be real, be what they look like.
Tortoledo: Our superiors — our professors, our directors, our producers — talk all the time about the power of theater. “Oh, theater is so powerful, it’s so moving. I want to make this the most moving show. People are going to leave this show being mind-blown.” But what are you using that power for? What are you putting on your stage? Is it all about the naked girls in the back or the chorus girls in the tight little skirts, or is it about the real message of the show? What content are you choosing? …
PBAP: Sometimes it comes down to what makes money at the box office.
Corbett: We’re doing a show that does that this summer.
Tortoledo: Yeah, Cabaret. I love Cabaret for its message, but you have to wonder, are we supporting it because of the message? I’m sure our faculty believes in the message … But is it going to sell because of the message or is it going to sell because you have women in their underwear dancing on stage? [Points to the camera] Come see Cabaret!
PBAP: It’s so hard to separate the two. Most people don’t look like that.
Tortoledo: Even to take it to a contemporary equivalent: La La Land. Emma Stone, one of the most beautiful, talented actors of our generation— and who was [Cabaret’s] Sally Bowles just recently on Broadway — has been reduced to skin and bones. It pains me to see her that way because I don’t even see her as beautiful anymore. Is she doing that because she truly believes in that, it that a life choice? Alison Williams. The same thing. Is it their life choice? Do they feel happy like that? Because if it is, fine, but is it really your choice or are you just trying to fulfill a check-box standard of the industry?
PBAP: We’re used to that in the modeling industry.
Tortoledo: Oftentimes you don’t even realize you’ve internalized it. I didn’t realize I had serious self-image issues until I was 25 years old and I spent 25 years dealing with eating disorders and being unhappy constantly because of how I looked and what I weighed. Why is that? Why do we have to deal with that?
Williams: That being said, as an actor, when you are approaching a role, you will have to play people that do dress a certain way or they have a certain look and I think there’s nothing wrong with playing a character. When I did Maggie in A Chorus Line, I (told myself) “OK, I’m playing a very serious ballet dancer,” and I wanted to do that role justice, and I wanted to look like a very serious, trained ballet dancer. And I lost 25 pounds in about two months, which was not healthy and not smart, looking back on it. But at the time, it was like, “I’m playing this role and this is the character and I’m lucky to be able to tell this character’s story, so I’m going to tell it to the best of my ability.” And this is what this character did, and this is who she is. …
PBAP: That wasn’t imposed by your director though, so much. It was more about you wanting to be more like her, not fulfilling a standard. But in a way, you were trapped by the dancer’s industry standards.
Williams: A lot of times people are going to theater, but they’re not going to the theater to see reality and real life. They’re going to see something very different from real life and that’s why they are paying for tickets, because they don’t want to relive this bullshit that they go through every day. They want to see something happy, and different, that spectacle. There are so many different niches within theater that I don’t want to belittle something, like you should only go to theater to see life. You can go see something very different from their real life. It’s OK to transport people through spectacle, whatever means you do that by.
PBAP: Sometimes costuming can be gratuitous. How do you draw the line?
Tortoledo: I think you have to trust your own gut instinct and what you feel comfortable doing and the reasons you’re doing it. But you (also) have to trust your team. We have a really great costumer who always has our backs and makes sure we’re feeling comfortable…
Corbett: She’s the best.
Tortoledo: She is. But I’ve dealt with costumers who tried to trick me into putting me in something see-through or something that when I lay down on the floor, part of my breast would show. And again, that was an awful experience that I never want to relive. (But) it’s reality that’s out there and you just have to know your team and surround yourself with people you trust.
PBAP: It would be so hard to give up a role that you really wanted, though, because the director was a jerk. No?
Corbett: Yes, when you think about “I wish I could play that role,” 17 other theaters are probably doing that play in America.
Tortoledo: That’s the fortunate thing about theater.
Corbett: And yes, the odds of you maybe getting to play that role are a little slim, but the director is probably not an ass … Sometimes you can be in a situation where you feel like you can’t get out of it, or you can’t say no. I’ve definitely felt that way too. And we stand up here and we say, “You’ve got to just say no. You’ve got to do that.” But I’ve definitely had situations — I played Gypsy Rose Lee the famous strip tease artist, and I was pretty much naked on stage, but I had those conversations, we found a way to do it that made me feel comfortable. I never felt like I was being taken advantage of. [Gypsy Rose Lee] was awesome; she could use her body to get people to do whatever (she) wanted for her. She was so powerful, and so amazing, and that’s how she empowered herself, is through strip tease. And so just knowing that, just doing justice to the character, and making sure you’re having those conversations and knowing your own boundaries.
PBAP: How do your parents feel about some of these roles?
Corbett: My dad probably felt a little weird watching me do a strip tease. [Laughs] But … I’ve had conversations with my family. You take a step back, you know that’s not me up there, that’s me using my body to be someone else. I think they’ve kind of maybe learned to take that step back and be like, wow, OK. Because I also lit myself on fire in a show and my grandmother watching me do that was not very fun. But she had to take a step back and say, “This is not Amanda. She’s a prisoner and she’s gone a little wacko, that’s why she’s doing that.”
PBAP: Is it more fun to play a character that’s really out there than someone that’s kind of normal? I would think it would be.
Tortoledo: It depends on the character and how it’s written. As family members, they become a part of the team and they have to also trust that we’re doing it for the right purposes and not just to shock them.
PBAP: Has #MeToo changed the kind of acting you want to do?
Tortoledo: For me, absolutely. Again, maybe because of coming from a Hispanic background where women are objectified in every scene — have you ever seen a Hispanic soap? Women are just plastic … It’s made me want to create art that is, one, promoting a message and educating people in the same belief structure that we are sharing here, and to not value a role for the sake of checkmarking my bucket list, but to understand that it’s all collaborative work. So, if one person on your team doesn’t share your values, it can make the whole experience a terrible, traumatizing “MeToo” moment.
And there’s just so much material out there. One show, you can’t give up your morals and your rights and beliefs for one show, or you shouldn’t. Not that you can’t, many people do, but you shouldn’t. Like Amanda said, there’s always another theater that’s going to do it and if you’re in the film industry, another movie that’s going to come out … There’s always more shows.
Corbett: Or you do it yourself.
Tortoledo: You make your own company, like we will, and do it yourself. But if you fold, you’re being part of the problem and not the solution.
Williams: I feel like now I feel much stronger and confident in myself and my own voice, and that I do have a voice and it does deserve to be heard, and I have the right to share it and share my feelings. And I do have the right to say no when I’m uncomfortable in a situation. Whereas before, I don’t think I really felt that strength. And I think I feel that strength because I feel supported by this whole community now of people where it’s like, “No, I can stand up to this person; I’m not going to let him speak this way or think this way anymore.”
Corbett: I think it influences the way I approach a role. Like this summer, when we play girls dancing in their underwear [for Cabaret], I’m going to approach that role a lot differently than I would have back before this happened.
Tortoledo: Absolutely. A hundred percent.
Corbett: I’m inspired to create theater that has to do with these kinds of issues. I’ve always really been passionate about using theater to change. I got really involved with the work of [Brazilian dramaturg and activist Augusto] Boal. He wrote the book Theatre of the Oppressed, and he uses applied theater to make change, specifically in his community, but he was always using theater make change and that’s what I’ve always been passionate about. But now with these [#MeToo] issues and realizing I have experienced things that have to do with this, and how telling our stories can be powerful and people can relate to them, that’s definitely going to influence the work I do in the future.
Williams: I think all theater artists can afford to give more attention to what they’re putting on stage and when they’re mounting a show just to be so particular about every little movement that happens on stage. Because whatever you do, they’re learning from it, and so you can’t take anything for granted.
PBAP: What would you like to see happen as far as the way women will be treated in the future? What about when you’re bringing up your children? What do you dream for them?
Williams: My dream is that in the near future it won’t even have to be talked about anymore. Like it won’t even matter. I mean, that’s a long ways away, but that they won’t even have to experience anything. It will just be this thing of the past that they’re aware happened but isn’t so present in their lives as it’s been in ours.
Corbett: My dream is that it won’t matter, if you’re a boy, a girl, or anything in between, whatever you identify as, you’re just seen as a human that needs love and respect and wants to be happy. That’s what we all want in the end. And however, you’re identifying, you should not feel mistreated because you are a woman, because you’re a man, because you’re anybody in between. You should feel at home, you should feel respected and wanted and loved, and that would be what I would hope for the future. That no matter what my child decides to do or how they are born, I want my children to feel they are loved and respected and they can be themselves no matter what.
Tortoledo: I hope that we can become a society and a humanity of respect and compassion for each other and remove all sense of competition between the sexes or between women themselves and we can really be a community that’s supportive of one another and is creating art that has meaning and that is helpful of humanity and is not sending the wrong message out there.
PBAP: What drew you to a theater career in the first place?
Williams: For me, it’s been something that’s been very present in my life for my entire life. My father was an actor, not professionally, he did a little bit of professional work, but he would just play musicals ever since I was a kid, and there’s just a feeling that I can’t describe, that just felt so much bigger than me. And I just felt this joy and love and pain at such a young age, like seeing live theater when I was 4 or 5 years old, and literally, it sounds so cliché, but I just knew when I was a baby that that was what I was going to do … I didn’t start to perform until I was 10 or 11, which I guess is still very young, but I remember being very assured at 5 or 6 years old, “Yes, this is what I’m going to do with my life.” There’s absolutely no doubt and there’s absolutely nothing else for me and so far it’s proven to be true.
I’ve definitely gone through trials and tribulations of like, this is so hard, and I can’t do this, and I’m not good enough, but I always come back to this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m meant to do.
Corbett: There are videos of me when I was like 2 in princess outfits, singing songs to my family and twirling around and performing. And my mom put me in dance lessons when I was 3, and I danced for my whole life.
But I don’t think I really knew, because I also played soccer. Soccer was like my thing, like my family’s thing and I was always doing soccer, but I kept failing at soccer and I just couldn’t find anywhere I belonged or any group that I belonged to. I tried to be a soccer player, I tried to be a basketball player, I tried to be on the student council. And I didn’t make any of those teams, and then I auditioned for a play.
I did little things when I was younger, but my first real play, I was in 42nd Street when I was 16 years old and it was the first time I was part of a group, and I made friends that had similar interests as me and they were weird, and kind of out there. And I was always looked at as, “Well, she’s a little crazy,” but in this world I was like one of these people and I had a family, finally, and that continued through high school and through my undergrad, and that continues here. Theater has always been somewhere where I felt like I could be myself and that felt like home and I feel whole and good when I’m performing. And I know that it makes a difference in the world too, and I’ll continue doing it for the rest of my life, because of those reasons.
Tortoledo: I grew up surrounded by performing arts. My mom is a ballerina, so I was in tights before I could properly walk, and I always loved the stage, I loved being the center of attention. But I never got into theater. I was first a dancer then a singer, so I would be on stage. But I thought that something was missing … I saw Wicked in England, and I decided that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But not just because it was beautiful and full of spectacle on stage but because of the message that it was giving that community, and I think that’s why after a whole life of dancing and singing I will stick to acting because it’s the one that the message is less abstract.
Because a dance performance can bring awareness to women’s rights, but people might miss it. And visual arts, yes, I can make a beautiful piece, but people can still possibly miss it. In theater, maybe you’ll miss it but subconsciously somewhere that message you heard it, you saw it, it’s there. For me it’s just fascinating, the educational value that can come from even Wicked.
PBAP: So are you all moving to New York after you graduate?
Williams: That’s my plan, pretty much. I’m really lucky I have a really supportive family that lives so close to New York, so I’ll probably stop in Connecticut and then head to the city. My brother’s already there.
Corbett: Not New York. Maybe New York one day. I’m going to stick around here for a year, then I’ll go meet up with Erin later. [They laugh]
PBAP: And park on her couch.
Corbett: That’s the plan. [to Williams] You’re going first.
I’m really passionate about fringe festivals. They’re festivals that help people trying to create their art, it gets it out there. You’re doing hundreds of shows in a matter of days. And I actually helped created a fringe festival in Utah, so that’s something I’d still love to be involved with … Creating art, making art. My plan is to just audition, audition, audition, meet people with the same ideas, same passions as I have and just make art, and just make the world a better place, hopefully.
Tortoledo: I’m staying in South Florida. I’m sold on this awesome community. As traumatizing as my experience was with that one theater company, the theater community here is amazing and it’s growing. And it’s filled with artists who want to get this message across. And there are so many exciting things happening from the Keys all the way to Jupiter. My dream in 50 years is to know that I was part of putting South Florida on the map as a place to go to for good theater that is helping the community grow.
Corbett: She already does it!
Tortoledo: I have great faith in the South Florida community and there’s also a huge Hispanic theater community that’s arising, and that’s something I definitely want to explore and help get this message to other cultures that don’t have it at present.
Humanity evolves together, not all at the same time, but if we can get further into the evolution pool that we want to, the rest will eventually follow. So, the more the merrier.
FAU Festival Repertory 2018: All three actresses will be on stage this summer during FAU’s Festival Repertory 2018. Amanda Corbett and Erin Williams will perform in the Noel Coward’s Easy Virtue from June 8-23; Gabriela Tortoledo will join Williams and Corbett in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret from July 6-22, both at the Studio One Theatre on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. For tickets or information, visit www.fauevents.com.