By Ozzi Ramirez
Welcome to NYWIFT, new member Bianca Marroquin! Bianca, a triple threat who can act, sing, and dance, became well-known to audiences starring as both Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly in Chicago the Musical on Broadway and alongside Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell in the Emmy-Winning limited series Fosse and Verdon.
Additionally, she has appeared as a judge on Mira Quien Baila (a popular Spanish reality television show similar to Dancing With the Stars) and the telenovela Esperanza del Corazón. These are just a few of her many career highlights!
Bianca spoke to us about maintaining her creativity throughout the pandemic, her favorite roles, and expanding opportunities for Latinos on stage and screen.
Tell us about yourself – give us your elevator pitch!
My name is Bianca Marroquin. I was born in Monterrey, Mexico but raised on the border between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. I am a dancer, singer, and actress who made my Broadway debut in 2002 playing Roxie Hart in Chicago the Musical and became the first Mexican woman to star on Broadway.
You are known for being the first Mexican American actress to have played a starring role both on Broadway and in your native Mexico. As someone whose career in the theater spans 20 + years, do you feel opportunities for Latino actors and actresses have evolved? If so, how?
I think more Latin stories are being developed and produced, which makes it a good time to be a Latino. I’ve seen the confidence and inspiration in Latinos grow and spread onto the stage, film and television.
The different subcultures and styles are finally blossoming and Spanish speakers are not being put into the same box. We each get to shine a light on our own countries and traditions. Although we are all so different and unique, we are also united.
During your many years as a theater actress, you’ve starred in some iconic roles on stage, from Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly in Chicago on Broadway, to the title role in Mary Poppins. Which one of these remarkable characters do you connect and identify with the most and why?
At first, I identified with Roxie Hart because I was a dancer looking for a break and an opportunity to spread my wings and share my gift; I related to Roxie’s hunger to reach her dream.
As I matured, through learning how the world and business worked, I began to identify with Velma and felt wise and confident enough to step into her shoes.
I learned so much from playing Mary Poppins. She offered me her wisdom, control, spirituality, patience, and poise while I gave her my discipline and precision.
So, I’ve been very privileged to have had the chance to take the best of these three roles and apply them to my life.
In addition to your stage work, you’ve acted in film and television projects. As an actor, what are the similarities and differences between preparing for roles on stage and film?
The beauty and magic of preparing for a role on stage is in the rehearsal process. I love the usual six days per week schedule from 10 am to 6 pm and the routine, discipline, and structure required. This way, I have ample time to build and explore my character.
Although there is some rehearsal and preparation for roles on tv and film, I find this process goes by much quicker and it’s best for me to do my homework and research in a shorter amount of time, even if it’s for just one or several takes. Since the story isn’t being filmed chronologically, the challenge for me is always to keep track of where my character is emotionally. This is a very different monster to tame but one that I find very exciting to confront.
What is the best and the worst advice you ever received?
The best advice I’ve received is to never take anything personally.
The worst advice, which was to give up because I wasn’t good enough, turned out to be some of the best advice given to me because it only made me stronger.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
I was invited to participate in the HBO documentary Habla/Loud. While assisting at the festival, I met [NYWIFT CEO] Cynthia Lopez and felt very fortunate when she asked me to share my story on the NYWIFT panel.
I had been working on some upcoming films and was excited to connect with fellow women artists and become a part of this amazing and extremely supportive organization! It’s been a blessing to work on stage and in film and tv, and I hope to become more involved with NYWIFT.
You portrayed the legendary Chita Rivera in the critically-acclaimed television series Fosse/Verdon. What was that experience like? Has Ms. Rivera watched your performance?
When I found out I was going to “attempt” to portray the beloved and legendary Chita Rivera, the first thing I did was text her to share my unbelievable thrill. I needed her blessing. Most importantly, I needed her to know how humbled and grateful I felt for this opportunity and that I would do my best to do her justice.
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if she ever saw my work. Hahaha!!! But she did give me her blessing, love, and words of encouragement.
With Broadway theaters closed during the pandemic, were you able to find performance work during this time? How did you keep your creative juices flowing?
Although the pandemic was stressful, depressing, and full of uncertainty and anxiety, I was able to explore other ways to remain connected with audiences through participating in several virtual concerts, teaching master classes, giving dance lessons, and coaching students via Zoom. Where there is a will, there is a way!
What is your dream role(s) as an actor?
My dream is to play a character who has a strong life-changing message and embodies all of me: the dancer, singer, and actress. Hopefully, I will be trusted with this responsibility one day.
In a time when women’s reproductive rights are at the forefront of the political and cultural conversation, a group of teenage girls gather to assert their power, prepare for their futures, and determine the best way forward together. Following the smash hit success of their documentary Boys State at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss returned to Park City in 2024 with the companion piece Girls State. NYWIFT Member Laela Kilbourn was one of seven cinematographers on Girls State, assigned to follow one of the protagonist’s throughout her week-long journey. She spoke to us about her experience working on the documentary.READ MORE
During the 40th edition of The Sundance Film Festival, Tammy Reese interviews fellow NYWIFT member Amanda Culkowski, the Executive Producer of As We Speak, a thought-provoking documentary that delves into the intersection of art and justice. Focusing on Bronx rap artist Kemba, the film sheds light on the alarming trend of rap lyrics being weaponized within the United States criminal justice system and beyond.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Sarah D. Ceballos! Sarah is a producer, writer, and an award-winning actress from McAllen, Texas. She is third generation Mexican-American and is fluent in Spanish. She holds her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and routinely conducts research geared toward understanding what can prohibit advancement opportunities for people of color in the workplace. Sarah considers herself the curious type. She is always asking herself, “How can I help?" Read more about her creative journey here!READ MORE
Let’s say hello to new NYWIFT Member Hannah Xie! After spending her earlier years in China, Hannah now lives in New York City where she dedicates much of her time to cinematography and photography. Her talent for blending and accentuating colors and lighting on film is reflected in projects such as Brief Encounter, Sleepwalker, Epic, and The End of the Affair. To learn more about Hannah’s creative process, check out our interview as we discuss her collaboration style with directors, her approach to cinematography, and the influential role that her childhood viewing experiences contributed towards her future career.READ MORE