The Last Word

A quick questionnaire with Mayda del Valle

1. Three words someone else would use to describe me are silly, sensitive and short.

2. My greatest professional influences are John Leguizamo and Rita Moreno. They were some of the first Latin faces I ever saw on screen or television. I admire Leguizamo for not being limited in his art form. He has done it all from Broadway to movies to TV. He writes his own material, he directs and he is now producing. And Rita Moreno, because seeing this stunning Puerto Rican woman dancing, singing and acting her butt off in West Side Story when I was eight pretty much changed my life.

3. My fondest memory is going to a live poultry shop in Chicago when I was about nine or ten. I went with my parents on a Saturday morning to get groceries as was customary. Well my mom said, “We’re going to get chicken!,” so I assumed it was going to be in the frozen food section. No. We walked into a live poultry shop and I saw all the cages in the back with turkeys and chickens squawking. Then a man with an apron walked out with a brown paper sack after a loud mechanical whir, and rang someone up. I put it all together and had a fit of hysterics right there in the store. My dad had to take me to the car because I was so loud and I was on a chicken boycott for about two weeks.

4. The last book I read was Brown Girl in The Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson.

5. If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead it would be my grandmother. I don’t have any recollection of her, yet I feel she’s been with me my whole life. I’d love to cook for her and see what she thinks.

6. Three things I can’t live without are music, dancing and Palermo’s Pizza.

7. The most pressing issue facing the world is fear. All things stem from it. Greed, hate, the need for control, violence, the list goes on. Until we learn to operate from a place of love and compassion for everyone, we’ll continue to see all the social ills we’re very familiar with.

8. The most important lesson I ever learned was to follow my heart and what it wants. Be unreasonable in pursuing your deepest desire, because it will bring you all your lessons, and your greatest joy.

9. My advice for someone just starting out on this profession is don’t get so consumed by your creative life that you forget to actually live your life. Your experiences with people and the world are what feed the stories you have to tell.

10. My motto is: "Lo que no te mata, engorda." Literal translation being: "What doesn’t kill you makes you fatter … or stronger."

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