Alliance for Latino Theater Artists, ALTA, Dominizuelan, Dominizuelan Presents People in the City, Goodman Theatre, Latino theatre, Lorena Diaz, Picaro Media, Song for the Disappeared, Tanya Saracho, Teatro Luna, Wendy Mateo
Her full name is Lorena Andreina Diaz-Respaldiza Jurado de los Reyes. But Chicago’s theatre and stand up communities know her simply as Lorena Diaz, the tall, Venezuelan half of comedy duo Dominizuelan.
Prior to moving to Chicago seven years ago with partner in crime Wendy Mateo, Lorena had accrued a significant number of recognitions for her acting in Florida, including the Carbonnell Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Betty’s Summer Vacation” and Best Supporting Actress for the Miami New Times’ “Best Of” issue. Three years ago, under the guiding light of Charna Halpern, co-counder of ImprovOlympic (now IO), Lorena and Wendy premiered “Dominizuelan Presents People in the City.” An updated, more structured version of the play, executive produced by Mike Oquendo of The Mikey O Comedy Show and presented by the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, was recently staged at Teatro Luna.
Lorena’s recent performance as each of the three Señoras in the 16th Street Theater production of Tanya Saracho’s Enfrascada was praised by Time Out Chicago’s Benno Nelson as one that breathed “originality into the script.” Lorena will be making her Goodman Theatre debut this month in the New Stages Workshop Production of Tanya’s new play Song for the Disappeared. Lorena recently launched, along with Wendy Mateo, Pícaro Media, a creative production house:
Where were you born?
Caracas, Venezuela, from the sassy tenacious stomach of my recently divorced Peruvian Mother.
How would your grandma describe you?
She probably would go straight to commenting on how she’s not an abuela, she’s a mamá. She never liked the abuela thing.
When you’re asked the question, “what do you do?” what do you answer? What would you LIKE to answer?
Short Answer: I’m an actor/ producer (that’s what I am and LIKE to answer)
Long Answer: I’m an Executive Producer for Pícaro Media, a creative production house committed to creating authentic, compelling content for the New Generation Latino living in the mainstream world. We create original content for brands, companies, and ourselves to be distributed through all mediums, across all screens. Pícaro’s content is geared for Latinos in a way we’ve wanted to see all of our collective lives, and we assist brands and companies in authentically connecting with the New Generation Latino community.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? Any special talents?
I can burp on command. I am also horribly, painfully and awkwardly shy. It often comes across as cold-bitchy-shitty-itis, but the truth is I don’t know how to talk to people unless it’s a one on one. I assume nobody ever knows who I am so I’m often surprised to find the opposite is true at times. A room of strangers/ somewhat strangers is my worst nightmare. But through improvisation and theatre I’ve learned to fake it until I make it. No one believes me when I tell them I’m this stifled by my shyness but I guess that’s a testament in my commitment to overcome it…. uphill battle ya’ll.
What was the first piece of theatre you ever experienced?
I had a magnificent drama teacher in High School who really took me in and exposed me to theatre. He had worked on Broadway and so he understood the importance of classics and exposing young minds to them. I think the first piece of theatre I can remember seeing was Music Man. The official first piece of Broadway theatre I felt really that moved me and showed me the potential of expression was Metamorphoses off-Broadway.
Why do you think you got into theatre?
I first got into theatre in order to overcome my shyness/fear of strangers. I stayed because I am not stable without expressing in this way. I need to be on stage exploring the characters I do. It fills something in my void and keeps me from becoming a complete recluse.
What’s coming up for you? Any cool projects you want to tell us about?
I got into Goodman BABY! You can see me in Tanya’s newest work called Song for the Disappeared. I am very excited about this meaty role and the opportunity to play with such an awesome cast. I’m also preparing for an off-Broadway production called Obama Does it Better in Heels where I will play President Obama playing a woman grappling with her decision to abort her unborn child who is actually baby Jesus. The last part of this statement is completely false. Thank you and goodnight.