Wendy (full name Wendolynn) Mateo is the short, Dominican half of Dominizuelan. Yes, this is a sequel of sorts to our last ALTA Artist of the Month. But, come on, how can you feature partner in crime Lorena Diaz and not Wendy? They are as inseparable as Batman and Robin, as Sherlock Holmes and Watson, as Cagney and Lacey…You get the point.
Wendy fell in love with improv comedy in Florida where she completed a conservatory program, and with Lorena, she packed up her bags and moved to Chicago to continue her dreams of carving a space for Latinos in the improv world. And what better place to do so than in the “Windy City,” the world capital of improv, blues and jazz? Wendy’s credits include such comedy festivals as the TBS Just for Laughs Festival in 2009, ’10, and ’11; the Fringe-NYC, and The Chicago Improv and Sketch Festivals. And, of course, Dominizuelan. Now she and Lorena are branching out into the world of content generation as executive producers of Pícaro Media:
Where were you born?
Bronx, New York baby! Shhh…don’t tell my fellow New Yorkers that I adore Chicago.
How would your grandma describe you?
Bueno, first my abuelita would say, “¡Que niña tan buena y alegre! ¡Pero Wendy, please remember the most important thing as a woman is to keep a clean house! ¡You will not keep a husband if you don’t keep a clean house!” I used to get so annoyed by that, but now, every time I clean my home, I blast Gloria Estefan and think of my abuelita. She’s actually with me every step of the way. She was always the most supportive of my artistic endeavors, she had a beautiful voice, a beautiful spiritual presence, she was funny, loved pop culture, and now I do an abuelita character inspired by her. She’ll live on forever. Also….I’m still married, so she was right!
When you’re asked the question, “what do you do?” what do you answer? What would you LIKE to answer?
I answer actor, comedian, writer, producer! And I am actually one of the lucky ones who gets to call those my full time job! As of April, 2012, I’ve been full time with my new company, Pícaro Media. Pícaro Media is a creative production house, committed to creating authentic, compelling content for the New Generation Latino living in the mainstream world. What that means, is that we’re creating the content we’ve been craving to see! To create and be a part of something where my name is not “Maria” and I’m not cleaning something, that is my sueño.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? Any special talents?
Well, I can sing any Barbra Streisand song you throw at me, been doing that since the age of 3!
What was the first piece of theatre you ever experienced?
The Rockettes at Rockefeller Center! I grew up in NYC and my mom would make it a point to take me to the theatre. I’m not a dancer, but I just knew I wanted to be on stage. Then we got to see Cats and I was like, “Oh hell yeah” or whatever I said in my head when I was 6.
Why do you think you got into theatre?
You know, in some ways, it wasn’t a choice. My family is very musical, but the only person who ever really pursued it was my uncle. He’s played at Lincoln Center and with the salsa greats of the 70s and 80s. Going to school in NY was amazing because every school caters to the arts in some way. But when my family moved from NY to Miami, well… that was very different, there was not much in the way of culture there at the time.
Luckily, the high school I attended, there was a teacher there, Mr. Aloma, who opened me up to Spanish language literature. I got to delve into the classics and learn about my culture and read stories that were a lot closer to my own. Lorca became my obsession and we had live performances of his plays every year at the Spanish State Competitions. Little did I know at the time, those experiences paved the way for what I do now.
What’s coming up for you? Any cool projects you want to tell us about?
Dominizuelan! That is where my heart lies, that is the project I get to do with my best friend and one of my most favorite actors, Lorena Diaz. We make each other and other people laugh. We will be performing in the REACH show at Second City’s UP Theater starting February 10th.
Big Lake Big City at Lookingglass Theater starting June 19th. I am so blessed and lucky to be a part of this Lookingglass production written by Keith Huff (A Steady Rain) and directed by David Schwimmer.
Pícaro Media: look out for our official launch party in the spring. We are also looking for all kinds of diverse and Latino talent. Writers, directors, actors, producers, chefs, designers, musicians, artists, lo que sea. If we are going to change the way media perceives us, then we must do it from the inside out. We’re looking at you kid.