EXCLUSIVE: Veteran Broadway Actress Daphne Rubin-Vega On Tackling 'The Vagina Monologues' in Spanish

Daphne Rubin-Vega attends LAByrinth Theater Company Celebrity Charades 2013 Benefit Gala
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The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's seminal work on female empowerment, is coming back to the New York stage--in a very special way. Now appearing at the Westside Theater and running throughout the summer with an ever-revolving Latina cast, the show is now appearing solely in Spanish. 

That's right, Los Monologos de la Vagina is the latest Off-Broadway hit and currently starring veteran Broadway actress Daphne Rubin-Vega (the original Mimi in Rent). We sat down with the Panamanian star to talk about the ups and downs of the show, her involvement in Rent, what's happening with the #YesAllWomen movement and being a Latina in showbusiness. Read on for the full interview!

Tell us a little about your background. How did actually get interested in show business?

I went to the performing arts school before it was just performing arts, when the LaGuardia School had a visual arts department. I think I always wanted to be in the arts, I loved painting, writing poetry, I loved the fact that the Talking Heads went to art school. I thought that was the way. I wanted to be an artist, period.

[Then] I went to NYU film school because I wanted to be a director. And then I got into editing because I thought the telling of the story was really what I wanted to do, like tell the story in an image. And then I subsequently realized that I was better at doing the thing I tried to tell other people to do. And I always felt very strongly that, after being in a girl group, I was bitten by the acting bug, but that I should keep my singing and my acting separately, because combining them would somehow taint or minimize them.

I was not a huge fan of musical theater, I have to say. So the fact that Rent happened was like the ultimate irony, because I was like, “No! No! No! Yes!” And I just felt like that sort of time was very emblematic of my people. It made sense to me, so that was a miracle that happened. 

Tell me a little bit about transitioning from the singing to acting in Rent. This major musical that became such a huge hit, what was that transition like in terms of your own personal goals and what you saw happening at the time?

Well at the time I had been in a group called Pajama Party and we had this song called “Yo No Se." Then I was working with a Latino comedy group called El Barrio USA. We were doing comedy shows in the city, and I was singing and sort of parodying. I was learning how brutal comedy is. And yeah, my beeper went off and I got a call to audition for Rent. And it was the exception to the rule for me. I loved the group of people that I met in the creative company of Rent, back in the early ‘90s, and what subsequently became the workshop with just an amazing group of people. It was magic to be with them.