Eva McQuade is an award winning actress, writer, and producer. To list all her roles would take most of my blog post, so we will just say, if the character has lines, she has said them. Here are just a few of those roles…
Two years ago, I was delighted to work alongside her in “My Big Fat Bahookie”
A body positive play written and directed by Lorella Loftus. It was a joy to work with her and I am happy to say we became good friends out of that bonding experience. It doesn’t always happen with shows, sometimes you come together for those 12 weeks and you do a show, you tell a lie that tells the truth and everyone goes home and you see each other here and there but you don’t bond as strongly, that was not the case here.
Eva sat down with me to talk through her origin story, how she came to be in Austin and her latest project (opens Friday!) – Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Professor Haston– Eva McQuade, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, I know how in demand you are, so let’s dig right in, Are you named for anyone?
Eva– A soap opera star!
Professor Haston- That’s something we have in common!
Professor Haston- But back to you, tell us about how you became an actor?
Eva– In second grade, I was in a Valentine’s day show with a coke bottle choir. Had to play a song. “Love Me Tender” and I don’t know there was something about seeing all the people happy and the fact that I made them happy made me feel very happy. In high school I started doing more theatre, and I was in a Midsummers Nights Dream, where I was taught by a great teacher, Ms. Cindy Grauke, she was a wonderful person. She was a fun cool lady, and she was different and was really interested in helping kids to pursue their dream if they wanted to do theatre. She was just very open to collaborating with kids to help them figure out what they wanted to do. I grew up and studied journalism and worked for newspapers in San Antonio. I graduated from college and was trying to be a grown up instead of a “starving artist”. My friend Rhys, he was working with a newly-formed theatre: The Overtime Theatre, and said the director John Poole knew me from college. When I came to watch his show, “Faustus,” I talked with John. He asked, “Why aren’t you acting?” I said, I don’t know, I never thought you could be an artist and be an adult and in order to do this, you had to live in a garret and eat brie” but then again, brie is a very expensive cheese so more likely you have to live in a garret and eat Velveeta. So he told me about this parody of “Flash Gordon” called “Flinch Gordon” and told me I should be in it and it just sort of snowballed from there, when I met my husband (then boyfriend) he lived in Austin and along with a thriving theatre and film community, made it an easy decision to move here. So I did.
Professor Haston- How do you handle rejection?
Eva- Um, there have been some parts that have been very difficult to lose. I have auditioned for the role, Tracy Turnblad about 8 or 9 times. That has been the most difficult one to lose. Of course I get over it, and there are times which are harder than others. So many musicals I would love to act in and people just do not cast me in musicals. I say that and then again, I have done three over the course of my acting career. BUT I would love to do more musicals. (hint, hint)
(Interviewer note- EVA THE MUSICAL- IT BEGS TO BE MADE!) Get on it, world!
Professor Haston- What is your reaction as a Latina actor when you see that Latina parts are not being played by Latinas?
Eva-I think it’s a problem in Austin, which has always been surprising to me. Austin, Texas shouldn’t have a problem casting color/gender blind. We need more diverse casts and the spirit of inclusivity is missing from many Austin productions. So much can be learned by casting outside of the box/norm. So much potential for growth. I can only hope by continuing to audition for roles, maybe even especially those NOT directly asking for Latinas, things will change and I’ll make a difference in someone’s mind.
Professor Haston- We all have haters, how do you deal with them?
Eva– I am my worst hater. I am working on it. I am doing what I think is interesting and entertaining. I think people are being nice and they don’t really mean it. I have one guy who does not like me and he either does not mention me or he says really snarky things Aabout me, so I definitely have a hater. Again, I tend to think that he is right, and everyone else is being kind.
Professor Haston- I get that, I mean like Bette Midler says, The trick to being famous is “you have to think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread, and KNOW you’re not” sounds like you have a healthy dose of that and while we are on the subject.. I happen to know a lot of people who are NOT nice that have said you are talented.
Professor Haston- You want me to name names?
Professor Haston- What inspires you?
Eva– The show I am working on is inspiring me and I hope it will inspire other people because it’s about our environment and the world we are living in now and it has a message. Doing a show with a message always inspires me. My Mom inspires me. She recognized my acting as something brave. You are doing a lot of things you want to do with your life, and you aren’t scared. She was a single parent and she went back to school after a long time away, and she became a teacher and she spent 11 years taking care of my grandmother with dementia, so she did what she wanted to do, but it took her awhile to get there. It’s a great reminder we only get one life and you should do what it is you want to do with your life. What are we doing here if not doing what we want to do. Those are the things that will push me: the idea you only get one life to do it all in and why not?
Professor Haston- Why do you act?
Eva– It’s a difficult thing to have a day job -some friends have multiple!- to get to do this thing you really want to do. And to audition and then to wait and not get it. Sometimes you get it. It’s a terrible thing to want to be an actor, because you really aren’t yourself most of the time. I also think that is the wonderful thing about being an actor. The first show I did was Romeo and Juliet – set it South Texas in the 1940’s and it was a bilingual production. This woman came up to me after the show and she was crying and she was with her daughter and she said, “I can’t tell you how much it means to me to hear a play like this in my language and it’s speaking to me and I understand it.” That was so much goodness and joy and love. She felt heard and listened to and that sticks with me, through the auditions and the rejections, and it’s why I do this. Then one night after “My Big Fat Bahookie” – on the night a row of people left (yes, it happens!) and then one woman comes up to you with tears in her eyes and says, “I have had a problem with my body all my life and she doesn’t feel good about herself and this show helped her feel better about herself. That’s the person I do my art for and that’s why. It’s an honor to be able to do this thing we do called art.
Professor Haston- What advice do you want to share with my readers?
Eva- It’s never too late to do what you want to do. Put it out in the universe that you want to do something, and then you will be amazed at the things that open up when you do that. Ask yourself the question- Why not you? Don’t live a life of regret. It’s said that we go to school and we get a degree or degrees and then we get a job that maybe we like or maybe we don’t and then we spend about 40 years working to do something you really want to do. The goal would be to go and do something with your life. Travel, see plays, you only get one life in your life. GO DO SOMETHING WITH IT!
Supportive people in your life are everything, it makes a tremendous difference.
My goal is, as ever to inspire one person every day, so I hope Eva’s words inspired you.
Think About It.
If you are in Austin, you can see Eva in action starting this Friday!
Last: An Extinction Comedy opens this Friday at the Vortex! It’s a scripted-improv paleo-futurist apocalyptic adventure through the waning days of our species with a band of comedians determined to be the pie in the face they wish to see in the world! Don’t miss it!