Idalmis García is a Havana-born actress who has appeared in some of the most celebrated Cuban films of the past several years. Her work with director Ernesto Daranas led her to play supporting in roles in the features Los dioses rotos (Broken Gods) and most recently, Conducta, which had the honor of being Cuba’s submission to the 87th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. In addition to her work in cinema, she has had an extensive career acting for theater, and has worked as a producer and casting director on diverse projects.
A recent transplant to New York City, García quickly found work as part of New York’s prestigious Repertorio Español Spanish-language theater company and is eager to jump in to the world of American film and television. We took the opportunity to talk to her about the Havana theater scene, playing schizophrenic characters, and the difficulty of living and working in a country that’s not your own.
“In Cuba, the possibilities for actors aren’t very extensive, but I think it’s the same for actors all over the world…”
When did you decide to follow the difficult path of professional acting?
I decided to act professionally after starting college, where I studied Art History. I took a few acting classes in Havana and along the way fell in with a theatre company that was looking for actors to put on shows for children. I was hired as an actress while I finished my bachelor’s in Art History. We would put on our shows every weekend under the burning mid-morning sun at the Habana Vieja Amphitheatre .
What are the possibilities for actors in your country?
In Cuba, the possibilities for actors aren’t very extensive, but I think it’s the same for actors all over the world, or at least in most places. On the other hand there are some very interesting things going on in the theatre scene, and although our film output isn’t very prolific, there have been a few noteworthy projects — a few of which I’ve had the chance to be a part of.
Also, anyone who takes their career a little more seriously can create their own projects, or team up with more creative people to get their own productions off the ground.
“The simple fact of becoming an actor is one of the most difficult decisions one can make, and much more so when it’s in a country that isn’t your own.”
What has been the most difficult moment in your career so far?
Well, this career is full of difficult moments. One of the most recent was making the decision to live in another country and not having the absolute certainty that I would be able to act here in the United States. And although I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some very interesting projects here, there is always uncertainty as to what the next one will be. It’s extremely difficult, especially because you have to make a living.
Yes, maybe I’m going through one of those moments right now, but that’s life, each stage and place brings you something different. The simple fact of becoming an actor is one of the most difficult decisions one can make, and much more so when it’s in a country that isn’t your own.
Which acting role has left the biggest impression on you?
Cristal, from the play Blue Orange, directed by Stephen Bayly. It was my last theatre production in Havana. It was a project that came forth after years of collaboration with Stephen, my acting teacher, my strength and the reason I am the actress that I am. I both acted and co-produced the play along with Stephen. The character suffered from schizophrenia, which required a lot of arduous research and great dedication. We worked in accordance with Sanford Meisner’s acting method, and the other actors in the cast were incredible. I dream of some day being able to play that character again.
If you could choose one character to play, who would it be?
I would love to play a very marginal character, maybe an addict, with a history of violence in her family. I’m fascinated by this type of person. One that isn’t anything like me… that’s the challenge. Living in New York, you’re inspired by everything that happens around you, and I imagine interpreting many of the real-life characters I cross paths with day after day. Maybe one of those Cuban women that came as part of the Mariel Boat Lift… there’s a lot to say about that generation Cubans that lives here in exile, many of whom have never gone back to Cuba.