Today we’d like to introduce you to Sofia Palmero.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sofia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I graduated high school and went to college, the plan was simple: get good grades, take the LSAT, get into an awesome law school, become a successful lawyer. Then, halfway through my third year, I was struck by the realization that I didn’t want to be a lawyer. It was like someone had pulled the entire earth out from under me and I was floating directionless in space.
Then my dad died the year before I was set to graduate and any motivation I had evaporated. I was listless, just trying to make it from one day to the next without completely losing my mind. Two things brought me back. One was a creative writing class I decided to take my senior year. I found that writing was the catharsis and escape I so deeply craved. Not only that, but my teacher seemed genuinely impressed with my work and, to be honest with you, nothing gets me going like a little validation.
The other thing was this moment I had while watching TV. My senior year, I watched a lot of tvs. Like, an embarrassing amount of TV. I remember one day sitting on my bed, watching a show. I was moved to tears, laughing the next. And I thought, “God, I wish I could do that” and this tiny little voice somewhere, maybe it was my dad’s voice, who knows, whispered back, “Well, why not?”
I was shocked at this thought. After all, I had only acted for a little while in middle school and high school and it was mostly a horrible experience. But when I really sat and thought about it, when I tracked the lines of my life, I found puddles of happiness where I was writing and performing. I remembered choreographing dances with my friends as a kid. I thought of the abridged version of Aladdin me and my sister performed for my parents. I remembered spoken word poetry I had done earlier in college. Doing presentations for GSA in high school and then Pride in college. Writing a terrible play for the 7th grade literary fair. Telling and embodying my own thoughts and stories was something that was invariably weaved into the fabric of my entire life. It felt like I had solved this big puzzle.
I immediately started researching what I should do next. I was months from graduating with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. I hadn’t acted in at least six years. But thankfully, in my research, I found that Atlanta had a thriving acting community that wasn’t as oversaturated as NY or LA. Perfect for a beginner like me. I did a couple of plays in my college town before graduating; then me and my partner got our pets, packed our cars to the brim, and moved to Atlanta. I haven’t looked back since.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My road to discovering this field was a bit rocky. But even before that, I have struggled with mental health issues. I am diagnosed with depression, PTSD, and ADHD. There was a point in my life where I didn’t even think I would live long enough to graduate college. The fact that I’m standing here today is no small feat. But I am also immensely privileged. I was able to go to college debt-free (thank you, bright futures scholarship!) and my partner works in tech so I am able to work part-time and dedicate most of my time to my art without worrying about my basic necessities. I know that’s not the reality for most artists, so I am very grateful and try to never take it for granted.
Overall, since I moved to Atlanta, it’s been a relatively smooth road. Well, as smooth as you can get in this industry. I’ve done some downright embarrassing short films that I would never show anyone. I’ve butted heads with plenty of people who can’t handle my unapologetic ambition. I think one of my struggles has been finding a community. Theatre and film are both inherently collaborative, so finding a crew that you can trust and who is like-minded is crucial. I’ve been lucky to be in this writing group called The Cultivators. We have weekly feedback sessions and that source of support and accountability has been invaluable.
Another struggle has been that as a fat, queer Latina, there isn’t always a place for me in this industry. But since I’m a writer too, I’m not particularly worried about others giving me opportunities I know I’ll be able to provide for myself. And obviously, I am eternally grateful to the people who have given me the space to flourish. I know this entire field is an uphill battle and without a little friction, we’d all slide right off!
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am primarily an actor and writer. I like to write for myself since I hardly see fun roles for fat queer Latinas. But any opportunity I have to write something exciting or act in something challenging is welcome with open arms. I also do dramaturgy for hire through Working Title Playwrights and I occasionally dabble in directing. I think I am known for being passionate about social issues and not holding back from that in my work. I have a degree in Psychology and Sociology so I am obsessed with people. What they do, why they do it. I am interested in exploring connections: with each other, with the spiritual self, and with the wider world we inhabit.
I am proud of absolutely everything I do because I pour my entire heart and soul into every project, but some highlights: I just finished writing my first full-length play, Walls. I had a reading of it recently and it was so fulfilling to see actors bring all those words to life. Another full-length play I am working on is getting a table read through the Working Title Playwrights table series on December 1st. Acting-wise, my most recent project in the before times was Pearl in Bull in a China Shop. That show was an absolute blast. It was the first time I got to play a queer woman on stage and it was THRILLING!
I think what sets me apart is that I am not afraid to be disliked. I love what I do, I love the entertainment industry, and it’s because I love it that I want it to be better. I’m not interested in twisting myself out of shape to fit a mold. Others have decided I should fit. I believe in radical kindness, that the political is personal, and that art sets us all free. All means all, especially the most marginalized communities. I’m here to upend in this industry, to improve it, and as I like to say: either get with me or get out of my way!
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
God. The future is so unclear right now for obvious reasons. The biggest change is that, regrettably, I probably won’t be acting for about a year or so. I am high risk for COVID because I have asthma, so until the industry truly figures out how to navigate the virus or we get a vaccine. I’m looking at staying off the stage and screen. While this breaks my heart ten million ways to Sunday, I am choosing to look on the bright side.
Lockdown has given me an opportunity to really focus on my writing in a way I wasn’t able to before since I also had to juggle acting gigs. So I am becoming a better writer, trying to develop scripts that are so good they are undeniable. My goal is to have a robust body of work to produce once things can be produced again. Obviously, some of them are written with roles for me. I am currently writing a screenplay that is a cast of 3-4, so that might be a project I’ll be able to produce sometime in 2021, hopefully. Beyond that, I am working on developing a series to pitch to streaming services in 2022. It’s a very fun, genre-bending script that’s a little sci-fi, a little action, and whole lotta gayness.
In the long term of my entire career, I hope to be able to start my own company where I can share what I’ve learned and help bring other people’s stories to life. I am particularly interested in giving queer artists of color a chance to tell their own stories. To me, the work of centering marginalized voices is paramount to the growth of this industry and I really look forward to being a part of that change.
- Website: https://newplayexchange.org/users/15257/sofia-palmero
- Instagram: @sofia_withanf
- Twitter: @sofia_palmero
Mariana Novak, Kellyn Wiley, Jack Miller, Diane Hayes