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Meet Maria Fontanals of Maria Fontanals in New York City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Fontanals.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Maria. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a Spanish actress and faculty member at HB Studio where I teach Uta Hagen’s technique. I am also the co-founder of Corezon, a successful and independent theatre and audiovisual company based in NYC.

I was born and grew up in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Theater has been in my blood since early childhood. My earliest memories began as a child doing in-home dramatic presentations with my three brothers for their parents. I understood instinctively what Oscar Wilde said best, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

I began my career working in corporate finance following my graduation with a Bachelors in Science in Economics from the world-renowned Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. However, my interest in theater never wained. While working, I nurtured my acting avocation by earning a Bachelors in Fine Arts from Barcelona’s Eòlia Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and performing in several theater productions in Barcelona. Ultimately, my inner voice nagged relentlessly prodding me to leave the security of my corporate post and pursue my passion for acting in earnest. I set out for New York’s prestigious HB Studio, to pursue the Core Training program in acting (awarded for a scholarship). Once immersed in the HB Studio’s intensive study of acting, and exhilarated by the inspirational professionals teaching the experiential curriculum, I finally found my groove! I was part of the HB Ensemble and is proudly part of the Hagen Institute alumni.

As a staged actress, I have extensive experience on stage in the United States and Europe. I have performed leading roles with renowned theaters such as Dixon Place (Casablanca on the Hudson by Pamela Enz), Theater for the New City (City Girls of Desperadoes by Pamela Enz co-starring with Austin Pendelton and Julie Atlas Muz), Teatro Círculo (Seis by Federico Roca winner of five FuerzaFest Awards, included the Best Play and Best Actress and three 2017 HOLA Awards also included an Oustanding Performance by a Female Actor), Russian Arts Theater, IATI, HB Playwrights Foundation, Teatro SEA, to name a few. In Film and TV, I played the lead role for the criminal series Six Degrees of Murder (ID Discovery Channel) and have recently shot the film The Middle of Somewhere, winner of the Royal Film Award 2018 and the short film Latiner, Selected Official for the Latino Short Film Festival.

Within the past year, I have been awarded the national Latin ACE Award 2019 for Best Drama Actress – HOLA Award 2018 and 2017 for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor – ATI Award 2018 for Best Actress – FUERZAFest Award 2017 for Best Actress – Latin ACE Award 2017 for Best Comedic Actress.

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?
An acting career is never a smooth road, but if on top of that, you are pursuing that career abroad, the difficulties increase tremendously. The process was painful sometimes as I had to deal with visas, different cultural heritage, loneliness sometimes but I learn from those difficult moments and became a stronger and more self-confident person. It made me realize how powerful the human being is when you have a very clear and strong goal in life. There were, of course, great and unforgettable episodes during this journey. ​I was fortunate enough to have met wonderful people along the way who became my close friends and mentors nowadays. Life of an artist is always ongoing journey.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
As I mentioned previously, apart from being an actress, I am very proud and honored to be part of the faculty member at the HB Studio, one of New York’s most venerable institutions for theater training and practice. HB Studio is my artistic home where I studied, where I grew as ​an artist and where I teach now. On January 2017, HB Studio launched its first acting class conducted entirely in Spanish. Pablo Andrade, also an awarded winning actor from Venezuela and I were, in charge of such an incredible mission. It has been a great success, so we recently launched a second Spanish acting class: Scene Study. With the launch of these Spanish-language classes, HB Studio carried on its long tradition as an institution of inclusivity, mentoring and developing artists who can contribute to a theater that expresses the social, moral and political realities of the world in which we live.

I am passionate about teaching and the performing arts. I believe in the power of integrative approaches for personal and professional growth. I enjoy working with people and helping them grow through acting. As a fluent speaker of Spanish, Catalan, French, and English, I have come to understand the value of multilingual and multicultural worldview.

I am also a Director of Education, actress, and co-founder of Corezon, a successful and independent theatre and audiovisual company based in NYC. Our mission is to produce new and relevant work of Latin American and Spanish theater to broader audiences. We believe in the power of audiovisual and performing arts to achieve entertainment and catharsis. Corezon has collaborated with important institutions in the development of artistic projects, such as: Hispanic Federation, The World Bank Group, Society of Educational Arts, Comisionado Dominicano de Cultura en los Estados Unidos, among others. Our play “Seis” by Federico Roca, in which I was also part of the cast, has been a great success. This play is a tribute to the transgender women murdered in Uruguay between 2012 and 2013. It was part of the Hispanic Federation’s FUERZAfest2017 and was awarded of Best Playwright, Best Play, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor awards, and with three 2017 HOLA Awards (Hispanic Organization Latin Actors) for Outstanding Achievement in Directing, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor, and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor. It is now on tour.

Last but not least, I recently I have been awarded the national Latin ACE 2019 (The Association of Latin Entertainment Critics of New York) as Best Drama Actress for my performance in “El Divan” by Fernando Travesi.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
As regards my future, I am very excited to be part of the Hispanic Festival, Fuerzafest 2019, with the play “El espacio entre medias” by Fernando Travesi. The festival will take place the first two weeks of May at Julia De Burgos Performance and Arts Center, El Barrio, New York City. FUERZAfest strives to be inclusive while breaking away from gender binarism.

Additionally, I have been invited by the Origin Theater Company to participate in EU Month of Culture, we will be presenting the play “Upstairs Neighbors” by the awarded Spanish filmmaker, Cesc Gay, at the Insituto Cervantes of New York City this coming May.

I am also excited to be part of the reading of “Pro Bono” by Natalie Bates which will be part of the League of Professional Theater Women. The reading will take place at The Grand Central Library in April.

Last but not least, throughout the year, HB Studio is honoring the iconic American actor-teacher, Miss Uta Hagen’s legacy through a series of special activities, classes, workshops, and public events. HB Studio has gathered Centennial Committee of renowned artists and industry leaders which will produce “Actress + Activist: Uta Hagen at 100”, an ambitious series of programs, classes, and events culminating in a Gala Tribute in June 2019. I am honored to be part of this Committee along with Broadway actors such as Katie Finneran, Amanda Peet, Austin Pendelton, Helen Gallagher, among others.

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Image Credit:
Michael Palma, Arianna Tettamanzi, Marina McClure

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