Sofia Riba is an acting student, here is a link to her Instagram page:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: I can’t remember a time when I was drawn to performing. My parents grew up in Mexico City, and in their day extracurriculars in school were not common. When we moved to Miami when I was 4, my parents had me in piano, ballet, tap and singing lessons. But I was very interested in acting. I would impersonate Crocodile Dundee in my best Australian accent. I would recreate scenes from Charlie’s Angels with my sister. Then I remember watching The Amanda Show in the late 90s on Nickelodeon and thinking, “wow, I want to be her. She’s soooo lucky.” Amanda Bynes was 14 at the time and starring in her own sketch comedy show. I was impressed. Since then I stopped playing piano and dancing, but I’ve always wanted to act.
Q: What kind of training have you had?
A: Before moving to New York, I thought I had pretty solid training under my belt. I had worked in commercials and community theatre for a while. It’s only when I became serious about the craft that I realized I did not know shit about acting. I’ve completed one year of training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio and I’ll begin my final year this September.
Q: To what method of acting do you ascribe?
A: The Meisner technique. I first learned about it when I was in a staged reading in Boston. I was the only cast member who had not trained in Meisner. The director, a fellow Emerson alum, explained that he preferred Meisner trained actors because they were simply more truthful than any other actors he had worked with.
Q: Who are some of your acting influences?
A: Jessica Chastain is such an inspiration. She has an effortless way about her. The scene in Jolene when she is caught having an affair, and she cries on her stoop completely humiliated gives me chills. Kevin Spacey is another treat. Watching him act is like having dessert.
Q: What kind of day job (or income source) do you have and how does it affect your work?
A: I was a babysitter for years. I love kids. They’re so blatantly themselves. When I first started training, I would babysit an 8 and a 5 year old. They lived so freely! They’d say outrageous things because they hadn’t been quieted or “trained” by society yet. Their honesty inspired me to be more fearless. This summer I’m a server at a high pressure but rewarding restaurant. I think the long but enjoyable hours will prepare me for life on set or in rehearsal.
Q: What was the most challenging thing you ever had to do in acting class?
A: I decided to do a scene with my acting partner in which my boyfriend had been in a car accident. He’d just been discharged from the hospital, completely healed. Elated, I decided to practice a strip tease I’d perform for him as a surprise. Taking off my clothes with such a deep joy related to the act, in front of my acting teacher and peers, was so nerve-wracking I didn’t sleep the night before.
Q: What is your strangest New York story?
A: I can’t think of anything particularly strange that’s happened to me. I’m sure that will change, I’ve only been in the city a year. I will say though, I am obsessed with St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery on 2nd Ave and 10th Street. Apparently, the church is haunted by the ghost of Dutch settler Peter Stuyvesant. Literally every time I pass by, I get goose bumps and feel light-headed. I can’t explain it!
Q: You majored in Political Communication at Emerson. How does your training in Political Communication help you in your acting?
A: At Emerson, I was analyzing exactly how politics influence the masses. I’d break down famous speeches and documents to pinpoint the techniques used that appealed to the public. It was all about specifics. At my acting studio, we talk a lot about creating specific behavior. The sadness I would experience if my dog died, for example, is not the same sadness I’d experience if my mom had to sell my childhood home. If I approached both scenarios with the same emotional weight, I would be an untruthful actor. So it all relates back to avoiding generalities and being as specific as possible in order to be of good quality.
Q: What famous role would you most like to attempt?
A: I would do ungodly things to play Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Tennessee Williams created a touching, silly but strong-willed former Southern Belle with zero self-awareness. Her delusions make me want to shake her and hug her at the same time. Amanda is fascinating to me.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)