What impact did studying at the Academy have on your career?
It had everything to do with how my career started in the UK. I came here from the Philippines with no connections, no family, no understanding of how the industry worked on this side of the world, and the Academy provided me with the springboard I desperately needed to get a foot in the door. My first professional job was Sir Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Tamara Harvey, the director, and Sir Tim Rice came to the Academy to judge an internal competition, and I believe this is how I must have got the job, or at least made an impression. The musical director of the show was also my amazing Academy vocal coach, David White, so it was all very much in the Academy family. Aside from this, the skills and knowledge that the programme gave me have been vital to the progress of my career in theatre and music. The technique I acquired from sessions with my singing teacher, Ann James, has been life- and career-changing. She gave me this voice that has allowed me to play some wonderful roles on several West End stages.
You worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda on both In the Heights and Hamilton – what was that like?
Just incredible. His style of storytelling is unique, and to have been a part of that is mind-blowing. His work has affected so many people, and his legacy transcends theatre and touches the hearts of so many. When I got to meet and work with him, I couldn't imagine a more generous and down-to-earth person. He is a true genius. I can't wait to see what he gets up to next, and hope to cross paths with him and his team again in the near future!
We are excited to see you in The Prince of Egypt – can you tell us more about the show?
I'm excited to share this show with you all too! We've just started rehearsals, but from what I can tell, it’s going to be spectacular. Everyone knows the story of Moses and Ramses from the beloved DreamWorks animation, and this musical honours that legacy and pushes it further for the 21st century. It is about two brothers who find themselves torn by circumstance and weighed down by their individual responsibilities and how they reconcile their egos and conscience for the good of their people. My character, Tzipporah, grapples with her fundamental thirst for freedom and her sudden unexpected love for a man who fate allowed her to meet. At its core, it's about a very real group of people who were faced with something greater than themselves and how they allowed faith to lead them to their promised land. Expect beautiful and sweeping new melodies and the classic well-loved songs from Grammy and Tony award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, and a story that will make you believe in miracles.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I don't think I can choose just one. The past couple of years doing Hamilton, In the Heights, Cinderella, West Side Story and now The Prince of Egypt have been a dream come true. Standing on a stage, faced with a crowd of thousands who have come to see and listen to you, always feels like a highlight. To be so connected and able to communicate with such a vast number of willing spectators is a thrill I can't replicate in other way. It's terrifying and intoxicating at the same time.
What advice would you give to a current student or recent graduate?
Take in as much as you can from the programme. Say yes to everything and dissect all the information you receive. At the end of it, you'll be able to keep what is actually helpful to you as an artist. You might also find that further on in your career, the other things that you might not have given attention to are actually vital, so keep them in your back pocket. Go to shows, see as much good work as you can – this is probably how I learned the most after leaving the Academy. Study the way the greats work and try to see them reflected in your own personal brand of artist. Also, save your money like nobody’s business!
Other than that, keep working, keep pushing, never settle and always work towards a better you. You're very lucky to be part of the Academy family, I know I am! Great things can come from here.
The Prince of Egypt opens at the Dominion Theatre on Wednesday 5 February 2020.