Stepping into Magic: an actor's journey…

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" ~William Shakespeare

Archive for the month “November, 2012”

Exercise, Murder and Turkey!

I am sitting at the URBNMRKT near USC in a “work meeting” with my colleague Malika Williams and realized I haven’t updated my blog since June! I had been in San Francisco over the summer working on the world premier of Luis Alfaro’s BRUJA at the Magic Theatre and after we opened I just let the blogging fall to the sidelines. I’ve always been daunted by writing and starting a blog was an attempt at exercising that muscle. So I’ve decided I need to get back to the blog!

For those of you new to my Blog I like to focus on three aspects of my life: Body, Mind and Soul. I hope you enjoy!!!


 “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~Wayne Gretzky

Hiking the Baldwin Stairs to the Overlook with Malika and Danielle!

As many of you may know I have had multiple surgeries and suffer from chronic joint pain. The biggest problem is that I have a horrible attitude towards exercise even though it is what could cure me from my pain. There is something in my mind that is blocked and refuses to accept any motivation to “work-out.” If it’s not one excuse it’s another: “Yoga is too expensive” ” I’ll start next week” “The gym is too expensive” “It hurts to exercise” “If only I had my own personal trainer” Blah, Blah, Blah… There are times when I am able to have the motivation, but it only lasts for, at most, a few weeks. Recently I have a little voice in my head that is reminding me that my body is my instrument and if I don’t take care of it I won’t be able to keep up with the demands of being an actor. So…. as of now I do not have any specific goals or a burst of motivation, I am just publicly announcing that I know I have to take charge and find a workout that works for me. Any suggestions are always welcome!

  • What exercise works for you?
  • Have you ever had a hard time getting yourself to work out?
  • What’s your favorite workout music?


“Books are packaged dreams.” ~Dean Koontz

Zen Moses, private investigator, is either having a bad day or bad karma. Her cat is dead. The IRS wants to talk to her. And she just found her long-lost cousin’s body bound to a beer keg at her favorite neighborhood bar.

I am an avid reader! I love escaping into new worlds, following characters through their journeys and being satisfied with a good story. Since I was little I have loved reading and still own many of the books from my childhood. I have also decided that when I give gifts to children it is almost always a book rather than a toy. On the inside of many of my childhood books there are written notes from the people that gave them to me and I cherish that tradition. Recently I visited the USC library where as an Alum I can still check out books! The book I wanted wasn’t there so I decided to let myself get lost in the book stacks and I came across this book: Zen and the Art of Murder by Elizabeth M. Cosin (click the title to read an excerpt from the book). Its a 1998 private detective novel that is filled with humor, wit and a great story. I finished it in a week! I returned the book yesterday and got her next novel: Zen and the City of Angels, I am already 3/4 done with it. My mother is a huge fan of detective novels, I had never been too into them, but this one makes me think I need to give that genre another try…

  • What are your favorite detective novels?
  • What is the book you last read?
  • What is a book you have been meaning to read?


Take care of all your memories, for you cannot re-live them. ~Bob Dylan

Patio Fireplace at the Hotel Angeleno

This is the second year in a row that I wasn’t able to go home for Thanksgiving. Nothing can replace the feeling of Thanksgiving with my parents up in our house in Northern New Mexico. The turkey with green chile, mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, my mom’s green bean casserole and cranberry/orange sauce, going fishing with my dad, visits from family and friends and the endless games of gin rummy by the wood burning stove. However, there is something special about creating new traditions. Last year Matt and I ate out at a fancy restaurant and had a wonderful Thanksgiving together. This year his parents joined us in LA along with my Aunt Frances and Uncle Harvey, all traveling from Albuquerque. My cousin Jenny, works at a super fancy hotel: Sofitel LA and we had an amazing buffet with everyone at the restaurant SIMON/LA. The food was fabulous and it was great to watch my aunt and uncle get to know Matt’s parents. The next day we went to Malibu with Matt’s mom and dad and took them to Dukes for some great fish and a view of the ocean. They left early the next morning and I spent the day with my aunt and uncle visiting family in Newport Beach. It was such a wonderful feeling to have family around us and I am so thankful to all of them for traveling out to see us.

  • What are some of your Thanksgiving?Holiday traditions?
  • What is your favorite food for Turkey day?
  • Have you ever been away from family for Thanksgiving?

Opening Night, other thoughts and some special news!

Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea in “Bruja” by Luis Alfaro at Magic Theatre (Photo: Jennifer Reiley).

*** The following post is from June 7, 2012. I had planned on posting while in San Francisco, but took a blog break. I decided to get back on the blog wagon and would like to share it with you all! Enjoy 🙂

Its Official! Bruja is opened! The journey to last night has been full of hard work, exhaustion, laughter and tears. Opening night is such a beast unto its own. I have always loved the ritual of it… The opening night gifts and cards and flowers. The buzz of the audience before the show starts, the energetic flow of the storytelling and the final breath of the curtain call. I was honored that my parents made the trip from New Mexico to share this moment. The Magic Theatre put on a wonderful party with Pupusas, Margaritas and some incredible words from the director Loretta Greco and playwright Luis Alfaro. What was wonderful was that we all had plates of food waiting for us in the dressing rooms so we could take a moment to nourish ourselves and then head out into the crowd to smile and shake hands and enjoy a cocktail. Each of us were given a beautiful framed production photo and a bouquet of flowers from the staff. These folks at the Magic are amazing! And now the work continues….

Sabina Zuniga Varela as Medea in “Bruja” at Magic Theatre (Photo: Jennifer Reiley).

BODY: There is a wonderful moment that happens in my stomach about 5 minutes before places. Those colorful and playful butterflies open their wings and begin to dance. I start to remember certain warm-ups that are helpful to repeat: the loosening of my jaw, taking large pleasurable breaths, stretching my tongue, blowing through my lips, humming and releasing sound vibration. I give everyone in the cast a hug and feel their energy with me as I walk through the black curtain between the dressing rooms and backstage. I have a nice long walk behind the set to get to where I need to stand and wait for my cue light. I take the two large palm leaves in my hands, close my eyes and drop my thoughts out of my head and into my belly. There is a beautiful sound that starts just before the lights go out and I get into place, its a very soothing tone and as soon as I can hear it and feel it I open my eyes and wait for that little blue cue light to turn off. I enter in black and find my little glow tape spike mark and reach my arms to the heavens. Through out the play I am constantly reminding myself to relax my jaw and belly so that my emotions have a free and open instrument to roam through. When dealing with emotions such as anger and heartbreak it is easy to tighten up, so its an interesting battle to free those feelings with a relaxed body… I am thankful for my training from Natsuko Ohama, her voice is always in my body, giving me little reminders and I picture her laughter and smiling face often. My favorite feeling is when my voice is coming from deep within, connected to a lower place in my body. I can feel the vibration of it coming out of my belly button. Such a difference from when I chose to use a higher register and feel that coming out from in between my eyebrows. I picture those butterflies that start to dance in my belly just before I go on stage and I feel them flying out of my mouth and into the magical world of our story. When I release words of love and joy they are bright yellow and white and they dance lightly and fast along the air zipping around in random and fanciful patterns. As I start to speak words of anger, jealousy and revenge, the wings change to red and black and their dance becomes heavier and more direct… (*** Recently I was interviewed about this role and remembered this entry when talking about the physical and emotional aspects of this part!)

MIND: Recently I had to put myself on tape for an audition. This was the first time I auditioned for a theatre piece via video. It was so great to try out for a role again. Since being in San Francisco I have sort of felt like I am on vacation. I am working a lot for the show of course, but at the end of the day I am out of town and not in my LA environment. The auditions took place in Los Angeles and there was no way that I could make a flight that would get me back in time for rehearsals. So I decided to ask the casting folks if they would be willing to see a taped audition. Luckily the director was interested and wanted me to come for callbacks. But the same problem, no way I could fly to LA in the middle of previews. So my manager talked to the casting folks and asked if they wanted to try a Skype callback. Instead the director chose to call me directly and give me some feedback and direction then asked that I tape myself again. It was so weird to be auditioning for a camera and not being able to feel the people in the room and get a read on the energy of the audition. It was also freeing because of that. The second go round I was lucky to have my cast mate Sean San Jose, who plays opposite me as Jason, read with me. So keep those fingers crossed and the candles lit….! (*** I did not get the role but was told that they loved my audition!)

This photo was taken by Matt’s aunt when we were hiking   Denali National Park in Alaska.


SOUL: The night before I flew to San Francisco my honey Matt Andrade popped the question. That’s right! I’m engaged! It was such a crazy feeling to be so happy and excited and then have to hop on a plane and fly away from my Fiance… I ordered a glass of champagne on my flight from LAX to SFO and could feel my cheeks start to burn from all my smiling. I called my parents when I got to my apartment in San Francisco and as we started listing off everyone in the family and friends that I wanted to call and break the news, I realized that the announcement was going to take a lot of energy and I needed to focus on the role of MEDEA. With wonderful understanding from Matt and our parents, we kept a lid on the news for about a month. I rehearsed and rehearsed and my lovely stage manager would wear my ring for me while I was working. Finally we had started running the show and I felt like I was in a place where I could tackle the phone list. So I spent Memorial Day on the phone from Noon till 7pm with a bottle of wine and a phone list. It was wonderful to have excited and loving conversations with my family members and close friends. We haven’t set a date, since neither of us know what we are doing one month to the next. In fact Matt will be working in Dallas for the next few months and I may head out east! What we do know is that we are ready for this adventure in to the wilderness and the ceremony will take place in our hometown of Albuquerque. Just when I thought my life was pretty darn sweet, Matt went ahead and made it that much better… (*** We still have not set a date! We are hopeful for September of 2014, in 2013 we will be moving to Ashland, OR for 7 months while I work for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.)

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