Eva was one of my first West End interviews and to say I was inspired (am inspired!) by her is an understatement. She exudes feminine strength and an endearing transparency that I discovered came from a year long journey of finding peace in body, mind, and spirit through fitness and health. With wisdom beyond her years, Eva is a beautiful example of the journey to be Fit for West End & FIT FOR BROADWAY!
(Eva, we can’t wait to welcome you to NYC in 2017!!)
NOTE FROM EVA: I’m Eva! I’m currently playing Eponine in Les Mis and will head to NY in 2017 to be in Miss Saigon! A Pisces mexicasian born in Cali that loves her family, green juice & penguins! I love to laugh and I love pushing myself to try new things, especially when it involves my health!
“Training for Broadway” from Fit for Broadway Apparel
(click HERE or click the picture)
Jane: Eva, I couldn’t be more excited to have you on the blog as one of the featured West End performers (and soon to be Broadway!) Let’s start at the beginning.. what was your journey to your West End Debut?
Eva: Well it first started in New York. I was at North West School of the Arts high school in Charlotte, North Carolina and they had a regional competition for musical theatre performers. Two winners of the regional competitions in each state go to the nationals in New York and they perform at the Minskoff. It’s really cool! I ended up finishing top six and sang a solo from Ghost called “With You”, one of my favorite songs ever. There was a casting director in the audience who just so happened to be the best friend of my theatre director for seven years. Crazy, right? She was aware that Miss Saigon was auditioning- I had no idea. And so after the Jimmy Awards, she pulled me aside and gave me her information and said, ‘You have to audition for Cameron. I’m going to send you in.’ And so a few months later I went in, auditioned two or three times, and then they told me ‘how would you like to move to London?’ and I was like ‘oh my god!’. It happened really quickly.
Jane: Growing up… what was that like? Were you always a performer, always in musical theatre?
Eva: I wasn’t always in musical theatre. I always liked to sing and my family is very supportive and very much like, ‘oh, pick her up and put her on the kitchen table! Sing Eva, sing!’. So, as a young girl it was nice to have support from my family. When I realized you could sing, act and dance at the same time, I thought ‘this is amazing!’ I fell in love with it. I went to North West and I moved from California to North Carolina.. that was intense. I was trying to perfect all of those crafts at once and it was really difficult to find my footing and what my strengths and weaknesses were. You go to a performing arts university or high school and everyone seems to be on the same level as you and you try to rise to the top and then you see others.. it gets competitive and it was tough but I guess worth it.
Jane: Did you grow up singing, dancing and acting?
Eva: Just singing.
Jane: So dancing and acting came later?
Eva: Yeah, dancing and acting definitely came later. I was always dramatic. I didn’t really dig into theatre until I went to school for it.
Jane: How did you adjust physically, mentally, and emotionally for the role when you got to London?
Eva: Oh, the adjustment was actually really difficult because I was still finding who I was as a young woman, I was living by myself, and I’d never had a professional anything before.. never left the country, and was with all these people in this culture and society (speaking of West End, really) that I had never touched or thought about or even knew existed so it was difficult. I think my body was doing all these physical things in rehearsals and my voice was singing but spiritually and mentally, I wasn’t actually there and it took almost a year to catch up with me. It was hard as well because you know, I’m not 100% Asian. There’s Filipino and also Mexican heritage. I’m not going to look and sound like all the other girls in the cast. It’s difficult because people have expectations for revivals and I wasn’t prepared for that.
Physically, you know, I wasn’t ever concerned as a teenager about weight. I always wanted to be active and toned, but I never thought I was overweight. When I moved here, I had to be more aware of my body, my skin, and the way I looked for the role. So the first year was difficult, not gonna lie. But I wish I could go back and remind myself that if I wasn’t strong enough to make it that far then what was the point? Which is empowering looking back on it. Yeah, it was difficult. But I think now, I’m adjusted. I’ve definitely found comfort in my own skin.
Jane: How did your journey in fitness and health transition into a curiosity and exploration of what you actually enjoyed?
Eva: When I was a little girl I would run faster than the boys and I was always in the sun so I was always brown, lean and had perfect skin. When I hit teenage years I got a bit of curve and things started happening to my body and it wasn’t until I moved to London that I was like ‘oh my god I’m breaking out. I’ve never done this before.’ The food was different. But I was never introduced to gym workouts. At school before I moved to London, it was always core; you’d do dance and you’d go for maybe a run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, but that felt was a lot for a teenager. I didn’t know that you could do it and love it. I thought you had to do it and you had to look a certain way. That’s just the unfortunate standards that America- well international magazines put out there for girls and it’s shameful and disgusting, but we all fall into it at some point.
So, when I moved here, I began sessions with a personal trainer. The workouts that he did, I think that’s what you were saying, they sparked my curiosity. Boxing and cardio, it all made my body feel amazing! We would do all of these intense interval training- one minute doing that, one minute doing that, one minute rest, oh my god I can’t breathe but we’re going to do it again. But the feeling after was unbelievable. I started getting addicted to that feeling, not exactly seeing results at first. Getting addicted to the feeling of ‘I just kicked that workout’s ass and I’m so happy, I’m so proud of myself.’ I think that’s when it sparked the strength in my inner spirit to want to go to the gym.
From there, I started reaching out on my own and found hot yoga and boxing and weights, which was like a Godsend. I got a new PT who is lovely. I’ve had her for one and a half years. Every one has different bodies and now, I think beauty in a woman is just confidence. That’s something I’ve always admired. I used to diet all the time but I realized I couldn’t physically do my job if I wasn’t eating enough and it was a constant struggle of balance. Once I found my corners that I really enjoyed, I started digging into it. I didn’t want anyone else bringing me down or swaying my opinion. I love the fact that I can just go to the gym now and do my own thing and challenge myself without anyone there to watch or encourage me.
Jane: How did your relationship to food evolved with your journey? How did that develop the same way into a curiosity and discovery of what made you feel your best in your body?
Eva: I used to think ‘this is what this person in this magazine eats so I have to eat what she eats or I’m not going to lose weight.’ It’s obvious that’s what everyone else is eating so its going to help my body. But, it was difficult because I’m lactose intolerant and recently I have been trying to be more gluten free. I don’t want to put things in my body that I know are not going to digest well and do things to my skin and my hormones. I would go on these juice diets where I would just eat juice. I still have days where I feel like my body’s not balanced- if it doesn’t have enough water or maybe it has too much of something… My favorite word is detox. I’m trying to see the positive in that rather than the negative. People see that as such a negative word, but I think it can be quite empowering if I look at it in a certain way and that’s my challenge. But now that I’ve found the food that I enjoy, with the help of friends, London is so great. London has got some amazing markets for fresh and healthy foods, which makes it easier for me to cook at home and to find my little place in London I can go to for a pressed juice. I’m trying to enjoy life and not worry about the way I look, but I’m still young and I’ve got a long way to go. I do love food at the end of the day, but I think it’s just about finding balance.
Jane: I love hearing about how much you love yoga and the whole spectrum of mind, body, and spirit. What’s been your favorite part of exploring yoga? Do you find it helps you spiritually and emotionally as well?
Eva: Yeah. Spiritually, I mean, my faith is really important to me. Instead of putting God first, I aim to keep him in the centre and that kind of helps me create a balance. I need to start challenging myself to be more patient with people and to be more patient with myself. Why do I think any less of myself?
With that, it goes really strongly hand in hand with how I see yoga as a physical challenge as well as that expression ‘leave your drama at the door.’ That’s really hard to do. In all actuality, 30 minutes into class is when I really start to focus. I love to literally feel my muscles tensing and then relaxing. For me that is the wave that just calms any kind of anxiety I have. And after class, it’s like my mind and body are in one. I like thinking about what I can do as person, as a young woman, as a sister, daughter, girlfriend, friend. What I can do to make myself better, which also means loving myself. So if I use this yoga session for strengthening how I see myself in my body, that one hour can do so much. Rather than just choosing ‘I need to really relax’ or ‘I need to really stretch out my back’.. It just makes it so much more fun to me.
Jane: What’s your favorite yoga pose?
Eva: I really like transition between cobra. It’s just the release that you feel in the small of your back into downward dog. Every downward dog that you do, you get deeper (if you close your eyes). For me, I close my eyes and focus. I can literally feel myself sinking into the floor. I don’t know about you, but it’s really amazing.
Jane: It’s so grounding! I remember the first time I did a headstand without a wall, I was like “YESSS!” So cool.
Eva: It’s a great feeling, being upside down.
Jane: It is! What do you anticipate being the biggest shift of living and performing in New York? Anticipating anything being really different or are you open?
Eva: I’m definitely open to it. Now that I’ve experienced London, I can’t wait to get to know NYC. I don’t think the transition is going to be too difficult. I’m a fast moving person; my mind moves fast and my body moves quickly. My mouth moves fast! I’m always talking! So, I think my spirit will do really well in New York. I’m excited to just kind of amp it up a bit!
Jane: That’s a good way to describe it because I’m trying to understand the difference between living in London and New York. It’s really comfortable in London and in New York, you never feel comfortable, but that can be such a good driving force behind you at all times.
Eva: I completely agree. That just makes me (this is gonna sound weird), that just makes me really excited to make my home ‘home’ in New York so it’s my base, everything I need and more.
Jane: What’s your advice for…
- Young girls who are discovering a healthy relationship with their body?
- Aspiring performers?
Eva: It’s been weird because I just had my little sister here- she just turned 13. Seeing her turn 13 and being like ‘oh my goodness, she’s a teenager now, I want to be the best sister I could be’.. it just reminded me that instead of aspiring to be like someone or to have the qualities of someone, how much more empowering is it to BE that person. If it’s something as simple as the way I walk and that I’m happy with myself, people can see that without even asking me. Even if I fake it in the beginning, eventually I want to say ‘I am that person. I don’t need to aspire to be like somebody else because this is me and I’m freaking amazing.’
For performers, I would say ‘to yourself be kind’. I’m so mean to myself sometimes and it gets me nowhere. Also don’t challenge yourself to perform like someone else. Be inspired. Learn from others and love yourself. Those are the two mantras I lived by to survive. I’m glad I have friends who are older and wiser to listen to. Surround yourself with good people; people who have the experience and maturity.
having all the fun being tourists 🙂 -J.