We had the good fortune of connecting with Yessi Hernández and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yessi, what do you want your legacy to be?
I want to be remembered for my work and for using my voice to make a difference in the world. I want to be known as a person that loved what she did and opened doors for new generations in the performing arts within my community. I hope to inspire others to believe in themselves and not letting your background, your accent, the color of your skin, your religion or sexuality define what you are or what you do, but your talent, your wit and your heart.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a proud latina actress who also loves to write, produce and create. I started acting when I was 19, but I was afraid to say I wanted to do it professionally. By that time, I was studying journalism and I was working as a TV and radio host in my home country. For some reason, in that circle, acting was not taken very seriously. I was going after a Bachelor’s degree with a deep agitation inside me that kept getting stronger every time I was on stage. I had landed roles like “Nina” in the Seagull and “Adela” in “The House of Bernarda Alba” and I had no idea how lucky I was to perform in such amazing productions. Something about being there felt right, it was like if this huge emptiness inside me was getting filled in every time I was performing. I was focused on studying the craft, I signed up for all the acting classes I could possibly take, reading all the books that I found, and got a diploma in Performing Arts, but I was still feeling insecure about pursuing this at its fullest, because I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of not being enough. After a personal trauma that changed me completely, I decided to take the risk, leave everything behind and start building a career as an actress. The first step was getting a professional education in the field: that step took me to New York City where I graduated from Stella Adler Studio of Acting and HB Studio’s conservatory. Since then, I have founded my Theater company: Corezon, and I have been incredibly lucky to work with some of the biggest theater companies in the United States. In that path, I have also fell in love with writing, and have discovered the importance of producing my own work. Being an actor is incredibly difficult: you go to a thousand auditions, get beat up and many times get cast in roles you don’t even want to play! I have learned that you can’t just wait for a door to open, sometimes you just have to build it and open it yourself. There’s no secret on how to “make it”, it’s about staying focused and being ready when the moment comes. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people, staying healthy and ambitious, learning new abilities, studying, it’s about building your team, casting yourself in the plays you want to do, writing the scripts that you want to watch and letting your work speak for itself. But don’t wait for that door! We are responsible of putting what we want to see out there, and sometimes that “thing” is the light that leads the way. I have a very long road in front of me. There are so many things I haven’t done yet, but I’m proud of what I have accomplished so far, the awards I’ve won, the “yes” I’ve earned, and the many doors I have built not only for myself but for other people around me. In this path, I have learnt the importance of being myself, embracing who I am and where I come from. That acceptance has guided me to build a platform called “La Guía Cultural” to highlight other Hispanic talents that, like me, are doing their thing and need a portal to showcase the work that is being done in NYC. Great work! Brave work! Something to be proud of! Our community, our language, our accents, our stories have a lot to say, and I’m proud to be helping in some way to get there.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I’m an actress and I live in New York City, so we would go to a different play everyday! Starting with amazing Hispanic theaters such as Repertorio Español, Pregones and PRTT, IATI, Teatro Círculo and Teatro SEA. Then, we’d finish at The Public Theater and go watch every Broadway show there is! We’d go read a book in Central Park, visit the Met Museum, eat $1 pizza in every corner in town and try all the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I believe we are who we are thanks to a series of endless people, experiences, mentors and traumas that shape us in one way or the other. I could give you a list right now with a thousand things that have made me who I am today, but I’m going to keep it simple: it has been the relationships in my life that have guided me to a path where I’ve felt loved and supported, so I can pursue my dreams with confidence and discipline. Those extraordinary people: my mom, my dad, my husband, my teachers and closest friends have been fundamental for me to stay grounded and focused on my goals. Having a support system at home makes all the difference in the world. When you feel safe and you have a place to always go back to, then you can fly unafraid of falling reaching for the stars, cause you know there’s people that will go after you and catch you.
Ellis Vizcarra, Jessica Osber, Gabrielle Bones.