Name: Carmen Pelaez
Current Town: Miami post Brooklyn
Affiliations: American Academy of Dramatic Arts
Q: How do you self-identify?
A: Cuban-American and Latina
Q: Tell me about FAKE.
A: FAKE is about the intersection of art and commerce. The battle between the authenticity of an experience versus the commodification of a culture as fought on the battleground of a NYC auction house
Q: What else are you working on now?
A: Currently I am working on a feature screenplay and a web series. New technology is turning our art form into a meritocracy again and it’s exciting to create work knowing that it will find its audience instead of jumping through the industry’s hoops.
Q: What have been the defining moments of your journey as a playwright?
A: The most defining moment of my journey was when an artistic director explained that it’s all about networking and relationships—the quality of your work was often an afterthought. It was wonderfully liberating. It neutralized my successes and my rejections, ripping my ego out of the process of theater making and helped me create from a very pure place. A vulnerable one and it’s awesome.
Q: Who have been your playwriting mentors and heroes?
A: I haven’t really had any mentors, but my heroes are Tennessee Williams, Anton Chekov and David Adjmi and Maria Irene Fornes.
Q: What advice do you have for Latin@ playwrights at the beginning of their career?
A: Be an artist. Don’t give in to canned views of what your experience is, find ways of elucidating the humanity of your characters. Forge a truthful path.
Be generous. Support fellow playwrights especially when you’re successful. We’re playing on an uneven playing field, we’re all working hard and most of the time, its plain luck that got our work noticed. Know that and help a fellow writer whenever you can.
Be humble. Your work should come FROM you but your greatest work will never be ABOUT you. If it resonates it’s because the audience is generous enough to open themselves to the STORY you’re telling. Be about the work.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: I’m proud of everything that I’ve put my name on. I don’t suffer fools. And I believe in the abundance of art.
***For more on Carmen Pelaez, see:
- Carmen Pelaez’s Personal Website
- Clips from RUM & COKE
- Juana Monologue from RUM & COKE – Performed by Carmen Pelaez
- “You say Miami, I say Me-ah-me” – Carmen Pelaez (Huffington Post)
- “A Very Cuban Night” – Carmen Pelaez (Huffington Post)
- “Cuba Isn’t a Communist Theme Park” – Carmen Pelaez (NBC News)
- “Letters From Havana: How A Family In Exile Kept In Touch For Decades” – Carmen Pelaez (Refinery 29)