We had the good fortune of connecting with Deborah Magdalena and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Deborah Magdalena & Jairo Ontivetros celebrate Ailey Camp Miami’s 2016 National Arts & Huimanities Youth Program Award with a Michelle Obama Stand-in

Hi Deborah, how do you think about risk?
As early as I can remember my passion has always outweighed any fear of risk taking. I traveled to Paris, not knowing how to speak French to finish out my college senior seminar. I left NYC at the peak of my acting career to move to Miami so I could be closer to my family. Surprisingly I somehow managed to still have a thriving acting career. I moved to LA by myself, I chartered into the world of spoken word without ever being truly exposed to it. I proclaimed to be a producer before I even knew all that it entails to be thorough and an empathetic one. Whatever I wanted to do or try I simply just did. That is a trait I totally credit for making me the artist, mentor and director that I am today. Yet this little thing called COVID 19 has changed that. As primary caregiver to my queen 90- year-old mom who has a progressive case of pulmonary fibrosis, the virus has made me overly cautious in not only her care but in everything. Risk is now my enemy. It has become an expensive accessory that at this time I no longer want. Understanding how much I have benefited and grown from being a “risk-taker”, I still think everyone should face it and challenge it as much as one can. Risk helps build one’s character and unwavering valor. I am sure with time (and when the virus is fully under control) I will again rock out with this gem of an accessory. “The Risk Pendant”.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I remember when Google was a new thing. (Wow I think I just aged myself) Not everyone was “Google-able”. My friends would tease me because whenever someone would directly ask me what have I done – I’d say “Google me”. Even though everyone now is “google-able” I still take pride in my “Google-able” body of work for the past 15 + years. Whether I am hosting a spoken word event, producing a music festival, or playing the role of a santera or vixen, I stride to always make every emotion super real. Even when playing a fictional character I always try to bring some level of my personal truth to it. I always tell the young artists I teach and mentor “Your power is your truth – your truth is your power. Your word is your power”. Somehow that has always been the seed of my passion. Of course it was hard to start out in Hollywood when everyone was looking for the next Rosie Perez and I was far from being like her. It was hard being on a sketch comedy show when all they wanted from me was to be cute and not funny. It was painful to relax and blow out my hair so I can get more gigs. The list is long, but I always stayed focused on my truth. On who I was, who I am today and on my continuous personal growth. When you know who you are, obstacles can be painful but they simply will never stop you. Know and own your truth. Own who you are. The imperfect, beautiful, YOU!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am always beating myself up for not visiting the beach enough. The main reason I moved to Miami from New York was for its beautiful beaches. When we are able to have loved ones visit us again it will be a great opportunity for me to get re-acquainted with Miami. I will take them to my go-to spots, and naturally the first stop would be the beach, off 21st street on South Beach so that we could rent chairs and get some sort of food and beverage service. Selfishly I would take them to the Wynwood Art District because there are so many new things popping off that I need to get hip to. Like the Graffiti Museum. We would check out MIMO District and Miami Shores Downtown. There are a lot of cool looking bistros and shops that I have yet been able to visit. I love how they have revived Little Havana. We’d stroll Calle Ocho’s shops, stop at the domino park, get a cigar from Little Havana Cigar Factory, sip on an iced “Mojito” from Ball & Chain y a BAILAR!!! We would enjoy a nice and healthy dinner at Books & Books at the Arsht Chef’s Allen’s Farm-To-Table. You pick out your own veggies and the Chef makes you a surprise 6 course meal- YUM!!! Since we would be revisiting the beach so much and taking many naps in between, we would cap it off with a must visit to PAMM, and late lunch at Little Havana Restaurant in North Miami- the best Cuban food! At least this is my wish, God only knows what our sweet Miami will look like in another 90 days.  

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Throughout my life I have been blessed with many mentors. My mother, my Great-Aunt Puerto Rican legend Ruth Fernandez, my childhood best friend Tanya and the list goes on. At this moment in time, the way I approach my work now has everything to do with the sometimes overbearing expectations that Jairo Ontiveros Vice President, Education & Community Engagement has of me. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Jairo now for almost 14 years, most closely for the past 8 years. He sees the best in me and always expects it from me. In fact he demands it. No matter how frustrating it may be at times, it is very much necessary and always helps me to grow as a professional and a person, which is something I am grateful for. Now I know for sure, the quality of one’s work are the nuggets we contribute to our community. If you can pile up a few of those, you leave behind a legacy.

Website: deborahmagdalena.com
Instagram: @funkdalena
Linkedin: DeborahMagdalena
Twitter: @DeborahMag
Facebook: DeborahMagdalena
Youtube: dmagdalena
Other: The Art of Making – https://youtu.be/bx2tYKWw2H4 Heart of Art – “My Lover” – https://youtu.be/n0PF8174zao

Image Credits
Spoken Soul Festival 2019 Angel Valentin #1 Javier Sanchez – ICA – DM Laughing #2 Justin Namon – Ailey Class #3 Jay Franco – Blk & wht performance

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutMiami is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.