We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Quintana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
A lot of people ask me ” how do you do it??” How do I balance work full time and a creative life filled with professional work and stay on top of a family of 4 and manage to be happy and sane all the time. Well, I don’t know. I have always been pretty good at scheduling myself and my job responsibilities, although I’m far from awesome. I teach high school musical theatre for the majority of the day. Usually I am producing works at school. I do voice over work for an international company that dubs movies and TV from different languages to English. I have maintained steady work as a freelance set designer and construction supervisor on plenty of jobs the last 20 years. My sons have an active extracurricular life with martial arts and dance at the helm. My husband is studying for his Master’s in History and is an avid improviser. I would say it would be weird if this family were sitting home doing nothing. Schedules are very important. We put a lot of focus on Siri to remind us about recurring activities and have a dry erase board calendar on the front door to help with household items like trash and recycling and dog care and school events. My husband and I have a routine in the mornings before we leave the house to prep for all the after school activities by simply asking “what’s up for today? one car or two?” We all work in the same location so it’s easy to take one car and save on gas. Two cars for multiple afterschool activities. Among obligations, I try to find time for myself. Being a morning person, I have recently returned to the gym on the weekend mornings and on Wednesday’s workout at school. This keeps the endorphins at full and my creative juices flowing. I also devote Sunday nights to lesson planning and pre prep for food for the week.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I guess my “art” would have to be Theatre. I work in the educational and professional, in the tangible and the theoretical, in the vocal and the physical. I love my professional career because it is not a mundane existence. It is organic and flowing. I feel every artist has a signature look or style. I definitely see a style in my design work. I like moving parts that work together. I like things full circle and aesthetically pleasing. I like working in an ensemble as a director. As an actor, I like approaching new pieces with a fresh eye and experiencing a process that is unique to every director. I have done a one woman show and been part of experimental original theatre that pushed me to my limits. I think what sets me apart from others is the way I throw myself into my work. I explore pieces from different angles and it comes together in my head from a design aspect, then I implement it directorially or as an actor try to embody characters multi dimensionally. It was not easy to get where I am today. Theatre is subjective and having to prove myself time and time again is part of the journey. It has gotten to a point where I am trying to outdo myself and hope that audiences have as much fun with my work as I am having. I always tell my students that I would never direct a show that I would not want to be in myself. This is my mantra. Everything I do is a testament to my own entertainment. I feel like this is what gets me up in the morning. “How can I be better today?” “What new trick do I have up my sleeve?” “What haven’t I tried yet.” Someone I admire very much told me, I should write a book on my process. I have never been more humbled in my craft. Along the way there have been many lessons: Closed doors don’t always stay closed. Listen empathetically. Do the hard stuff first. Listen to your heart, you are enough. All I know is that I am here and I have a lot of creating to continue doing. These days theatre is suffering all over the world. I want to inspire others to find the will to innovate new ways of performing. Get the work out there. I have never sought fame for happiness. I seek happiness daily in the little successes. I’m big on A-ha moments. When I see someone get a concept that I’ve taught or tell me how valuable a lesson was in their lives, that’s what I live for.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Miami is very eclectic. Some favorite places include restaurants, scenic roadways and fun clubs. You can’t come to Miami and not go to the beach. So here would be our first stop. We would eat breakfast at THE BIG PINK on 5th street and go to about 34th street (a less populated area) to spend the day on the beach. I would take them to THE NATIONAL, which is a favorite Hotel on Collins Ave. for that 1940’s feel. The next day, I would hit up Little Havana for its old school Cuban Cuisine and hole in the wall bars like the new favorite BAR NANCY and BALL AND CHAIN for some Salsa dancing. First though, we would go to Sunset Place for a walk along the store fronts and an amazing wrap at MOJITOS. This area also has amazing houses to just cruise by and gawk at. Next up go to the Grove for some drinks at MONTY’s in the Grove. We would rent bikes and take a ride from MONTY’S down to EL FARITO BEACH. There is a beautiful light house and the trip is fantastic. Driving down to Key Largo on another day, I would take them on a boat tour through ISLA MORADA and hit up the TIKI BAR. Some restaurants that deserve a mention are RIO CRISTAL for the best palomilla steak ever and PINCHO FACTORY for amazing salads, burgers and Pinchos. A Mexican favorite is NACHO GRANDE in Kendall. Their margaritas and authentic Mexican food is savory and delicious.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband and my mother are my rocks. My husband and I have been together for over 20 years and have literally grown into the parents, partners and professionals we are today. He is an educator of theatre and history as well as a voice over artist and sound and light technician for theatre. Our backgrounds are very similar but our endless motivation to create is what drives us. We love what we do and we love each other. He taught me how to best communicate from a young age and it has been our saving grace through good and bad times. Are we perfect, no. But, we are always laughing. That is the secret to a good marriage. I can’t be mad for more than 5 minutes without him making me crack up. My mother is my sounding board and my buttress. She has gotten me out of fine messes all my life. Her advice is something I seek in every decision, whether selling a house or painting my bathroom, I have to make sure she agrees. She is the matriarch of our family and is graced with taste and elegance. I’m lucky to have them as my team.