Tío Louie: You are of German stock, born in Brazil and raised part of your life in Mexico, performing in New York City and living in New Jersey. How did all these cultural and linguistic exposures shape you into the artist you are today?
|Mônica Steuer, at left, in turban,|
on stage in Prospect
TL: Being immersed in three different cultures, how do you self-identify at this stage in life?
MS: As a citizen of life... (laughs). As a human being, I’m Latin American with an international flair. “Me siento muy latina [I feel very Latina]”. There’s Latin and there’s American. I feel Latin and American. I have lived in the U.S. for many years now. I have become more American than I would like to admit. I have incorporated this lifestyle into my being. I have incorporated the efficiency of this American lifestyle– things work. You return something that doesn’t work to a shop and they take it back with no questions asked. Yet, I am so Latin in the way I respond. I am very passionate. I am very spontaneous. I am very intense. I have not lost that aspect of who I am. I work in Portuguese, I work in Spanish. My Hispanic community is very much a part of my life here in the United States. Even though I am in the U.S., and of course, I work in English. But I have not lost my latinidad.
|Clockwise from above left:|
Steuer as young, middle-aged,
and older Berthe in Gardel.
|Steuer in La casa |
de los espíritus.
TL: You are tall [she stands 5’11”]. How does that give you an edge and how have you used this trait to your advantage as a working actor?
MS: My height has been a double-edged sword. Sometimes it has been like, “You’re too tall, because the guy next to you is a shorty”. Bottom line is, Embrace yourself and who you are. The fact that I am tall, I am usually cast as a powerful, confident, strong, intelligent and elegant woman– especially in film where I have been cast more as that type. Theater is a different story. I don’t want to be typecast. In film, you are usually cast as a type.
In Gardel, the theatrical production about the famed Argentine tango singer of the 1920s and 1930s, I played his mother Berthe ranging [in age] from my 30s to my 70s. In La casa de los espíritus, I played a character from the age of nine to my late 40s. Theater gives you a theatrical license to play a wider range of characters and ages, as opposed to film. In film, what you see is what you get.
MS: It was from my father. He told me very early on, “Everyone always talks about the know-how, but do not ever disregard the know-who. The know-who will get you in the door and the know-how will keep you there.”
Prospect is playing at the 64 East 4th Street Theater in Manhattan until Sunday, June 5, 2016. For more information, click here.