Born in the Dominican Republic, Vanessa Nova grew up in the Bronx, where she attended Walton High School and Lehman College. An aspiring actress, she is currently studying at both the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater and Piel Canela New York Latin Dance and Music School. Prior to working at Juilliard, where she started in 2001, she was a sales representative at Levitz.
What is one of your favorite memories from your years here?
I remember being amazed at the beauty of the deep-red carpeted main lobby. I was very excited to be applying for the position, but during my interview, I was very nervous. And when I [started working], I was also nervous, but most of the team were friendly and made me feel welcome. Meeting actor Robert De Niro [at Juilliard] was an unforgettable experience, and one that I will forever cherish.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
I would enjoy being on the Drama faculty for a day because I am an aspiring actress.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had?
The most memorable job I’ve had was being featured as a backup dancer in the “Family Affair” music video of R&B singer Mary J. Blige in the summer of 2001. It was a great experience for me because I grew up admiring her career as an artist, and working for her in a project [related to] the release of her fifth studio album, No More Drama, was a wish come true.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Show me a woman who does not like to pamper herself! I am most definitely one who does. I would go to a spa and pamper myself and just relax all day long. Relaxation of the body and mind are both very important in life.
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
Being a mother, a full-time employee, and following my dreams is certainly a challenge. The support of my loving friends and family motivates me to climb the tallest mountains with no fears. Having my wonderful daughter makes me set my priorities straight and want to be the best that I can be and believe in my dreams.
Tell us about your acting studies.
What I have learned at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where I study acting, is that the foundation of acting is the reality of doing: really listening to and answering your partner, and living truthfully all under imaginary circumstances. You do so by focusing all of your attention and energy outside yourself and understanding that every little moment has a meaning on stage. Trust your instincts, and that will organically lead to being free and to having real contact and real emotions. It will create art.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
Dancing artistically is one of my passions. I have been training with the Piel Canela salsa company and will be having my first dance recital this spring, which I’m very excited about!
Where would you most like to travel and what is it that draws you to that place?
I’d like to visit Spain. It has sunny weather and pleasant beaches, and I would like to learn more about its history and have a taste of its delightful culture.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
They are usually surprised when I tell them I’m a security officer.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
I must say that my favorite thing is all the great investment, hard work, effort, and ideas put into Broadway shows. The talents and beauty put into these productions for audiences from all over the world to enjoy—in a magical city—make an admirable experience and create memories to cherish.
What book are you reading right now, or what CD are you listening to?
I’m currently reading The Actor’s Art and Craft by William Esper and Damon Dimarco, which is about the Meisner acting technique on acting and is based on [Esper’s] 17 years working with the legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner. It’s filled with exercises that build a solid foundation of acting skills, and it shows how to create characters with truthful and compelling inner lives. I’m also listening to a CD by the Italian singer Laura Pausini, which is mainly inspired by love and all its virtues. I’m a romantic girl!