Drama graduate Matías De La Flor explains how UNCSA advanced his passion for storytelling

“You’re not going to be a businessman or a mathematician, you’re going to be an actor,” a drama teacher once told Matías De La Flor (BFA Drama ’22) during his second year of high school. “It’s what’s in your heart, but you don’t know it yet.” Now finishing his fourth year in drama school, De La Flor is making that prediction come true as he pursues his career in acting, content creation, and playwriting after graduation.

While at UNCSA, De La Flor performed in various dramatic productions, including “Heathers”, “Three Sisters”, and “Our Lady of 121st Street”, as well as the radio play “Henry V”.

Outside of school productions, he worked for years on a translation of “Romeo and Juliet” which uses both Shakespeare’s original version as well as Pablo Neruda’s Spanish translation. De La Flor’s version, “Romeo y Julieta Limeño,” is based in her home country of Peru, where the two families own competing restaurants — a commentary on how food can bring people together. What began as a project during a designed acting and intensive arts course will now be his playwriting debut which will be produced by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and premiere July 23, 2022 in downtown Winston-Salem during the National Black Theater Festival.

Discovering the love of acting

A native of Lima, Peru, who moved to Florida with her family when she was five years old, De La Flor was first introduced to theater in college during a mandatory production of “The Little Mermaid” in which he played King Triton. After seeing his performance, his mother and sister encouraged him to join his college drama club. “At first, I was hesitant because I’ve always been interested in sports and I had in mind that athletes and comedy didn’t mix well,” recalls De La Flor. However, he realized he had a passion for performing and started joining the drama club and later took acting classes for most of high school.

During his sophomore year, he decided to take a break from his drama classes, calling them “the worst year of my high school experience” because he didn’t have the creative outlet he had. learned to love. “I went back to class during my freshman year after my teacher helped me realize how passionate I was about acting. At the end of that year, I told my friends that I wanted to pursue an acting career,” says De La Flor.

That same drama teacher encouraged him to look into the Florida School of the Arts (FSA), a two-year college that offers associate degrees in various fields of performing and visual arts. He only applied to this school and received a full scholarship to attend. “While studying at the FSA, I learned the basics of the trade and what it was like to train your brain, your voice and your body,” he explains.

[A guest artist] reference [Dean of Drama Scott Zigler] as “the best acting teacher in the country”, so I knew that was where I wanted to be.

Matias De La Flor

It was during a visit from a guest artist that he was set to apply to UNCSA. During the visit, FSA graduate Monet suggested she go to UNCSA because she had studied with theater dean Scott Zigler in the American Repertory Theater’s Institute for Advanced Theater program. Harvard University Theater Training. “She called him ‘the best acting teacher in the country,’ so I knew that was where I wanted to be,” De La Flor said. After working on his audition for a year with his teachers, he was accepted into the program as a member of the class of 2022.

A passion for storytelling

“As soon as I arrived at UNCSA, I felt lucky to be surrounded by such an incredible and talented group of people,” De La Flor recalled. From students to faculty and staff, he thinks everyone has been an inspiration to him during his time here. But he gives a special shout out to Sara Becker who teaches Shakespeare, voice and dialects saying “she makes you not only a better actor, but a better person by the way she conducts herself”. De La Flor adds that Zigler’s freshman class is where he first experienced acting on “a whole new level” and made him feel like he had chosen the right school.

Apart from acting and playwriting, De La Flor also explored cinema through documentary projects: one followed the process of rehearsing and recording the radio play “Henry V”, and another titled “Rico: An Exploration of Latin Culture in North Carolina” explored immigrants. culture through the prism of food. In all of his creative endeavours—whether acting, playwriting, or filmmaking—De La Flor says he is “first and foremost a storyteller.”

Matías De La Flor Drama Graduate

In the entertainment industry, De La Flor lists fellow Latin Americans Lin Mauel-Miranda, John Leguizamo, José Rivera and Oscar Isaac as well as Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper as some of his biggest inspirations. He notes in particular that seeing Manuel-Miranda’s “In the Heights” for the first time was a transformative experience because “it showed a sense of belonging to a show that I didn’t know could exist, and showed Latinx people in a three-dimensional way.” It was also the first time he realized there could be acting opportunities for people who spoke Spanish, and said before seeing this show he “always thought it should be two separate parts of me”.

Reflecting on his four years, he says the biggest advice he would give current and incoming students is to “learn to understand when to take space and when to give space” and “don’t wait permission”. In anticipation of what her career may bring, De La Flor hopes to continue telling stories that feel true to her and that can positively impact the next generation of actors and creators.

by Melissa Upton-Julio

Get the best news, performances, and stories from UNCSA alumni.