This month, we spoke with Priscila Garcia-Jacquier, a 2010 graduate of the Walnut Hill Theater Department. Priscila is the creator of QUIERO, a talk-show web series providing access to stories of LatinX success, or #LatinXcellence. We chatted with Priscila about this exciting new project, as well as future plans and lessons in networking. For more about Priscila, you can find her on Instagram @quierotheshow and follow her progress in funding and producing QUIERO.
1. Catch us up on the past eight years! What did you do after graduating from Walnut Hill, and how did that lead you to where you are now?
After Walnut Hill, I attended Carnegie Mellon University for directing (the first director from WH!). I was very grateful to have attended Walnut Hill prior to that experience—it really set me up for a successful career at a conservatory, in that I knew what to look for, how to meet challenges, and how best to utilize the program to build my next step.
I learned while at the university that I was the first Latina to graduate from my directing program. While a tremendous accolade for me, it meant that there was a part of the Carnegie network that I would have to build from scratch. As a result, I reached out to many of my heroes in the industry and asked for guidance. That's how I found my way to Kenny Leon. I interned for Kenny for the workshop of Holler if Ya Hear Me in 2013, the summer before my senior year. It was during that time that I met the Apollo Theater's Kamilah Forbes. I would eventually assist them on the Broadway premiere of the same show right after my graduating from college. Together, they taught me that to be a leader and a person of color in the arts means something—it has weight and impact; we have the potential to change the narrative for society as a whole.
From there, I found myself working at one of the most important talent agencies in the world. So much of the creative process feels out of our control and in the hands of the powers that be. I decided I wanted to learn directly from the people making those decisions—the gatekeepers, if you will. It was the most important experience of my life, and it's the thing I recommend the most. Everyone in the business should work at an agency. There is no better way to learn about the ins and outs of the industry and empower yourself with the necessary tools to tackle it.
While the agency did put all my skills to the test and I loved it tremendously, I eventually realized that I still very much wanted to be in the room. I loved my mentors there very much, but ultimately, I would make a very resentful agent if I didn't pursue my hunch. Luckily, I was hired by a client and now work full-time as his writer's assistant.
During the day, I am privileged to assist him in a variety of projects—from TV pilots to major motion pictures to Off-Broadway shows. At night, I run my own production company, Round Room Image.
2. Tell us about your new project, QUIERO. How did the idea evolve?
QUIERO is a talk-show web series featuring LatinX who are absolutely killing it. In a way, the show evolved out of necessity: when I graduated and went through that process of cold-emailing potential mentors, I realized that LatinX are succeeding at the top across all industries. The problem is that LatinX don't know that, because our stories are not made available for society as a whole. I realized how privileged I was in having access to these people, their lives, and their lessons. Especially during this current administration, I wanted to create something that would expose the true narrative of what LatinX represent in this country. And what better way than to give these heroes a platform to speak about their lives? Not to mention, impart their lessons and make them available for people who, say, didn't go to Walnut Hill or Carnegie Mellon, people who would otherwise never be privy to them? Visibility of LatinX success stories at another level.
3. What are your hopes for the future of QUIERO, and do you have any other dream projects?
I want QUIERO to be the single place, the one-stop shop for LatinX. I want our community to feel seen, heard, and represented in all of its LatinX glory. Listen, the LatinX community is widely misunderstood: Before we came to the United States, no matter how far back that migration was, we all came from completely different nations. And now we have to work really hard at becoming a cohesive community because that's how we're seen. There's power in that. My hope is that QUIERO both exposes our differences so that people can better understand, and in that way, that it also unites us—that it makes us visible to society as a whole.
This year, I want to film three seasons of ten episodes each. I foresee the show touring and entire seasons taking place in different states. We very much want to be in L.A. for season 2, and perhaps Texas for season 3.
Aside from QUIERO, my life's goal is to be a writer/showrunner. I'm working on that as well, but one thing at a time.
4. Do you have any lessons or words of advice to share with our youngest alumni who are just entering the world?
Build your network. I think we're told that a lot as young people, and it always seems so daunting because we're not given the tools for how to do it. Listen, I went to an amazing conservatory. These people are the crème de la crème. And yet I would say that we're taught to be either on Broadway or on a TV show and nothing else. That's a huge disservice. There are so, so many ways to build a career. If you're an actor, really get to know your peers in design, directing, writing. No one will tell you, but they really are the people who will be employing you in the future. Make your own work. Don't wait for someone to give you the green light. Consider working in regional theater to build your resume and training—you don't have to be in New York and nanny for years. You can work right away. Consider working at an agency—the contacts and skills you gain by doing so are priceless and will continue to pay off for the rest of your life. Cold-email potential mentors and be prepared. Most importantly, teachers will make you feel like there isn't a place for you. And that's their job. They have to do that. But know that the times are changing fast and you will find your place, as long as you're clear about where you want to be. Claim that. You deserve it.