‘Being’ Lisa Vidal: Actress Talks Life, Work & Growing Up in Whitestone
Photos: Marc Cartwright
Born June 3, 1965 and raised for most of her childhood in Whitestone, Lisa Vidal has worked with some of the most prominent figures in show business, yet she still remains a down-to-earth Queens girl at heart. Lisa attended the High School of the Performing Arts, followed by a stint with the La Familia Theatre Company, where she worked with a cast including Julia Roberts under the tutelage of Raul Julia before moving on to secure her place in Hollywood. We recently had a chance to catch up with Lisa to talk about her rise from the funny girl in class to become one of Hollywood’s hottest – and most respectable – moms.
Let’s start from the beginning. What was your experience like growing up in Whitestone?
We moved to Queens when I was about 11 from the Bronx. My parents didn’t want us growing up in the neighborhood we were living in and I had a cousin who lived in Whitestone, so my parents decided we should move there. It was an interesting experience, in part because there weren’t a lot of Puerto Ricans in Whitestone at that time; it was not very diverse. So, you know, I had to kind of find my place and make friends.
But then you know what, if you look at some of my Facebook friends, some of them are friends from Whitestone who I’m still in touch with. And it’s kind of where I discovered my Queens girl. I was such a Bronx girl and then I moved to Whitestone and then it was like, Queens Girl! Me and my sister grew up there, and we loved it and we made it our own. It was there that I discovered that I love to perform. I used to be the funny girl in class.
Once you realized that you love to perform, how long did it take before you decided that becoming an actor was your dream? At what point did you realize that you were going to get to live out that dream?
I always loved performing. When my parents sent me to camp, if there was a play to audition for or a singing contest, I was the first one signing up. I loved making people laugh, I loved acting, and really right from the start it was something that I really knew I enjoyed.
Then, when I went to junior high school we had that big day where all the high schools come, like Bronx Science, and they tell you about their school, and a friend of mine came up to me and was like, “I’m going to the High School of Performing Arts, I’m gonna audition.” I thought, “What’s that?” “Oh, that’s where they teach you how to be an actor and a dancer.” And I was like, “Oh, I want to go to that school!”
So that was it—I applied. I didn’t even know at the time what a monologue was. But my mom had a friend who was an actress/model and she gave me The Glass Menagerie and I pulled a monologue out of there. And that was it. That was my audition. It was terrifying. I had to really kind of expose myself in front of people I didn’t know and I was so young, but it was the most fun. I got accepted and I was a drama major.
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