Senior Spotlight: Pryscila Cassiano Salinas

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Photo printed with permission from S. Villarroel Pryscila Cassiano Salinas is a senior theater major who hopes to one day create a children’s theater to help children who are shy gain valuable skills.

Pryscila Cassiano Salinas is a native South Floridian and senior theatre major with a minor in dance. Throughout her time at NSU, Cassiano has performed in improv shows, musicals and plays such as “Hamlet,” “Streetcar Named Desire”, “Suburbia” and Freckleface Strawberry.” Cassiano has also worked as a properties master, stage manager, assistant stage manager and crew member for shows like “A Piece of My Heart”, “The Taffetas,” and “BatBoy the Musical.”

When did you first realize that theatre was the field you wanted to go into?

“When I was 8 years old, I started to go to school for theatre in elementary school. I was really shy and my mother was looking for ways to get me to not hide behind her legs when we were in public, so she put me in a performing arts school. First, I started to do dance and then I took my first theatre class, which was called drama back then.”

At what age were you cast in your first show? What show was it and what was your role?

“I probably was 9 or 10 [years old]. The first real show was ‘Annie Junior’ and I played Miss Hannigan and my little sister actually played Annie so that was pretty fun.”

What’s the hardest role you’ve played so far?

“I guess the hardest role could be Bee-Bee in a play called ‘Suburbia’. The show was set in the suburbs; she was an alcoholic and she was very depressed… completely opposite from me. I’m not from the suburbs so I don’t know what that life is like; I don’t know what it’s like to be an alcoholic. Having to tap into that character and make it believable every night [was difficult]. At the end of the play she drinks so much she gets alcohol poisoning and dies. Every night I had people come up to me and say how powerful they thought it was. So, that was challenging: having to tap into that character and make it believable because it is something I’ve never gone through and hope I never will.”

How have the arts impacted/affected your life?

“Totally, completely. It’s become my whole universe. Well, that’s a bit dramatic, but it has helped me become the person who I am today. From like what I listen to, what I talk about, what I like to watch, how I watch T.V. shows or movies — all of that has changed from being able to see it from the other side of creating it and my personality has grown a lot since joining theatre. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t get the opportunity to start performing.”

Is there someone who inspires you?

“Natalie Portman. I have appreciated her and her work and all that she is from a young age. She’s able to keep her personal life private and still be this actress and icon that people look up to. Also, one of our professors here, Elena Maria Garcia, inspires me. Just knowing that [there are] a lot of women in our own community out there doing work and doing it well and performing and talking about her culture on stage is inspirational.”

Can you explain your theatre journey as part of the PVA here at NSU?

“I started watching shows at NSU before I got here, so I’ve gone from not being part of any shows to being part of almost all of them. After [‘Freckleface Strawberry’] [there are] only three shows I haven’t participated in. I’m always involved in some kind of aspect and I’ve been able to learn and be on stage, as well as doing tech work, and know that I’m not going to stop being pursued as an actor just because I’m also interested in the technical side.

Alex Shore and I are the senior leaders of our class. So it’s been cool to be given the responsibility to lead my fellow seniors and be able to do that in a way that makes our professors know what we’re interested in doing and what we do like and don’t like about the program. Having the opportunity to co-host Improv Jam last year, and now I’m in charge of Improv Jam, I kind of went from being the new kid who wasn’t involved in any shows, to being able to run her own show… I [also] get to be one of the hosts of the Blackbox Awards this year; a lot of exciting stuff.”

What is next for you after graduation?

“I’m hoping to get into the Disney College Program, which is a paid internship with Disney, and I’m hoping to become a Disney performer or a Disney princess but we will see. Then, I hope to pursue theatre locally, doing Miami Shorts or Micro-Theater and then audition for some of the programs that Second City in Chicago has. They have some fellowships there that I will audition for and get into, then I’ll start my improvisation journey in Chicago.”

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What would you like to do with your Theatre degree?

“I definitely see being a performer in my future, so I want to go into improvisation more seriously. I’m hoping to pursue that in Chicago. I also want to write. I hope to write plays. I want to write Brazilian-American plays, for the people of my own culture. I personally haven’t had the experience to work with a lot of Brazilian-Americans, so I think it would be great to tell a portion of our story. I want to open a children’s theatre one day to pass on what I learn. Hopefully, help kids that are shy find their calling or it helps them find a way to use the skills that they get from theatre.”

What has been the most challenging aspect of theatre for you?

“Stage managing. You’re completely in charge of the show, so you’re calling the shots to make everything happen on stage. That’s a lot of pressure. That was the hardest tech position I took on. In general, theatre life is having to miss out in the day-to-day lives of family and friends. There’s a lot of ‘I can’t’ because of rehearsals, or ‘I can’t because I have a show.’ I have to plan my whole life. I have to put everything in my calendar months ahead because the only way I can make time for the people that I care about is to put that on my calendar and put that on my conflict sheet.”

Anything else you’d like to share?

“Come and support the PVA department. Our shows are worth watching!”

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