Our interview with talented Maria Quezada who was nominated as “Best Young Actor” for an Imagen Award for her role on the hit Nickelodeon sitcom “Talia in the Kitchen,” Maria is utilizing her voice as lead-character ‘Talia’ to transcend the bounds of language and the culture of mainstream entertainment.
Maria is rapidly gaining international recognition and continues to build a solid foundation as a young actress.
Hi Maria please tell us a little about you?
Hey guys! I’m adventurous, I’m a go-getter, I’m a hard-worker, I’m caring, I find the fun in everything, I’m 15, and I’m an actress. I started acting officially at the age of 9 after performing in a school play. Ever since I was little, I adored creating characters and writing stories, and when I realized I could bring written characters to life by acting I was hooked. Contrary the “glitz and glamour” people associate with the entertainment industry, I can assure you I’m just your typical teenage girl with some unordinary circumstances. When I’m not on sets or on red carpets I go to high school, I hang out with my friends, spend time with my family, go to the movies, all that jazz.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
If I had to describe myself in 3 words they would be: Hard-working, Resilient, and Fighter.
Who is your biggest supporter?
All of my fans are amazing and my encounters with them are so special and utterly memorable. I think my biggest supporter, however, is my family. They’ve been by my side through thick and thin from day one and I know they’ll always have my back.
How did you get started in the industry?
I growing up, I’ve always loved writing and creating characters, and because of this I entered a performing art school, where I took Drama as an elective just to try it. After attending several classes and performing in my first play at the age of 9, the acting bug bit me and it’s been my passion ever since.
What was your first acting role?
I actually got my first acting role in my school’s play because a girl had to switch schools and I happened to know her songs and her lines. It’s funny how every little event that takes place, no matter how minuscule it might seem at the time, has the possibility to alter your life forever. Who knows what could have happened if that girl never left…
What is the best and worst part of being an actor?
Just like everything in life there’s a lot of pro’s and con’s of being an actor, but if it’s what you really love at the end of the day the positives will outweigh the bad and it’ll be worth it.
Pros: Seeing how your character touches and changes the lives of people all over the globe and getting to do what you love each day on set.
Cons: Sometimes doing what you love takes some sacrifices and learning to “take one for the team”, but in the end, if it’s really your passion, the pros outweigh the cons and it’s all worth it.
Best advice ever given?
The best advice ever given and that I keep in mind constantly to this day was from my mom. She took her metaphor to the next level when she placed nearby rocks on the ground and said, “These rocks represent your obstacles. When you have obstacles in your way trying to stop you from going where you want to go, you need to find your way around them. Always find a way to move forward without tripping, and if you fail, remember with every failure you get one step closer to success. Just pick yourself up and try again.”
Tell us about your role on Nickelodeon’s “Talia in the Kitchen”?
My character, Talia Parra, is an optimistic, determined, independent, and fierce teen with an extraordinary passion for cooking. After moving to Miami to live with her grandmother for the summer, she jump-starts a mission to save her family’s restaurant with the help of her friends and brainiac little sister. There, she discovers that she has the ability to infuse emotion into her dishes with the help of her late father’s magic spices; calling for some funny situations and getting her into trouble every once in a while. My favorite thing about her however, is that she sets a great example for viewers, proving to them that they can make their dreams come true no matter how crazy they might seem or what people might say, with hard-word and determination.
What has been your most memorable experience from the set?
There were a ton of crazy moments on sent, but one of the my fave behind the scenes moments is when we all got together to pull a prank on Miguel Luciano, who plays Frenchie, and Tommy Goodman, who plays Will. We left their dressing room absolutely empty. We even took their couches, nightstands, everything and moved it into my dressing room. The only thing we left was a glowing green orb-shaped lamp in the middle of their room just to mess with them. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t even complete my sentences!
What was your reaction for your Image Award nomination?
I couldn’t believe it! It was late at night, I was already in bed when I hear my phone go off twice and I saw I had a message from Miguel Luciano saying something like, “CONGRATS ON YOUR NOMINATION! I’m so proud of you!” I was so confused I thought he texted the wrong number so I said,” Thanks…. Are sure it’s for me?”, and then watched the little bubbles as he typed and then deleted what he was typing… The suspense was killing me, but after a while I figured I was right and laid back down, until I heard my phone vibrate again and I jumped up. He responded with a link to the nominee list and moments after, when I check Twitter and Instagram, I see my fans tagging me and congratulating me for my nomination as “Best Young Actor”, as well as the cast for being nominated as “Best Children’s Programming”! I was jumping and I just kind of just tried my best not to wake up my siblings with my screaming. Being nominated is a huge honor. I’m proud of being a Latina as well as representing the Latino community in a positive manner internationally. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night hahaha!
What other projects have you been a part of?
I’ve had the pleasure of working in the American and the Latin American Markets, in both film and television. On Nickelodeon I had the chance to reach a younger target audience, which I really enjoyed because I know the rising generation is our future and just to influence them and motivate them through all the inspirational messages that were displayed on “Talia in the Kitchen”, is just remarkable. In my previous projects however, it was more of a mature audience, which I also loved because I got to explore deep and dramatic stories based on something that occurred or is occurring in real life, and it was so interesting to get to tell a story so many people could identify with or a story that opened people’s minds in ways they didn’t think possible.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
One of my favorite actors of all time is definitely Robert Deniro. I love method actors that give their all to become a character and I love when you’re watching someone in a film and you forget that you are watching actors. He’s performances, especially in films such as the Godfather and Taxi Driver, are realistic yet full of life and utterly impacting.
3 things you can’t leave your house without?
I can’t leave my house without my phone, earphones, and a hair tie. Things get real when a girl ties her hair back. So, if you see me with my hair in a ponytail just know I’m ready for anything and I’ll be feeling like Wonder Woman.
What music do you like?
Something most people don’t know about me is that I go through musical phases depending on how I feel at a certain point of my life. So, I’ve listened to just about everything. Currently, I’m really into fresh and chill music I can vibe to, and that has either a sick beat and/or motivational lyrics.
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
My idea of a perfect Sunday is unwinding and chilling all day, usually with my family. I might stay at home in my pj’s and watch Netflix, or I might go to the movies with my friends. Sunday’s are typically my lazy days until the stress of the new week kicks in…
How’s a normal day in your life?
My days are always fun and adventurous! There’s always a reason to smile and have a good time and if I can’t find one, I make one. I wake up early in the morning because my school is about an hour or two away from home, I get ready, eat breakfast, which is my absolute favorite thing about mornings in general, then I plug in my phone to the aux cord and jam out for a solid hour and 40 minutes until getting to school. I decided to go back to mainstream high school because I didn’t want to miss out on the experience, on prom, on the interaction, and so on, and to be honest, I couldn’t be happier.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was actually “Of Mice & Men” for a school project, but I just bought some new books last week I can’t wait to read. Total nerd, I know hahaha!
What would be the dream holiday, and who would you go with?
Eating pizza on the streets of Rome with my best friend sounds amazing to me.
What is your favorite healthy food?
And your favorite cheat food?
Pizza as my fave salty cheat food and tres leches as my fave dessert.
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
5 years from now, I’ll be a little older and hopefully a lot wiser. I’ll be focused on doing what I love and what I identified as my passion since the tender of 5. Whether it’s acting, producing, or even writing, I know this industry is where I belong and without it, I would be left breathless. Recently, someone asked me if I would ever change my mind and want to be a doctor instead (for example) and I just smiled and said, “Of course! I can be a doctor…. In a movie.” I kind of shrugged, winked, and proceeded to walking away.
Do you support any charities?
I believe we rise by lifting others and that giving back is the most important thing we can do to change the world around us. I’m always looking for ways to give back and help out whether is donating items, money, or my time to a charity. I support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald’s House of Charity, and next month I’ll be helping out at an event with Feeding America. I can’t wait!
What do you like to watch on TV?
My TV obsessions are “How to Get Away with Murder”, “House”, “Criminal Minds” and “Friends”. Although, I have to admit, I’m an avid Netflix-watcher who’s always on the lookout for great new shows. I adore shows that keep me up at night wondering what was going to happen next.
Where we can follow you?
Instagram & Snapchat: Maria_Quezada
Quote: “Just keep swimming!” I love this quote because it basically says, despite anything going on around you, you must keep moving, keep your focus, and you mustn’t drown.
Holiday Destination: Australia hands down! I’ve been dying to go for years!
Food: Tie between Middle Eastern and Italian food. Although no one beats my grandma in the kitchen!
Restaurant: Last year I went to a trip to the Hamptons with my family and we dined at 75 main. Best pasta I have ever had! I’ve dreamt about it! Not even kidding hahaha!
Drink: Passion Fruit juice
Celebrity Crush: My celeb girl crush at the moment is definitely Kendall Jenner. Style icon.
Song: Lately, it’s been “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters.
Sports Team: Yankees & Miami Heat. What can I say? I’m a loyal type of girl.
Movie: Good Will Hunting
Photo Credit: @yelssingsphotography