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Being a minority, in general, affects how you take up space in the industry. It has changed over time, and there are more and more performers that look like me being given roles that aren't typically "for" Asians, let alone Filipinos.

Karla Puno Garcia

Karla puno garcia

Choreographer, Dancer, Movement Artist

Chicago, Illinois

Karla has been making strides in Broadway for the last four years as she became the first-ever Filipina to join the Hamilton: An American Musical cast. Born and raised in Maryland to two immigrants from Manila and Pasig, Karla now resides in New York, New York, where she completed her degree in NYU Tisch School of the Arts and where she is currently pursuing her career in Broadway. 

Karla grew up in a heavily populated Filipino community and states that her interest in dance started when she joined a Filipino Traditional dance troupe when she was younger. Furthermore, Karla shares the time she knew that she wanted to pursue theatre: “When I saw my godsister, who is Filipina, perform in the tour of Fosse.” 

Karla narrates her experience as she navigates the industry as a Filipina; “Being a minority in general affects how you take up space in the industry. It has changed over time, and there are more and more performers that look like me being given roles that aren't typically "for" Asians, let alone Filipinos. This is why I loved being in a show like Hamilton that promotes diversity and looks to intentionally cast people of color who can execute the role best. I'm happy to report there are a number of Filipinos in many of the companies of the show.” Moreover, Karla mentions that she connects with her culture through the people who share the same heritage as hers, “There is a community of wonderfully talented Filipinx musical theater performers in NYC, and connecting with them through different events celebrating our culture always feels like home. One group in particular called Broadway Barkada comes to mind.”

What comes next, we ask Karla how she envisions a more diverse theatre industry; “I think we need more shows like Hamilton. We also need more work from a Filipinx lens like Here Lies Love. We need our own writers to tell OUR stories of the Filipino/Filipino-American experience. I'd love to see the theater community share the music and language of the Philippines with a mainstream Broadway audience, and I hope to be there to choreograph it!”

Despite Broadway being closed until 2021, Karla keeps herself occupied with her upcoming projects: “I am currently choreographer of a new show written by Hunter Bell, Jeffrey Bowen, and Ann McNamee entitled Other World. I am also the associate choreographer to Sergio Trujillo for a new Broadway show entitled Days of Wine Roses”. 

To know more about Karla, follow her on Instagram: @KarlaPunoGarcia, and visit her website: www.KarlaGarciaDance.com.