I first met 17-year-old Calla Fuqua during the 2013 Memorial Players’ musical production of Meet Me In St. Louis. She played Esther Smith, the second-eldest daughter (played by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie of the same name), who is in love with the boy next door. Esther’s songs are quite demanding vocally, and they showcased Calla’s singing talents. In fact, her exceptional performance was nominated for the 2013 Maryland Theatre Guide’s Readers’ Choice Award in Community Theatre for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. So, it only feels right to have Calla as our February Rising Star.
When was the first time you knew you wanted to perform?
I first knew I wanted to perform when I saw my first musical. It honestly just seemed like a really fun thing to do. When the show was over I cried because I was so jealous. I knew then that I just wanted to be on stage.
What is it like to go to a performing arts school (Baltimore School for the Arts)? What are your days at school like?
Going to a performing arts school was a great experience. As tough as it is at some points, I would not change having gone. It gave me a thicker skin as well as confidence. My teachers at school give 110%. My first half of the day starts off with academics and the second half are my acting classes.
Do your future plans include performing? Any moves to New York or California?
I find New York to be the most unbelievable city in the world. I’ve only been there a handful of times but I have completely fallen in love. I recently was accepted into Marymount Manhattan in New York. I would love to go to Marymount. In fact it’s one of my top choices.
Are you currently in a show? If so, what show? What about coming up?
I’m currently working on the show Three Sisters by Anton Chekov at the Baltimore School for the Arts. The shows are April 2-4 & 8-11 at 7 pm. April 5 at 2 pm. In March, I’m auditioning for a production at Friends School of Baltimore. They are doing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I love the show, and I’m looking forward to auditioning.
Do you have a favorite performance/character you have played?
My favorite performance I’ve ever been in was Pippin. I played Catherine. It was truly amazing. I think I loved it so much because I related a lot to the character Pippin. At first, he believed that you could never have a fulfilling life unless you did something extraordinary. He later found that all you need is something small but powerful to keep you going.
What advice do you have for a young person just beginning to perform?
I’d say that it’s definitely a process, for me at least, to become comfortable with something. But if you really want it, then you put your all into it. If it makes you happy and you’re not in it for the money or the fame, then it can be one of the most fulfilling careers.
What is your favorite book, movie, play, musical?
My favorite book is Looking for Alaska by John Greene. I have a hard time reading books because I get so easily distracted, but I was able to sit all the way through it, completely fascinated the entire time.
My favorite movie is Silver Linings Playbook. It talked a lot about mental illness, which is something I am interested in. It’s a beautiful movie, and although some may say it has a cliché ending, sometimes we need happy endings.
My favorite play is Red, about the artist Rothko and his apprentice.
My favorite musical is The Last Five Years. Sometimes I wish I were a man just so I could sing the song “Nobody Needs to Know.” It’s one of the most heartbreaking yet truthful shows I’ve ever seen.
Do you remember the first show you ever saw on stage?
I saw Beethoven the Musical when I was four. It was performed by Three Ring Theatre. I later performed at Three Ring the next year and for many years after.
How would you describe the feeling you get when you are on stage?
When I’m on stage, I feel safe. Nobody can touch me when I’m on stage. Everything fits, everything makes sense while I’m up there. I would never give up that feeling. I fully expect to be waiting tables for a good portion of my life, but I’m happy when I’m acting, and that’s a feeling not everyone can have in their life so easily.
Thank you so much Calla! We wish you the best of luck in your acting career! I am sure that, in the near future, I will be able to say I knew you when…