A Conversation with Area Stage Company & Theatre Conservatory Executive Director, Maria Banda-Rodaz
Maria is an Award winning Executive Director with over 30 years’ experience in the Entertainment industry. She has a professional background in dance and is a member of the William Chason Dance Company.
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
MBR: Most definitely to the arts. As soon as I graduated, I moved to NYC dreaming of becoming a professional ballet dancer.
Q: When did you realize you had a passion for theater?
MBR: I grew up in a very artistic family. My grandfather was a professional opera singer. My father played seven musical instruments, my mother is a beautiful soprano and actress. I had a passion for theatre in my DNA.
Q: Can you share with our audience how you met your husband?
MBR: On September 7th, 1989, I was visiting Miami. I walked into a new storefront on Lincoln Road. “Is this a gallery?” I asked the handsome young man who opened the door. “No, it’s a theatre.” That night was the first preview ever of the Area Stage Company. I never left. It was love at first sight!
Q: Tell us how the Area Stage Company started?
MBR: ASC was founded by my husband John Rodaz. After a 10 year acting career in NYC, he was hired to perform in Miami - as the NY actor. He felt that Miami was the perfect place to realize his dream of leading his own theatre company. I joined him on the first night he opened the doors to the public. I consider myself a founder as well.
Q: What have been some of your favorite productions?
MBR: There are so many! I think that I fall in love with most of them. Recent productions that come to mind are The Nether, An Octoroon, Matilda. I am very proud of those.
Q: Where do you see ASC five years from now?
MBR: Hopefully in its own space. We have lost our home twice. I am working diligently to secure a permanent home for our organization. We have devoted 31 years of our lives to the pursue of leaving a cultural legacy in Miami, we will not stop until we secure the future of the company.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience.
MBR: That theatre and cultural activities and instrumental in maintaining a healthy community. Our Conservatory trains the next generation of theatre artists. I witness every day the transformative power of theatre and the positive effect it has on the lives of the members of the community we serve.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
MBR: I guess the fear of failure … as independent producers we do not cater to anyone. There is an inherent risk in that. My husband and I have been loyal to one thing only, and that is to always to do work that inspires us as artists, at Perhaps that is why after 30 years we remain excited about what comes next!
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments in your career?
MBR: There are so many! Getting the Carbonell for Best Director - I was the first Hispanic woman to have the honor. In 2017 I was chosen Woman of the Year in Public Service by the Coral Gables Chamber and in 2019, I was selected by the Miami-Dade Parks Foundation to receive “In The Company of Women” Award in the Arts category.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
MBR: There are too many to mention here. They are writers, doctors, revolutionaries, mothers, saints, artists, filmmakers, etc. Sometimes they stand behind the shadow of famous men …
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
MBR: Same challenges as everyone! Pursuing life successfully, which is really hard. Life is difficult. For men, women, and everyone in between.
Five Things About Maria-Banda Rodaz
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
I would have loved to meet Beethoven, Stephen Sondheim, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens.
2. Favorite city?
3. Have you ever met anyone famous? Who?
I have had the fortune to meet many famous people including U2 Bono, Chita Riviera, Jeff Goldblum, Stephen Schwartz, and Mel Gibson.
4. If they made a movie of your life, who’d play you?
5. Do you have a hidden talent?
I cook an amazing Thanksgiving meal!