"My name is Ilda Mason. I was born and raised in Panamá city, Panamá. I learned ballet when I was about 5 years of age and studied it on and off throughout the years while I learned other skills. My love for Musical Theatre began when I did my first ever musical in High School: Grease. I knew I wanted to study theatre abroad and do acting for a living but studied Structural Architecture as a plan B just in case such a competitive career in New York City didn’t turn out as planned.
During my 4 years of University I was in professional musical productions such as The Beauty and the Beast, A Chorus Line, Legally Blonde, Hello Dolly, Cinderella and Peter Pan, in which I played Peter Pan. I was also a professional dancer on the Panamá production of Dancing with the Stars on their first two seasons and was awarded with the Mirror Ball trophy as season two’s champion.
In 2013 I moved to New York City to study Musical Theatre and Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy. After graduating in 2015 from their conservatory program and obtaining the O-1 Visa (AKA Artist Visa) I was able to audition and legally work in the U.S. I’ve worked on two regional theatres as a Shark Girl in West Side Story: at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA and at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. I’ve travelled the country on two national tours: the Cinderella Non-Equity First National Tour and the Broadway First National Tour of On Your Feet as Assistant Dance Captain and Swing. I’ve also toured China with the Legally Blonde International Tour. Throughout my years working professionally in the U.S I’ve also worked to apply for the Green Card which is a requirement for any foreign artist to be able to become Equity/be on Broadway. I mention it because this has been a huge chapter of my (and any immigrant’s) career. In 2019 I was cast in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story as Luz and filmed it that summer. It is set to premier on December 18th, 2020. It was the truest form of a dream come true. Working with Steven Spielberg and doing a movie musical was the goal that drove my ambition to leave my country to study and do acting for a living. On that summer I also auditioned and was cast for the Broadway Revival of West Side Story which opened on February 20, 2020.
West Side Story is a huge part of my story of my life and as an immigrant. It was my first ever professional job in this country, my feature film debut and my Broadway debut story.
Thank you for letting me share the journey of this Panamanian living in New York City!"
Interviewer: Zachary Nash