Maria Bilbao as Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet!
I grew up in Miami, Florida and was raised by my mom and my abuela. My father was around for the first eight or so years of my life, and we lost contact once he moved to the Dominican Republic. I am so proud to come from a Cuban family and to have this culture engrained so strongly in my being. I spent a few years living in St. Kitts with my mother who was pursuing her dream by going to University studying Veterinary Medicine. While she was finishing her time at school, I moved back to Miami to live with my abuela and start middle school. I knew I wanted to pursue theater, so I then went to a performing arts high school where my love just continued to grow for this craft. My family has always supported my decisions in life, and have always pushed me to pursue my dreams and to never stop trying.
The first moment I knew I wanted to be an actor was when I saw Jekyll and Hyde at the ripe age of seven (I know, dark show for a seven-year-old). I absolutely loved it and from that moment on I told my mom that I just had to be on stage. My mom has been a pivotal influence on me as she has always loved musicals. I remember watching so many shows with her at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami and blasting Once on this Island in the car singing the entire soundtrack. My mom got me involved in a community theater organization called Miami Children’s Theater, where I was able to perform in over 25 shows throughout my high school career and meet so many mentors who have helped shape me into the person I am today. And I can’t forget my amazing theater abuela who always went out of her way to put me in private lessons and classes so I could have the best education.
I first heard of On Your Feet when they were having auditions in Miami Florida for the first time. I was actually on the news waiting in line to audition when channel 7 was doing a special on the auditions taking place. I think I was 17 years old at the time. Then I went on to see the show twice on Broadway with my aunt. I fell in love with the show, and I think I did so much because it reminded me so much of home. It was so beautiful to see people like me on a Broadway stage and to see a story I can relate to on such a personal level. My favorite part of the show was always the song Wrapped during Gloria’s surgery dream, but now my favorite moment is Famous. I love this moment so much because it’s her first real moment of stillness and it is so raw and full of emotion.
This is my first time working with WBT. I absolutely love the staff and have loved working with the amazing creative team that was on this beautiful show. I am in love with my cast that has become like a family to me throughout this process.
My favorite shows are currently Hadestown (I am obsessed), Phantom of the Opera, Pajama Game, Kinky Boots, and many more. I lose track, haha. My ultimate dream role is Elphaba in Wicked as well as Christine in Phantom of the Opera.
I really enjoy practicing yoga, it’s a passion of mine that just makes me feel so good inside and out. I also love to paint, sing when no ones home, and I love a relaxing glass of wine at my favorite wine bar with one or two good friends of mine (or even just myself). After 8 shows a week, it’s so important to rest and take care of your body and mental health.
Right now I have been playing Hadestown non-stop on my Spotify account. If not that, you will ALWAYS catch me listing to Stevie Wonder or some amazing hits from the ’60s on. I have an old soul for music. I also listen to early 2000’s music, Latin love songs, some Lizzo, Beyoncé, and so much more. I have a very eclectic taste in music.