Interview: Eva Noblezada Is Paving Her Own Road
With the release of Luck and Easter Sunday, Eva Noblezada straddles two creative worlds.
This month belongs to Eva Noblezada. In Los Angeles's rush-hour traffic, drivers spot Easter Sunday and Luck billboards. New York City commuters see her name on display at bus stops. Theatergoers from all over the world continue to attend the acclaimed Hadestown and often wait to greet her after the show, even though stage-dooring is no longer allowed.
The experience of working on these two films gave Noblezada powerful moments of feeling like she was doing exactly what she was meant to do — a feeling that has informed her stage work as well. "This is something greater than myself," she says. In the Apple TV Plus film Luck, she voices Sam, a young woman looking to turn her luck around, and in Easter Sunday, she plays Tala, a smart and candid high schooler. Following two years of work, she had a familiar twinge during our interview: "I feel an incredibly strong sense of purpose."
Noblezada has slowly crafted an entertainment career for herself since she first saw Mulan as a child. Driven by an eagerness, thirst, and unwavering belief in herself — even when she didn't see herself reflected in television or on the stage. That drive is still in play now that the Mexican-Filipina actor has crossed over into film. With these milestones achieved, Noblezada talked to TheaterMania about influence, inspiration, and speaking to different versions of her younger self through the audiences who might see themselves in her characters.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Spoilers ahead.
In recent years, you've become more involved in films while keeping a foot on Broadway. Did you always know you wanted to make that transition, or did it just happen organically?
I had a desire to do that, but I didn't know in what capacity, so it's the best of both worlds to be able to keep a foot in the theater world and explore Hollywood and the movie industry. I never knew it would be like this, so it's fantastic, and getting to do both has been informative of one another.
Easter Sunday features a karaoke moment and Luck opens with you singing a cover of Madonna's "Lucky Star." What was your musical upbringing like?
Definitely not Madonna. I wish I had heard more of her music. I listened to John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, No Doubt, Santana, and a lot of gospel, particularly Lordsong.
How women move around the world and how we codify survival are important parts of Sam's and Tala's storylines. Do you feel you were able to really contribute to the development of these characters?
Yes, I found ways I could connect life experiences to those plot points in ways that felt authentic and specific. When anyone does a project, they have this incredible team behind them. You know the director, the screenwriter. It was a genuine collaboration; thankfully, I didn't have to create anything from scratch. Jay [Chandrasekhar], in Easter Sunday, our director, made the process so enjoyable, and he was hilarious. I would love to work with him again! I had a lot of context for both characters, and then I could play and be free. But ultimately, it's all just rooted in authenticity, story, and character.
The story you're helping to tell in Luck also shows Sam when she grows out of foster care and eventually finds her way even when everything feels scary and daunting. This movie reminded me of a sweet childhood photo you shared on your Instagram where you were wearing an "I Love NY" T-shirt next to another child in front of the Winter Garden Theatre. Do you have any advice for those kids in the picture? Do you think Sam has any advice for those kids in the picture?
That's my cousin, and we grew up being best friends. His mother was one of the understudies in the original cast of Miss Saigon on Broadway and one of the main reasons I wanted to pursue [a career in the arts] in the first place.
Sam would be supportive and want the best for them even if she feels like things in her life need improvement. And who is she to advise someone when her life feels messy? At the end of the movie, Sam realizes that it's not her. It's just life, and that's the beauty of it, and without her bad luck and the duality of good luck attached to that, she couldn't have wonderful things happen to her.
My advice would be that you will find your way, you'll find your people, you'll find your home — and be kind to others but most importantly yourself. I'm super grateful to know exactly who is in my circle and who's in my family, whether that's the family I was born into or my chosen family.
You've spoken about the lack of representation you encountered growing up, but what do you feel you've gained from connecting with your Filipino heritage in Easter Sunday?
I find purpose and power in helping others feel seen. Representation is extremely important because it inspires people who have a dream and see themselves on these massive platforms. But equity is massive too. I love that I can represent people who want to feel represented, but at the same time, Hollywood is smaller in the scale of the world, the issues of the world, and the wonders of the world. That's extremely important, but I think it's also important to keep pushing for equity in spaces that may be predominantly white. That, to me, is more important. How amazing would it be to be truly represented without any stigma of wanting to be diverse just because you don't want to get in trouble? Until it's a natural thing, it's something we can be excited about but also still keep pushing for.
What part of making Easter Sunday and Luck have been most integrated into you personally and professionally?
When we go through life, no matter the kind of work we're doing, we develop a wonderful collection of tools and ways to start and finish a project and feel after a project. The theater has definitely helped shape that intellectual aspect for me, and working on these films helped me add to my toolbox and memoir inside my head. It's so different, but I love new challenges! You don't have as much time to perfect [the film you're working on].
Personally, it's challenged me to find a balance between work and play. Another challenging part was feeling scared to leave for Vancouver from New York because the pandemic was so up in the air and terrifying. You also become dependent on the people that live with you because it's your safe space, but it made me realize that I have to become that for myself.