We had the good fortune of connecting with Quinn Xavier Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Quinn Xavier, how do you think about risk?
Risk is absolutely essential to life in the arts and entertainment industry. “Safe” or “easy” choices are often a matter of staying in your comfort zone; the risky choices––the ones that excite you as much as they make your skin crawl––are often the much more interesting, rewarding, and ultimately necessary options. As I learned from Mike Sablone, the Artistic Director of the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina, the easiest risk to take is to ask for what you want. The worst thing that can happen in that situation is that someone tells you “no.” Sure, a “no” can sting like anything else, but at least you have an answer, which is always better than missing your chance because you were left wondering.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
If being an actor/singer/dancer is the original triple threat then being a playwright/director/dramaturg is the new triple threat. It’s my personal philosophy that you can’t really be one of those things without being the other two as well. The skillsets and techniques in one area build on the others and the individual parts become essential to the whole; almost like a secret recipe for creating impactful art. A lot of my focus as a director and dramaturge is on the original intention of the work–identifying what the playwright’s perspective is/was and how to support those ideas. In the same vein, my work as a playwright highlights identity, particularly intersectionality. No one is made up of one singular ingredient. No one is a monolith. Getting the point where I can say that out loud has been a journey. I used to feel ashamed of all of the little intersections that made me up. Being Latinx, white-passing, on the nonbinary spectrum, and all of the other things that make me who I am used to be things I hid or ignored in favor of fitting into the boxes society has set up for us. I didn’t realize it when I was getting started, but by ignoring those little markers of my identity, I was making art that was safe and consumable but ultimately bland. I truly have so many artists to thank, particularly those that I’ve shouted out, for helping me to embrace every part of myself. It’s made my art more dynamic and is truly the reason behind my success.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
None of them? Trick question? Because it’s Pandemica right now? All joking aside, I still honestly haven’t gotten to explore much of the city, but I can’t wait until we can all start gathering and making art again. I know there’s so many things to do around town, so many places I need to eat at, so many shows at so many theaters to see, and so much new art to curate and develop. My heart aches for it!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My goodness, there are so many people, groups, and organizations that I owe my success to! In no particular order: -Rob Addison and Melody Surrett for opening my eyes to the idea that being a playwright was a viable career choice. -My former professors and faculty at Clemson (Kerrie Brown Seymour, Kendra Johnson, Shannon Robert, Tony Penna, David Hartmann, Carol Collins, Lisa Sain Odom, and Matthew Leckenbush) for guiding me on this artistic path. -Mike Sablone and all of the staff at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC, who became my first artistic home. -Everyone at the National Theater Institute out of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center for the most challenging and rewarding academic experience of my life. -Andrew Scoville and Jenna Tamisea Elser, for taking me under their wings on my first professional productions post-grad. -Adrian Baynard, my best friend who took a huge leap of faith with me in moving here to pursue our careers together. -Everyone at Out Front Theatre Company took a chance on me and cast me in my first show here in Atlanta. -Amber Bradshaw and the community at Working Title Playwrights for becoming me artistic home here in Atlanta. -Dr. Angela Farr-Schiller, my first dramaturg who challenged me to step out of my comfort zone when I thought I had already stepped outside of it in my work as a playwright. -The entire ensemble of The Cultivators, an Atlanta-based New Play Development organization that I feel so lucky to have co-founded with such an amazing group of artists. -And so many other people that have shaped me as an artist and a person!
Brakefield Photography (headshot) Working Title Playwrights (promotional materials) Actor’s Express (promotional materials)