This week Playbill catches up with Kay Trinidad, who recently returned to her role as one of the three Fates in the Tony-winning musical Hadestown at the Walter Kerr Theatre following the birth of her daughter Nisa. The actor, who also played Aquata in the original Broadway company of The Little Mermaid, has been seen Off-Broadway in Bare, while her regional credits include Lempicka, Children of Eden, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The King and I, Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Addams Family, Waterfall, and Allegiance.
Trinidad and her fellow Hadestown Fates, Jewelle Blackman and Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, can also be heard on their recording, If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album, available from Broadway Records.
What is your typical day like now?
My alarm in the morning is our six-month-old baby girl, Nisa, babbling. We get up, I feed her, change her diaper, get her into her play clothes, play a bit, and then it’s time for a nap. With her keeping me up so often, I even took one with her today. Then, we get up, I take the pups out (we have two), and it’s about time for another meal for her. Girl likes to eat (just like her mom and dad, haha)! We hang out for a bit more and the cycle of eat, diapers, play, and nap continues. Eventually, we have our good friend, Saki (who’s amazing), come over to babysit while I start getting ready for the show at home. I do this so I have extra time at the theatre for pumping (breast milk for feedings)—then I don’t feel rushed. I then do another pumping session at the theatre during intermission. When I get home, I jump in the shower hoping she doesn’t wake up. Then I “dream feed” (feed her while she is still in sleepy mode) her once more so she sleeps through the night…which suddenly hasn’t been happening…hahaha. Very grateful for this life. It is a lot, but blessings abound!
Can you describe how it felt to be back in a rehearsal room following the pandemic and maternity leave?
It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I wasn’t ready to just go out in the world again when I’ve been living in a safe COVID-free bubble trying to keep Nisa as safe and healthy as possible. I knew I had to take the leap. The week before was emotionally a lot for me, but I have such great family, friends, and people who support me and an incredibly supportive husband. It was helpful to gain perspective from all those around me, yet acknowledging what I am embarking on is a lot. Leaving baby girl would be hard, but I’d be a great role model for her. Then being back in a rehearsal room, singing songs from this beautiful show, was very surreal, yet fulfilling and exciting. And, I knew everything was going to be okay. I could do this.
Are there any parts of your role or the musical that seem particularly poignant/relevant following the events of the past 18 months?
Absolutely. Hadestown itself—everything from the disparity of poor and the rich, climate change, and the destruction of our world and its resources, all resonate even more in 2022. Speaking as a Fate specifically, knowing there are voices in the back of your head that can steer you wrong is also a theme that rings quite true. But keeping the faith and the perseverance of hope makes all the difference. Life can be a story of hope —seeing how the world could be in spite of the way that it is.
What would you say to audience members who may be feeling uneasy about returning to live theatre?
You can count on being in one of the safest indoor environments around, primarily because proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test must be presented upon arrival. The ushers are excellent at keeping an eye out for those who are not wearing their masks correctly. All in all, we are taking every precaution possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone who comes to see the show.
How has it been combining motherhood/rehearsals/performing?
It’s been a wild, glorious, oh-so-fulfilling ride. I love being a mother. And, Nisa is a dream (and her name means that!). While pregnant, I was doing tons of virtual performances and musical recordings, so I know she’s been given a taste of what I do since the very beginning. I haven't been through an entire performance week yet, but I do realize how much I missed the community and the magic of theatre.
I honestly didn’t know how I’d feel until this past week of rehearsals and my Broadway mom debut happened. I’m grateful my husband and I have the ability to balance work life and home life in such a beautiful way. I’m confident now that it is healthy for Nisa to see me, as her mother, also make my mark in the world while still being there for her in all the ways I can be. We must continue the effort to normalize the working mother, especially in our industry. It’s so important for our children, especially our girls, to see their moms continue to work and live out their dreams and also still supporting their family.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow artists, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
That we still have a long ways to go. It has never been easy growing up in an industry, finding my way through casting calls where I could find myself able to create that character that casting was looking for, but my skin color didn’t fit the description. I’ve only recently noticed how much that has affected me in this industry. Thankfully, I always went against the grain and knew I just had to show up and show the creatives and casting what I got. I hope that fellow BIPOC artists, most especially our younger generations—the future of theatre—always push through, share their gifts, and continue to be given roles to flourish in… Not because of the color of their skin. Because of ability. Because of their actual talent. Period.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Find someone to talk to. Find a support group. Find a great therapist. Find community and nourish relationships. We are not meant to be alone. There is a lot to be anxious and worried and fearsome about, but we can’t get swallowed up in it all. Make your grateful/blessings list. Know that we are all in this together. I’ve found that being part of our church community has been such a life changer. My husband and I have made great friendships and continue to grow in our faith and in something bigger than all this craziness happening around us. Instead of worrying about ourselves, it helps see that helping others and those more in need around us helps to give our lives, and everything we do, a bigger and more fulfilling purpose.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the past year-and-a-half that you didn't already know?
I knew I was adaptable. Now I know to what extent I am, hahah. We’ve lived with both sets of in-laws for months at a time, we bought an RV and drove cross country while I was pregnant, we had a baby in Erie, Pennsylvania (not NYC, where we always thought we would). I’ve learned my limits. I’ve learned how to be a better communicator with my husband. I’ve learned how much family really means to us. I’ve learned I’m a great mother. I’ve learned I have an incredible husband, who is an amazing father who sometimes needs to push me to see that I can do more than I think I can at times. And, that’s why we are a great team. I’ve learned how strong my faith is and that it always has room to grow.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I think our Journey NYC church is doing amazing things to help those in need in our community and around the globe, especially in this time where more people could use a helping hand. They’ve truly helped us to build such a strong spiritual foundation for our lives and the craziness we’ve been living through. You can find more information about the church and their mission here.