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Hardworking actress, IU alum dishes about life in Hollywood

Mar. 21, 2013

Actress Angelique Cabral grew up dancing and singing on stages in Carmel Valley, Calif. The energetic Honolulu native joined the Screen Actors Guild at age 8 after doing an episode of "America's Most Wanted."

She was lured to IU in the late 90s by a Wells Scholarship. While in Bloomington, she fell in love with the theater program, George Pinney, Ladies First, and her favorite local hangouts, Nick's and Bear's Place. 

Angelique Cabral

When Angelique Cabral graduated from IU, she moved straight to NYC with her IU "besties."

Cabral graduated in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in French and musical theater. In the years since, she's thrown herself into acting, appearing in commercials, daytime soaps, movies ("Friends with Benefits") and sitcoms, including "Don't Trust the B…in Apartment 23."

She took some time away from shooting pilots to e-mail Inside IU Bloomington about her experiences in Bloomington, NYC and Hollywood.

Inside IU Bloomington: As a child, when did you know you wanted to perform? What were your early performance experiences?

Angelique Cabral: I always knew I wanted to perform. My mom had me in dance classes as a pre-schooler and I loved the performances and the costumes. My first big musical was in third grade at a local college. It was "Oliver." I was an "orphan" and I fell in love. I had a natural singing voice so my mom put me in voice lessons all through high school. I landed the role of Amaryllis in "The Music Man" next, and never looked back, playing roles such as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," Anne in "The Diary of Anne Frank," leads in Shakespeare plays ... and then in high school I was the lead in all of my musicals, three a year, plus valedictorian. I was a nerd, and also a theater nerd! Performing was always a part of my life, and the one stipulation was I had to keep straight A's in order to keep doing the shows. So I did.

Q: How did you choose the theater program at IU? Can you share some of the highlights of your IU experience -- favorite teachers, classes, master classes, workshops, opportunities?

A: I chose IU because of the Wells Scholarship. I was recruited by the Wells Program. I had gotten accepted into several Ivy League schools and other great theater programs, but nothing could compare to the Wells Scholarship. Then I met George Pinney and fell in love with him and his Individualized Major Program and the campus of IU and the music school.

The highlights were Singing Hoosiers with Dr. Schwartzkopf, Ray Fellman (my fave voice teacher), George Pinney and his Broadway Cabaret, and Ladies First/Straight No Chaser (I was in Ladies First for three years and the original members of Straight No Chaser were my besties because we all did theater classes together, as well as Broadway Cabaret).

Also, the Wells provided me with the opportunity to travel abroad to London and Paris, which were huge highlights and just incredible experiences. Also I was a member of Delta Gamma, which shaped my experience with all the girls and the parties, IU Sing and Little 5. I was busy. I did it all!

Q: What did you like best about living in Bloomington? Any favorite spots on campus/favorite hangouts?

A: I loved everything about IU, but especially the campus. I didn't have a car so I rode my bike everywhere and just loved all the green! Coming from Cali where everything is brown, I could not believe how lush the campus was. I loved the seasons, too. And the food courts! I lived in Teter and the Delta Gamma house, which was a huge part of my life too. I LOVED Bear's, and also the Irish Lion, and of course Nick's and Upstairs. My fave spots on campus were probably the music school, the gates and the Union.

Q: Describe your career path after graduation and your first "real" role. Did your IU experience help connect you with any of those opportunities?

A: After graduating, I moved straight to NYC with several of my IU besties. I catered, worked as a nanny and also taught Montessori pre-school. During this time, I was auditioning as I had a manager when I left IU (from my high school years) who got me hooked up with a big NYC agency. My first paying gig out of school was a national Amtrak commercial. It ran forever. Then I recurred on "One Life to Live" as a waitress named Maria, and on "Guiding Light" as a teacher, Ms. Mendez, and then on "All My Children" as Nurse Amanda. I learned a ton from being on soaps and got really good at memorizing and working long days. I also did a bunch of off-Broadway theater, so I was working, but not on prime time TV like I am now. IU didn't really connect me directly with any of those roles, but on most sets I work on, there is some sort of IU connection somewhere!

Q: What was it like filming your episode of "Don't Trust the B…in Apartment 23"? Any stories to share from that experience?

A: I shot two episodes of "Don't Trust the B…" (the other episode will air in the summer since the show got cancelled). It was amazing -- the best gig I have ever had. It was awesome because one of my best friends in L.A. is Eric Andre, and he is a series regular. He played Mark. I actually went to his test for that show with him. But Krysten (Ritter) is amazing and a super hard worker and we remain awesome friends. She told me that I remind her of herself a few years ago; that I'm basically on the same trajectory as her. I hope so! Dreama Walker was great too. We remain good friends. Most of our scenes were together and we worked really well together.

Dreama Walker and Angelique Cabral

Dreama Walker and IU alum Angelique Cabral worked well together in "Don't Trust the B…in Apartment 23."

The stabbing and the frosting on the butt scenes were pretty gnarly and tedious. They took a lot of takes and we had multiples of each of those outfits. The sneeze scene was tricky too. Since we used my hair for the whole episode, we had to match a wig to my hair just for that one shot so it looked like I sneezed it off. Another fun side note: The writer of my episode was fostering a dog during my shoot, and brought him to set and he was adorable and had a little broken leg -- and I ended up adopting him. His name is Oscar and we love him and he's changed my life -- so has that show!

Q: Have you/do you have plans to return to IU to work with students here?

A: I would LOVE to go back and teach a class or do some sort of program with IU! During this past Homecoming, I did several talks around campus, and that was brought up a lot. I hope it comes to fruition. I have a lot of experience, and it's been a long road and I've done it all -- so I really can help kids understand the business side of Hollywood, and the reality of making a living in such an unpredictable and unsteady field. I really hope to come back and teach, maybe in the fall. I hope to come back for Homecoming again, at least!

Q: Can you talk about "Devious Maids"?

A: "Devious Maids" changed my life. It was my first pilot as a series regular and it was the best and  hardest experience of my career so far. I had met Marc Cherry (the creator of "Desperate Housewives" and also "Devious Maids") at a benefit the year before. He didn't know me at all, but saw my work and was like, "I am doing a new show and I think there is a part for you."

Well, I thought nothing of it, but when the show started casting he called me in for one of the main maids. I tested and got super close, but I don't speak fluent Spanish and also they needed a "name" for the four main maids. My part went to Roselyn Sanchez (from "Without a Trace"). But at my network test, Marc had me cold read new sides for another series regular, to play Roselyn's boss Zurina, a Cuban pop star -- and I booked it! I will never forget it as long as I live. It was such an exciting time and such an amazing cast. Once I was cast they informed me that they needed me to look different than the maids, so they needed me to BLEACH MY HAIR. So, of course, I did. I had no choice. My hair is still recovering a year later.

The show was amazing, but ABC did not pick us up. Lifetime bought our show, and they have a smaller budget, so several of the series regulars got cut, including my part. I was released from my contract. Marc has written something for me though, and I will be a part of the show at some point! But as soon as I was released I booked another pilot, "Ms. Education" for ABC Family -- and that didn't go. I was just released two weeks ago. And then, I booked the female lead in FOX's new pilot "Enlisted"! I am beyond excited! But "Devious Maids" changed my career, because suddenly I was seen in Hollywood as a series regular, so once that happens it is much easier to book other shows. I booked three pilots in a year, which is crazy and pretty unheard of. Hopefully "Enlisted" goes to series -- if not, then I will book another one.

Q: What have been some of your career highlights?

A: "Devious Maids" was definitely a highlight. Also my first lead role in a film called "The Perfect Family," starring Kathleen Turner and Emily Deschanel (from "Bones") was life changing. I learned so much from Kathleen and Emily, and they both remain dear friends. My other pilot that didn't go, "Ms. Education," was great because I got to work with Dan Castellaneta (who is the voice of Homer Simpson), a huge honor!

Also working with Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis and Woody Harrelson was awesome in "Friends with Benefits." It was just the four of us, at the very end of their shoot, so they were relaxed and super fun and we just had a blast! Oh, and also I was on the first episode of Ashton Kutcher's "Two and a Half Men," which was a huge deal!

Q: Any other current or future projects coming up that you want to talk about?

A: In "Enlisted" for FOX, I play opposite Geoff Stults as Sargent Jill Perez. I hope it goes to series; it is a hilarious half-hour show!

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