One alumna is living the dream of any young actress—living and working in New York City with a recurring role on a hit television show.
Roberta Colindrez plays Tako on HBO’s series Girls. Tako is friends with the protagonist Hannah Horvath’s boyfriend Adam. She first meets Hannah in a bar and accidently outs Adam as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Before she found her place on television, Colindrez was a Texas State undergraduate trying to figure out what to do with her life. She originally came to Texas State as a double major in sociology and theatre, hoping to transfer to UT and then an Ivy League school.
During the first few months she had a rough time with the style-specific acting classes.
“The acting styles just felt unnatural to me, and I have a hard time compromising what I value for just a grade,” Colindrez said. “Laura Lane’s interest in me, my main professor, is what kept me here.”
In a beginning acting class, Lane had Colindrez keep a journal of her writing assignments and whatever came to mind. Later on the two women would discuss Colindrez’ entries or any concerns Colindrez had during that week.
It was during a Christmas break luncheon that Lane mentioned the BFA Acting program.
“I could see the potential. Her writing was always fascinating and funny and moving. She was clearly something special,” Lane said. “Roberta reminded me of an iceberg. The part on the surface seems imposing and large, but the underneath is more powerful. I wanted the rest of Roberta to come out.”
Colindrez auditioned and stayed in the program even though her ideas about acting weren’t the same as some professors’.
Lane said even in the difficult classes she was ambitious and stuck it out.
“It took her awhile to feel at ease, whether with dramatic literature or just bringing herself to stage,” Lane said. “Still, she didn’t give up, even though she wasn’t the conventional, molded acting student.”
Right after graduation Lane took Colindrez and other BFA Acting majors to a workshop in New York. Students met with acting companies and heard from panels of people in the business.
Colindrez soon decided to move to the Big Apple.
“I met with a company thinking I would be doing some acting. But I ended up getting a bunch of crappy jobs,” Colindrez said. “Isaac Burns, who I met during the workshop, offered to help with my acting and talk about a career. So I stayed and did that for a few months while having crappy jobs.”
While working on one of Burns’ shows, Colindrez had to go back to Austin and missed the first showing. When she got back, she met with her stand-in, who happened to work with the New York Neo-Futurists—a company Burns had mentioned.
“Usually I don’t get into things very quickly, but when she mentioned the Neo-Futurists were having auditions, that’s all I could think about,” Colindrez said. “She said the auditions were that weekend. I auditioned and thankfully got in. And I love it here.”
The New York Neo-Futurists perform different shows each week based on current events and the personal experiences of the actor. Their shows do not last as long as big stage plays, and focus on engaging the audience.
Rob Neill, managing director, said the group tries to have an intimate response to all culture, randomness, and personal revelations.
“Roberta brings a really cool vibe to the table. I love having her diverse voice here. It can be so captivating and activating,” Neill said. “Her life experiences are different and unique, and she brings that to her writing and the stage.”
Colindrez continued to work with the Neo-Futurists while auditioning for movie and television roles. At first she was cast as an extra on the HBO show Girls, but was asked to come back for a recurring role.
Colindrez said the show’s writer and star, Lena Dunham, allowed her to act in a way that fit her own style.
“The beauty of it all is that Lena comes from a place where she knows society and gives us liberty to do whatever. Once I was just messing around on set, and she was like ‘Hey, let’s use that,’” Colindrez said. “Having a role on TV and with the Neo-Futurists is pretty cool. I’m in this place where I thought my career could be. I was just waiting for my time.”