A perfect day for Rosie Berrido starts with some yoga in the morning and a healthy hearty breakfast that doesn’t make her voice sound slimy – something like chickpeas, fruit or oatmeal. For Berrido, everything revolves around her voice and communication.
She is a narrator at the Library of Congress where she narrates audio books for veterans and the blind; she’s a bilingual dialect coach helping actors speak crossover into English or Spanish, most recently for John Leguizamo in his one-man show “Ghetto Klown,” which he took to Colombia. She’s also a veteran actress based in New York City. This Saturday, she will be in a thriller called “Under My Nails” ending HBO’s New York International Latino Film Festival. In the film, she plays a controlling mother with a psychological hold on her son. The film has already made its round in seven international festivals, and in September, opens in Puerto Rico.
“I love roles where people don’t recognize me,” says Berrido, 41. “It was a big risk, trying to play someone older. It doesn’t look like I have a 35-year-old son. It makes you think who really is this woman?”
She says the first-time screenwriter and director, Kisha Tikina Burgos and Arí Maniel Cruz, were looking for someone that could play a Dominican. This was easy for Berrido whose mother is Dominican and her father, Spanish. Although she was born and raised in New York, she says she feels it has always been very important for her to stay close to her culture.
Berrido’s second home is Repertorio Español, a small Spanish-language theater where she has been acting for more than a decade – in two to six plays at a time. She says she has done translating work there as well, and it was the manager there who recommended her work to John Leguizamo when he needed a translator. She says getting that gig was a gift.
“The first thing that pops in my mind is the laughter,” says Berrido about her long but dedicated days working with Leguizamo for six months. “We both love to laugh. He has a great sense of humor and is always in great spirits.”
Also like Leguizamo, she says she started doing theater in English, but ended up doing Spanish as well.
“It never occurred to me to do theater in Spanish, but it just found me,” says Berrido. “Like John, he comes full circle to Spanish. It’s already in his DNA. If it’s part of your culture, why not speak it? We need to open up that conversation more.”
For Berrido, it’s important to communicate in both languages.
“Who wouldn’t want to connect, it’s so rich,” she says with zest for what she does.
Berrido says no matter how many projects she continues to take on – like one of her latest – writing a book about bringing spirituality into the world of acting, she thinks she’ll always be either on the stage or on the screen.
“In acting, you have to have all of it,” says Berrido who wants to use her talent to give back to the community. “There needs to be a performer in you…Acting is my greatest love.”