“It wasn’t too late”

My experience at Atlantic Acting School was akin to gradually assembling a truly amazing puzzle. One of the initial pieces I discovered and valued the most was when I completed my application form. A specific question made me realize that Atlantic was the perfect fit for me. The query was something like, “What can you tell us about the words inclusion, diversity, equality?” This indicated to me that it would be a safe and conscientious place where I could be myself and feel welcomed.

Perhaps for this reason, I felt confident during my Zoom interview, and my actual training commenced in that first session. The feedback I received from the faculty members about the monologues I chose was incredibly useful. Even though I had no idea how this puzzle would ultimately look, in my gut, I already felt the need to embark on this new adventure.

At 49 years old, I was a Mexican woman who had recently arrived in NY from a small town called Oaxaca, where there’s hardly any theater.


I take pride in sharing that I have managed to participate in a couple of plays and have gained 12 years of experience as the frontwoman in a Cumbia band. This has made me realize and become conscious of my potential.

However, what motivated me even more to apply was the insistence of one of my directors from Mexico City, Cristian David. He recommended and inspired me to join Atlantic, and I will always be thankful to him for trusting that I could be accepted.

My fears began to surface as the program start date approached. I was mostly afraid of the age difference with the other students, but also the fact that English is my second language, not being good enough for the school’s standards, and most of all, fear of the unknown. I won’t forget my first day.

When I crossed the Atlantic door, I could sense the same fear all around me in all the students. And there was Andrew, making us feel welcomed, encouraging us to explore the space, to feel at home with his huge smile. Because of my age, students thought I was a teacher, which made me smile. Although Andrew told me not to worry and said it was his mistake for not specifying, I still felt a bit foolish.

Finally, the moment came to break that barrier and start socializing. I asked someone about where our studio was; she looked very young, probably my daughter’s age. To my surprise, she was more scared than me. She didn’t even answer my question. Perhaps she didn’t understand my Mex-English and couldn’t be bothered to ask what I said. Who knows? But what is so impressive is the transformation I saw in this person throughout the year. She was like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon; a beautiful human being was born in this program.

Practical Aesthetics has not only been a technique to act on stage but a guide to developing oneself as an actor and as a human being.


I saw this in many of my friends and also felt personal growth, a sense of security, and self-love. I got to know another part of me; I felt vulnerable too.

All the teachers I’ve had the chance to learn from at Atlantic have imparted a great deal of knowledge. Not only on acting tools and techniques but on humanity, and above all, they have been able to place the mirror in front of me to discover more about myself.


They have also been building in me a sense of trust, which is the one thing I most appreciate when being on stage.

When I finally stopped worrying about my age, new concerns began to occupy my mind, such as language proficiency. I felt insufficiently fluent to express myself effectively, struggled with my speech, and faced the challenge of learning lines. Fortunately, I overcame these obstacles not only through memory techniques acquired from various teachers, but through the classes themselves. Ricky Coke-Thomas was full of care and patience to me in his Monologue class. I learned to memorize by using the space and body with Donnie Mather and Katie Bull, also by thoroughly analyzing scenes with Naomi Livingstone, attending Charley Layton’s additional speech classes designed for international students, and most importantly, seizing numerous opportunities to perform, whether in class with Carl Howell or during our end-of-semester and end-of-year shows. The act of memorizing itself kept my mental muscles in shape, and each accomplishment, no matter how daunting, made the next goal more achievable. When I finally recognized my own worth, my focus shifted to concerns about my post-Atlantic life. The thought of leaving this close-knit family started to weigh on my heart, not only due to the emotional attachment but also because of the fear of feeling adrift in reality. In the final semester, our guiding lights, Gameela Wright and Ricky Coke-Thomas, entered the scene with their invaluable classes on Business and Casting.

Through these sessions, I gathered a significant amount of information to confront my fears.


If someone had told me at the beginning of the program that this puzzle would unfold in this way, I wouldn’t have believed it!


Georgina Saldaña Wonchee

Georgina Saldaña Wonchee

Originally from CDMX, she began her artistic career in the field of Fine Arts, she studied in London, Paris, CDMX and NY. She has worked as a Restaurateur, Singer and Actress for over 20 years. In the year 2000, she settled in Oaxaca where, combining her artistic activities, she formed the Zegache Community Workshops, a Socio-Cultural project of integral restoration that benefited the heritage but also the inhabitants of the Zapotec communities of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca.

In the music field she formed the Cumbia Fusion band La China Sonidera with whom she has about 15 compositions and three albums. As a mezzo-soprano, she was a soloist of the Amadeus in Voce Choir, with whom she participated in the album Villancicos Novohispanos. Her repertoire includes medieval, pre-classical, baroque, and 20th-century ecclesiastical singing, as well as Mexican and Latin American popular music.

She is the cofounder of Espejo Escénico, a theater company formed by women with experience in music and theater, since its inception as a company governed under the premise of bringing the performing arts to marginalized communities and away from the artistic activity.

In 2022 she moved to New York to continue her artistic training at the Atlantic Acting School.

Website: https://www.georginasaldanawonchee.com/

Evening Conservatory

Designed for the working actor, the Evening Conservatory distills the physical, emotional, and analytical tools of acting into a concentrated three-semester program. Students will push beyond their creative comfort zones to take their talents to new heights.