Sunday, December 6, 2015

Interview with Chelsea Devantez

 Chelsea Devantez took some time out of her schedule to speak with Chicago Improv Celebrity News.  Devantez is currently starring in Second City's 104th Mainstage revue, Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu.
(left to right) Rashawn Nadine Scott, Daniel Strauss, Sarah Shook, Jamison Webb, Paul Jurewicz, Chelsea Devantez.  Photo by Todd Roseberg.
Danielle Solzman: Thanks for joining Chicago Improv Celebrity News. How are things treating you in Chicago?

Chelsea Devantez: Wonderful, our new mainstage show just opened this week.

Danielle Solzman: How have you been filling your time since the fire knocked Second City’s shows out of commission?

Chelsea Devantez: When the fire took Second City out for a month the cast continued rehearsing for the new show in an office space that was generously donated by the Chicago History Museum. At night I tried to take in as many shows as possible and see all my friends work—something that you can't do on the mainstage schedule. I also spent a lot of time finishing writing some personal projects. On a few occasions thought it was a good idea to hit up a popular restaurant at 7pm which I regretted every time.

Danielle Solzman: Both the Annoyance and iO have opened their doors up to the Mainstage cast to do their free set. What does it say about the Chicago improv community when other theaters have opened up their doors to Second City?

Chelsea Devantez: The comedy community in Chicago is unbelievably supportive; it's one of the things that compelled me to move to Chicago. Every theater has it's own thing going on and can be competitive, but when it comes down to it we're all just humans obsessed with the same art form.

Danielle Solzman: When did you first catch the improv bug and at what point did you know it was something you wanted to do for a living?

Chelsea Devantez: I grew up in the Southwest and did not even know improv existed. I wanted to perform and even though I knew I was weird and funny I went to NYU to study dramatic acting. I was super depressed in college. Then one day I walked into the Upright Citizens Brigade on a Sunday because it was free. I saw Amy Poehler and her friends improvising and it absolutely blew my mind. I thought I was witnessing some sort of magic. My hands were shaking in my lap. I knew I had broken open the kernel that led me to perform and that improv was what I had been searching for.

Danielle Solzman: How did you learn about the Comedy Studies program at Columbia College/Second City?

Chelsea Devantez: I'm obsessive when I love something and I was looking up every way for me to study improv. I think I found a blog from a student in the first semester of the comedy studies program and applied immediately.

Danielle Solzman: Which instructor has had the most meaningful impact on your improv career?

Chelsea Devantez: Anne Libera, Mary Scruggs and Andy Miara were some of my teachers in comedy studies. All three of them changed my life and taught me things that I use daily.

Danielle Solzman: Many celebrities stop by to check out the show and later perform in the free set. Has there been anyone that you were very excited to meet? Is there anyone you would like to see show up some day?

Chelsea Devantez: So many. Too many to name. Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, RuPaul Katya Zamolodchikova, Gina Davis, Rose Mcgowan, Jill Solloway, Dolly Parton and the ghost of Mae West.

Danielle Solzman: This is going to be your third revue. What has the process been like so far for the new show? Should we expect a fire sketch when the show opens?  

Chelsea Devantez: Since I'm writing this after the show opened, no, you should not expect a fire sketch!

Danielle Solzman: You attended NYU. How does living in Chicago differ from the Big Apple?

Chelsea Devantez: I'm in love with Chicago. To me, Chicago is the greatest city in America. Chicago has all the same art that NYU does, but this city allows you to just concentrate on doing great work and making friends and finding out what kind of artist you are. You don't have to worry about insane rent prices, or how it takes an hour to get across the city to see a friend, or what you're wearing. You can just keep your head down and concentrate on what matters most to you.

Danielle Solzman: If you could go back to your years in high school, what would you tell yourself?

Chelsea Devantez: Leave, bitch! Get the fuck out of that small town! High school was hell for me, I went through a lot of shit there. As with every hard thing in life, it makes you who you are, but I still wish I could have skipped it. Annnnnd on that note, our current show deals a lot with the past and what you would have said to yourself way back when. If you want to hear my joke answer to this question, come see the show and listen for it in the closing song.

Danielle Solzman: Thanks again for joining us and keep up the great work.

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