Wonder Women

Marqui Maresca


Marqui Maresca was born in Iowa and raised in California. She’s a musical theatre alumna of UCLA and now teaches at Texas State University. Her heart is full of love for gardening, her dog Mogli, her husband Michael, and her beehive. Marqui is an amazing woman who can look at any problem and find a way to solve it. Not only is she humble and kind, she is passionate, inspirational, and joy-filled.

Q:  If you could conduct your own interview, what would you want to be asked about?

MM: My beekeeping hobby! I started beekeeping because I like sustainability and organic gardening. I’m terrified of bees, but I also have a firm belief that if something terrifies you, you should find out more about it. It’s gone from this thing I was terrified of to this thing that's calming and peaceful.

Q: Are you a type A or a type B person?

MM: I’m definitely both. I have a lot of type A in me; I have a need for things to happen in an efficient way. Time is such a precious commodity, and I hate to waste it. But since I turned 30, I have developed some more type B qualities. I’ve hit a stride where I’m like, “It’s cool, it will be what it will be.” I think it’s just gaining a little bit more perspective and prioritizing.

Q: What's your favorite book right now?

MM: One book that I recommend is called “The Dip,” by Seth Godin. Its message is that if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. Inevitably there's a learning curve, and that learning curve is very steep when you start. As you increase in skill, you progress very quickly, and then you get to a point where you’ve made a lot of progress — but suddenly the progress starts to slow down, and in that moment you start to hit this dip where it doesn’t feel like you’re making any progress. That’s when all of those questions, like, “Why am I doing this? Am I even good at this? Why did I do this in the first place?” come in.

That’s the moment you need to commit even more, because if you can continue to move forward — to train, to refine yourself in whatever it is you’re trying to do — you’ll move forward. You just have to recognize you’re in a dip and make sure the tactics you are using to move forward are serving you.

Q: What would you tell your 20 year old self?

MM: Ask better questions and seek out better tools. I also had a fearlessness that went away, and finally I’m starting to get it back. I would definitely tell my 20-year-old self “Don’t lose your fearlessness. Hold on to that with everything you have.” On the other side of that, I would tell myself, “Open your eyes and see the way the world is operating around you, instead of the way you want the world around you to operate.”

Q: When you were 20, what did you envision for your life at the age you are now? Is it different?

MM: Very different in a wonderful way. In my 20’s,I didn't think I would get married, which was sad because I wanted someone to spend my life with, but I didn't think I would find anyone. I always saw myself living in a big city, and I expected I would be one of those people who put 100 percent into whatever their career path was. I saw myself “doing the job”, so to speak — but it was funny, because I had no reference as to what “doing the job” actually meant. I just pictured myself doing the job and being successful and committing myself 100 percent to it, and really not finding anyone. That’s where I saw myself, at least in my 30s. If you had told me that I would garden, I wouldn’t have believed that for a second I hated dirt and bugs! But I love gardening, and I absolutely love living here in Texas. I’m thankful every day that I have Michael in my life, and I’m thankful to have this job where I get to work with so many amazing young artists. It’s interesting, though, because there's still something in me that’s, like, “OK, I still want more. What’s the next thing?” I think that’s typical of artists. We are always looking for the next creative endeavor. I have this inkling to start a bed and breakfast, restaurant, and special event venue all centered around an organic farm. 

Q: Can you talk a little about your college experience?

MM: After I graduated from high school I was burnt out. During high school I worked three jobs, and by the end of my senior year I was already living in my own apartment. I also did shows on top of all of that. My dad asked, “Where do you want to go to college?” And I said, “I’m done with school for a while.” And he said, “If you don’t go to school, you have to pay for your health insurance.” So I decided to go to a junior college. That was when I started dancing. I also took classes in any weird thing I could take a class in, because I just wanted to figure out what I was supposed to be doing with my life. After I got my associate degree there, I was sitting down with my dad and he was like, “If you have to do one thing every single day for the rest of your life and you have the luxury of choosing something you love to do, then you should chose that.”I applied to a whopping three schools for musical theatre. I got into UCLA, and I’m glad I got to go to school there and work with amazing professors.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your career? How you started, faltered, got back up, and how it led to where you are now?

MM: I started working at a professional theatre in high school. By the time I graduated college, I had earned my SAG card by acting and dancing for television. I booked a national tour straight out of college, and I signed a contract for another gig before the tour ended. I went from one project to the next. Then I hit my “dip.” This was the first time hard work and perseverance stopped paying off. I was living in Los Angeles, and I no longer had a support network of classmates or cast-mates. This was a low time. I had no tools to emotionally and mentally handle it. This was when doubt and fear started to take hold. I started to push myself and the material I selected, and thus the artistic products I took into the room were not as clean and consistent. That created a downward spiral. My mistake was I thought after college and working professionally I didn’t need to train anymore. Naive and big mistake. Looking back, I needed to get into classes to brush up my skills and regain a support and professional network. I was burnt out and that’s when Michael, my husband, and I moved out to Texas. Shortly after the move, I worked at Michael’s high school as a guest choreographer for their musical, All Shook Up. The teacher who was directing it had to take a medical leave, so then I went in as the director. It was a really rewarding experience that I didn’t expect from teaching. Michael’s passion has always been teaching, mine was not! However, this experience completely changed my perspective.

So the next step was to open our own studio. It was one of those things where we were like, “Oh, we can’t do that, we’re in our 20s.” But then we realized, no, that’s the exact thing we had to do. Michael taught voice and I taught acting for camera, and also did headshot photography. I knew nothing about owning a business; I didn’t go to school for business or marketing. Suddenly I had to teach myself about building a website, creating marketing materials, renting a commercial property, processing payments, bookkeeping, business taxes, payroll, and so much more. I never expected to know how to do all that, and that’s when I realized I could build something from scratch. It’s interesting, I haven’t necessarily done a lot of the things that I originally set out to do, and sometimes I think I beat myself up about that, but then I look at all of the stuff I did do, and I’m pretty darn impressed. I’ve worked professionally in voiceover, music videos, theater, film, television, and photography and I am co-owner of a small business… heck yea. 

Q: What is something that brings you joy/ what is your happy place?

MM: It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I’m having or what's going on, I just walk out into the garden and just feel free again and everything is right in the world. Michael is also that happy place for me.

Q: What is your strongest/most important relationship in your life right now?

MM: Michael. It’s so great to know you’ve got a teammate that’s got your back no matter what. It took a lot of hard work to get to that point though. It’s easy to start taking for granted that you know a person, but we all change over time. I’m not the same person I was when I was 20, and he’s not the same person he was when he was 20, and if you don’t take time to get to know each other each day, you can lose sight and grow apart. We worked hard to develop better communication skills, and we’ve learned that being “nice” doesn’t work. Say what you want, need, are grumpy about, and are thankful for every day. 

Q:How do you best take care of yourself?

MM: Eating. I've shifted the way I think about food. Before I thought about food in as, “I’m going to eat because I’m hungry, and it should taste good.” That was about it — what was around me, what tasted good, or what was cheap. Now I believe there may not be as much accountability in our food supply as I would like. So much of our food is genetically modified and sprayed with all kinds of chemicals. Once my eyes opened to that, they also opened up to the idea that food isn’t just “I’m hungry and I should eat something.” Rather, it’s “This is the fuel that you’re giving yourself.” I like living, and I want to be here for a long time, so if I give myself better fuel then I’m going to be able to operate more efficiently.

Q: Who do you consider to be another badass in this industry, or in your circle of connections/friendships?

MM: Kaitlin Hopkins. I’m quite convinced that she has a clone! That woman is able to accomplish so much in a 24-hour period, it shocks me. She's a force of nature. Of course, Cassie Abate and Kiira Schmidt-Carper are beasts — they're amazing, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded by them.

Another woman I admire is Peggy Hickey, who taught one of my dance classes at UCLA. She was a big influence on me in my 20s, especially in dance. She’s definitely a badass woman in our industry who’s made a positive impact on my life. Another badass woman from my past was my PE teacher in fifth grade. I had terrible asthma as a kid, and one day she brought in an article for me about an Olympic athlete with asthma, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She explained to me that asthma can be an obstacle but it doesn't have to be a limitation. That moment impacted my beliefs profoundly.

My mom’s capacity for unconditional love and likewise my mother-in-laws willingness to always provide help for those in need definitely earns them badass status. My badass sister-in-law, Melissa Severson, started her own graphic design business. She’s a brilliant, beautiful woman inside and out, and she's also an incredible mom. I'm so thankful to have these amazing women in my life.

Q: As a woman in 2018, how do you navigate, deal with, associate with politics?

MM: If I let myself focus on it I end up feeling hopeless and defeated, so I opt to not focus on it. Then the other half of me kicks myself in the butt for making that choice because I think, “Well, if you want something to change, you’re the one that has to make that change.” Right now I’m focused on what small things I can do today.  I try to keep an open mind and respect that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I can disagree with someone and still love them. I believe in treating everyone the way you want to be treated, and I try to find little ways to put love and positivity out into the world.

The Brights