Natalie Cabo
Natalie Cabo. (photo by Camila Portillo)

Natalie Cabo

Senior management and society major, social and economic justice minor

Producer, LAB! Theatre and actor

I started performing when I was really young and I’ve been in love with it ever since. It’s an amazing feeling being on stage, feeling the lights on you and being able to express yourself as everyone sits and watches you be part of something bigger than yourself.

In 11th grade, I got my first main role ever as Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher in The Miracle Worker. I had to learn a bit of sign language for the role and my director even reached out to members of the deaf community, inviting them to the show. After the show, those who attended mentioned how moved they were and how parts of the play resonated with them. That’s the goal of any work of theatre, I think, and it’s always so inspiring when that happens. After that, I realized that I could use theater to do more than just bring entertainment — we can use theater as a tool to tell stories that need to be told, and as a way to bring communities together.

Natalie Cabo played salon owner Daniela in Pauper Players’ In the Heights. Photo by Doris Cabo.
Natalie Cabo played salon owner Daniela in Pauper Players’ In the Heights. Photo by Doris Cabo.

My parents have a lighting business in Miami that they started from nothing. I actually majored in business because of that; I felt the responsibility to continue their legacy. I got an associate’s degree in business and when I transferred to UNC, I started studying management and society to get the managerial aspect. I minored in social and economic justice because I am very passionate about politics and advocacy; I thought that the minor could help me learn more about the social issues going on right now.

But I continue to act because it’s my passion — I can’t stop. When I thought that maybe I would only do business, something felt incomplete. I hope I can combine the two somehow — theater administration or something. I think my ultimate goal is to own a nonprofit theater company that will produce shows to illicit political dialogue and create awareness for social issues.

Even though I haven’t taken drama classes until this semester, it was important that I didn’t fall back. I needed to be in the craft, I needed to keep working. If you stop practicing or rehearsing, you don’t get as much experience. So, I joined LAB! Theatre, where I started as a stage manager and I’ve since worked my way to the top as a producer of the company.

We’re an experimental group, so we really try to make art that pushes boundaries. I’m in a troupe with LAB! where we write, direct and perform our own plays, and that’s where I really exercise my political writing because there’s so much free range.

Crucible #3
Natalie Cabo (center) as Mercy Lewis in PlayMakers Repertory Company’s production of The Crucible. Photo by Jon Gardiner.

When I found out I was cast in The Crucible last fall (produced by PlayMakers Repertory Company), I was so excited that I started crying. I never thought that I would get that opportunity to be in a professional production. I was so nervous because I’d be working with professionals, but the process was amazing and I felt myself grow so much as an artist. The company has a passion for politics and sending out a message, and that resonated with me.

What I really love about performing is being able to be intimate with people on stage and in the audience — there’s this unspoken connection that you automatically have. It’s this level of vulnerability that I love, that I never have the courage to explore when I’m normally around others. When I’m on stage, I give it my all. I completely give myself to a character in order to tell other people’s stories and to live in that truth.

The arts can also be a way for you to completely have this temporary escape from reality and the hardships of it—to soak in who you are and express yourself through that art. Art is always so personal. It comes from within and if you stop doing your art, the world will never be able to see it.

Artists After Hours is an occasional feature in which we interview faculty, staff and students who pursue artistic avocations in areas not directly related to their day job and studies. Profiles are archived at our Carolina’s Human Heart website, celebratehumanities.unc.edu. Know someone we should feature? Send suggestions to college-news@unc.edu.

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