We had the good fortune of connecting with Emma Nossal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emma, what’s your definition for success?
As a performer, my definition of success has definitely shifted over the years and especially since the pandemic hit. I used to consider myself a successful performer only if I was constantly busy with shows and projects, almost as if I had to continue to prove to the world that I was capable and talented. When the performing arts industry came to a standstill last year, I was forced to take a break for the first time in years. After being given the opportunity to reflect on just what it is that I love about theatre and performing so much, I now consider myself having succeeded if I’ve chosen to commit to projects that really connect with my heart, and if I’ve given myself to them as openly and honestly as possible. If what I’m doing makes me happy and is able to emotionally connect with others, that is success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am incredibly proud that at this point in my life, I feel that I have been able to establish both the artistic and professional sides of my career and personality while still anchoring both in my love for the performing arts. I sometimes feel like a superhero when I describe my career: by day, I’m a Development Associate at Moonlight Cultural Foundation raising money for local theatre and arts education, and by night (and usually on weekends), I’m a professional musical theatre performer throughout San Diego County. I feel very lucky to say that I am truly passionate about the work I’m doing in both areas of my career, and I believe that both make a difference in connecting the communities I am a part of. Obviously, the career of an artist is filled with ups and downs and it is often difficult to figure out how to practically support a passion for theatre while still making enough to live comfortably. These challenges were intensified even more over the last year with a pandemic that has decimated the performing arts industry. Although it has been disheartening for me and so many others, I’ve found that artists are tenacious, driven, and somehow hold on to an eternal optimism that things will all be okay in the end. No performer I know has simply given up, despite the odds against all of us. I suppose that is the major lesson that I’ve learned along the way in my career, that nothing that ignites a passion within you is worth giving up on. I dedicate so much of my decision to continue performing while also finding a way to support and give back to my community through my day job to the incredibly inspiring performers and artists I have had the privilege of working with. Overall, what I hope the world at large has taken away from the challenges of the past year is that the arts are important! They connect us, teach us, and move us forward, and I am incredibly grateful to be a member of that community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many amazing spots to visit in San Diego! (There’s a reason why I was raised here and came back after college – it’s just too nice to leave!) To get my outdoor fix, I love visiting La Jolla Shores (my favorite beach), hiking Iron Mountain in Poway, and biking at Mission Bay. Since I am a proud cat lady, I couldn’t go without shouting out The Cat Café downtown and Cat & Craft in Vista (they have super yummy coffeeshop fare AND cats that you can hang out with and adopt if you’re looking!). San Diego has so many amazing hometown breweries, my favorites being Belching Beaver in Vista and Juneshine in North Park. Shopping-wise, there are so many neighborhoods with unique small businesses to support! I love window-shopping at the boutiques in downtown Carlsbad, North Park, and Le Bel Age in Mission Hills. Just walking around Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, Old Town, and Seaport Village is beautiful – each has its own unique feel and culture. On that note, our city is filled with a wealth of diversity – go support BIPOC-owned businesses! (I’d like to specifically shoutout StreetCar and Bowlegged BBQ). I can’t forget the many amazing opportunities we have to see live entertainment – go see a show at Moonlight Amphitheatre, San Diego Musical Theatre, Cygnet, New Village Arts, San Diego Rep, and so many others, and support our sisters at Lips in North Park!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have so many people who have supported me through the years and helped lead me to where I am today in my career. My mom (Kim), dad (Andy), sister (Erin), and boyfriend (Drew) have been my biggest cheerleaders no matter what and are always there to talk through my indecisiveness. As for artistic mentors, Tina Stevens, Jim Chatham, Macarena Gandarillas, and too many others in the San Diego theatre community have inspired me and touched my heart in so many ways at pivotal moments in my life; without their guidance, I don’t think I would be as grounded in my love for theatre as I am today.
Ken Jacques Photography, Shaina Horstmann