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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 2 (t-minus twelve days until opening night)

Age: 20

Hometown: Miami.

Current role: Vanessa, one of the leads in FSU Theatre’s In the Heights. Rubio’s character spends most of the show wanting to “escape [Washington] Heights and build her dream of going downtown.”

Stage credits: Rubio has previously taken on the Fallon Stage in roles such as Penny in Hairspray (Spring 2019) and Roxie in Chicago (Fall 2019).


How her Cuban heritage influences her work: I asked Rubio this after realizing here that sixty-two percent of the Washington Heights neighborhood is Hispanic. Her response was: “My parents are Cubans so that’s a really big influence on me. Grew up with that whole upbringing.”

On working at the Leach: Rubio teaches dance fitness and cardio classes at the Leach (you can check out the schedule here). Later that week, Rubio would be putting those skills to the test at a “Pop-Up Dance-A-Long” event on Landis.

Her musical idols: “Shakira…” This got a laugh out of me, especially since the Superbowl Halftime show later that evening would be feature both Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. “…Beyoncé… just powerful, strong and in-charge women.”

In the Heights FSU
FSU Theatre

About In the Heights: Over the course of our interview Rubio gave me three different summaries, attempting to cover everything but not “give away too much”. She asked me to skip around so I’ll just summarize the three. In the Heights focuses in on a community of people in Washington Heights over the course of three days. Over the course of the story, we learn how the community relates to each other through a series of powerful experiences. “It’s a bunch of beautiful stories all in one with a message of family, hope and ambition.”

Relating to her character Vanessa: “I really relate to that sense of ambition that Vanessa has where Washington Heights is what she’s familiar with and it’s what she’s known for her entire life, but that… there’s also the possibility of something entirely new happening in her moving away from it. I definitely relate to that in me coming up here and pursuing my dreams and then me, hopefully, pursuing my dreams in going else after I graduate.”

“She’s just so resilient and I think that’s something I also have: is that no matter how much she’s been through, she still looks on the bright side… she looks for a way to make it positive rather than a negative and I think that’s something I definitely have to deal with in my everyday life.”

Rubio also went on to mention that Vanessa is the character she’s been closest to in age (Vanessa is nineteen) and a funny bit about how Rubio doesn’t “have a bunch of boys, like, trying to get with [her]”.

The importance of community: Rubio mentioned “community” a few times— seven to be exact. It’s even one of the hashtags the FSU Theatre page used for a post. To Rubio, In the Heights is “an emphasis on community and home and family”. Throughout the interview, Rubio made sure to mention the ensemble mindset and that it takes a “whole village” to put a show together. It became obvious to me that Rubio believes a show (especially In the Heights) couldn’t happen without every part and person.


I used to view In the Heights as multiple love stories, both the familial and the romantic kind. After this interview, I’m starting to view it more as a story about community— maybe that’s what they’re going for.

If you’d like to read the whole transcript, click here. If you’d like to read more about In the Heights, here, and if you’d like to see Florida State’s production of In the Heights, you can go here

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LaVonne Patoir is a senior at Florida State University, graduating in April 2021. She is passionate about writing about the BIPOC community, trends from the 2000s, and likes reading career or academic tips. When she's not working (or sleeping), she is either watching anime or attempting something she saw on Pinterest.
Her Campus at Florida State University.