2020 Shero: Angelica Gomez, SAG-AFTRA Actor

Angelica Gomez is proof that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Born in Manila, the Philippines, music was always an integral part of her life, an interest influenced by her parents, which included piano lessons, dance classes as well as church and school choirs.

“I was part of the University of the Philippines Concert Chorus and was privileged to go on a six-and-a half-month concert tour all over Europe, Hong Kong and the USA in 1985 and two weeks in Australia in 1986,” she shares. “When I married a U.S. Navy serviceman, I lived in Okinawa in Japan, Sicily in Italy and from West Coast to the East Coast in the United States. I was a stay-at-home mom, became a born-again Christian in the Assemblies of God church and served in different churches wherever we were stationed as part of the music and worship ministries.”

Years later, as a parent involved in her son Timothy’s college search, Angelica, then choir director at her church, learned about Nyack College through her pastor’s son. After visiting Nyack, she inquired about taking conducting classes in the School of Music. She explains, “Since I worked full-time in New York City, I was told to go to the Manhattan campus, but I only wanted to learn conducting techniques. After auditioning, Dr. Sue Talley told me I’d be a great fit for a music degree program, and I ended up enrolling part-time and majoring in sacred music. Nyack was a sanctuary to me. Going to school in the evenings was actually a stress reliever—a way to unwind from a hard day’s work.”

In 2014, the Nyack College School of Music alumna, who graduated magna cum laude, earned her bachelor’s degree. It was one of her proudest moments when—the month after she turned 50—she walked in the same graduating class as her son Timothy, which was the year before her daughter Raychel, who graduated with a degree in vocal performance.

A friend who owned a talent agency encouraged Angelica to consider acting. He convinced her that because of her physical features she could portray several different ethnicities and suggested she sign up with casting companies. At the very least, this new “hobby” might lead to her getting parts as an extra. She took the single step and followed her friend’s advice, which proved to be correct.

“I was booked in so many different shows. I was non-union back then. “Blue Bloods” was just one of the many TV shows I was blessed to be part of. In 2018, I was asked to be in an indie film called “All the Little Things We Kill.” The one speaking line was considered a principal role and made me automatically eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union.”

After a dozen years in the fashion industry as a production coordinator, Angelica suddenly found herself unemployed. However, the layoff was merely a detour, not a closed door. In fact, it allowed her to seek television and film parts while holding down four part-time jobs. What might sound overwhelming to some, had advantages for Angelica, “I love the flexibility that my work allows me,” she says. “It’s like I’m practically self-employed. The SAG Foundation provides free masterclasses and workshops. Members of the union have free screenings, medical and retirement benefits. I also have representation as a SAG-AFTRA actor for commercials, print ads in addition to television, film and theatre.”

Angelica went to an open call for upcoming films, “In the Heights” directed by Jon Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) to be released this summer and also for the Steven Spielberg production of “West Side Story” due out this December, Angelica will be in background scenes in both films.

An active member of a non-profit community theater in New York City called Afterwork Theater (AWT), since being in the group’s 2016 musical production of “Godspell,” she has performed in nine other projects with AWT.

“If I am not performing, I am volunteering backstage as a deckhand or with the wardrobe or props crew. I find so much joy in sharing my talent to help fundraise for good causes, including the Musical Movement, a spin-off of AWT. Musical Movement hosts fundraising performances that raise awareness and finances for organizations and research groups for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s and Colitis.”

Angelica’s Nyack School of Music roots are far from forgotten. “The theater activities give me the opportunity to remember all the music courses I studied at Nyack and help me maintain the great vocal techniques I learned there.” She adds, “My family also has our Filipino Cultural Group which I manage with my brother, called Ligaya Cultural Group. Ligaya means “joy.” It was inspired by my parents who wanted us to pass down our traditional culture and arts to younger generations.”

Her advice: “Do not be afraid to try new things that you think you cannot do while finding your passions. I started this “whole new me” in my 50’s. Yes, I may be a “late bloomer” in the industry, but not according to God’s perfect plan and timing. I’m right on time!”

With God ordering her steps, Angelica Gomez is enjoying the journey she was destined to travel.