Joyce Torres has always believed that the cosmos will guide her to where she needs to be during her life. When she picked up a theatre class as an elective during her freshman year at the University of Guam, the stars aligned, and she found her place.
“Heavens doors opened, and it was like, ‘my people’—people that are loud and expressive like me,” Torres explained.
Soon after she started the class, theatre professor Michelle Blas heard Torres singing backstage and encouraged her to audition to do a musical. Following her first musical performance as various roles such as villager, a plate, and a part of the chorus ensemble in Beauty and the Beast, Torres decided she like being on stage, auditioned for another role, and got the part.
“I did the first two productions and the acting bug bit… I haven’t looked back since,” Torres said.
The 23-year-old actress was recently accepted into a two-year professional conservatory at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting. The Academy, founded in 1949 in New York, has since produced many Hollywood acting, writing and directing greats such as Robert DeNiro, Holland Taylor, and Mark Ruffalo.
Torres was first noticed by a Stella Adler recruiter at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Utah last year, where she represented UOG and was one out of hundreds to perform a one-minute audition for theatre companies and schools from across the country. After her audition, she received three call-backs, including one from Stella Adler.
When she returned to Guam, she reached out to Johnny Yoder, the school director of Stella Adler Academy in Los Angeles. Yoder informed her that they were interested in her applying for the Academy’s two-year conservatory and asked her to audition over Skype. She decided to use one of the classrooms at UOG to do the audition, but when the time came, her laptop would not connect to the internet, and she had to improvise.
“So I had my phone, and I was like, ‘This is going to happen!’” Torres said with a giggle. “I’m going to audition via Skype on my cellphone all the way across the country!”
Stella Adler Academy responded the next day with an offer to attend its two-year conservatory.
Torres said although she was excited about the offer, she had her reservations about starting immediately. But when she visited the Academy in October of last year and attended a few classes, she realized that Stella Adler was where she needed to be.
“I saw that it was about truth and honesty and theatre as an art instead of a money-making machine,” Torres said about her experience there. She plans to start at the Academy in the fall of this year.
Torres graduated from UOG in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Political Science. She continued to work with the UOG theatre department, and has acted in 15 productions and directed or assisted in five others. Most recently, she co-hosted the latest production, the musical mash-up Seasons of Love.
Despite her recent accomplishments, Torres remains humble and appreciative of the opportunities she has had at the university.
“I’m so grateful for my time at UOG,” Torres said. “Because there was such a close relationship between student and teacher, I was able to gauge what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It really allowed me to discover myself and my interests in a really safe space.”
Torres says she considers herself lucky to have studied under Blas because of the variety and uniqueness of the plays Blas chose and because of the diverse roles that Torres played, she was able to build a well-rounded resume that stands out in the professional arena.
After her stint at Stella Adler, Torres said she may one day like to come back and teach.
“What I would like to do is actually experience theatre in other parts of the world and come back,” she explained. “I want to see my place, where I’m going to fit, because I don’t know yet. But I know that whatever I do eventually will involve theatre.”