Cornerstone Theater Company


Ronnie Catalan: A Confident Actor

Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

We love working with youth, gardens and food and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed connecting with the students at LAHSA.  We’re observing this play transform into a powerful and truly meaningful apart of their lives. Through our weekly interviews with them, we have learned about their motivations and appreciation for theater, their aspirations for college and beyond and how this play has changed how they see food and its place in school and society. We feel blessed to be a part of this amazing Cornerstone production and are excited to see a play reflect so many of the daily experiences of  high school students in Los Angeles.  We hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing students as much as we have.  – Rosa Romero, Lunch Lady Courage scholar

When and why did you get into theatre?

I think it’s natural that I’m an actor. I first started acting in 6th grade. I was in acting class at John H. Liechty Middle School, but I never thought of it as a career. In 7th grade, I was on the bus and some lady told me that “you have the face of an actor.” She booked an audition for me with Nickelodeon, but I had never auditioned for something before and I was really nervous. During the audition, they told me to “do this, do that” and I know I was bad because I didn’t know what to do. But it was a fun experience. Ever since then, I’ve been confident about my acting. I also really like to dance and act.

How did you get to LAHSA?

I was going to go to Miguel Contreras Learning Complex because I had always wanted to go there since elementary. I got a letter at home from LAHSA and I saw it was for the arts so I was like “Yes, I want to go there.” I got in and it was pure theater.

Ronnie Catalan (right) as Ruben in Lunch Lady Courage. Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

Ronnie Catalan (right) as Ruben in Lunch Lady Courage. Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

When was your first play here?

Last year. I played a security guard in New Plays. They called me mod cop because I was chubbier, I was 40lbs bigger. That was my first show but I’ve done a lot of monologues, like Macbeth.

Why did you want to try out for this play? 

I heard it was professional so I was like “Ooo, acting with professionals.” My teacher recommended me, so I was like “wow, She has faith in me,” so I tried out.  And Chris [Anthony, Lunch Lady Courage Director] and everyone were really nice and I was confident about my acting so I was like “I got this.”  And when I got the part, I was literally running with happiness. I ran to Mrs. Simons to tell her and she said she was proud of me.

Photo by Sandra Luna

Photo by Sandra Luna

What are you plans for after high school?

I haven’t actually decided. Well, I have a plan but I’m not sure if its going to change by the time I’m a senior. I want to go to NYU and study performing arts and dancing.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? 

I’m not really sure. I would love to keep studying performing arts. I see myself winning movie awards in the future. I want to be in movies and TV shows.

Can you tell me about your character?

My character is Ruben and he’s a cocky guy. He is really prepared for everything and knows what he wants. He has strong feelings about everything and he really likes being clean and nice. He doesn’t want people to take his spotlight, because he wants to be the center of attention.   But sometimes, he has to take a step back because he knows what he wants but he’s not exactly sure how to get it.

Can you relate to your character?

Yes, a lot because I’m kind of like that. I like being clean but I’m not as strict as he is. And people say “You’re so cocky,” but I feel like I’m just cocky to myself. But sometime I’m like “Oh yeah, I’m cocky,” I’m cute. (smiles).

Photo by Sandra Luna

Photo by Sandra Luna

Do you have a big family?

It’s me, my brother, and my mom. I currently live with my aunt. My parents are from Guatemala, but I was born here. I went to Guatemala when I was four and came back when I was eight.

Do you feel like this play has made you think differently about food?

I guess so. Sometimes, I don’t want to eat the school food. I’ll eat it if it looks good. But if its looks nasty, I’m like “Ewww.”  I’ll give it a try though. I have a different perspective on it now.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with a professional company. Its been really good, the director is nice, the staff is nice, everyone has been really nice, sometimes I think they’re too nice. I know they’re not used to working with kids and they get frustrated but I think it’s just normal, we’re teens and it takes a lot to control us.


Interview by Rosa RomeroLunch Lady Courage Scholar.

Rosa Romero is the Scholar in Residence for Cornerstone Theater’s Lunch Lady Courage. Rosa is an active community organizer for healthy food access and green space around Los Angeles. She is the Farm to Preschool Program Manager at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College in Los Angeles and was recently awarded the 2012 Recognition award from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Childcare Initiative. She is also a Board member of the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund and a Certified Master Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension and co-founder of Seasonal, Organic Local (SOL) Catering Cooperative. She is a UCLA graduate in the Politics of Urban Education and currently working on her Masters in Early Childhood Education at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Click here to see Sandra Luna’s Lunch Lady Courage Photo Gallery.

Sandra Luna is an educator, photographer, blogger, school garden advocate and environmentalist living in Los Angeles. She is an immigrant from Guatemala and has grown up in Pico Union/Mid City. Since 2010 she has been teaching seven classes and manages the Horticulture Program at Crenshaw High School in South Central Los Angeles. She is a board member of the South Central Farmers Health and Education Fund and is a certified Master Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension. She is a graduate from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning and is currently completing her Masters in Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her blog displays her love of photography, gardens, people, environment, community, art, travel, food and the beauty of life in general.