From Science to the Spotlight: Actress Christina Ochoa moves from academia to the artsWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s hard to imagine someone whose family pedigree carries with it excellence in such a wide variety of fields. Her grand uncle Severo won the 1959 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Her father Victor is widely recognized as a world-class sculptor. But up-and-coming actress Christina Ochoa insists she never felt pressure from her family to follow in their considerable footsteps — whether in an academic or artistic field.
“Well, there has always been a sense of awe and respect in my family towards the achievements and legacy we have been afforded. Ochoa is a name I wear proudly and try to honor, but I don’t think my family has ever had higher ambitions for any one of us except that of finding a passion, a work you love, and dedicating yourself to that,” Ochoa said in an email interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
“Artistic, scientific or otherwise. They really are amazing and just want us to be happy with whatever we chose to do. I’m very fortunate for the parents & family I have.”
Still, it is remarkable how Ochoa has been able to balance her passion for both art and science in her life. Before striking out as an actress, the Barcelona native studied Marine Biology at a college in the Canary Islands and at James Cook University in Australia.
“I have yet to go to space, so I won’t make any assumptions — Commander Chris Hadfield might disagree with this assessment — but the underwater environment is the most magical, enveloping, ‘alien’ & breathtaking one I can think of,” Ochoa said.
“I grew up traveling with artistic, nomadic parents who had a particular fondness for beaches and all things tropical. The preservation of those ecosystems and the creatures inhabiting them came as a direct consequence from ‘enjoying’ them (& being exposed to them) from such a young age.”
So how does someone so learned, with such a passion and love for scientific pursuits, suddenly detour into the performing arts and start doing guest spots on American sitcoms? Ochoa said that her new career came about, basically, on a whim.
“I took an amateur theater class one day for fun & something clicked. Plastic arts would always be my fathers’ realm (in that world, I’m the spectator), and science was always mine, but performing arts fast became my own little love affair, and stimulated any creative needs of expression I may have had. I fell in love.”
She moved to Madrid and began applying the same passion which made her excel at academic pursuits to learning her craft as an actress. “I studied for a few years in the Spanish conservatory & tried various schools when I moved to LA,” she said.
“I’m still very much the student … still a lot of ‘molding’ going on. I’d say the people who have the most effect on my choices as an actor are the people close to me. My partner and my friends. They help me grow daily with their varying experiences and techniques. Also, any job I get, however small, is a whole new learning experience from start to finish.”
The number of those jobs is beginning to grow, however — since dedicating herself to acting a few short years ago, Ochoa has appeared in numerous stage productions, on film and in television series both in America (“Modern Family,” “I Hate My Teenage Daughter”) and her native Spain. She is currently in Los Angeles, plowing through that most exciting and nerve-wracking of times for any actor — pilot season.
“What it ‘really’ means is my grandmother calls to tell me how many candles she’s lit for me in Spain asking the Saints to give me good auditions,” Ochoa said. “My actor friends and I sit to complain about our management (when we all really know it’s not their fault) and my non-industry friends don’t understand why we’ve all fallen off the social map & made sleep & working out such a priority. It’s a very interesting dynamic change anthropologically speaking.”
She also has been working to marry her passions for art and science with the founding of QE Productions, a company which aims to create shows “with science, sci-fi, and documentaries as the main focus,” Ochoa noted. But no matter where her life takes her, Ochoa carries with her remarkable passion for the future, wherever it may lie.
“I like to be open to what comes and think dreams evolve & grow with us. A few years ago I was devouring astronomy books & would have laughed at the suggestion that I’d move to Hollywood to act,” she noted. “A few years before that I was scuba diving to research nudibranchs & would have rolled my eyes because you suggested looking up at the stars instead of down at the deep. I hope the years to come bring more new adventures, passions & challenges that I can’t foresee.”
Tags: Australia, Canary Islands, Christina Ochoa, Commander Chris Hadfield, Hollywood, James Cook University, Madrid, marine biology, Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, QE Productions, scuba diving