Maria

Bio

With her focus on becoming an actress, Maria began her career as one of the founding members of the Unlimited Potential Theatre Company sponsored by VSA New Jersey (formerly known as Very Special Arts), taking the lead in the 1988 original production of Romance Mystery Theater and Dorothy in Wonderland—both written and directed by Maureen Heffernan and performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of VSA’s International Festival.

In 1991 Maria was cast in the off-Broadway production of Another Person Is a Foreign Country, directed by Ann Bogart and produced by En Garde Arts. In 1992 she was cast in The Perfect Life, directed by Paul Zimet and performed at The La Mama Theater. In 1994 and 1996 she took to the New York stage again in a comical and touching one-woman show about her life, titled Maria. The show was a collaborative effort with Cecilia deWolf and performed at Ensemble Studio Theater. Maria used her singing voice in several musicals throughout New Jersey, including Beehive, Godspell, and Anything Goes.

In 1994 she created and hosted her own talk show; The Open Circle, which aired on access cable stations across New Jersey, thanks to a very generous grant from the United Way of Central New Jersey. The cablecast show featured relevant topics (such as parenting, sexuality, and substance abuse) and how they affect people with disabilities. As an advocate, Maria has worked with the Middlesex County (NJ) Department of Human Services and the County Office for the Disabled. A professional speaker on diversity and disability awareness, her speaking engagements have been held at Drew University, New York University, Rutgers University, The Exxon Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, and The United Way. In November 2006 Maria was invited to give the keynote address at the World Congress on Disabilities Expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA.

Maria’s newest adventure? Completing her memoir, Caught in Between, co-authored by Audrey O’Connell.

What’s the book about? Poverty. Child abuse. Abandonment. These are all extreme challenges, but throw a physical disability into the mix and you have one hell of a story. "My experiences have been sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious—but always full of adventure."

If you don't make waves, no one will know you've been swimming. - author unknown