Matt Dela Cruz: Queer with an Ear for Music
How common is it to see a queer actor or musician? Some might say very common. Others have no idea. And, there are those who complain it is too common of an occurrence. The fact is that queer artists are emerging as a solid force in the music industry. Queer musicians, actors, and educators are shining on the stage, distinguishing themselves as strong leaders in the field.
One such leader is Matt Dela Cruz – karaoke lover, musical theater actor, playwright, and most importantly (for me), music theater education teacher. Matt is also a proud queer Asian-American. He has taught theater arts at Brighton School in the Puget Sound for several years, recently performed the part of Collins in the musical, “Rent“, and even more recently, graduated with his masters in teaching. And if that is not enough, he also serves as president of the board of Copious Love Productions.
While he has been acting and singing for many years, Matt’s most recent accolades are as BroadwayWorld Seattle’s best supporting role in “First Date” and top 4 finalist in an online competition similar to NBC’s “The Voice”.
Enthusiastic music teachers trained Matt in middle and high school. While his initial passion for music came through his mother, Matt saw his music educators having so much excitement in teaching children. Matt took his first drama class in college and explains it was the memory of his music teachers that inspired him to take the class. He had wanted to explore theater earlier, but he didn’t want to be stereotyped as the “theater kid”.
With music in his ears and dreams of stardom in his eyes at a young age, Matt idolized those who looked like him – Ernie Reyes Jr., Ke Huy Quan, Jocelyn Enriquez, and Kai. An interest in musical theater emerged later when he first saw a version of Cinderella starring Paolo Montalban and other BIPOC actors – Brandy and Whitney Houston.
“Seeing him act and sing with such charm and confidence gave me the inspiration to eventually pursue musical theatre professionally”Matt Dela Cruz
Reflecting on his struggle to be a success in the theater world, Matt asserts his best lessons were to know his worth as a person and to have a financial plan. Many of those dreaming to make it big in the music industry don’t know how much it costs to pursue the dream. Matt explains that he went into debt when he first moved to New York. He wished he had set aside some money and now recommends that those who follow in his footsteps have a cushion of at least $10,000. Understanding who he was gave Matt another struggle. He says he interacted with some mean people in the theater industry that forced him to develop confidence and realize that knowing his identity would propel him to success. His talent was only a pre-requisite.
As a music teacher, Matt works to instill confidence, enthusiasm, enjoyment, and passion in his students. With his new masters in teaching degree, he hopes to teach at the middle and high school levels. He will always, though, be an artist.
“There isn’t anything wrong with having to put performing as a ‘part-time’ thing while working a job full-time. You are still an artist regardless of how much time you put into your craft.”Matt Dela Cruz
And, what is on the horizon for Matt? He’ll be auditioning for more local musicals, promoting theatrical performances by Copious Love Productions, and showing up for the occasional karaoke performance. You can follow Matt on Instagram and TikTok. Also, watch some of his serious and funny videos on YouTube.