Mutual father and daughter admiration and respect: Alderman Rey Colon and Kristiana

Date: 
07/11/2014
Colon

Rey Colon staying connected to his constituents, including daughter Kristiana

Considering that Logan Square's Rey and April Colon met in a college writing class and both encouraged their children to be involved in the arts, it is understandable that their offspring might incorporate these skills and talents in their adult lives. But, daughter Kristiana Rae has taken talent added perseverance, hard work, passion and heart too. 

On Thurs., July 10, dad, 35th Ward Alderman, fulfilled every daughter's  dream. He publicly acknowledged her achievements and said…"My father often tells me that Kristiana was the best gift I ever gave him, but I don't think he realizes how much better off the rest of the world is with her in it. Her life and her accomplishments are a gift to many. I am fortunate to have such an amazing daughter." 

That was part of what he wrote in his weekly Ward newsletter. This is the rest:

On April 13th just 3-days before her 28th birthday, I opened up the Sunday Chicago Tribune and saw her [Kristiana] picture on the front page. It led me to the Arts & Entertainment section where there was an article titled; 

"Love of Theater, No Act." Four Chicago actors and their world of directors, playwrights, designers and stage managers were featured. It described how each of them had to balance their full-time day jobs with long nights of writing, rehearsing or delivering high quality theater performances for little to no compensation. The article profiled the struggles of starving artists who endure financial stress while sacrificing their personal time, energy and social life to do what they love. 

During the day, Kris works full-time as an office manager for a nonprofit organization that provides case management for troubled youth. In her spare time, she's publishing books, writing plays and fulfilling her creative mission. 

As a parent, we all want our children to be self-sufficient and contributing members of society. It seems like not that long ago when Kris was the first to get picked up by the school bus and the last to get dropped off. Her school days were always long and the backpacks she lugged around were always heavy with books, but Kris always made education look easy. 

She attended gifted elementary schools and graduated with honors from Whitney Young High School, the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Master of Fine Arts degree. Today, her days are still long and her virtual backpack is weighed with student loans, making ends meet and managing multiple responsibilities with limited amounts of time. 

This past Monday was my 53rd birthday. Among the many memorable moments and gifts that came my way, was the announcement: "Kristiana Rae Colón has been named the 2014 winner of Arizona Theatre Company's National Latino Playwriting Award recipient.

Kris is paving her own path her own way and deserves the credit for her undertakings. She makes it easy for me to say; "I'm a proud dad." 

KRColon

Kristiana Rae Colon

Meet Kristiana
On her dad's birthday, Kristiana had to be at a rehearsal. "I felt so guilty about not being able to celebrate with him that night. But, his writing washed away my guilt. 

"I am very privileged and blessed to have parents so supportive of my crazy life. They never tried 'talking sense' into me. They nurtured my artistic behavior and encouraged it. 

"I've been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. When I would come home from school, my mom would have me write three book reports and 5 poems. Her name is April and my brother and I call our rap group 'April Fools,'" she explains with a laugh. 

Having been engaged in youth education since she was a teen, her current paying job is making it possible to earn a living while fulfilling that interest and passion. However, she is finding that "it is hard to be a full time employee and artist." 

She is racking up successes that will probably put her in the position of making her artistic side dominate and her educating activities be less time consuming, meaning no 'regular' income. 

Her first 'overnight' successful play had its beginnings as a poem when at 17 she worked at Gallery 37. "It went with me to the U of C and was the basis of my Bachelor's thesis. 

"I shopped it all over the country from coast to coast. Then a woman responded on a message board from London. She came to the States and performed it in New York's Lincoln Center in 2009. For the next three years she shopped it in London. 

"In 2012, I was there when but i cd only whisper opened In London's Arcola Theatre and I stayed two weeks doing poetry readings. The play received four stars, it was exciting. 

"Northwestern published my book of poetry on Jan. 31, 2013. I got on a plane the next day and spent the next two months touring UK but the conversion of dollars to pounds destroyed my savings so I headed back home, settling into my current job." 

Part of Teatro Luna, the only all-Latina ensemble in the country, she writes and acts. Currently they are in residence at the Instituto Cervantes.

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