Fabulous People: Justin Huertas

Justin Huertas is a talented Seattle-based playwright, composer, lyricist, actor and musician and writer of the new musical, Lydia at the Troll, based on his fictional origin story of the Fremont Troll. Via Seattle Rep’s Plays in Process, a behind-the-scenes showcase of the musical is being presented on June 3 virtually. (Buy your tickets at seattlerep.org!) Learn about Justin Huertas…

Hometown: Born in Tacoma, grew up in Mukilteo.

First job: I worked at Build-a-Bear Workshop in Tacoma Mall! Which was actually awesome.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: Taking walks in our beautiful city with awesome tunes in my earbuds; playing music with my partner, Tyler; and watching Disney+ with my best friend, Kiki.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: I’m most known in Seattle’s theater community for my first musical Lizard Boy, but at this moment I’m most proud of my second musical The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion, which was a big moment when I proved to myself that Lizard Boy wasn’t an anomaly and that I have the skill and drive to tell even more weird, emotional and diverse stories.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: (Don’t talk about your ex, don’t talk about your ex, don’t talk about your ex…) Several years ago, I was in a toxic relationship with someone wherein I internalized a false narrative of my life as a supporting player in someone else’s story. That affected the ways I myself told stories and the plays I auditioned for based on what I felt my face, skin and body were worth. Leaving that relationship was the first step in recontextualizing every aspect of my identity and reclaiming my power. (OK, I totally talked about my ex.)

Someone who inspires you and why: She’s going to get tired of me saying this but Sara Porkalob. Her musical Dragon Lady about her Filipino family was the first time I ever saw my culture and my family on stage. Every incredible leap forward she’s taken has been unapologetically grounded in who she is as an artist and as a human, and I want my path to be as self-assured and self-empowered.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Your stories are worthy. If you’re worried the story you want to tell is one that has been told before, trust that you’re the only one who can tell it like you. Stand in that.

Favorite quote: “The child is so sweet. And the girls are so rapturous. / Isn’t it lovely how artists can capture us?” Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George. Like, are you kidding me? That rhyme is incredible.

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I love to cook. Which might be surprising because I used to be so bad at it. I guess all it took was a global pandemic to force me to practice.

What makes someone fabulous: Knowing exactly who you are and celebrating it! No games, no shapeshifting, only growing and walking through the world as yourself.

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