We had the good fortune of connecting with Maria De La Ghetto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maria, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I’ve always been a performer. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have the resources or knowledge to put me on that path early on. But I’m actually grateful that I wasn’t a child actor or got into the business too early. Especially, with all the #MeToo cases and child abuse throughout the years. I was always a theater kid so I was always doing plays in school. Then when I got to do my first open mic on a stage at a bar, that high after making people laugh really solidified my decision. I’ve always been the “comedian” of the group. I had to develop quick wit and thick skin early in life because I always got teased for being the fat kid. Who would’ve thought those skills would be something I could actually get paid for? More importantly, it just feels really good on both sides. There’s definitely ego and selfishness with being a comedian or any type of performer, but personally as a comedian, there’s an equal sense of fulfillment knowing that I made someone forget their worries and brought them some joy. I feel like this is such a cliche thing to say about it but that’s one hundred percent how I feel and it’s truly a beautiful thing. I’ve been really blessed to have people tell me after a show how much they enjoyed my set and made them feel really good. If money wasn’t necessary in this world to survive, I’d do this just for the joy of doing it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Getting to where I am was definitely not easy and I’m not even where I want to be yet. But that’s any industry. The biggest challenges that come to mind are fear and money. Those two would coincide a lot in my life. I grew up a broke brown girl from Highland Park in Los Angeles. Before gentrification made it cool to live there, it was a lower-income neighborhood. Just to be clear, I’d rather have that Highland Park over this new one any day. Anyway, money was always scarce in my house. So when you grow up in that environment, it conditions you to constantly fear that you won’t have enough money. It took years of unlearning that fear. I’ve been pursuing comedy off and on for around 15 years and only recently committed to it full-time in 2019. I always got derailed or sidetracked because I needed that stable income and healthcare benefits from a 9-5. That 40 hour work week took all my mental capacity so it was really hard to go do comedy after all that. But I learned from different people how to make it work. I learned how to get medical, save a little money, etc… So with a little money saved, and my resourcefulness (I found a place to live with a friend that would let me stay rent-free in exchange with helping her out) I quit my job to pursue comedy full time. The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is that you can’t do anything in this world completely on your own. No matter how independent or hard working you are, you need people. If I hadn’t met certain people in my life, I wouldn’t have learned certain information or made certain connections. If you have knowledge or resources that would benefit other people, share it. There is so much gate keeping in our society but it’s so unnecessary. There is enough for everyone to benefit. We need to build and support each other, not compete and break down.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh man, this is what I live for. Thankfully, everything is slowly opening back up so we definitely have more options again. First stop is always All-You-Can-Eat Korean Barbecue. I LOVE Korean food, not just Korean Bbq. So if you’re vegan, this wouldn’t be on our list. My favorite vegan burger joint is Monty’s and sit-down vegan place is Sage. That’s all you get vegans, sorry. Anyway, I love options and flavors. First stop, Bulgogi Hut in Korea town. When you first pull up, they immediately bring you side dishes aka banchan. My favorite is the marinated sprouts. They usually have different side dishes every other day but there’s always kimchi. My favorite spot, pre-pandemic, was Castle Bbq on Western and Maplewood. They were the cheapest but the BEST. Now, my new go-to spot is Bulgogi Hut on Wilshire and Kingsley. They’re a little more on price but way worth it. After dinner, if we haven’t eaten our weight in food, it’s off to Mr. Boba just a few blocks away for some Brown Sugar Boba milk tea. You can opt out of the tapioca balls but why? It’s the spice of life. By this time I can safely say we’d be in a food coma. Next, if you want to walk off last night’s kbbq, we’d head over to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, because I’m not trying to hike. Everyone loves hiking in LA, good for them. Plus, there’s all these beautiful different gardens with different flowers, trees, etc. It’s way more relaxing, prettier views, and you will still get your steps in, trust me. That place is huge. For lunch, we head over to Boyle Heights at El Mercadito indoor swapmeet where they have a huge Mexican restaurant on the third floor and live Mariachi’s playing every day. Get some chile rillenos or my favorite, tacos dorados. Afterwards, we can walk around the swapmeet and do some shopping. Then we’d make our way to Highland Park for some drinks at my favorite bar, Johnny’s. There’s still restrictions on their hours but after some Jameson and gingers, we can go right outside to my favorite taco stand, Nato’s Tacos. It’s just Nato and his wife making the best tacos right in front of you. I’ve been getting their tacos for 8 years now. Next day, breakfast at a Taiwanese breakfast place that I can never remember their name. I think it’s something like Big Tree something. I’m going to be honest, I can never remember it. But it’s in Monterrey Park across the street from AMC Times Square theater. After breakfast, we could head out to Venice Beach and be touristy. We can walk around and see all the people dressed as characters and other people doing weird things. I don’t spend a lot of time out there, but it’s like a must-see anytime people visit LA. We wouldn’t really eat lunch because there are lots of snacky things and fast food out there. But for dinner, we’re heading back to K-town for some BCD Tofu House. Soondobu tofu soup is smackin’. This place you get an entree and whatever type of tofu soup you want. My favorite is the Hot Stone Pot Bibimbap and the spicy beef tofu soup. Bibimbap is an assortment of veggies, beef (optional), and an egg on top of rice inside a hot stone pot that crisps the rice at the bottom. Delicious! For dessert, maybe some homemade ice cream down the street at Honeymee! I think I’ll stop there. these are just my top spots. But quick shout outs to Korean food at Kim’s Kitchen in Glendale. Grill Em’ All burgers in Alhambra. Las Cazuelas Salvadorean food in Highland Park. So many places, so a week wouldn’t be enough time. Last shoutout, Gol Tang Korean Fried Chicken in K-town is a must. It’s just this one older Korean man who has 3 items on his menu and the only who works there. But so good. Enjoy!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This shoutout is to everyone. I’ve had so much help and support from so many people over the years, even before I committed to my comedy. Anyone who has given me a ride, paid my way, gave me a place to crash, FED ME! You know your girl loves to eat. But honestly, I’m thankful for everyone in my life. My family is a HUGE support system for me. Especially, my sisters showing up to shows even when they don’t want to. My parents, they still paying for stuff. Ha. My friends and everyone else for supporting me at my comedy shows, even if we don’t know each other personally, ya’ll are still the real MVP’s. The entertainment industry can make you lose yourself and I really don’t want that to happen. So shoutout to everyone that keeps me grounded and humble. My head is big enough already.
Facebook: Maria De La Ghetto