Baltimost is a Baltimore Fishbowl feature series that asks locals what they love about their city. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore and the people who make it so unique.
So what makes Baltimore the Baltimost to you? It could be a favorite place, a great meal, a memorable interaction or something else entirely. Email suggestions to Karen at Knitkin@baltimorefishbowl.com.
Cori Dioquino, 34, is an actor, producer, arts integration educator and co-founder of the Baltimore Asian Pasifika Arts Collective (BAPAC). In her words:
“We started BAPAC in September 2018 to give Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders a platform to tell their stories. It’s very rare for me to see a play with characters that I can relate to, so I set out to create the things that I want to see. My goal as an artist is to help others find the courage to embrace their identities.
Our first full-length play was “Tornkid,” which I co-produced. It was written by my friend Katelynn Kenney and explores immigrant and third culture kid identity through the lens of a middle school child. I think a lot of people understand that duality and what it’s like to feel alone in it.
My mom and I immigrated to Laurel from Pasay City, Philippines, when I was four. My dad immigrated a few years later. As long as I can remember, I would put on costumes, playing pretend in my room, singing at the top of my lungs. I was always in the drama group at school. Performing came naturally to me.
I was a music major at Howard Community College then got my bachelor’s in theatre from Towson University. When I graduated, I did the ‘actor hustle,’ working at 9-5s to pay my bills and auditioning when I could.
When I turned 30, I went home to the Philippines thinking I would finally fit in somewhere. But I found I didn’t quite belong there either. I’m the only person on either side of my family who was born in the Philippines and raised in the States. It’s isolating to be surrounded by people who look like you and realize you still stick out.
When I came back, I took a break from acting and got a job as a theater resource teacher in a Baltimore City public school. I’m very passionate about using the arts to teach core curriculum subjects like math and science. Teaching kids forced me to reflect on my own childhood and helped me come to terms with my experiences growing up an immigrant kid.
I still act. I got my first television co-star role last year on Netflix/Marvel’s ‘Daredevil.’ But I love the creative control I have as a producer over the stories I tell. And I love being a teacher.
Teaching in Baltimore City, I see how important street art, dance and music are to the community. The arts scene is very reflective of Baltimore culture and how diverse it is.
I love the mural painted by Gregg Deal, across from the Creative Alliance on Eastern Avenue. It shows a Native American boy wearing traditional, indigenous clothing on one side, and the same child dressed in contemporary Western clothes on the other. It’s called ‘The Duality of Indigeneity.’ I relate to that mural a lot.”