Amazing Asians in the Arts: Cheryl Daro
Cheryl Daro is an actress and producer based in Las Vegas! She has been seen in Broadway caliber productions and is also an extensive content creator in Las Vegas for BIPOC and under-represented communities. Keep reading to find out more about what makes Cheryl an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Cheryl Daro
Hometown: Santa Clara, CA
Current City: Las Vegas, NV
Working on an untitled Web series concept that addresses the current social situation and breaks down difficult topics in a digestible and fun way…over dinner, because I obviously love food. Probably gonna be shot at The Space.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Co-Creator of Mondays Dark
Founder of Hamiltunes Las Vegas Company
Gigi in Miss Saigon at Signature Theater in DC
Claire in Proof at Central Square Theatre in Boston
Acting Instructor at Berklee College of Music
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
First college major was English…then graphic design, then marketing, then theater, then musical theater, then voice. I went to 6 different schools and universities before I was 23. Took a break to work in Hollywood. Decided to attend Atlantic Theater School in NYC for the 2 year Acting Conservatory at 28 years old to finish some sort of schooling. At the end of my first year, David Mamet did a master class for the students, and pretty much said something along the lines that school was unnecessary for the careers we were looking for, and that we needed to just get out in the professional world and do it. I still remember looking up from my notepad, just shocked, but also feeling clarity. So, I celebrated my 30th birthday in my first professional show as Gigi in “Miss Saigon.” I never got a degree.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
My first “acting” gig in LA was background work where they needed dancers for a high school prom on a show called “Ally McBeal.” It was my first time in front of the camera. There was a group of 12 of us to be featured in this scene doing the Hustle. I ended up definitely on camera with the Lead Actress long enough for my family to see me on TV. It was the first time that my Grandma stopped asking me if I was finishing nursing school (which I never started), and began to call me Cheryl, “The Famous Actress.” My family started to believe in what I was pursuing in the Arts then. It really motivated me to be successful in my field and explore TV/Film acting, as LA was just supposed to be a 1 year stop before I headed to NYC to be on Broadway. Also, I talked to Josh Groban on set and told him that his voice was beautiful and that he should consider a career in singing. Didn’t know he was already famous until I saw him on Letterman. LOL
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Just do it. We need more creative people in this world. We need more creative solutions and new innovative perspectives. Artists also have an empathetic and compassionate perspective, and because of this can use their professional platform in the arts to bring some humanity back into society. Creativity gives birth to change…and BOY do we need it!
Also, there is no single track to being successful in the Arts. Be creative in how you approach your career. I was always learning different ways to be involved. I did a lot of things in my field when I was younger…not just acting. This ended up being such a blessing because when I wanted to begin developing new works and be able to create as an artist, I was able to understand everyone’s jobs and lead effectively.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
Well, definitely check our Mondays Dark. We are a 501c3 that has taken our experience in the arts and used it to bring awareness to local Las Vegas charities. We throw a 90 minute variety show every two weeks that features a different Vegas charity and raises $10K for them. My husband, Mark Shunock, and I have been running this program for over 6 years and have raised over $1 million dollars for over 100 charities in Las Vegas! We are still going strong and through this little show, we were able to open The Space, not only the home of Mondays Dark, but an arts based community center aimed towards cultivating local artists and developing new shows, while providing a usable space for our charity partners. We also produce and develop shows with Marshun Entertainment, our production company. Dedicated to furthering BIPOC and under-represented people and dealing with social issues through the arts, we founded the Hamiltunes Las Vegas company and the VDAY Vegas company. We are proud of our diversely represented Space Family.
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between shows to pay the bills?
I worked as a Toyota/Lexus Product Specialist to pay the bills. We know everything there is to know about Toyota. Been on the National Team for over 10 years. I love it. I grew up with automotive in my blood; kinda was a tomboy growing up and was into fast cars and motorcycles, so this was an unexpected awesome job. I’ve always been able to talk about cars, now I got paid for it. Also, I’ve always loved knowing HOW things work, and this job is wonderful for that, as we are trained directly from the corporate office and get up to date on what’s the latest and greatest in the brand. They have a philosophy that they run their company by called KAIZEN. It is a Japanese word that means to continuously improve. I live by this mantra. They are a great company to work for and I am grateful for them.
Do you have any other “Special skills?”
I have a knack for bringing people together. Great judge of character and someone’s potential. I’m really great at explaining things and listening. These skills have served me well as a producer.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
I am very hard on myself and am a recovering perfectionist. I’ve come to realize a lot in my older age about gratitude and appreciation. When I was younger and in the prime of my career, I was a hustler for sure…I put myself out there, but there were not a lot of gigs out there for Asian female actors. I didn’t get a lot of auditions, but when I did I was very critical of my work, so I ended up not enjoying the wins that I achieved. I kept looking to the next gig and what my end game was. “I wasn’t on Broadway yet,” or “I didn’t get the callback for that TV show I auditioned for.” The list goes on and on.
It ended up creating anxiety and lots of self doubt. I had a great agent and booked some great gigs, but it was never enough. In the thick of my hustle, I would listen to that voice in my head that said I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t enough, and I listened. I missed auditions, I didn’t do the work to prepare, and I eventually talked myself out of some important gigs. I lost my agent and I lost my confidence, all because I listened to the negative voice in my head.
I’ve been very successful since that time. I’ve created and performed and I’ve celebrated my work. I meditate and practice mindfulness. I’ve learned balance and it has made a world of difference. The path in this field is not linear. I realized that it’s not going to look how I imagined it, so I’d better celebrate what I’m doing every step of the way. All I can say is this…you can do it. You can do anything you set your mind to. Believe in the Artist in you. Be kind and compassionate to that artist. There is no right way to do this. TAKE YOUR TIME.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
I could see myself accepting an Oscar, Tony, or Emmy. Executive Producer on a movie or TV show. Star in a big budget film. Portray a Filipino on camera or on stage…this one is important. I need to see more representation here!!!
What do you love most about what you do?
Telling important stories about humanity and being able to show that the Asian American experience is just like everyone else’s experience. I’ve had the honor of portraying roles normally played by non-BIPOCs in theater. It’s great to work with people who are able to think outside of the box and don’t stick with what’s considered “the norm.” For me, it’s gratifying to look at a character description and say, “that could be me. I’m a quirky, hippy civil engineer from Berkley,” and producers agree. So it’s nice to see more color on stage and screen. Also, I’m enjoying creating new works that highlight the REAL American experience and celebrates the diversity that is our country, bringing to life the new stories that express how we are as a culture right now; seeing what’s next. I enjoy hearing feedback from people who tell me that they saw themselves in my work or that I touched their hearts. That is really special.
What inspires you?
My students and the future of the arts. Especially how it can impact the social norm. I love seeing all those beautiful Asian faces on my screen and on that stage! All the possibilities!
To find out more about Cheryl, please visit her at: