|By Elijah Fosl and Genevieve Kotz|
At the age of 12, Chris Sánchez didn’t speak a word of Spanish.
He also didn’t have a relationship with his own Latino heritage, according to his theater teachers.
All this changed when Chris Sánchez got involved with the Gala Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C. What started as a casual interest grew into a full-blown passion, thanks to the theater’s Paso Nuevo Youth Program.
Now, at the age of 19, Sánchez has become an accomplished playwright, actor, stagehand and engineer. This year, he went with his peers to the White House to receive an award from Michelle Obama on behalf of the program that launched his creative career.
“Once I got involved with Paso Nuevo, I fell in love with theater,” Sánchez said.
The program, which provides low-income and at-risk Latino youth a space to delve into the performing arts, is one of the many ways that the Gala Theatre keeps culture alive in the District.