When it comes to the performing arts, Gabriela “Gaby” Nuno is a natural. The 38-year-old Savannah resident was born and raised in Orange County, California, the daughter of parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico City.
“I started singing and dancing when I was three-years-old,” Gaby said. “My first performance was for a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the country club where my father worked. That's where I discovered my love for the stage.”
When she was five-years-old, Gaby started jazz and tap-dancing lessons and became a regular performer for boat cruises to Balboa Island off Newport Beach, California.
“My mom (Lupita Kozieja) was always my biggest cheerleader,” Gaby remembers. “She sewed all my costumes and took me to all my performances.”
By age 8, Gaby was acting in TV commercials on Spanish-language television in Burbank, Ca., then started taking ballet and gymnastic classes. That was when she started to gain the attention of Southern California's media outlets and was nominated as one of the area's most promising young actresses by La Opinion, the nation's largest Spanish-language newspaper.
“I loved all forms of dance, but it was when I began taking lessons at the Blanca Luz Dance Academy that I discovered my passion for Flamenco dance,” Gaby said. “My mentor there was a great dancer and she inspired me to work very hard at my craft.”
When she was 17, an entertainment producer hired Gaby to join his cast of singers and dancers. The highlight of that experience was performing live on NBC News for a Cinco De Mayo celebration.
In 1996, Gaby performed on Univision's iconic musical variety show, Sábado Gigante where she won second-place for her singing talent.
“People are sometimes disappointed when the big stars they see on TV are not so nice up close and in person,” Gaby said. “But Don Francisco was just as warm and friendly in person as he was on the air.”
After that, Gaby began to experience some of the harsher realities of the entertainment industry.
“There are so many people looking for their big break in Hollywood that many of the agents and casting directors lose their sense of humanity and treat people very badly,” she said. “For the first time, performing was not something that gave me great pleasure so I decided to look for another vocation.”
So Gaby went back to school and trained to become a dental assistant.
Since moving to Savannah seven years ago with her husband and son, Nuno has rediscovered her passion for performance and has been active in a variety of local venues.
“I've done a good bit of acting locally, both as an extra on some of the big-budget films and as a featured performer on some of the smaller independent films,” she said. “All of my film experiences here have been great. It's such a pleasure to work with local producers. They treat everyone with respect and it's such a contrast to Hollywood.”
Three years ago, Gaby was hired by The Telfair museum to perform Flamenco dances during the opening of an art exhibit featuring the works of a prominent Spanish artist.
“I love Flamenco dancing because it is so physically expressive,” Gaby said. “It allows the dancer to showcase a range of emotions, all of them without using words.”
Gaby says her greatest joy these days comes from leading the music-worship at her church, the Ministerio Apostolico Profetico Alabanza (MAPA) on Savannah's Southside.
“When I was in California, I sang mostly pop and hip-hop,” she said. “But when I became a Christian, my focus shifted to Christian music. In our church, I sing in Spanish. And I also perform my music at other churches and events.”
During the week, Gaby keeps busy as a partner in her mother's cleaning and catering businesses.
You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org