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Quiara Alegria Hudes, American playwright

Women's Impact Report 2012: Creatives

Quiara Alegria Hudes was the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play “Water by the Spoonful.” The West Philadelphia native had previously been a Pulitzer finalist in 2007 with her play “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.” Her book for “In the Heights” was a Pulitzer finalist and a Tony nominee, and the musical, about Latino families in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, won the best musical Tony in 2008.

Smartphone habits: “I didn’t even know what a BlackBerry was! Oy. I’m very behind on technology, a sort of self-imposed quiet that I couldn’t write without. Distractions are dangerous to me. I need quiet. Every day there’s an art to pushing away as many distractions as possible before I can truly sit and write. Disable Internet, turn off ringer. I’m not on Facebook. That would eliminate at least an hour of work time a day. It can take me eight hours of quiet to arrive at an hour of actual physical writing. I need that quiet cushion. And on vacation? Nah, I just bring books, my hubby and my kid. I love vacation. I wish this country would adapt a European approach to vacation. In some fantasy world, I’d spend half the year on vacation but I’d probably get restless and start writing after a month.”

Life-work balance: “I had to accept early on that I can’t be a part-time writer. It’s not enough time. Which means I also had to accept that my daughter would be in full-time daycare, away from the home. (I need quiet at home to write.) I also made a decision that I could be a playwright and I could be a mother, but I couldn’t be much else. I don’t try to do everything. I try to do two things well. The result is that I love my days and my life structure but my friends and family complain that I don’t call or visit enough.”

Charitable passion: “Philadelphia Young Playwrights. They produced my first play in the 10th grade. I went to public school and their program gave me access to an arts literacy program and a direct mentorship with a theater scholar, and that kind of arts-oriented one-on-one attention was a pivotal moment in my life. I had no idea I could write as a future, and that cracked the door open for me. I am in favor of any arts or mentorship program that enhances public education. It made a huge difference in my life. It also paved a path for a way I could give back to my community — I now mentor with Young Playwrights and serve on their boar

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