By Cade Martin

As a kid I spent many a dinner at a table surrounded by friends of my parents, an eclectic cast of characters — sculptors, writers, painters, creatives. That thread of creative community has remained in our offices, our teams, and our collaborations. But that thread feels thinner in this moment. 

So I asked, with the purpose of sharing, and of supporting and caring for this creative community in its current, uncertain reality. I asked what people are doing, how they are feeling, how they are sparking creativity. It feels important to share what we do, when we can’t do all our doing.

Reaching out first to some of the talented people I’ve had the good fortune to profile though the Capitol Communicator portrait series.  It’s my version of a virtual dinner table of sorts. Grab a chair. 

Michael Dumlao – Director of Brand, Corporate Affairs Booz Allen

“My life’s greatest creative moments tend to come from struggle and introspection so I’m using this time to rediscover my roots as an artist, activist and performer. Art heals and our world could use that healing right now.”

What, if anything, are you doing differently? 

Well, for one, I’ve been writing, composing, casting and directing a three-hour stage extravaganza premiering this fall in my role as the Queen of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. A few years ago I created a performance alter-ego named Nuancé who is a gender-creative undocumented alien from outer-space with multiple personalities – ranging from an ingenue cabaret singer to a North Korean dictator obsessed with Edna Mode from The Incredibles.

To promote the show and cue up some exposition and backstory leading to the performance, I’ve planned photoshoots and created a series of videos such as this one:

I’ve also joined several Facebook Groups such as “One Take Musical” and “Quarantined Cabaret” where I’ve been posting a video a day singing something I’ve always wanted to perform on stage. 

It sounds like you have been quite active.

Nothing keeps a creative communicator inspired and engaged quite like stepping completely out of their comfort zone – and this show does that for me. Both this character and the show reflect parts of my own artistic persona: Nuancé is a curious cultural explorer, and the show (currently named “Haus Nuancé”) personifies the internal struggles an artist negotiates between unfettered creative integrity versus the reality of making a living and thriving beyond surviving – all told through an immersive fashion show experience. It’s my own self-therapy conducted through all facets of creativity: music, acting, writing, photography, video, make-up and even costume making. 

How are you sparking yourself creatively?

Interestingly, by rediscovering and reasserting my many years as a performer and exploring drag, I’m strengthening my skills as a storyteller. This whole project is forcing me to look to new inspirations of creativity: from the history of queer, underground performance, to my own cultural heritage as a Filipino immigrant. It is also compelling me to seek new collaborations with artists expert in areas of expression I’ve never explored before. Also, the outcome of that mental exercise manifests in all my projects – personal and professional. For one, it gives me new tools to offer clients, colleagues and my community. And it strengthens my brand as a truly unique voice in my industry. I mean, how many senior creatives do you know who work for Fortune 500s in the federal consulting and technology space and are also gender-bending drag performers?

You can find Michael’s Capitol Communicator profile here. 

About The Author

The only child of a university art professor and freethinker mother, Cade Martin grew up surrounded by shapes and images. His love of art grew out of summer vacations filled with trips to galleries, museums and art studios. At home he often found himself around the dinner table with an eclectic cast of characters – sculptors, writers and painters. They paraded through his childhood, shaping his art foundation and forming his appreciation for the candid beauty found in people from all walks of life. Cade’s been chasing characters ever since. He seeks out their stories-told through the architecture of their faces or the costumes they wear-whether he’s on a commercial production or setting up an Avedon-like photo booth at Comic Con. They are the heroes in his pictures. His thirst for capturing adventures took its hold while shooting stills on movie sets and then as a photographer for National Geographic covering the railways of India. And it is that sense of adventure that Cade brings to his productions elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary with a cinematic touch. It’s not just a picture. He’s committed to the experience, building beautiful environments and, sometimes for his portraits, simply building trust. A talented storyteller, Cade splits his time between the East and West Coasts creating images for editorial, advertising, fashion, and lifestyle clients

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