In class and on stage

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By Samuel Finch / Features Editor

Suspense (Paul Ledesma / Staff Photographer )

By Samuel Finch / Features Editor

Just as every journey must begin with a single step, so must every acting career begin with a single role, whether big or small.


“I was a dancing potato chip,” said Jodi Julian, associate professor and Theater department chair.


Though Julian has worked with Riverside City College for the past 13 years, acting was not originally a conscious pursuit on her part.


“It’s always really been something that I’ve fallen into,” she said. “I never chose this as a path, it was just always the next thing and I’ve been very fortunate in my career as an artist to keep getting jobs. To me it’s about the work, not about how great I was or how much of a star I wanted to be or anything like that, I just wanted to continue to work all of the time.”


Julian embodies this view in her outlook on teaching.


“I want students to be successful in acting as a career, whether it’s a career going to school or a career in Hollywood or a career on Broadway or whatever they choose, I want them to be focused in that sense,” she said.


This desire has certainly had an impact on those who have taken Julian’s classes, such as Bryan Young.


“I’ve been doing theater for a long time,” Young said. “Other kids would do basketball; I’d go to rehearsal. Then in high school, when you have to start making decisions, and they start slimming down to what you’re good at, junior to senior year I started really looking at what I was good at and what I wanted to do specifically. That’s when I made the decision that this is where I wanted to go to and I shopped around colleges and I decided to come here to RCC.”


Young’s time with the RCC Theater department has helped him further discern his aspirations.


“I’ve been working with Jodi Julian for about two and a half years,” Young said. “I really see her as a mentor for what I’m trying to do and the way she teaches is very career-oriented. I mean, coming out of high school and not knowing what I was going to do, and then coming here really put me on a very direct track to what I want to do.”


Young is not the only student to be propelled forward by involvement with the Theater department.


“Since I’ve started here, basically everything that I am now is from RCC,” said Alex White. “It’s built me up to what I am now. Plus, 100 percent of my friends are in this program.”


White started his college theater involvement with the play “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” where he performed alongside classmate Haley Rubin.


“It’s definitely helped me grow as an actor and as a person,” Rubin said. “Like Alex said, we’re all friends in the program. It’s fun and it’s something that’s going to propel us towards what we want to do.”


Both White and Rubin are cast to perform in the department’s upcoming production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” starting in May.


Rubin elaborated on how acting has helped her personal growth.


“You’re learning things about yourself with every line that you say, everything that you read, everything that you write, you’re learning more and more and building yourself up as a person,” she said.


Miguel Bagsit echoed Rubin’s sentiment, though he only began with the department last fall.


“This is something that’s very unique in its own way, theater acting,” Bagsit said. “It’s not something everybody does. Being here with a department that has a wealth of knowledge and a lot of people who are investing time in it, it really helps me want to grow and want to become a part of it more than I’ve ever been.”


Students involved with the department spoke not only of their pasts and presents, but of their hopes for the future as well.


“I hope that it keeps going strong,” White said. “It’s been solid for me, it’s been a great learning environment and a place to grow. It’s too bad that now with the economy we had to cut the summer program and so I’m hoping that nothing more gets cut because it’s all so valuable. It’s where I’ve spent the last four years of my life becoming a new person.”


Miguel Castellano added his thoughts to White’s desire to see the department grow and remain strong, a hope reiterated by their classmates.


“The quality of work this community college puts out is amazing,” Castellano said. “I just wish that the Riverside community would recognize it more as its own entity. A lot of people get us confused with Performance Riverside and think it’s all one thing but it’s not. We’re two, separate things and I think it’d be nice for the community to know that the community college itself has a theater department that does really good work.”


With “The Crucible” on the horizon, Julian keeps an open mind for the future.


“As long as the director’s heart is in it and the kids are excited about it, that’s what I want to do next,” she said.

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