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What brought you or your family to Fullerton or Orange County?
I was living in Whittier and commuting to Fullerton College by bus when I first started going.
Explain why you chose to study/work at Fullerton College.
An actor I truly admired and respected at a neighboring high school in Whittier, Sean McNall, ended up going there. I followed his lead in life and career for a good long time.
In what areas of college life were/are you engaged?
I was nearly exclusively a drama geek. I would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at that building. If they would've let me sleep in the Campus Theater, I probably would've done that too.
Describe what the college was like and your principal interests during your year(s) at the college.
When I got there, I was very frightened of being able to hang with all the "cool" kids that were already pretty established in the program. I hung back for a while until I finally realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. Before long, I felt pretty accepted by everyone there and I was able to be more and more of who I really was.
During your time at Fullerton College, who were people you had friendships with, were inspired by, or in some way made a difference in your time here, and why?
Oh gosh! Long list. Let's see, in no particular order here: Patrick Dall'Occhio, Nathan Baesel, Kim Jones, Kelly Fullerton, Bob Leigh, Erin McReynolds, Addison Glines, Sean McNall, Aled Davies, Ed Mast, Ericka Dudek, Allen Cutler, Artie O'Daly, Tara and Bryan, Julie Remala, Lisa Rohr, Scott Munson, Andy Pinon, Richard Prock, Lisa Schomas, Mike Martin, Gavin Carlton, Jonny Peterson (aka Ian Christensen), Jesse Patch, Keola Simpson, Joe Saenz, Jennifer Morales, Andy Pinon, Gary Krinke, Bob Jensen, Chuck Ketter...the list could go on and on really and I'm sure I've left some important folks out. It's tough to go into the reasons why for each and every one because you'd be reading this all day! But here are a few: Chuck kissing the stage near tears and calling the theater his "temple", Gary obscuring my body with his hand on a videotaped monologue and saying that "feet tell you everything you need to know", Addison in that John Guare piece - and in The Kentucky Cycle!, Aled for saying, "Oooooh, you're a scientist. We have to get you out of your head, scientist!", Bob Jensen and his go-to theater class making me want to do professional theatre even more, Sean and our time together working on The Indian Wants the Bronx - and Hamlet, Nathan and Sean in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the cast of Into the Woods, Bob Leigh believing that I had something special - and the many conversations with so many folks at that table in the center of it all, in someone's car on the way to class, and after rehearsal, after shows. To be honest, it's all quite overwhelming to remember!
What were some of the biggest changes or most significant events that took place during your time at the college?
That first production I did at FC was Hamlet, and it was really tough for me. I felt I was an awful Laertes. One day, I just up and left rehearsal and walked to my girlfriend's place. I was sobbing and, bless her heart, she talked me down and drove me back to rehearsal saying, "You have to go back. You have to do this." She was right. Doing that show taught me a lot.
Please tell us one story that gives us insight into your experiences at Fullerton College.
LaVelle Wilson and I were in The Indian Wants the Bronx together, and every night before the show we would go into the Bronwyn Dodson while it was still pitch dark and yell out to the folks in our "neighborhood" in the Bronx (a place neither of us had ever been I think). He'd push me around in a shopping cart that we had, and when it was finally time for the show to start, Sean would yell "Time to go" and we'd continue in character down the hall, outside, and then into 1310. The transition from our pre-show warm-up to the beginning of the show was seamless. I still smile when I think of that.
Any other comments, funny stories, and/or recollections of what was happening to you/on campus during major events?
I went to ACTF one year in Utah and had an incredible time. I still remember Tina Alquitela and I staying up late and talking, getting into a hotel room throwdown with Jennifer Morales, and Patrick Dall'Occhio, Paul DeRouen, and I experiencing our first snow together there.
What advice do you have for our current students?
Figure out what you're worth as soon as you can. It's something I still struggle with. However, when you start out it's real easy to get down when other people - and the persistent voice of doubt in your head - says over and over again that you don't have what it takes. There's a lot of "no's" before that golden "yes". People say it's drive, or ambition, or - whatever - that gets you past the rejection, but I've never really identified with that. I just always try to remember what I bring to the table.
What impact did your experiences at Fullerton College have on the rest of your life/career and how?
I think the biggest lasting impact was of the friends made during my time there. I've gone through some tough times since then, and my FC friends have been there for me through thick and thin. The other thing I would say is - there was a special kind of fire that burned in me the day I left. I never received an award or scholarship at Fullerton and to be honest it challenged my confidence and self-esteem. Eventually, I used it for fuel.
“People say it's drive, or ambition, or - whatever - that gets you past the rejection, but I've never really identified with that. I just always try to remember what I bring to the table.”