Alumni August: SJND Theater Highlights Pilots in the Arts
The SJND Theater Program continues to thrive, and so do its stars!
This month, the SJND Theater department is highlighting former students and their pursuit of the arts with #AlumniAugust. Whether taking a dance class or working as a full-time actor, the following Alumni reached out to share how they are keeping the arts in their lives.
Share your updates with #AlumniAugust and #SJNDAlumni.
Lea Akima ‘17 is currently majoring in Sociology and minoring in Theatre and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. At Cal, Lea is a part of the Drawn to Scale a capella group, has performed with two AFX dance groups, and most recently, Lea starred in “Walls,” an original musical.
Chloe Baquiran ‘17 attends school in Southern California where she is studying Psychology and Criminology. When she’s not in school, Chloe loves to dance! “I just finished a 10-week dance intensive at Full Out Studios in Oakland. It was a skillshop series where we focused on performance, execution, patience, intention, and building a competition set,” Chloe shared. Chloe plans to continue her dance journey by taking advantage of more workshops/intensives in the future.
Daniela Chaparro ‘12 is obsessed with sound and music, and has recently devoted most of their time to creating new soundscapes for theatre at Shotgun Players in Berkeley. After graduating from UC San Diego to learn more about audio recording and editing, Daniela found their way back to theatrical production and will be heading to Ohio University to continue learning all they can about Theatrical Sound Design. Daniela looks back fondly on their time working backstage and onstage for SJND’s productions of Hairspray and In the Heights, as it planted the seed of their love for theatre.
Elijah Fisher ‘12 attended University of Portland with the goal of getting an Engineering degree, but after starring in a few shows and attending KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival), he switched his major to Theatre at the end of his sophomore year. Currently, Elijah is gearing up for his second year of graduate school at the University of Montana where he is pursuing his MFA in Acting - but he’s not just acting. Elijah says, “I am teaching, dancing, singing, writing, directing and learning more every day. I’m forever thankful for the opportunity to be in the cast of In The Heights while juggling basketball, baseball and school during my senior year at SJND. ¡Wepa!”
Grace Norris ‘17 is entering her third year at CU Boulder, where she takes one performance class per semester, which has included contemporary dance, African dance focused on Ghanaian culture, and a voice class. She writes, “I love having the opportunity to take these classes because the arts are something I’m passionate about and I’m getting to explore different areas of performing! Just last semester I organized an entire show for my sorority and we took first place!”
Nick Quintell ‘05 is a recruiter by day and musical theatre performer by night! Since graduating from SJND, Nick has performed with theatre companies all over the Bay Area. Most recently, he starred as Roger in Grease (still passing for a high schooler!) with Broadway by the Bay. One of Nick’s favorite roles to date has been Ram Sweeney in the San Francisco regional premiere and first off-broadway production of Heathers: the Musical.
Stephanie Sanchez ‘17 is currently a student at Fordham University studying Theatre Performance and Early Childhood Education. Stephanie shares, “I am eternally grateful for the home that the SJND Theatre Program provided for me. Now, I am living my dreams learning from the best Tony Award-winning professors and working alongside the new generation of theatre makers in New York City.”
Alisa Snow '17 has been participating in choir for the past two years, and will be taking Tech Theatre in the fall, all while pursuing a major in Applied Physics and a Drama minor at UC Irvine.
Shaun Tuazon ‘05 got his start performing at SJND in 2003. He writes, “Sophomore year, my cousin convinced me to audition for the Spring Musical, CINDERELLA. It would be my first time on stage in a musical and I knew absolutely nothing about theatre.” Fast forward to 2019, Shaun is now a proud member of the Actors' Equity Association working as an actor and designer in Southern California. “I have been fortunate to work alongside the most talented artists at some of the largest theatres in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas. Life as a full time artist hasn't always been easy, but if you focus and hone your craft, have confidence in yourself, and lead with love, you can do anything,” says Shaun.
Jace Taylor ‘15 graduated with her BFA in Acting for the Stage and Screen from Azuza Pacific University. Jace starred in her first short film coming out in the fall called "Dinner in Room 307." She also has a web series called “The Plane Truth” which is currently being submitted to film festivals. In addition to performing, Jace has been teaching and directing, and will direct a kids Christmas musical in December.