Gi60 Scholarship award recipients.
It’s All About Acting…
I was 12 years old, when I saw a play for the first time in 1995. It was "The King Snake" directed by acclaimed Iranian theater artist Bahram Beizai. The moment the show was over, I knew I wanted to become an actress. Becoming an actress was an ambitious dream for a girl who was living in Iran during the 90s. The country had just emerged from the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and many people were in constant struggle to just meet their basic needs.
I grew up in a middle class family with educated parents. Even though my parents love arts, I knew their expectations for me were different and they wanted me to go to college and have a stable job and a stable life. I didn't want to let my parents down, so without putting any thought to it, I did what I knew my parents wanted me to do. Moreover, fees for drama school were very expensive, so I had to wait until I found a job and saved up enough money. Even though, I couldn't stop thinking about my dream, I decided to turn a deaf ear to my inner calling. I let my rational mind shout down my inner voice and I started listening to my head instead of my heart.
I studied hard at school and university. I received my BA in English news translation. After graduation, I got a job at a newspaper as a translator and journalist. During all those years, I didn't give up on my dream. My instinct warned me that something wasn’t quite right in my life, but I ignored it. For almost a decade, I just watched plays which gave me a notable experience and made me more inspired and passionate.
I was successful in my job and had the respect of my peers and the newspaper's management, but I felt like I was trapped in the wrong job. I enrolled in a one-year acting class in 2008. I also took a two-year acting course in 2011. The teacher of the third acting class that I took in 2014 was a game changer in my life.
The actor who performed in the lead role in "The King Snake," was our teacher. He changed my life forever. He has spent his whole life teaching his students not only acting, but also how to follow their dreams and focus on their goals. One day, he told us: "Never pay attention to the disappointing comments that are made about your dream by people around you because they don't realize what a beautiful world we have here in this class." He was right. No one never understood how much I enjoyed every second of my classes.
Acting classes gave my confidence a boost. After years of hard work and practice, my dream finally came true. I got a role in a play directed by my teacher, in which I acted a transgender boy. From the moment I stepped on stage, something changed in me. I felt alive. I found freedom in performance. Acting lessons washed away my shyness and helped me become more confident. It freed me from those things that had bound me like low self-esteem.
Some months later I was cast in another play "The House of Bernarda Alba". I played the role of Bernarda's eldest daughter. Both plays were on stage for one month and I believe those days were my happiest times in my life so far.
I came to New York in 2015 to study acting. I am a BFA acting student now and I think studying at Brooklyn College is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Theater is the only thing that makes me feel alive and special. As I learned, it’s never too late to start listening to our inner voice. And that's why I am here in New York now. Theater means everything to me and I wanted it to be part of my life.
Johnathan is an incoming senior double majoring in Acting (BFA) and psychology. His recent roles include Samir in Heloise Wilson’s “La Folie,” the Son types in Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” by Jennifer Haley and “Pebble” in Ben Gassman’s “40s and Chestnuts.” Johnathan places immense value on teamwork and his ensemble as he believes that the strengths of his craft are based on collaboration. Since the age of 6, Johnathan has been performing in musicals, plays, films and has been singing as a solo artist. He studied ballet and modern dance as a child and studied classical voice at LaGuardia High school as a 2015 graduate.
In his near future, Johnathan sees himself graduating college and pursuing a career as a performer while using what he has learned in his psychology major to help find his characters. In addition, he plans to help people with mental health needs through the arts by pursuing arts therapy. Johnathan says that If there is one lesson that he will carry with him after years of performing, is that growth as an individual requires trusting others and getting others to trust you.
My name is Valeri Matt Mozaidze, I’m 22 years old and currently I’m entering my senior year in Brooklyn college, studying BFA in Acting. I was born in the country of Georgia and I was raised in Brooklyn NY. Throughout my journey I discovered what it means to be part of two very different cultures and what it’s like to understand both cultural points of view. Recently I travelled to Ireland over the summer, studying abroad and I had an opportunity to immerse in the amazing culture to study Irish theatre. With these experiences I realized how actors and playwrights tell their stories, stories they need to tell to bring awareness about certain topics and problems. Theater really is a vital key in our societies because it teaches the audience what it’s like to be human. Everybody has a story and sometimes we don’t understand these stories because we’ve never been on their journey and that’s why theater is important because it gives us a chance to go on this journey and to understand these people, understand their stories from their perspective. I love being in the theater community because nobody makes judgements based on who you are and where you come from. Everybody always looks at what’s inside of you. Being part of the Ensemble that supports you throughout your journey is vital to your growth because you have to be among people who trust you to be vulnerable and to take risks. I have that at Brooklyn College; people support me and push me to do better and that’s exactly what helps me grow as an actor and as a human being.
Matty Sangare is a first generation American. Her parents are immigrants from Côte d’Ivoire also known as Ivory Coast. Dance is a big part of her culture so it’s no surprise that West African and modern dancing became a staple for Matty. She had plans to attend Alvin Ailey dance school in NYC, but decided not to attend because of her family persuaded her to pursue something that involved medicine or law. Matty always had an affinity for helping those in need, so she decided to pursue social work. Even though she began her schooling for social work, she always found ways to create such as writing songs, poetry, and creating dance choreography with her friends.
It was while she was doing an internship working with licensed social workers and case workers, that she was approached by one of the case workers at the agency, who told her if her heart was set on something else to pursue that instead of social work. She took that as a sign and signed up for a beginners acting class at the Barrow Group and that’s when her love affair with acting began. A year later she auditioned for the BFA Acting program at Brooklyn College, which is a competitive program that only selects twelve students each year and she was one of the twelve that was selected. She is now entering her senior year in the BFA Acting program. Some of her theater credits include two world premieres, Royal Jelly by Paul Cameron Hardy, La Folie by Heloise Wilson, and Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom by Jennifer Haley, in which she played multiple characters. After her performance in Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, she was invited to perform at Friends Seminary, a middle/high school in which she and other actors did a reading of plays that were written by the current students. She appeared in Gi60 2018 US Edition for the first time, and her next role will be her thesis in a production called Lear by Young Jean Lee.