Spotlights, Inspirations and a Dream to Come True

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Spotlights, Inspirations and a Dream to Come True

Marquette students put on a production of

Marquette students put on a production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Helfaer Theatre.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Marquette students put on a production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Helfaer Theatre.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Marquette students put on a production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Helfaer Theatre.

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Lights. Camera. Action.

The thrill of performing a theatrical production on opening night is a hobby for some students — others hope to make it their career.

Maaz Ahmed’s first experienced theater when he was in the seventh grade, when his friend convinced him to join the technical crew where he ran the light board for the show, “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”. It was then when Ahmed found a love for theater. Later on he auditioned for his eighth grade production of “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley Jr.”.

By his freshman year of high school, Ahmed says he joined the drama club and the rest is history.

During a production of “Sweeney Todd” his junior year of high school, Ahmed says it was then when he decided to make his theater hobby into a career.

Now, Ahmed is a sophomore in the College of Communication, and is studying theater arts and digital media. He’s learning how the two majors coincide.

As Ahmed grows older and continues his theatrical career, he says he contemplates his identity and spends time seeking representation in the entertainment industry.

“My whole life I’ve been relating to stories about people very unlike myself. My career goal is to show to all those other brown kids that they’re allowed to relate to people like them, rather than disliking themselves for being different,” Ahmed says in an email.

Hasan Minhaj, a comedian and actor best known for the Netflix show “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj”, is Ahmed’s inspiration in the entertainment industry.  Ahmed says seeing the Muslim community represented gives him passion in his work. He says he aspires to be a leader in the Muslim community.

“Entertainment and media are changing the representation and perception of the average American,” Ahmed says.

One step further in his dream, Ahmed chooses Marquette for his education.

Although Ahmed says he was skeptical of Marquette at first for it not being the most well-known theater program, a friend convinced him to take a tour. Ahmed says he fell in love with the campus and the people.

“The prospects that Marquette can offer and the scholarships appealed to me rather than other universities that have well-known programs but are more expensive,” Ahmed says.

Like Ahmed, Jackson Hoemann, a junior in the College of Communication, was inspired to take on theater when he saw a play as a child. He grew up watching shows at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

“Seeing those professional actors on stage, I knew that this is what I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to be like them,” Hoemann says.

Hoemann says his biggest inspiration in the entertainment industry is Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. Hoemann says he sees the same work ethic and passion for entertaining people that Henson exhibits, reflects in his own life.

Professor Deborah Cecsarini, adjunct instructor in digital media and performing arts, is an inspiration to Ahmed, he says. She’s been an inspiration throughout his career at Marquette, specifically during the 2019 production of “Image of an Unknown Woman.”

“Seeing the way that she works and her passion and drive inspires me,” Ahmed says.

For Katie Dickey, a junior in the College of Communication, a fellow and former classmate at Marquette inspires her and her work.

“Marge (Margaret) Tomasiewicz was one of the first friends that I made at Marquette,” Dickey says. “She was older than me, so she took me under her wing.”

Tomasiewicz is an alumna of the College of Communication. Dickey says she is a talented actress and helped her prepare for auditions.

“I aspire to be something like (Tomasiewicz) especially when I graduate,” Dickey says.

In addition to performing, Dickey says she enjoys being a spectator.

“I love watching really good theater. … I love watching people do what they love, and I can tell when people are on stage and they just love (performing),” Dickey says.

Dickey says she hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry either on a production team or behind the scenes with communications — though she did not always want to take this path.

During one of her high school musicals, Dickey says she finally got the courage to sing in front of people. But during one of the performances her voice cracked. Dickey says that although this experience was once a “mortifying” one, she is now able to look back at it and laugh.

“Once I was able to be comfortable laughing at myself and laughing at my mistakes, that was when I realized that this was something that I was okay doing,” Dickey says. “I was okay making mistakes, and I was just willing to be okay with whatever the world threw at me.”

Like Dickey, Ahmed says theater is all about being in the moment with people. He says theater is a place where people come together.

“When you’re creating something, it elicits emotion and elicits reactions from the audience. The connection and electricity that you feel as a performer, there’s a connection and it breaks down walls. People are different, and through art it bridges that gap,” he says.

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