What did you love about FWAFA?
There isn't any place else that's like FWAFA. It's a truly singular educational experience. It's a place where dreams and creativity are valued just as much as intelligence and other scholastic endeavors. That's what I loved most about FWAFA; that it's a place that fostered every side of me -- from the quirky to the studious to the ambitious to everything in between. FWAFA is what taught me what it was that defined me and that it was okay to not be defined by just one thing. I'm a thespian and a choirboy and a film geek and a National Honor Society member and a dancer and a calculus student and an artist. What I loved about FWAFA was that it helped me learn how to be me.
In what ways were you challenged and supported at FWAFA?
During my 6 years at FWAFA, I performed in over 14 theatrical productions, toured around numerous states with The Texas Boys Choir, and all while still being enrolled full time in high school. It's not easy to balance all that. When the majority of your days during the school year extend well past normal school hours because you've got rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal, it's hard to find time to even do your homework. But because everyone is doing that, everyone understands and wants to help you with that. It's part of the FWAFA mythos, the FWAFA lore. That's why teachers go on tour with the touring choirs, that's why so many teachers hold after school tutoring, that's why so many teachers cut you a break during tech week of the musical -- they get it and they want you to succeed. Around every corner at FWAFA, there's someone just waiting to help you succeed.
How did you grow as an individual and an artist at FWAFA?
The biggest thing that being at FWAFA taught me was about collaborating on art. Getting to be a part of so many different theatre shows where I had many different roles - lead, supporting, ensemble, director - as well as being a member of The Texas Boys Choir helped me realize the importance of being part of a whole that creates art. There is a responsibility for you to be true to yourself when you're being an artist, but realizing the importance to your contribution in a grander picture is such an vital asset to growing as an artist and the way that FWAFA is set up allows for both of these things to be taught with equal focus. Outside of my artistic endeavors within the school setting, I had the opportunity to direct my first two feature films while I was still at FWAFA. These were completely self-made projects that I got a lot of help with from my FWAFA family. And while I'm really proud of these two movies and being able to pull them off considering all the shortcomings I had while making them, the best memories I have from FWAFA come from the feeling of satisfaction that the whole cast felt after doing our best performance of the musical yet, or the electricity that the whole choir felt after nailing a concert while on tour. That collective feeling of accomplishment that was shared by dozens of other young artists is embedded in the DNA of FWAFA and it's one of the things that makes it great. I know I wouldn't be who I am today without FWAFA.
What you are doing now, since graduating from FWAFA?
Since graduating FWAFA in 2010, I've graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts with a BFA in Writing for Screen and Television with Special Distinction for my thesis screenplay. I currently work at Team Downey, Robert Downey Jr.'s film and television production company, where I work directly for the Creative Executive. I still produce my own short and feature length films in my own time.