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Get to Know: Dr. Tiffany Lopez

Airdate: March 2, 2017
We'll talk to Dr. Tiffany Lopez, the new director of ASU School of Film, Dance, & Theatre.

Guests:
  • Dr. Tiffany Lopez-Director of ASU School of Film, Dance, & Theatre
Category: Culture

Keywords: ASU, theatre, dance,

View Transcript
JOSE CARDENAS: IN TONIGHTS GET TO KNOW SEGMENT, THE ASU HERBERGER INSTITUTE HAS A NEW DIRECTOR FOR DANCE AND THEATER. JOINING ME IS DR. TIFFANY LOPEZ. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

TIFFANY LOPEZ: I GREW UP OUTSIDE OF LOS ANGELES NEAR SANTA BARBARA HALF MY LIFE AND THE OTHER HALF IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA.

Jose: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE ARTS?

TIFFANY LOPEZ: I WAS LUCKY WITH TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES TO GROW UP IN CALIFORNIA IN THE 1970s BEFORE PROPOSITION 13. WHEN THERE WERE A LOT OF FREE PUBLIC ART PROGRAMS AND I HAVE WONDERFUL MEMORIES ABOUT GOING TO THE LIBRARY AND DISCOVERING BOOKS AND RECORDS AND EVEN POSTER ART AND GOING INTO THE PARKS IN THE SUMMERTIME AND BEING ABLE TO STUDY WITH COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO HAD PLAYS AND DIFFERENT HAND CRAFTED ART PROJECTS THEY WANTED TO SHARE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. IT A VIBRANT PART OF MY MEMORY OF GROWING UP.

Jose: TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT OUR ACADEMICS IN ARTS.

TIFFANY LOPEZ: I AM WHAT I CALL AN ACCIDENTAL ACADEMIC. I ENDED UP IN COLLEGE BECAUSE I HAD GONE TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE BY ACCIDENT. I LEFT HOME AT 15 AND STARTED WORKING AT A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT. I WAS VERY ASPIRATIONAL AND DECIDED I DIDN'T WANT TO JUST WORK IN FAST FOOD BUT ONE DAY OWN A RESTAURANT AND THE FRANCHISEE I WORKED FOR SAID YOU NEED COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND BUSINESS TO START THINKING IN THAT DIRECTION. AND AGAIN, IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME, THE RIGHT PLACE.

Jose: YOU WERE THE FIRST IN YOUR FAMILY TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL AS I UNDERSTAND.

TIFFANY LOPEZ: I WAS THE FIRST TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL, FIRST TO GO ON TO COLLEGE. AT COMMUNITY COLLEGE, I STUDIED BUSINESS. LIKE A LOT OF FIRST GENERATION STUDENTS I THOUGHT YOU WENT TO COLLEGE TO BE A DOCTOR OR LAWYER OR BUSINESS PERSON. I KNEW I WASN'T GOING TO BE A DOCTOR OR LAWYER. I HAD PROFESSORS SAYING YOU HAVE A LOT OF TALENT IN THE HUMANITIES AND YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT TRANSFERRING. I SAID TRANSFER WHERE AND THEY SAID THE STATE UNIVERSITY. YOU BELONG STUDYING IN THE HUMANITIES. WITH THAT, I DECIDED TO PUSH MY EDUCATION FURTHER AND WAS LUCKY TO BE PAIRED WITH A MENTOR AND A POET BY THE NAME OF OLIVIA CASTIANO. SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA HAS A VERY VIBRANT HISTORY AROUND VISUAL ARTS AND POETRY. I GOT TO STAY WITH HER AS AN EXTRODINARY MENTOR, MEET PEOPLE LIKE JOSE MONTOYA THE MURALIST AND STUDY WITH AN UP AND COMING NOVELIST AT THE TIME NAMED SANDRA SISNAROS AND WORK AND MEET WITH RUDOLPH NIA.

Jose: ANOTHER FAMOUS NAME IN LITERATURE. AS I UNDERSTAND, DIFFICULT FAMILY EXPERIENCES. YOUR FAMILY BACKGROUND PLAYS A ROLE IN THE FOCUS YOU HAVE WHEN IT COMES TO THE ARTS.

TIFFANY LOPEZ: YES, MY RESEARCH AND CREATIVE ACTIVITY LOOKS AT HOW ARTISTS AND WRITERS USE THEIR WORK TO STAGE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA SO WE CAN TAKE THINGS WE OFTEN FEEL ARE PERSONAL, EVEN SHAMEFUL PERHAPS, AND TELL STORIES SO THAT AS A PUBLIC WE CAN BEAR WITNESS TO THE STORIES AND CHANGE THOSE HISTORIES IN OUR CULTURES, OUR FAMILIES AND OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES. I LEFT HOME AT THE AGE OF 15 FLEEING A HOUSE THAT WAS DRIVEN BY ALCOHOLISM AND VIOLENCE AND AT THE AGE OF 15, I STILL THINK IT IS AN EX EXTRAORDINARY THING I WAS ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING OUT OF THOSE CIRCUMMSTANCES. BUT THAT’S WHAT MADE ME LEAVE HOME AND WORK. I CREDITED THE ARTS WITH SAVING MY LIFE. THEY GAVE ME A VEHICLE INTO IMAGINING OTHER WORLDS. THEY GAVE ME A VOICE. I THINK VIOLENCE TAKES OUR AWAY OUR SENSE OF VOICE AND THE SENSE THAT OTHER PEOPLE CARE ABOUT OUR LIFE AND CIRCUMSTANCES. READING ART AND IMAGINING MOVIES AND FILMS I MAY WRITE ONE DAY. I THINK IT PLANTED THE SEED THAT NOT ONLY COULD I TAKE IN OTHER STORIES BUT MAYBE ONE DAY ID BE ABLE TO CREATE STORIES.

Jose: YOU WERE THE FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF THE FIRST LATINO/LATINA ART PROJECT IN RIVERSIDE AND INVOLVED IN THE SHAKESPEARE AREA. WE DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME BUT TELL US WHAT YOU ARE DOING AT ASU AND WHAT WE CAN EXPECT IN THE YEARS TO COME?

TIFFANY LOPEZ: IVE RECENTLY JOINED ASU AS THE DIRECTOR OF FIOLM, DANCE AND THEATRE. PART OF MY MISSION IN JOINING ASU IS TO EXPAND THE MISSION OF ACCESS AND DIVERSITY AND EQUITY THAT IS WHAT AT THE HEART OF PRESIDENT DR. MICHAEL CROW AND OUR DEAN IS ADVANCING WITH THE INITIATIVE OF PROJECTING EVERYONE'S VOICE. HIS GOAL IS TO SEE EVERY STUDENT GOING OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY BUT THAT WE HAVE A TEAM OF INCREDIBLE ARTISTS BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN ASU AND THE COMMUNITY. THIS MARCH WILL HAVE LOUIS SOUFARO WHO’S A MCCARTHER GENUIS FELLOW, AND A PLAY WRIGHT AN OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL. AN AUTHOR OF A PLAY CALLED MEXICO DAY IN LOS ANGELES. HE WILL BE JOINING US AT ASU FOR THREE DAYS IN MARCH AT ASU FOR STORY TELLING AND CONNECTING WITH THE COMMUNITY. AND PART OF MY VISION IS TO BUILD ON INTIATIVES SUCH AS THAT.

Jose: A LOT OF EXCITING THINGS COMING UP. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING THEM AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA.

TIFFANY LOPEZ: THANK YOU SO MUCH. IT IS A PLEASURE.

Jose: THAT IS OUR SHOW THIS EVENING. THANK YOU FOR WATCHING. FROM ALL OF US HERE AT "HORIZONTE" AND YOUR ARIZONA PBS STATION, I AM JOSE CARDENAS. GOOD NIGHT.
"HORIZONTE" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.