Andrew Rodriguez is a Hispanic first-generation college student and a champion for new voices on and off the stage. After graduating as valedictorian out of a class of 17 students from Bruni High School near Laredo, Andrew came to The University of Texas at Austin to study theatre. He is fueled by meaningful stories that he believes are key to changing how society thinks about itself. As an undergrad, he has written, acted in and even directed numerous productions on and off campus. A show he co-directed called “Brutal Imagination” premiered at the Cohen New Works Festival, and he starred in the mainstage production of “THE WOMEN OF _________ (a song not song)” earlier this year.
Why do you think new work and new voices are important in theatre?
I’m driven by the fact that theatre can change lives. The stories and people we see on stage can mean immensely profound things to spectators. I want our work as artists to be immediate, thought-provoking, and reflective of our current state.
What is your voice in this conversation?
I want to see more Latinx stories on stage. It’s very rare that I get to see Latinx plays on a main stage season or a season subscription series. So the voice that I want to bring is that we can be the heroes of our own stories. We can be the protagonist, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be culturally specific. Just seeing a person of color onstage speaks volumes. So I think that’s one thing that I create space for in my work and look forward to making my mark.
What is a fun fact about you?
My family has a Mexican restaurant called Lala’s Café back home in Mirando City, and it has received a historical marker. We also sell our hot sauce online, so you should order it. It’s pretty great!
What are you doing after graduation?
Unfortunately, I cannot say where or who the company I’ll be working for is, but there will be a huge announcement about it soon.
What’s the difference between you before you got to UT and you now?
I think I understand what I’m really supposed to do in life. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but UT has helped me understand what it is exactly I want to do and has allowed me to become insanely specific about the work I want to create or perform in.
What keeps you going when achieving your dream feels impossible?
My family. I’m a first-generation college student, so whenever I feel down or am facing a challenge that I feel like I can’t overcome, I remember that I need to continue paving the way for my community back home and for my family so that they too can realize that their dreams are achievable.
Andrew Rodriguez is graduating with a BFA in theater studies from the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.