St. Philip's College Announces the 2016 - 2017
Posted By: Elynor Moss on January 30, 2017 |
The St. Philip’s College President’s Lecture Series provides opportunities for the college and the community to hear speakers’ perspectives on a broad range of local, regional, national and international issues. The lectures are provided at no cost to the audience and are designed to attract students, faculty, and staff as well as the greater San Antonio Community.
Grace (Gealey) Byers - February 16, 2017, 11 a.m., Watson Fine Arts Center
Grace (Gealey) Byers can currently be seen as Anika Calhoun on the hit FOX series Empire, which returned for season three in the fall of 2016. Byers was raised in the Cayman Islands by her African American mother and Caucasian father. Both of her parents are deaf and thus, she was raised learning sign language and understanding what it meant to be a child of deaf adults (CODA). Although people treated her parents as “deaf and dumb” and Byers as “too light” or “too dark,” these challenging experiences made her strong and committed to following her dreams.
Byers moved to America alone to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she received a B.A. in Theater Arts. During her time at USF, acting afforded Byers the opportunity to communicate viscerally – a desire that stemmed from her childhood. Following college, Byers attended the University of California Irvine’s graduate program and obtained her M.F.A in acting. A successful showcase took her from Los Angeles to New York City, where Byers performed professionally. Several theater productions, short films, and national commercials led her to Chicago, where she is currently based. In her free time, Byers is involved in Saving Our Cinderellas, a movement that helps and empowers young girls and women to stand up against bullying, address social issues, and uplift one another in support of positive interests.
From near-death experiences to a unique childhood, Grace (Gealey) Byers shares her personal philosophies with audiences. She believes in taking the time to be still and become aware of oneself, and to have compassion and grace for one another. She feels that there are always opportunities for growth and that each person has their own complex and intricate story.
On a more personal level, Byers discusses the discrimination she faced in moving to America, the social and cultural adjustments she made after moving, and the importance of celebrating life in the moment.
April Hernandez-Castillo - October 6, 2016, 11 a.m., Watson Fine Arts Center
One of the most respected Latino actors in Hollywood, April Hernandez-Castillo's personal life-story is one of victory. Her feature film debut as Eva Benitez in the 2007 Image Award nominated MTV film, Freedom Writers, alongside Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank, put her in the ranks of some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
An actress with a blend of unlimited expression and humor, the Bronx, New York native made her stage debut at the famous New York Comedy Club in New York City as a standup comedienne. As an actress, April expanded her stage experience to television. She got her first acting break as the Yo/Yo Girl alongside NBA All-Star Houston Rockets center, Yao Ming in the 2004 Super Bowl Visa Check Card national commercial. Next came major television roles that would include NBC's Emmy-award winning series ER, Law & Order and 30 Rock. Keeping an eye on the big picture, in 2007 April tried out for the role of a lifetime and got it. She would co-star alongside one of Hollywood's biggest stars, Hilary Swank. It was this role that April would catch the attention of The View producers who invited her to co-host the show.
Reaching critical heights, her portrayal of Eva Benitez earned her recognition and critical acclaim confirming her status as one of the more talented up and coming actresses. Now displaying the talent and drive to parlay success into a career as a respected actress, April garnered roles both onstage and off in the FOX pilot Blue Blood and Showtime's Nurse Jackie and received a SAG Award nomination for her role as Officer Cira Manson in Showtime's award winning drama Dexter. She recently wrapped J Anderson Mitchell's sci-fi comedy Future Folk, a new webseries East WillyB and is in production on the Brian A. Miller film, Officer Down alongside James Wood and David Boreanaz. Onstage, April would get a chance of a lifetime to work with award winning director Frank Perez in Nancy Genova's off Broadway play, Death of a Dream.
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