Texas Tech University

Researcher's Focus in Theater Aims to Change Stereotypes

By: Amanda Castro-Crist 

Award-winning playwright LyaNisha Gonzalez has been writing since she was a child. Now a doctoral student focusing on playwriting and arts administration through Texas Tech University's J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts, Gonzalez said she can trace her success to two people: her mother and father.

"They never balked at my decision to be a drama major," Gonzalez said. "They were supportive of the arts and always felt it was a legitimate way to move through the world."

Her father taught television directing at Howard University, impressing upon Gonzalez his belief in the contributory factors that theater, film and all fine arts have on a society. Her mother encouraged her to seek her master in fine arts and always told her she loved her writing. Gonzalez said it is what she holds onto in moments she struggles in her studies.

"I just wanted to act, but she impressed upon me the importance of gaining more knowledge in my craft and the need to have an alternative to my plan A," Gonzalez said. "I remind myself of the many reasons why I'm pursuing this degree, and in no small way, it's partly for them and their unwavering support of the dreams I have for myself – which matches all the dreams they dreamt for me."

Since arriving to study in the School of Theatre & Dance, Gonzalez has earned recognition from some of the biggest names in theater. Among those are the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival in New York City, where she produced and presented her original play "On A String," and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C., where she was named the second runner-up for the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award for her play, "Black Girl, Interrupted."

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