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Student Blog: Sharing Their Stories: An Interview with Fatima Quander

In a fragile career, often weighed down by the logistics of the working world, Fatima Quander maintains the sense of wonder that lives in the heart of a true actor.

Student Blog: Sharing Their Stories: An Interview with Fatima Quander

Hello Broadway lovers, creators, and theatre students around the world! Welcome back to the blog, and to my ongoing segment: Sharing Their Stories. For the past year, I've shared the journeys and artistic discoveries of notable artists in my DC area, and around the world. Every person I've had the honor to speak with, carries unique experiences and perspectives about the constantly changing world of the arts. I hope their stories serve as inspiration, demystification of the road to artistic success, and as fuel to keep creating.

"I can't believe this is my life. I wanted this so badly and now it's here" - Fatima Quander

When I walked into my Actor's Process class last September, I could tell Fatima Quander was smiling. Our new acting professor may have been wearing her mask, but her entire energy radiated warmth and positivity. Arriving from her previous position at Howard Community College, with an extensive list of professional accomplishments, Fatima's mere presence in our classroom would have been enough. However, she took it a step further, creating a safe and compassionate space for us students to take creative risks and re-discover our love for theatre. She took a class of harried juniors and seniors, preparing for the harsh reality of pursuing professional theatre, and reminded us of the fundamental joy that comes with living your dream.

In a fragile career, often weighed down by the logistics of the working world, Fatima Quander maintains the sense of wonder and creation that lives in the heart of a true actor. She approaches both her craft and the surrounding world with this glowing energy, sharing it with students and audiences alike. Her professional path was characterized by diligence and hard work, but also by deep gratitude and compassion for the arts. Her journey embodies the imagination and childlike excitement that made us fall in love with theatre in the first place. This is Fatima's story:

"My journey with theatre started my sophomore year in high school. The English Department sponsored an event called the 'Sophomore Shakespeare Festival.' It was just a requirement for all students to participate." Having never acted before, Fatima thought this performance was a terrible idea. "I couldn't believe they were making me do this just because I was a sophomore. I was terrified!" All this changed on opening night when audiences adored Fatima's comic performance as Ariel in The Tempest. Not only did she win a comedy award that night but began taking acting classes and auditioning for countless school performances. Or as Fatima says, "it's so dramatic, but the rest was history."

After high school, Fatima acquired her BA at Beloit College, an experience that gave her lifelong friends and mentors. "What we do in class is intimate and nuanced, we build trust so quickly. I'm still friends with people from my undergrad program. Those relationships are strong." Post-graduation, Fatima moved home to D.C for a year while applying for grad schools. During that "in-between" year, she took Meisner classes and interned in the TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) department at The Kennedy Center. But one year later, it was time to live her dream.

While a move to a new city might seem frightening, Fatima took it in stride. "There was always this romantic idea of going to New York and being an actor, and then it was actually happening!" While she loved her decision to switch to NYC, she recommends young actors move in with a plan. "If you're not necessarily going to grad school, research available classes in the area. When you're in class, it's an effective way to network, you're working with other actors, your teachers are a new resource. Taking classes is always the way to grow." Fatima's New York plan involved graduate school, where she got her MFA at The New School before continuing to work.

After inheriting her grandmother's apartment in Adams-Morgan, Fatima moved back to Washington D.C and quickly got cast in Retratos (Portraits) at Discovery Theatre. As Retratos wound down, Fatima began rehearsing for Color Me Dark, a touring production through the Kennedy Center. While tours can prove challenging, Fatima approached this change with her trademark grace and gratitude. "I remember on tour, sometimes thinking like...I can't believe this is my life. This is what I've always wanted."

Four months later, Fatima returned home and began working with a variety of theatres around the DC area. From Kennedy Center to Imagination Stage, she remained booked and busy, seeking the roles and experiences that brought her joy. When I asked her about her agent, Fatima just laughed and shook her head. She had acquired every audition, callback, and role on her own!! In addition to her positive and open nature, Fatima remained organized and worked diligently- a secret to her success. "I used to keep a color-coded log of all my auditions, broken up into separate categories. I would keep notes on who was there, what we talked about, what I wore, what they said. I kept these notes so I could grow and build. I think that's why I worked so much."

Fatima prioritized professional acting until 2013, when she began teaching at Howard Community College. "Something just clicked for me, being in a classroom of college students. Students were there because they wanted to be there." She worked at Howard Community College for eight years before transferring to University of Maryland...and here we are today! When speaking about advice for her students, Fatima reminds us to remember our priorities. "Sometimes we do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do. If that happens, remember to keep your focus so you don't get lost in everyday life. Always, always have that connection to your art." An excellent educator, Fatima believes strongly in both the future of her students and the theatre. "The future of the arts is going to be really amazing, because the students now have an awareness and mindfulness of others. There's that empathy and respect that comes right from the beginning. People are being held accountable more, and it's a good shift."

Today, Fatima works as an actor, director, and beloved educator. In her second year at University of Maryland, she's already renowned for her teaching, talent, and true compassion for her students. Studying with Fatima taught me the power of working hard and embracing deep joy in all aspects of pursuing a theatre career. Stated simply, she makes the world a better place. If we can view the theatre world like Fatima, approaching each new role and opportunity with optimism and love, we can create a stronger and happier artistic tomorrow.

TodayTix Black Friday

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