Nick Navarro - Theatre
Being sandwiched between a sister and brother gave Nick Navarro plenty of practice getting people's attention. Navarro says Southeastern helped him use his love of the limelight to light the way to Christ.
Navarro, a theatre major who graduated in 2006, credits Southeastern with sharpening his talents and faith and helping him make contacts to grow professionally.
Navarro realized the power of performance after reluctantly participating in a non-traditional Easter production at church when he was 15. A man approached him while he waited in line at a pharmacy several days after the program. The man thanked Navarro, explaining that before the play he had attended church but was never moved by the services. He said Navarro's character in the play put the gospel in a format he could understand. His new understanding made him excited to go back to church.
Navarro, who transferred from Queens College in Flushing, New York, built upon his experience in theatre at Southeastern. In acting classes and one-on-one coaching sessions, Southeastern theatre professor John Pierce modeled artistic excellence and genuine Christianity. His example inspired Navarro to become a first-rate actor whose work would help break the stereotype in Hollywood that productions by Christians lack artistic merit.
By studying with Pierce, Navarro learned that acting was "becoming the character" not just going through the motions or knowing the script. Navarro's perspective on acting changed from pretending to be someone else to becoming someone else. Navarro used this technique in five theatre productions at Southeastern. He played roles such as Frankie in Forever Plaid, Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof, and King Arthur in the musical Camelot. Becoming King Arthur was particularly challenging, said Navarro, for he had to embody the virtue and power of Arthur, as well as his vulnerability.
Southeastern gave Navarro an opportunity to sing as well as act. In Camelot, he showcased new vocal skills he developed through private voice lessons with music professor Ed Bryant. With Bryant, Navarro learned proper techniques and body placement to protect his voice and extend his singing career.
While Navarro matured as a performer, he also developed spiritually at Southeastern. A Southeastern chapel service helped him become more committed to his calling. Moved by a sermon by the university president, Navarro resolved to follow a career he loved rather than devise a backup career plan that would merely pay the bills. "A lot of people live life with an idea or sense of their purpose, but they make a plan B," he says, "they don't put 100 percent faith in God."
Navarro grew further in his passion and knowledge of the Bible through classes on the book of Jeremiah and the life of Christ. In his class on Jeremiah, religion professor Dr. Steve Fettke taught Navarro how to interpret, correctly apply, and read passages in context. Navarro's class on Jeremiah also inspired Navarro in his quest to change the public's view of Christian actors and writers as being sub-par. The devoted way in which Jeremiah carried out his mission to preach to his people is the same way that Navarro tries to carry out his mission of improving the image of Christian productions in Hollywood.
In his senior year, Navarro wrote, produced and performed a one-man show, Free Will: God's Gift, My Curse. He tells the story of his return to God after two years of spiritual apathy through music, comedy and testimonies. "I played the part, but I hardened my heart," said Navarro, remembering this period in his life.
During his last semester at Southeastern, Navarro attended the Los Angeles Film Studies Center (LAFSC) in California through Southeastern's affiliation with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. There, he interned at Tollin/Robbins Productions, which produced the movie Radio, the remade film Shaggy Dog, and television shows One Tree Hill and Smallville. In Los Angeles, Navarro also interned with Keri Selig, an independent producer who worked on the films Stepford Wives and Three to Tango.
As an intern Navarro performed administrative tasks, but he says the crucial experience came from observation. Amid his office responsibilities, Navarro also read scripts of pre-production works, sat in on pitch meetings-writers sharing their ideas with producers-and heard the ensuing discussions between the producers. He also learned to write coverage for scripts-a summary including a critique and suggestions. Navarro says being able to observe production companies in action taught him how to navigate through common pitfalls as a writer in the production process.
Since he graduated, Navarro has been using the skills he has learned at Southeastern and the contacts he gained through his internships. Navarro is writing a screenplay that Selig will help pitch in Hollywood. He also performs his one-man show for pay at churches in his native New York City. Although Navarro hopes a Hollywood producer will pick up one of his screenplays, he is happy living his dream career. He says, "I'm doing what I believe God has gifted me to do-whether it's a small show here (in New York) or a successful screenplay, I'm exercising God's gift."