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‘A community of belonging’: ASU faculty member creates performing arts academy centering Latinos

Awards and medals laid out on table

Micha Espinosa has received silver medals with the International Latino Book Awards for her books “Monologues for Latino/a Actors” and “Scenes for Latinx Actors.” She most recently won her third medal — and her first gold — for the book “Latinx Actor Training.” Courtesy photo

January 11, 2024

Arizona State University Professor Micha Espinosa has a passion for supporting Latino performers in the arts, and she believes schools can make a great impact on their lives and in the field of performing arts.

“If we change the training, we change the industry,” Espinosa said.

Portrait of woman with blue eyes and long black hair
Micha Espinosa

To help Latino students receive the support they need in arts careers, Espinosa envisioned and created the Latinx Leadership Academy in the Performing Arts (LLAPA). This initiative through the School of Music, Dance and Theatre seeks to empower Latino high school students to pursue careers in the performing arts by addressing and removing barriers they may encounter. The programming targets underserved schools and uses culturally sustaining methods to support students in hopes of increasing the representation of Latino students in the arts.

“At ASU, we have a growing Latinxgender-neutral term for Latino/a community and have been designated an HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution),” Espinosa said. “I am driven to create a community of belonging and thus offer culturally inclusive pedagogies where our students will see their language, culture and stories.”s

In addition to her work at ASU, Espinosa has received silver medals with the International Latino Book Awards for her books “Monologues for Latino/a Actors” and “Scenes for Latinx Actors.” She most recently won her third medal — and her first gold — for the book “Latinx Actor Training.”

“I am honored the judges chose ‘Latinx Actor Training’ to receive the gold medal,” Espinosa said. “It is an honor I share with my co-editor Cynthia Santos Decure of the David Geffen Yale School of Drama and our many contributors. It is a particularly special recognition in the context of my commitment to empowering the voice of young Latinx actors and to increase visibility of Latinx actors and their narratives.”

Espinosa credited the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts for helping achieve this goal.

“I could not have completed this book without the support of the Herberger Institute Research-Building Investment Award,” she said. “‘Latinx Actor Training’ is dedicated to career success and to championing positive narratives to combat pervasive and damaging stereotypes.”

Espinosa will continue this work through the Latinx Leadership Academy. Schools and students interested in participating should contact Espinosa.

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