Drag queen rules over Dailey Theatre

Covered in a glittering black shroud the Debutantess crossed the stage, a single spotlight following her every move. As she removed her hood, the crowd screamed, growing louder when she tore away her robe revealing a small gold ensemble and curly blonde hair.

Beyonce’s “Runnin’” began to play as she lip-synced the lyrics. She danced through the crowd and strutted on stage to a medley of Beyonce songs reminiscent of her 2013 Super Bowl performance. The crowd was hyped up as they sang along and waved their phone flashlights. When the last song ended, she looked stunned as the crowd gave her a standing ovation lasting almost two minutes.

Drag performer Shangela Laquifa Wadley, AKA the Debutantess of the Deep South (birth name, Darius J. Pierce), entertained an audience of 180 students Wednesday night in Dailey Theatre.

The event was co-hosted by the Campus Activities Board and the Gay Straight Alliance. Students came early and waited in a long line to enter, some were turned away as the theater reached capacity.

“We’re very excited that this event will bring awareness to the LGBT community,” said CAB concert chairwoman Mandy Chavez. “This is a unique event that we haven’t had in over five years.”

Shangela entered the stage wearing a sparkling black robe. She ripped it off exposing a blue beaded one-piece suit as she vogued to her 2012 hit “Werqin’ Girl” and twerked to RuPaul’s “Peanut Butter.” After introducing herself, she spoke to the audience about her home in Paris, Texas, her life as a drag queen, and being the first in her family to attend college.

Shangela revealed that prior to her first appearance on the drag competition “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she had been practicing the art for only a few weeks.
“It is never about how long you’ve been doing something,” she said. “If you’ve come to learn, if you’ve come to grow and are open to learning new things you will always excel and succeed.”

Shangela also praised ULV’s addition of gender neutral bathrooms.

“I think that any measure that an institution can do to support and make students more comfortable, more at home, more included, more considered—is very important,” she said. “I think this is a great thing… I respect it and support it.”

Next, Shangela went around the room asking students their names and majors. After meeting junior kinesiology major Alexander Patterson, she commented on his biceps: “You may come to the university looking for an education and find yourself a husband. Am I right ladies?”

As the crowd cheered, junior anthropology major Tracy Diaz waved her hand and gained Shangela’s attention. When Shangela asked her name, she replied, “Alex’s girlfriend.”

Shangela ran to the other side of the aisle and sat down laughing at the situation which became the running joke of the night along with the microphone that continued to cut out. Shangela later asked Patterson to help her off stage, fix her heel, and danced in front of him at different times during the performance.

Shangela performed her song “Uptown Fish,” a parody of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” The crowd got involved and sang back when she said, “La Verne say Halleloo,” a word she made popular during her time on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“Halleloo is a positive word about excitement and how I live my life and I hope to inspire people with,” Shangela said.

After “Uptown Fish,” she mentioned that the song was to be her last.

Junior journalism major Tyler Evains screamed from the crowd, “You can’t leave without dancing for us again!”

Shangela invited Evains to the stage to introduce herself. She then called four other students to the stage to perform a “walk off” as she went backstage to change. The students strutted across the stage competing for the audience’s reaction.

The night ended with Shangela taking photos with students and signing autographs. Outside the theater rainbow cupcakes and cookies were provided.

Junior speech communications major Alec Jessip said he was surprised by how many students showed up and he appreciated Shangela’s words about acceptance.

“I enjoyed how she talked about equality and how it’s important for all of us to be there for one another,” Jessip said.

Shangela is known for competing in seasons two and three of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and her appearance in shows, movies, and music videos such as “Glee,” “Dance Moms,” “Bones,” “Two Broke Girls,” “Toddlers in Tiaras,” “Hurricane Bianca,” and Miley Cyrus’ 2015 Video Music Awards performance.

Shangela is a world-wide entertainer, having performed in South Africa, Brazil, and many other countries. Most recently, she performed in Bangkok and around Thailand for New Years Eve.

Shangela is currently planning a European tour and working on a record for the Guinness Book of World Records for first drag performer to perform on all seven continents.

So far she has had shows on six continents and hopes to attend National Geographic’s tour from Argentina to Antartica.

“I’d love to take that tour, get off the boat, and give a good ol’ ‘Happy Feet’ performance for Antartica” she said.

(Photo by Nadira Fatah)

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

Photographers capture ‘Imitations of Self’

Behind the double doors of Miller Hall’s basement lies a brightly lit hallway. Lining the walls are 13 photos, each behind a thin plate of plexi-glass with four nails holding it up and a small tag bearing the photographer’s name beside it.

Hanging on the far left wall is a black and white photo of a young man at the beach. The horizon in the background tilts slightly to the right, leading your eye to a pier that juts out of a 1.25-inch white border.

The ocean behind him is calm with a single rolling wave breaking at the shoreline. He wears a Chicago Bulls hat, a white t-shirt, a button up top, and low hanging jeans. His right hand is placed on his chin as his left arm crosses his torso.

The faint lens flare beside him aligns with his midsection. Far behind him, clustered on the right, are people the size of ants enjoying themselves at the beach.

The joy you can imagine on their faces contrasts his calm, solemn expression.

Sophomore photography major Cameron West said he shot this photo while experimenting with his camera at Redondo Beach.

“I use black and white because that’s my central focus,” West said. “I don’t see color in the world because I don’t look at people as different colors. I just see black and white. That’s what my eyes see and that’s how I wanted people to see me.”

Sophomore political science major Jordan Alfaro described West’s photo as mysterious.

“I love how pensive he is. And the ocean is really soothing,” Alfaro said.

The photograph is a part of “Imitations of Self,” a gallery of self-portraits by 10 student photographers currently enrolled at the University of La Verne.

The gallery, curated by senior photography major Jerri White, is meant to capture the person who is usually behind the camera.

The exhibition gives photographers the opportunity to show themselves and their work.

“For the first exhibition I selected a self-portrait theme coinciding with the beginning of the year,” White said. “It’s featuring the photographers as their own models, so it’s a little introduction of who we are.”

The gallery has been in development since early August.

Photographers had the option to submit up to three photos, which gave them more wiggle-room to be creative.

“I wanted to give the photographers the freedom to express themselves without me dictating what I want,” White said.

The gallery’s theme is loosely based on photographer Cindy Sherman’s “Imitation of Life” currently on display at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles until Sunday.

White will be the student curator for the gallery’s future exhibitions during the fall semester.

“Imitations of Self” will run through Oct. 14.

(Photo by Gabriella Chikhani)

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

Film professor mixes art, enthusiasm

From getting hypothermia on the Brooklyn Bridge to having sushi flung at him by a chimpanzee in a suit, new Assistant Professor of Communications – Digital Film Production Morgan Sandler has done it all in the film industry.

Very few people in the Hollywood scene were born and raised in the area, but growing up around the industry helped Sandler know from an early age he wanted to be a part of the process.

Sandler is currently teaching two classes on film production –  Fundamentals of Production and Intermediate Video Production – here. In his teaching, he draws on his experiences as a camera assistant, cinematographer and director.

Sandler has done film production for the Disney Channel and hip hop music videos. Most recently he has worked for the website Funny or Die.

In 2014, Sandler won the Audience Choice award at the California State University Media Arts Festival for his work on “The Ballerina,” an independent music video funded by Indiegogo.

In addition to a Master of Fine Arts from Cal State Los Angeles, Sandler holds certificates from various camera companies such as R.E.D. and Arri.

In a recent interview, Sandler discussed his life, his work in the film industry and the anticipation for his newest gig at the University.

What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
I’d say by the time I was 12, I knew I wanted to work in the film industry in some capacity. I don’t think I really understood what that meant or what my role was going to be. My dream was to be a director and I thought that’s what I would spend my life doing.

Who made you interested in film making?
I didn’t have a lot of focus until this one high school teacher encouraged me to write. She thought I was a good writer and from there I turned that into pursuing a film career.

What was your first film making experience?
When we got out of high school a couple friends and I pooled all our money and decided we were going to make a short film. When I started making movies, I became interested in being a cinematographer. That ultimately became my goal. My first job out of college was working on a feature film as a camera assistant.

Who in your field do you really admire?
My favorite cinematographer is a man named Roger Deakins. He shoots all the Coen brothers’ movies. I have two favorite directors – Wes Anderson, I love his quirky, eclectic style. My favorite film of all time is “The Royal Tenenbaums,” he did it. I love his ability to make really dynamic, unique characters. The other director is David Lynch, I really enjoy his ability to tell a story visually.

What do you think is the most interesting thing about digital film production?
The entertainment industry is so accessible to everyone now, anybody can tell their story. When I was growing up, if you wanted to make a movie you had to have money. In the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s you had to have money to buy film, processing and a large experienced crew. Cameras are so affordable now. You can make a movie on your iPhone. And it looks better than the $100,000 cameras did just 10 years ago.

What’s the hardest thing about doing film production?
I think so often new film makers and film students rely on the technology. They think everything is about the technology, but to me if you don’t have a strong story none of it matters. If you can’t write a good screenplay you’re not going to have an interesting film.

What advice would you give an aspiring film producer?
The biggest advice I can give any student, especially someone looking to get in the film industry, is just to have dedication and perseverance. It takes so much work to break into the film industry. Here in Los Angeles so many people want to be a part of film. The one thing I could say is if you stick with it, you’ll make it, but you have to give 110 percent and keep your heart in it.

What are your most notable works?
I’ve shot a lot of commercials for companies like Absolut Vodka. When I lived in New York I shot music videos for people like 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. I used to shoot a show called “This is Who I Am” on the Disney Channel. Lately I’ve been shooting a lot for Funny or Die, the website.

What is one of your favorite memories from working in the film industry?
We were shooting a music video for “Grey’s Anatomy” on the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of a blizzard. It was freezing. They sprayed the road with a fire hydrant and they sprayed all of us on accident. It froze over instantly. They were trying to make the road wet, but we all got soaked and it froze over on our coats. We all ended up getting hypothermia. In retrospect it’s a fun story, but at the time it was awful.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on set?
We were shooting one of those Superbowl commercials with the chimps that were on like five or six years ago. One of the chimps was supposed to be the head of a TV network, so he was dressed in a suit. He was supposed to look like a wealthy executive so he had a plate of sushi in front of him. I was behind the camera and he didn’t like me so he kept throwing it at me. I still love chimpanzees, they’re one of my favorite animals. Just not in a suit. He could’ve thrown something worse than sushi at me. Maybe it was a good thing he was wearing that suit.

Other than being a professor, how do you spend your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my wife, Jillian, and my daughters Stella, who’s 6, and Eleanor, who’s 3. Right now I’m coaching Stella’s tee-ball team. Every now and then they’ll come down to a set. My daughters are both obsessed with it. They’ve been on a few shoots. They love getting behind the camera with me. Stella is getting into photography, she has her own camera and loves to take pictures. She says a lot that she wants to become a film maker or a professor. I told her she can do both.

Do you have any hobbies?
I play golf terribly. I’m a big baseball fan, I love the Dodgers. Photography is my main hobby, I like to shoot anything that has an interesting landscape. The beach is always a nice landscape or the desert. We like to travel so I always take my camera with me. We just got back from Hawaii an we’re going to Greece next year. I shoot on Leicas, I have digital and a film Leica. I’ll also shoot on my Hasselblad, the kind where you look through the top. I collect cameras. I actually have a couple older ones I plan on bringing here and putting out on the shelf as display pieces.

Where do you develop your film?
I develop my own film, I do it in my kitchen. It’s gotten so much easier, they make these little tanks for the chemicals and you don’t have to be in a dark room. I develop it and scan it myself. It’s a lot more fun that way, a lot cheaper and it’s actually pretty easy.

How did you begin teaching?
Ten years ago I taught my first class. When I moved from New York to Los Angeles I didn’t know anybody out here so I taught one class at the Los Angeles Film School. My biggest fear in life is public speaking, I hate public speaking. I had almost a full blown panic attack while I was beginning teaching that class. I called my wife panicking like ‘I can’t do this,’ and she said ‘You have to go back in, just relax.’ I did and I started to really enjoy teaching. I knew from that moment on that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Film really has become almost secondary to me. Being a professor has become my passion.

What brought you to ULV?
I was teaching at Cal State Los Angeles previously. I live in Redlands and I was looking for something closer to home, but what made me decide to take the job at La Verne was the sense of community. As soon as I came on campus and saw the sense of pride the students and the faculty have, I was simply hooked. I was offered another job the week before at another university and had accepted it because I hadn’t heard back from La Verne. As soon as La Verne called I called the other college back and told them I was declining and I accepted the position here.

How are you enjoying ULV so far?
I absolutely love it here, it’s incredible. The whole community has been so welcoming. Dean Potter’s been amazing. I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of the students, everybody is really passionate about what they’re doing and excited to be here. For me, being on the tenure track is an incredible thing. I’m so excited because I’m looking to be a part of the La Verne community for the rest of my teaching career, this is where I want to be.

What’s your teaching style?
I was an awful student in high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I always sympathize with the students who are still trying to figure out what their path is. My teaching style is incredibly laid back. I like to have fun in the classroom. I spent too many years in school with professors talking at me to ever subject my students to that. I like to be interactive and have a conversation. It’s not chemistry, this is an art form. More than anything, what we’re talking about is interpretative. I’ve always found if students are laughing and having a good time they’re a lot more engaged. My teaching philosophy has always been that students will rise to the instructor’s level of enthusiasm. If you’re excited about your subject the students will get excited about your subject as well. If you couldn’t care less and you’re dry and boring the students will probably reflect that.

(Photo by Janelle Kluz)

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.

ULV gets historic $10 million gift

business-money-pink-coins.jpgThe College of Education and Organizational Leadership opened this fall under a new moniker – the La Fetra College of Education – following the largest monetary gift in University of La Verne history.

In May Trustee Anthony La Fetra donated $10 million to the College of Education and Organizational Leadership.

With his gift, the college expects to add learning centers, counseling, scholarships and an array of training.

The grant will also cover a new Intercultural and Multicultural Education Center for Leadership, adding technology training, cultural competence education, learning centers for autistic and special needs students, and more scholarships for undergraduates.

“As a result of this gift, we are able to develop a center for education equity and intercultural research. So through that center we are hoping to elevate our status with regards to being a Hispanic Serving Institution,” said Dean of the La Fetra College of Education Kimberly White-Smith.

White-Smith, who took the helm as dean in July, served previously as a full-time professor and dean of the College of Educational Studies at Chapman University. This is her 13th year in higher education.

“We are in the process of transitioning all of our programs in order to better meet the needs of the families that we serve,” White-Smith said.

“Part of that is embracing our mission to prepare the very best educators, service providers and professionals to support students in every walk of life.”

Thirty percent of California’s superintendents have been awarded their doctorate at the College. To prepare the graduates, the College provides credential and degree programs in child development, special education, school psychology and other curriculum.

More than 280 schools in Southern California are partnered with the college to provide hands-on learning in the classroom and employment to its graduates.

“I think that it’s wonderful, the sphere of influence, that we have been able to provide opportunities for folks to advance in their careers and also knowing that they are developing and directing districts in ways that support the values of La Verne in their schools and communities,” White-Smith said.

Funding will also go towards research, global learning and exchange programs.

“I’m really excited that there will be more funding,” said Lizzette Rodriguez, sophomore educational studies major.

“Some of my professors have mentioned programs that stopped years ago due to cutbacks, and now we have the opportunity to get them back.”

The college already provides a bilingual credential program, the bilingual counseling credential Pupil Personnel Services, serving to develop education counselors to support children and families of migrant workers.

“Right now across the country there is a dearth specifically of educators, counselors, and service providers to support traditionally underserved communities—black and Latino professionals,” said White-Smith.

“This gift helps us to recruit students who fit that particular background and better prepare all of our students to work and serve those students and communities.”

La Fetra, a graduate of Stanford University, grew up in the Glendora Unified School District. As a child, La Fetra had many ULV alumni as teachers.

“I think people can be very successful in their careers, but they’re not always significant in impacting the community,” ULV President Devorah Lieberman said.

“For me, having a donor name the College of Education communicates that educating educators is very important.”

La Fetra joined the ULV Board of Trustees in 2012, following in the footsteps of his mother Mary Elizabeth La Fetra, who served as a Trustee from 1966 to 1982.

In 2005 La Fetra established the La Fetra Family Endowed Chair for Excellence in Teaching and Service at the College.

La Fetra’s sister, Sarah Ludwick, received a master’s degree in child development at ULV.

La Fetra has also served as a member of many non-profit leadership boards and is the current CEO and president of irrigation company Rainbird, one of ULV’s sprinkler providers.

“We do have Rainbird sprinklers in some of the facilities and exterior,” said Raymond West, assistant vice president of facilities.

The La Fetra College of Education continues to serve undergraduates and graduates alike majoring in education and organizational leadership.

“What I think this gift really does is shine a light on the exceptional work that we do,” White-Smith said.

This story was originally published by The Campus Times.


Lance Pugmire, Prize-Winning Journalist of the LA Times, Dies at 49

pexels-photo-172074.jpegThe following is a writing assignment for my Journalism 100 class at the University of La Verne. Information was provided by the Professor to write a story for a class assignment. Information may be false, outdated, or changed by the Professor for educational purposes. **This particular story is a fake obituary of my professor.

Lance Pugmire, Prize-Winning Journalist of the LA Times, Dies at 49

Lance Jon Pugmire, award winning journalist at the LA Times, died Wednesday, April 20. Pugmire was coming home from a weekend long trip in Big Bear when he swerved his Ford F150 truck off the mountain, landing in a fiery crash. It is suspected Pugmire was texting while driving and died on impact. Pugmire was 49.

Pugmire, a resident of Upland, is survived by his two sons Tyler, 15 and Nathan, 9 as well as mother Sherry and father Jerry Pugmire. He also leaves behind his brother and sister, Jason and Jodi, as well as ex-wife and mother of his children Sheri, whom he was married to from 1999 to 2013.

Pugmire was president of the West coast division of the Boxing Writers Association of America and first on the scene to contribute to the 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of wildfires in the Inland Empire and San Diego by the LA Times. Pugmire was also won the Associated Press Sports Editors award for his prize-winning coverage of the death of Northwestern football player Rashidi Wheeler and the Manny Ramirez performance-enhancing drug use scandal. In 2012, Pugmire won two first place writing awards in an international writing contest. Other notable works include coverage of the Kobe Bryant rape case.

The last story Pugmire was working on was about Kazakhstani professional fighter Gennady Golovkin. Pugmire’s recorder survived the fire, which contained his interview with Golovkin discussing his desire to host a “super fight” at Cowboy Stadium.

Pugmire, who grew up in La Mesa, graduated from Granite Hills High School in 1985 and earned his BA in Journalism at Cal State Fullerton in 1991. He took pride in being the first of his family to graduate from college.

From CSUF he continued his career at the Anaheim Bulletin and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin newspapers. Pugmire has been employed by the LA Times since 1999. Pugmire was previously the Times’ boxing/MMA/Ducks beat writer and enterprise Sports story contributor.

Pugmire is described as a good team player, fair, and without agenda unlike other journalists, however he had a small hiccup in his career in 2006. The Times ran Pugmire’s story on Roger Clemens’ steroid use after Pugmire received information from an affidavit naming Clemens as one of a handful of baseball players in an ongoing amphetamines, anabolic steroids and human growth hormone-use investigation. This information was later revealed to be false, forcing the Times to publish a retraction.

When Pugmire was not on assignment for the Times or working as a professor of Journalism at the University of La Verne, he enjoyed spending time with his sons. Pugmire was a long-time little league and baseball coach in Upland, an activity he shared with them. He was also an avid over-the-line player (a version of beach softball) for 25 years and often participated in the San Diego competition in July.

Pugmire’s funeral will be held at St. Antony’s Catholic Church in Upland at noon on April 27 followed by a burial the next day in El Cajon. The Pugmire family is accepting donations to be give to the American Cancer Society in his name.