AnnaMaria Fernandez ‘24 is one of those people who’s busy from sun-up to sundown. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fernandez has never known a life without art. “I have been drawing and crafting my whole life,” she said. “I began doing theatre in fifth grade… and I have been dancing since I was twelve.” When Fernandez came to Muhlenberg, the plan was to continue her lifelong pursuit of art. She was just going to study Theatre and Dance—“but then Soc[iology] 101 changed my life!” Fernandez will graduate with a double major in Theatre and Sociology and a minor in Dance.
But a double major and a minor were not enough to sate Fernandez’s academic and creative curiosity. She is involved in a host of extracurricular activities.
“I am President of Alpha Chi Omega… We are a fine arts women’s fraternity, which I feel like we don’t say a lot but that holds a lot of value for me. I am also Public Relations/Social Chair for Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA). I am a member of the Black Students Association (BSA) [and] Women of Color Collective and Emerging Leaders. I have also participated as a student facilitator for the Alliances for Justice and Student Leadership program.” She is very glad to have worked with all these organizations. “These activities have helped me become confident in my leadership abilities, which in turn have made me more confident in myself, which results in me being more confident in my art!”
“I am President of Alpha Chi Omega… We are a fine arts women’s fraternity, which I feel like we don’t say a lot but that holds a lot of value for me.”AnnaMaria Fernandez ’24
And there’s more! In addition to all that, Fernandez has participated in many shows during her time at Muhlenberg.
“I was in the Marginalized Voices Theatre Arts Festival in ‘Look, A Latino!,’ Sistah Solidarity in ‘Magic’ in the Pneumonic Play Festival in 2021, ‘En el Tiempo de las Mariposas’ as American Woman, ‘In Motion’ 2022, ‘Reset,’ Earl Mosely’s ‘Unconquered 2022,’ [and] Zazzalil in ‘Firebringer.’
Turning to current projects, she said, “Now I will be playing Free Girl in ‘…And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi,’ choreographing for ‘Reset: New Dances’ 2023 and performing in ‘In Motion’ next semester.”
Ferandez’s college journey wasn’t always the easiest. She came to Muhlenberg during the height of the pandemic. Yet isolation was, in some ways, a blessing in disguise for her.
“COVID definitely made me find and try new avenues of creativity, since we were no longer connecting with each other physically. I also started graphic design during COVID and have found passion in that. I started writing more poetry, drawing and painting more, and I was even in a few Zoom shows!”
As mentioned above, Fernandez is currently in rehearsals for the departmental production of “…And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi,” where she is playing the role of Free Girl. According to her, it’s been an engaging and exciting process since auditions.
“The audition process for ‘Jesus’ was really interesting because we had been given the sides in advance and told to read for whichever character we wanted to audition for. This was out of my comfort zone as I am used to just auditioning and receiving a callback for whomever the director feels I could be right for.” Despite her nerves, she eventually found this method of auditioning to be a welcome change of pace. “I really enjoyed this process because Christopher Burris [the director] offered me notes and [it] felt more like a workshop than a hierarchical stand and slate audition, which often causes me some anxiety.”
“The audition process for ‘Jesus’ was really interesting because we had been given the sides in advance and told to read for whichever character we wanted to audition for. This was out of my comfort zone as I am used to just auditioning and receiving a callback for whomever the director feels I could be right for.”AnnaMaria Fernandez ’24
This role is something that has been on Fernandez’s sights for a while. “I had been working towards the role of Free Girl all summer, as I was involved in the season selection process in the spring semester… When the cast list came out I was ecstatic that I had been given the opportunity to make Free my own, and to have a part in telling this beautiful story.”
And that excitement was warranted; the rehearsals have been great, according to Fernandez. “The rehearsal process has been very eye-opening for me. Since we are working with a guest director, we have a unique opportunity to see how someone from outside of the Muhlenberg community works. Even in our table reads, it has become evident that people are connecting not only to the story, but the words. Since the show is written in verse, language and sound are very important, and the rehearsal process has pushed me towards listening more rather than relying on visuals.”
Furthermore, she stated, “I hope people will see the story for what it is. I hope they let themselves feel the work deeply and I hope they walk away knowing that they have a choice: they can take away the setting of the play, or they can take away the stories of each of the individuals and connect it to their own thread that they sew into the quilt that is our world.”
You can see AnnaMaria Fernandez in “…And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi” on Oct. 26-29 in the Studio Theatre.
After graduation, she’s not quite sure what path she’ll be taking. But she knows it’ll involve art— “to whatever degree that may mean for me and the universe.” And she has some advice for aspiring artists: “Art is inherently political—how people view your art has nothing to do with you, and what you do with your art has everything to do with you.”