GCC student Melissa Galvan

GCC student Melissa Galvan initially wanted to study acting, but her switch to directing has earned her a prestigious award.

Glendale Community College student Melissa Galvan took second place in a prestigious contest for her directorial take on “Romeo and Juliet.”

Galvan won the alternate award for student directing at the Region VIII Festival, sponsored by the Kennedy American College Theater Festival. She was nominated by her GCC professor, David Seitz.

Like her four fellow contestants, Galvan put her own directorial spin on “Romeo and Juliet.” She gave it a modern-day slant, focusing on the prejudices the star-crossed lovers may have encountered. 

“It was a story of two young people who really looked at themselves and started to question the prejudices that they have grown up with,” Galvan said. “I feel like that pertains a lot to the present day.”

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is an annual national theater program involving 18,000 college students. Galvan attended last year’s festival and didn’t place. That didn’t stop her from trying again this year. 

“I was not expecting it,” Galvan said. “I was already excited just to have made it to the finals.”

Seitz could hardly contain his excitement when he heard about Galvan’s award. 

“I am so very proud of what Melissa has accomplished,” Seitz said. “Hearing Melissa’s name called during the livestream of the awards ceremony for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival made me jump out of my chair with utter pride and excitement for Melissa.”

For Galvan, the most rewarding part of the competition was being immersed in theater.

“The most rewarding part was honestly just being there,” she said. “I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it was just such a really cool opportunity to go there and be around a lot more people who are so involved in theater and what they can teach us.”

Seitz has witnessed Galvan grow as a directing student and is confident in her future in her theatrical future. 

“She started out as a meek directing and acting student, unsure if her ideas were strong enough,” he said. “Then, she emerged as a confident, creative director through diligence, challenges and a strong desire to become the artist she always wanted to be.” 

Initially, Galvan wanted to study acting in college but fell in love with directing during a class her first semester at GCC. 

“I really loved being able to come up with this vision and have people collaborate creatively and just bring it all together,” Galvan said.

Her favorite part of the process is stepping back and seeing the results. 

“When it’s all done, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ It started off as just an idea, and everybody helped it turn out great,” she said.

Galvan will graduate from GCC in the spring and then transfer to an in-state university to further her education and passion for theater.