Why I’m Quitting UCB, And Its Problem With Diversity
Oliver Chinyere
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Thank you for writing this, Brita. It’s got a lot of LA people talking over here as well. As a POC who’s been with UCBTLA for over 7 years, it’s been very frustrating for me to deal with subtle (and not so subtle) racism from inexperienced students (and friends!!), and well-meaning teachers who literally couldn’t understand what I was going through and I am fucking PASSIONATE about this topic. This comment is more for the LA people who are following your article right now- I noticed in the comments a good friend of mine (Marcella) discussing the program and another good friend of mine (Mano) and it piqued my interest. I can’t speak to the NY program but your experience sounds crazy shitty and I don’t blame you for being angry as shit. For LA: As someone who has been with UCB before there was a diversity program, who was first in line to apply for a scholarship, and who volunteers my time on the panel every year, I don’t think the program is a joke. I am the program. I think it’s a young developing program that doesn’t exist at any other major comedy theatre out here, so it’s hard for it to be a flawless system when it’s a prototype. And I think it’s working. When I joined Harold night was white man city. Now I’m on a Harold team with 4 women, 3 POCs, and 1 bi member. Not overwhelming but great improvement. Speaking for me and the other minorities on house teams that volunteer many unpaid hours every year to to go meet ups, public panels, host diversity jams, and trying to call in favors to our industry friends to talk to aspiring students and going through a grueling process of figuring how to allot $48,000 (120 scholarships, $400/class) a year to too many deserving diverse students, I feel devastated how much people still feel left out over here. I think the school’s doing a lot and I’m proud to be on the front lines. Marcella is one of the hardest working people and most passionate people I know in this program, and honestly, so is Mano. When I hear an attack on the LA Diversity school, it doesn’t feel like an attack on the white teachers and the UCB 4. UCB4 just started this theatre like 300 years ago, what the hell do they have to do with the program? But it does feels real disheartening for me and my other many Asian, Black, Hispanic, differently abled, gay, bi, and transgendered friends who are on house teams right now who put in a ton of time to make this program better. We’re exhausted. We’re not asking for the help of our hetero white teachers. It’s not up to them. It’s up to us. My two cents for the LA peeps: For those struggling to feel like they belong at this school, I beg you, don’t say “not enough, I’m out.” Say “not enough, I’m in.” Don’t ask permission to see how you can help. Take it. Get your friends here. Get to the jams. Push for your shows. And then push again. Crash the boards. It won’t be easy but put in these hours with me. Best and only way change can happen.

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