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The University Star

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The University Star


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TXST graduate to film with Grammy winning director


Performance and production senior Amber Gipson sits in her cap and gown, Saturday, Apr. 22, 2023, at the Performing Arts Center.

After graduating on May 11, Amber Gipson, performance and production senior, plans on taking her first step into the professional performing arts industry as she works alongside two-time Grammy award Director Joseph Kahn.
Gipson will be interning as a production assistant for the feature film that Kahn plans to direct in Houston. Kahn has won Grammy’s for directing in music videos for “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift and “Without Me” by Eminem, along with working with artists including Beyonce, Backstreet Boys, Lady Gaga and more.
Although Gipson isn’t able to disclose the full summary of the film due to set confidentiality, she is ecstatic to get an opportunity that proves how far she has come, especially after going through many rocky roads throughout her college career.
“I hit a really bad slump my sophomore year of college, because I was fighting this internal struggle with myself,” Gipson said. “I thought I wasn’t talented, I thought I wasn’t a good actress and I thought I had picked this career path and now I didn’t want it anymore. I was feeling very down, but luckily, I was able to have friends that were going through the same thing as me and I was able to watch them and learn from them and we were able to help each other out.”
To fully get out of that stump, Gipson co-founded the Equity & Representation Coalition for the Department of Theatre and Dance in fall of 2021. After Gipson witnessed racial disparities and misrepresentation occur within the theatre department, she felt that she had had enough.
Gipson and co-founders Brandon Doan, performance and production senior, and Ali Gutierrez, performance and production senior, felt that the Equity & Representation Coalition was also an opportunity for every theatre student to get an equal opportunity in performing. This prompted them to expand their horizons for and beyond people of color (POC).
“We make sure that POC voices are heard, but not just POC voices, people with disabilities, people of different shapes and sizes to make sure that they’re not being treated a specific way because of the way they look,” Gipson said. “Because I feel like we, as a Black woman, we should all be treated equally as our white counterparts out there that will get roles easily.”
Yesenia Herrington, the interim head of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Performance and Production program, saw the Equity & Representation Coalition come to light and believes that it gives students an opportunity to communicate and advocate.
Herrington also worked closely with Gipson at the start of her senior year in fall 2022, where Herrington found that Gipson was fearful of her future as she had no definite plans. Now, through her work with the Equity & Representation Coalition and multiple performances, both on and off the stage, Herrington sees nothing but a bright future for Gipson.
“I admire Amber for her tenacity, for her drive and her determination,” Herrington said. “When we met, graduation may have seemed like a daunting prospect. Now, she has secured the role of being on set, which was the goal. When we started, we didn’t have any prospects, but look at what she has done in the process of a year. I’m just so proud of her for being active in creating her own destiny.”
Gipson has participated in numerous Texas State theatre productions, some including “The Moors,” “How Wren & Alucard Broke the World” and “Father Comes Home from the War.”
Whether it was being one of the main characters in “The Moors” or “How Wren & Alucard Broke the World” or the assistant director for “Father Comes Home from the War,” Gipson feels that no amount of experience will give her reassurance for her upcoming internship. Nevertheless, Gipson is ready to take on her next opportunity.
“I feel like no matter how much I’ve prepared, no matter how many sets I’ve been on, I’m still very scared because this is the first professional thing I’m doing and I’m working with people in these big-name groups that we talk about in my classes,” Gipson said. “But I’m ready. I’m excited to learn and that’s the main thing I’m excited to do, because I know I don’t know everything, but once I get on set, I’ll learn more.”
Linda Nenno Breining, Texas State theatre professor, taught Gipson as a freshman in a beginning acting course and again as a senior in a voice and diction course. Through those courses, Nenno Breining believes that Gipson is ready to take on new challenges as she has fully grasped what she learned at Texas State.
“She used some of the work and the techniques that we learned in class in her performances, so she has taken advantage of everything that Texas State had to offer her,” Nenno Breining said. “And she was clear she was going to make it and she will.”
Before walking the stage and leaving for the next class to take over the Texas State stage, Gipson wants future actors, specifically POC, to use their voice without being afraid of being heard.
“Don’t be afraid to make people angry because people are going to be angry about a lot of things, and whenever you’re loud and proud and Black, it already ruffles some feathers,” Gipson said. “Don’t put yourself into this box that they think Black people or POC people should be in and once you’re not afraid to make people angry or make people sad or make people uncomfortable, you’ll be able to do anything.”

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