Antonia Gomez – Theatre Arts
As she sits on her couch in her apartment on Hilyard Street, flipping through channels, Antonia Gomez comes across Les Miserables (the 1998 version with Gerard Depardieu) and can’t help but to sing along (loudly). It’s a cloudy Saturday morning and Gomez will soon be heading to Villard Hall on the UO campus, for a Pocket Playhouse performance.
Gomez, a 21-year-old senior (soon to be graduate) in the public relations program at the University of Oregon is also a theater arts minor who’s interested in acting.
“I’m good at public relations, but it’s not really what I’m passionate about,” Gomez said. “I love theater, and I think that’s what I’m meant to do.”
Originally from Piedmont, California, Gomez has plans to move to Chicago and pursue an acting career and to receive her Actors Equity certification after graduation.
“My parents aren’t super thrilled about the idea of me focusing on acting as a career,” Gomez said. “I either want to go to Los Angeles or Chicago, but my parents really want me to have a ‘real’ career.”
Gomez realized about halfway through college, (around the beginning of sophomore year) that she wasn’t as interested in public relations as she originally thought. Since acting was something she had been thinking about for a while, Gomez decided that a beginning level theater class would be a good starting point.
“In high school I was really interested in theater but refused to admit it,” Gomez said. “I didn’t want to tell anyone that I wanted to act because then I would have to pursue it, and the possibility of failing was always looming.”
After making the decision to pursue theater arts more seriously, Gomez decided to add a theater art minor to her public relations major. She pushed herself to take a beginning level acting class, to become comfortable acting in front of others and since sophomore year, Gomez has tried her best to become immersed in the theater arts department at the University of Oregon through plays, Pocket Playhouse performances, acting classes and various other activities
One of the biggest roles Gomez has played was as Elizabeth Procter in the UO Theater Department’s production of “The Crucible” during winter term. The play was shown at The HOPE Theatre on the UO campus and ran for two weekends, packing in eight performances. Gomez claims it was one of the most intense experiences of her life.
“By the time the last performance came I was so done,” Gomez said. “I was so into my character that I couldn’t help but cry uncontrollably at the end of each performance. I was Elizabeth Proctor, and afterwards it was hard to separate myself from that role.”
At the beginning of spring term, her final term of college, Gomez stands in her kitchen chopping onions, tomatoes, and avocados for guacamole. She moves quickly and efficiently as she combines her ingredients to provide a delicious snack for her fellow Pocket Playhouse performers. Gomez who always using her hands to emphasize her point (and adjust her large-frame Ray-Ban glasses) discusses her love for the arts fervently.
Gomez attended a theater workshop in Ashland Ore. over spring break and said that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was a life-changing event.
“I saw the play White Snake when I was at this workshops and was like ‘Yep. That’s what I need to do, for the rest of my life,’” Gomez said. “I just want to work, and make enough money to live, and to do what I love to do.”
With light music playing in the background Gomez intermittently sings with the Juno soundtrack as she talks of the importance of theater programs and classes, and how they have changed her life.
“I think that everyone should have to take Acting One (a beginning level acting class at the University of Oregon) everyone,” said Gomez emphatically. “I learned more about myself in that class than I could ever have with years of therapy.”
Gomez has participated in a myriad of impromptu performances since becoming involved in theater, and is also a part of the UO Theater Department’s Pocket Playhouse performances on the weekends. She compares the process of becoming a part of theater to gaining a new home. As she finishes up making her guacamole, Gomez talks about how she anticipates her parents reacting to her career choice. According to Gomez, her parents tend to think of her theater participation as more of a hobby than a future career, and because they are paying for her college education, Gomez doesn’t want to disappoint them. With plans of moving to Chicago after completing her undergraduate degree, Gomez isn’t sure of how to approach her parents with her potential plans.
“I know my parents don’t really take my acting seriously, but I hope they see that it’s ultimately what makes me happy,” Gomez said.
Lisa Gomez, Antonia’s mother says that she approves of her daughters choice of a major and minor, and also loves the fact that Gomez is doing something she enjoys. At the same time, Lisa says she hopes that Antonia can still make a career out of her degree.
“Who can say what the future will bring?” Lisa Gomez said. “We hope she is happy wherever she lands. Maybe a job in the development office of a theatrical company would be a good fit for her interests and skills.”
Later that afternoon, Gomez walks into Villard Hall – the theater department’s main building – and starts dancing down the hallway toward the doors of the Pocket Theatre. She opens the door and starts singing a line from Les Miserables (opera style) to her fellow actors and actresses. She gives the group her freshly made guacamole along with a bag of chips and makes her way back stage.
The Pocket Theatre is small, but cozy. Gomez has a small role in this particular short play, but her presence dominates the scene. With her hair pulled back into a long ponytail, Gomez waltzes out in a black t-shirt, dark skinny jeans and black vans. She looks simple but sophisticated as she walks out on stage and shouts “NONSENSE, NONSENSE I SAY,” and continues with the short play. The premise of the play, titled “Actors Nightmare,” is supposed to be a play within a play. Gomez bosses people around, shoving actors to and from the scene in her role as the stage manager, and commands attention for the brief amount of time she spends on set.
John Schmor, a professor in the Theater Arts Department at the University of Oregon, had Gomez as a student for a two-term Shakespeare class during fall and winter term, and currently has her in a cinema studies class.
“Antonia started out a little self-critical and even shy at the beginning of the fall Shakespeare course, but she quickly took my coaching and was always willing to try,” Schmor said. “She has great gifts, including what acting teachers call “emotional access” and she’s not afraid of feeling out loud. She’s funny, boisterous, openhearted, smart and very courageous, Schmor said. “I truly admire Antonia and feel lucky to have had her spirit and her efforts in three classes this year.”
After her performance at the Pocket Playhouse, Gomez drops off some paperwork with one of her group project members and proceeds to run down the giant flight of stairs that is Lillis Business Complex (singing the whole way).
“I think theater, and the arts in general, are still very important and relevant to the world we live in today,” Gomez said. “Theater is something I love, and I want to continue to pursue that love, even if it means I never get rich.”
With a passion for acting, and a degree in public relations, Gomez says has plenty of options for the next step of life. Boisterously walking down Hilyard Street after a long Saturday, Gomez laughs and sings with her fellow classmates – content with where life has taken her for now.