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Student Spotlight: ShaWanna Renee Goffney

A Q&A with Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts, Arts Leadership Student, ShaWanna Renee Goffney

Q: What is the degree you are currently pursuing at The University of Houston’s College of the Arts?

A: Master’s of Arts in Arts Leadership

Q: Describe your experience in the arts so far?

A: In one word, liberating. The arts offer me a safe place where I’ve always been able to escape from the world around me and create my own worlds. Acting was my first introduction into the arts. I was an actor in Los Angeles for many years. During my time there I was series regular on three cartoon shows: The Bratz, Strawberry Shortcake, and Care Bears. Due to the lack of roles available for me, I begin to write out of the desire to create more roles then eventually I became a writer. The first show I wrote, Cheaper to Keep Her went on a national tour.

Q: Is there one thing that has surprised you about a career in the arts that you didn’t expect? 

A: I never expected to become a writer and producer. The journey to this discovery has been a beautiful experience.

Q: What artistic accomplishments do you feel most proud of?

A: When I started writing, I was told to write what “The People” wanted, therefore I did. However, a few years ago, I started writing from my heart and soul, and I’m proud of myself every time I sit down to create a new world, that I’m telling my truth, not writing for others’ comfort. I’m proud that my latest two plays, Power to the Queendom and Old Black and White Hollywood, tells stories that have never been told in this manner about Black women. I set out to give a voice to the unheard Black women and I feel I’m accomplishing this goal.   

Q: What specific skills have you learned at the McGovern College of the Arts that you find valuable in your current artistic endeavors? 

A: I want to take stories I write and create exhibits in museums and give audiences an even more experience and ways of understanding the obstacles that women of color endure. I also want to start my own museum and theater in Third Ward. The information I have gathered after my first semester has been invaluable. My ‘Introduction to Museum and Gallery Management’ class has helped me further my niche of being an activist artist. I now have obtained the basis of how museums are run, the importance of the objects in those museums, and the importance of desegregating museums. I have also been able to learn how to connect my art with technology and create ways for audiences to view my work off the stage, something I was terrified of doing before my ‘Art and Technology’ class. 

Q: Has there been any press coverage that you would like to share? If so, list links in your answer with any helpful descriptions.

A: The first two links are about the Alley’s all new virtual season. The last link is for the Rec Room, which is a direct link for my play and information on how to watch.

Q: What is coming up for you in the future that we should watch for?

A: My play Power to the Queendom, will be released as a sound script with Rec Room Theater, February 18-22. My play Old Black and White Hollywood is a part of the Alley’s 2021 Digital Season, April 16- May 16. No one has to leave their home to view. 

Q: What advice would you have for incoming students who are focusing on a career in the arts?

A: I would like to tell incoming students to be open. I believe art is fluid, you could love to work in many branches of the art world that you never thought you would, so don’t stop yourself from exploring. I believe it’s important to ask your professors and fellow classmates questions. I’ve learned so much from my peers. Most importantly, take huge risks. Always do the project that scares you a little, that’s where you will grow, not from the projects that are safe and easy.

Quote: I found my real voice while working to earn my BFA in theater from University of Houston. The school opened up for me and welcomed me as I went on my journey. I was able to create new works while be taught by greats such as Theresa Rebeck and Suzan Lori Parks. The strong support we all received for creating new work from the professors, staff and peers is strongly felt. The many hours of rehearsals and learning in workshops help us navigate our way and create our own niche in the arts.


Instagram Handle: @reneerivon