March 20, 2024

Mesa Alumni Talk Acting, Agents, and More in Drama Panel: Life Post Mesa in the Performing Arts: Transfer and More

By Emma Rodriguez

students watch panel of alumni, 4 alumni at table with one on large screen behind them, speaking via zoom

On Monday, March 11, Mesa Dramatic Arts majors were thrilled when five Mesa College alumni came to speak with current students about their journey in the performing arts thus far. The panel, titled Life Post Mesa in the Performing Arts: Transfer and more, was organized by Drama Professor George Ye’. He explained that he wanted to show current students a “cross section of people with different pathways.”

Malachi Beasly appeared via zoom from New York. Like many Mesa students, his path to Mesa was, at times, winding. He described failing his first year at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, feeling a sense of shock at the difficulty of classes and college in general. Subsequently, he joined the United States Military, serving at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. When he returned to San Diego, he came to Mesa to play football as a Mesa Olympian and took classes in the Drama program. Malachi pursued his dream by transferring to Cal State Long Beach where he continued to study drama. He has since earned his MFA in acting at the prestigious Yale Drama School. Now, he is pursuing an acting career in New York

All the panelists spoke to the highs and lows they have faced while pursuing a career in the performing arts.  Deepti Kingra, currently a working actress in Los Angeles, transferred to Cal State Northridge after earning her AA degree in Dramatic Arts at Mesa. While at Mesa, she designed, produced, and acted in Mesa College Theatre Company productions. Deepti reminded the students that staying local and working on smaller productions, like independent and student films, can “only help” develop your career.

This message was reinforced by other panelists as well. Kaivan Mohsenzadeh, who was fresh from hosting a pro-wrestling event the night before, explained that he feels his success in the performing arts has come from being interested in, invested in, and knowledgeable about many facets of the industry. Emilee Zuniga also shared that the Mesa Drama Program taught her transferable skills that she uses today. Emilee just completed a successful run starring in Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company’s production of “How I Learned to Drive.” While speaking, she was recognized by several members of the crowd, who had been to see her in the production just the night before.

The alumni also responded to questions and provided concrete advice. Lexsy McKowen, an actress based in Los Angeles whose credits include the Hallmark movie, “Marry Me in Yosemite”, gave insights into the business of getting work in Hollywood. She recently signed with a notable agency, and initiated a discussion about the complex and occasionally ambiguous process of getting work as an actor. In particular, one student asked a deceptively simple question, “How do you tell whether an agent is good?” The panelists took the time to explain the complex hierarchy of agents, using their own experiences to illustrate the system’s benefits and pitfalls.

Malachi, Deepti, Kaivan, Emilee, and Lexsy connected with the students, and they had high praise for the training, education, and experience they received while at Mesa. To vigorous head-nodding agreement from his fellow panelists, Kaivan observed, “my passion [for performing arts] came from working in Mesa College Theatre Company.”

Kaivan in Peter Pan
Kaivan Mohsenzadeh performs in the Mesa College Theatre Company's 2018 production of Peter and the Starcatcher

This Spring 2024, the College Theatre Company will present William Shakespeare’s The Tempest,  April 19-28th at the San Diego Mesa College Apolliad Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at this link:


About San Diego Mesa College Theatre Company

The Mesa College Theater Company, a two-year training program for Dramatic Arts Majors, has been producing quality shows and quality theater artists for over fifteen years. Individuals who become a part of Mesa College Theater Company get the unique opportunity of having hands-on theater training while working towards an AA degree. Utilizing a main stage theatre and a New York style black box theatre, students are involved in the experience of creating a show from the ground up. Students apply what they learn in their acting and design classes to produce two quality shows each semester--all shows are student acted, designed, built and crewed and one production each season is student directed. The four-semester program provides students with a good foundation for successful transfer to four-year programs such as San Diego State, UCSD, UCI, UCLA, San Francisco State, CSU Long Beach, Harvard's Acting Program, ACT, and the Miesner Institute. MCTC graduates are working in the film and television industries as well as holding positions at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe Theater and the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Find them on social media @mesacollegetheatrecompany.



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