He’s more than just an act

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TM Gustavo Olguin

Ivan Oyarzabal read his lines for his leading role in the upcoming Cerritos College play "Rebel Without a Cause." The play is set to debut on Feb.28.

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Going from rock bottom to being part of your own film company can seem like a storyline for a movie, theater major Ivan Oyarzabal has made that story into a reality.

“I dropped out of high school and I didn’t finish high school,” he said. “I moved out at 17. I used to run with the wrong crowds and (I was) on a bad track to nowhere. I was either going to end up dead or in jail.”

That all changed when Oyarzabal signed up for a fundamentals of acting class to fill out a general education requirement.

“I remember the professor telling me that acting is all about trust and confining in another person. Being a great actor and being a great human is synonymous. It’s one in the same,” he said.

Oyarzabal was able to get straight A’s during the Fall 2013 semester for the first time in his life and feels that he would have never been able to do it, if he never discovered theater.

Fast forward to this semester and he has been cast for his first dramatic lead role in a full length production as Jim Stark in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

“It tests me as an actor, because I like to embody the character that the author had in mind. It’s a challenge and it’s something that I have been waiting for, for quite a while now,” he said.

Although Oyarzabal has done many productions that involve comedy, such as performing with Cerritos College’s Generic Improvisational Peep Show, he feels as if he can invest more of himself in dramatic productions.

“The day I got the role I went and bought the script, researched the era, I started buying clothes to represent the character, started walking a different way and finding keywords that the character likes to use,” he said.

Lead actress and child development major, Tiffany Mata is performing in her first production at Cerritos and sees how important the theater is to Oyarzabal.

“This was just something that I was doing for fun, but this is what he is passionate about,” she said. “He takes it very seriously and I admire how passionate he is about it.”

Mata also appreciated the experience that Oyarzabal has, because she feels that he has helped her during rehearsals when it comes to relaxing and focusing on what needs to get done.

Theater professor Forrest Hartl has directed many productions and has seen first hand how Oyarzabal has progressed since the first time he worked with him.

“Since I have seen him in his first dramatic one act, he has proven himself as an improviser, a writer and also an organizer for things to get done,” he said. “I know he is working off campus with film which takes organization, responsibility and all these other abilities that require a responsible person.”

The off campus activity that Hartl referenced is “Humble Film Productions”, which is Oyarzabal’s film company that he is the project manager for.

He is in charge of the communication between the director, photography, the president of the film company and the director.

On top of all these responsibilities, he has a maintenance job on the side and credits his phone for being able to balance his life.

“I put everything on my phone and i micromanage. I have to do that, because them I feel anxious and I feel like everything is taking control of me,” he said ” I schedule my meals , my exercise, my work time and every part of my life,”

Oyarzabal and his team made the film ‘Last List.’

“We are going to be sending ‘Last List’ into Sundance,” he said. “That’s one festival that we really want to be at, because it’s really renowned.”

While getting to Sundance is the main focus at the moment, Hartl knows that there are many struggles that “Humble Film Productions” are going to have to go through to get there.

“I think perseverance is one of the biggest struggles as well, because you are going to face a lot of competition and a lot of obstacles to get your film to be seen by a big audience,” he said.

However , Oyarzabal doesn’t see other films as something to worry about, but as a tool for him to keep moving forward.

“there is always going to be competition, but i am not discouraged when movies come out,” he said ” i’m inspired when i go to the cinema and walk out that i know i’m doing what i want to do.”

Oyarzabal has to balance all of this and make sure that he is prepared for the opening night for the “Rebel Without a Cause” production that opens at the Burnight Theatre Feb. 28.