Kind, humble and always willing to lend a helping hand, these are the qualities that most would seek out in others. Austin Baran, a theater arts major at Fullerton College, embodies all three characteristics. He has immersed himself in the Fullerton College Theatre Arts Department and is greatly passionate about his craft as well as assisting the craft of others that are pursuing goals in theater.
Baran’s initial interest in theater arts developed towards the beginning of his high school career where he attended La Mirada High School. What started out to be just an elective course ended up being the start of an extensive journey of self-discovery. Baran was awarded “Most Outstanding Student” in theater when he graduated and found full support from both family and friends.
“I was fortunate enough to have people around me who supported me. The fact that they’re willing to acknowledge that it’s something I enjoy and are willing to support me in my endeavors is one of the big things that help me,” Baran said.
After high school Baran ultimately decided to attend FC because of its theater arts program. This is where he found many opportunities to better himself and his craft.
Timothy Espinosa, an instructor in the theater arts department is an influential figure to Baran, as well as Kevin Clowes, the scene designer who helps build sets for performances. Baran describes Clowes as his biggest mentor since he started his college career at FC.
“When I first met Austin, I was immediately impressed by his maturity and professionalism,” Espinosa said. He also stated that other students can learn about respect for the craft, honoring commitments and seeing things through to the end from him.
Matthew Caballero, a theater major at FC who works closely with Baran, expressed how fortunate he was to have met Baran when they both started as college freshmen.
“It’s awesome finding people who are passionate about all the same things you are. It’s even greater when they’re willing to push you to constantly better yourself as a performer, as a director and as a person,” Caballero said. “Austin loves what he does, and I can tell you that he has grown substantially over the last two years.”
Many of Baran’s hobbies are centered around college. He is treasurer and a member of the Writers and Readers Club on campus as well as the vice president of Ambassadors, a group of student representatives for the theater arts department.
“Getting to be vice president, getting to inspire those to never stop working harder and harder everyday to achieve their goals, that’s something that I can take pride in every single day,” Baran said.
His helpful spirit doesn’t stop after college. Baran intends to transfer to Cal State Fullerton to earn his teaching degree and credentials in order to become a high school theater arts teacher.
“Everybody wants to have their moment in the spotlight, but at the same time there’s something rewarding by helping people younger than you grow and have their time in the spotlight. Somebody taught us, so it’s our duty to teach them,” Baran said.
Although challenging, Baran finds time to partake in different productions and performances all while juggling classes and his job as an usher at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Just having finished playing the role of Antonio in “Twelfth Night,” a production by FC’s Theatre Department in early October, Baran is now focused on a role that is outside of Fullerton.
He was cast as Sheriff Ted, a character in the musical “Bonnie and Clyde,” which will take place in early February at the Curtis Theatre in Brea. Baran says that he had access to the audition because of the recommendation from the musical theater class and is thankful for all the opportunities that he’s been presented with through the theater arts department.
“In the near future I would like to prepare myself to take the step out of Fullerton College and take everything that it has given me and humbly accept the lessons that I’ve learned and apply those to my next step in life,” Baran said.
For someone just starting college who is interested in theater arts, Baran’s advice is to immerse yourself as quickly as you can and to take the opportunities that are offered because every opportunity is a chance to grow.