Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

SDSU Grad Q&A: Reiko Huffman

The College of PSFA is highlighting students who have secured a job, internship, or graduate school placement after commencement this year.

SDSU Grad Q&A: Reiko Huffman

Reiko Huffman

by Gabriela Romero

May 4, 2021

Reiko Huffman

Graduate Student in Theatre Design and Technology (Scenic Design)

School of Theatre, Television, and Film

Hometown: San Diego, CA

1. Can you describe the position and company you will be working for post-graduation? What will your responsibilities be? Can you describe a little bit about yourself and what led you to pursue scenic design as an area of study?

Post-graduation I will be the new Assistant Professor of Scenic Design at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE. I will be instructing undergraduate students in theoretical and practical learning in theatre design. I will also be designing four MainStage shows during their ‘21-’22 season. Prior to beginning the ‘21-’22 school year, I will also be designing two small musicals with Teatro San Diego called “Songs for A New World” and at Coronado Playhouse called “The World Goes Round”. I have been doing scenic design since my undergraduate years and then pursued an MFA here at SDSU. I am indescribably passionate about scenic design and theatre, and after reflecting on my time here in graduate school, I have been motivated to improve the culture of design (scenic design specifically), and find better ways to interweave critical awareness into the practice and process of the theatre design world. Originally, I came because I was motivated to earn my MFA and gain more skills as a designer, however throughout my time, I re-discovered that the field of theatrical design and theatrical design academia are still outdated when it comes to instructing and supporting young designers and artists.

2. When did you begin your job search and what did that process entail?

I began this process back in the fall 20 semester. Dr. Niyi Coker worked closely with me on getting together my application documents, CV, and design documents in order to begin applying to multiple universities. I also had the support and help of Dr. L. Katie Turner and Prof. Roxanne Hornbeck (asstistant professor at Seattle University) to help me stay motivated and prepare for interviews. I decided to begin this search back in fall because I knew that I wanted to be prepared to both find a way to do what I love and support myself and I wouldn’t accept/remain in the mental place that ‘opportunities are difficult to find’. While that is true I believe in being as unapologetically proactive as possible, because in the end, I want to make a difference.

3. When did you receive your (official job offer and what was your reaction?

I received my official job offer mid to late January ’21. I was ecstatic. While I felt very good about my interview process and the university itself, whether or not I got the job offer, I was confident in the fact that I put my best foot forward and I conveyed my true self.

4. What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to jumpstart their career post-graduation?

Don’t be afraid to be as proactive as humanly possible. We all have limitations on us whether those are self-inflicted or by other family members or faculty, and ultimately your life and goals are yours. Sure, seek advice, look for different perspectives, but regardless, always return to who you are and what you want to achieve in the end and them shamelessly follow that path. You are uniquely you and there are opportunities out there that are looking specifically for individuals like you, you just have to be brave.

5. What is it that you are most looking forward to as you kick start this next chapter? How did SDSU prepare you for success not only at the university but after graduation?

I am most looking forward to finally pursuing everything that I put on hold. While I appreciate school, I’m much more outgoing when I can get my hands dirty and actively do what I do best, design. In addition to beginning this new assistant professor position, more long-term goals include pursuing a Fulbright as a professor, continuing to design, and earning my Ph.D. The SDSU Theatre Design Department prepared me for this position and those that will follow because it provided me with the opportunity to stand up for myself and my work. I was challenged with advocating for myself in the Scenic Design area and the day-to-day proving that I deserve to be there and that my work was exceptional. This daily practice left me with an inner strength that proved well when it came to applying to positions that wanted designers who could take the lead and help progress their departments and support their students in doing the same things.

6. What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?

It was a great experience challenging and pushing myself and my designs as far as they could go during my time here. Although there was push back and doubt, I grew more and more confident over my 3 years, supporting myself during the shows I got to design. While I came in with a fair amount of design work already, this ‘practice’ designing shows, gave me new insight as to how to navigate this world and a better ability to discern. I am thankful that I got the chance to experience yet another opportunity to overcome adversity and prove that my superpower is being a BIPOC woman designer, not a hindrance. This period in my life challenged me to really own who I am as an artist and person and I am committed to helping those that are ruthlessly motivated to be designers.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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