Alumni Spotlight | Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko (Theatre ’10)

Nick Hadikwa MwalukoWas there a specific faculty member or peer who especially inspired you while at the School of the Arts? If so, who and how?
The late, great Prof. Austin Flint was an amazing as in AHHH-mazing instructor to have, particularly during my most impressionable and seminal years as a student. His generosity only enhanced his honesty. That's probably why most students who attended his class continue to write today, no matter the amount of visibility, attention, reward given to our work by outsiders. He was the kind of teacher who spoke directly to your creative juices, always honoring your voice, your story, the uniqueness of your perspective without distilling the illusion that your work, though brilliant, might be dismissed by those crowned as authorities and judges of the Arts. Brave, generous, compassionate, brilliant, artistic warrior are a few of the adjectives that come to mind when I think of Prof. Flint.  
How did attending the School of the Arts impact your work and career as an artist?
It's a division of an excellent school dedicated exclusively to the discipline you hope, want, yearn to pursue in the future. So, each discipline, though independent, speaks to the others so it is beneficial for a student of, say, drama, to engage in film studies or write short stories. That the divisions are housed within proximity and faculty encourages you to expand your vocabulary and gaze is one of its many benefits.
What were the most pressing social/political issues on the minds of the students when you were here?
Racism. Sexism. Poverty. Diversity. A form of neocolonialism where white, males had the authority, space, finances and privilege to tell stories "on behalf of" people of color who were silenced as a result of lack of opportunities, resources, privilege, finances and everything. Frankly, the entire program is geared towards the white male student who lacks the structural devices but has all the financial support in the world, all the opportunities, all the resources in the world to do whatever they want. Meanwhile, most artists of color know getting an agent to represent them and all other career paths are faced with huge obstacles and challenges everyday. I myself face this.   
If you could revisit any piece you created during your time at the School of the Arts, which would it be? Why?
I wrote my play Waafrika. I think this is a strong piece.
What was your favorite or most memorable class while at the School of the Arts?

Prof. Austin Flint's playwriting classes.
About Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko
Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko's plays Waafrika, Waafrika 123 and several others are available in paperback. These are queer African plays set in Africa.
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.