We are so proud to feature alumna, Laquette Milner who graduated from CSUB in 2004 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and an A.A. in both Communications and Mathematics.
Current Career: Director of LQ's Performing Arts Center, Dance Instructor, Playwright, and an EBI Educator (in both Academics & Life Skills) for the men and women incarcerated in the Los Angeles County Jails.
After graduating from Rialto High School, Milner went to New York City and graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. From there, Milner has appeared in a national tour, on Broadway, and various shows/plays. Milner later graduated from California State University of Bakersfield with a B.A. of Theatre Arts and then opened up LQ’s Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit organization group, in Bakersfield, dedicated to enriching and empowering the lives of the community through the Performing Arts. Ms. LaQuette Milner will soon be ready to again hit the entertainment industry by storm with her hit show “Da’ Hip-Hop Wizzard of Oz.”
How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today? Was there a pivotal moment?
At an early age, I came to realize that I had a gift in the form of teaching others. Whether it was instructing a dance class at the local recreational center, at the age of 10, or conducting a math tutoring session during my high school's Geometry Class; I understood that I was able to connect to another person's learning capabilities. From that point on, I knew that I was put here on this Earth to bring about the 'hidden talents/gifts/true potential' of those I come across.
What do you attribute your success to?
The elements of my successes are marked by my continuous efforts to persevere and never give up. The road may not be easy and/or clear; but, the rocky paths are needed so that one could enjoy and appreciate the smooth rides ahead.
How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?
By encouraging others, including myself, to think 'outside the box,' I can cultivate new ideas that are not only creative, but innovative; and, as a result, those concepts will stimulate the target audience(s) to respond accordingly.
What are the most important decisions that you face daily as a leader in your organization?
As a leader, the most important daily decision made for my organization is understanding that I may have to uphold others with a greater priority than my own-self. These decisions are never done with any type of negative feelings. I understand, know, and am grateful for the opportunity to utilize my life in helping others; and, that's through the means of education, entertainment, encouragement, and enrichment.
What have you accomplished or overcame in the past that you thought was impossible at the time?
Back in 2010, when I first brought my original play, "Da' Hip-Hop Wizzard of Oz" to the Los Angeles area, I didn't think it would actually happen or even have an attendance greater than my friends/family members. I mean, there I was, new to the LA scene, with a lack of connections, money, and confidence. But, the turnout ended up being AWESOME! From that point on, I understood the power that's held in determination and faith.
What hardships did you face, and how did you overcome them?
Every person who has succeeded in life, can bear witness to being tested by the many hardships/struggles that have came their way. I am no exception to this rule. I've learnt that it's not the struggles that determine a person's character, but, how they deal with those struggles that creates the true essence of oneself. In 2009, this very outlook on life was put to the test, when I had to let go of my 3600 sq ft building due to the crash of the economy. I thought LQ's Performing Arts Center was done for... I thought if there's no building, then there can't be any dance classes for the public. At that moment, I had allowed myself to entertain the thought of believing that I was a failure. Once that thought was diminished, I picked myself back up, figured out how to utilize another building for dance classes, and re-focused on writing my play. That hardship needed to happen so that I could capitalize on reaching passed the limitations I had set for myself.
Who is a person that you considered as a role model early in your life?
Early in my life, and still to this day, I would consider my mother as my role model. My mother is a great, excellent, exuberant individual! She sacrificed so much, by taking on more than one job at a time and going to school. She continues to set the bar; I just hope that one day I could reach it!
Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
In all honesty, I'm proud of every single accomplishment that I've achieved; the significant ones and the insignificant ones. All have created the person that I am today. And, if I can't be grateful for the small steps, then I definitely wouldn't be able to appreciate the leaps; for, the small steps are necessary to build the momentum for the leaps that are in front of me.
Where do you expect to be in five years both personally and professionally?
In five years, I plan on having one of my plays on Broadway. I would also like to explore the idea of having a family and getting married to an individual who would greatly support me in my career endeavors. I would definitely be somewhere inspiring others to reach for their own successes. I'm excited for the future; in my eyes, it looks pretty amazing to me!
One of my Current Projects (in the making): "InARTSeration" is a dance program that will dedicate itself to using the creative art form of dance as a tool for social and cognitive transformation behind prison walls for the incarcerated women of the Los Angeles County Jails. InARTSeration's targeted audience is any woman who is currently incarcerated in CRDF (Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, CA). These women are someone's daughter, mother, grandmother, wife, sister, niece, and/or friend; they all should have the opportunity to input something positive into their lives on a daily basis so that they could create a better future for themselves, as well as their family. Through InARTSeration, a person can connect to themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally; which can start the process of healing, accountability, stability, and preparedness for re-entry into society.