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Netflix star Mike Colter holds Q&A session at Rutgers

<p>Mike Colter, the star of Marvel’s “Luke Cage,” spoke at the Douglass Student Center on Wednesday night to talk about his career and the driving forces behind it. Colter is an alumnus of the Mason Gross School of the Arts.</p>

Mike Colter, the star of Marvel’s “Luke Cage,” spoke at the Douglass Student Center on Wednesday night to talk about his career and the driving forces behind it. Colter is an alumnus of the Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts alumnus and current star of the Netflix original series “Luke Cage,” Mike Colter, held a Q&A session for students this past Wednesday night at the Douglass Student Center to discuss his experiences in acting and decision to develop a modern interpretation of the character.

Referred to by staff as an “inside the actor’s studio” event, Colter participated in an open interview where attendants were free to ask questions in addition to a moderated interview hosted by Maggie Flanigan, one of his professors and master teacher at the Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Anthony Mollica, the director of Arts and Culture for the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), said that toward the end of fall semester, all of the committees involved, including RUPA, come together to determine event ideas for the following semester.

The collective typically partners with Geek Week, a department under the Division of Student Affairs, to present a lecture each semester. However, when the decision was made to have Colter attend, he was unavailable as a result of filming for “Luke Cage," Mollica said.

He was then rescheduled to present the following month, he said. The committee reached out to Colter because he was a successful Rutgers graduate with a backstory that students could really benefit from hearing.

After word spread that Colter would host the event this semester, students flooded the event's Facebook page, Mollica said. Students were very excited with the decision, sharing the event with their friends and posting questions they wanted Colter to answer on the site.

“It was very cool to see. I think it’s great to see that personal connection to people that were once in all of our shoes here at Rutgers and are now making it big. I think it was also very special for the Mason Gross audience who RUPA tries to hit through lectures and other live events,” he said.

In selecting guests for these lecture events, RUPA evaluates a number of different components such as the marketability of a guest to make sure that people will be interested in the event, Mollica said.

They also analyze a prospective guest's relevance to current social issues, he said. 

Currently, the committee is starting their proposal process for the fall and advises students keep an eye out for what is to come in the following semester, Mollica said.

Tia McDonald, a Mason Gross School of the Arts sophomore, said that having Colter attend the event was very inspiring. Being in the same program he graduated from, it was encouraging for her to continue her educational pursuits.

“It was exciting seeing a man of color pursuing the same thing I am and actually making it in the business while actually shedding some light on what his journey was like there while getting there,” she said.

While organizing these events, diversity is always important, McDonald said. This way Colter is able to not only reach the actors here but is also able to speak to those who are fans of his work and want to know more about him.

“I felt really empowered, I felt like a lot of things were put into perspective for me as far as range and what I should be doing now to achieve longevity in my career as an actress once I graduate," she said.

One of the main messages conveyed throughout the lecture is simply to work hard, McDonald said. Being patient and not expecting things to come as quickly as you would like was often mentioned throughout the talk.

Staying focused on personal achievement and not worrying about what everyone else is accomplishing is vital to finding success in your respective field, McDonald said. She advises that students hone in on what they want to achieve in life and go for it. 

"Not everything is easy and not everyone has the same timeline," she said.

Christian Zapata is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. 

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