Congratulations to our Class of 2024!

Graduating students wearing grad caps and walking away from the camera

Photo by UBC Brand & Marketing

UBC Theatre and Film is proud to recognize our Class of 2024 graduates. They have grown into remarkable artists, practitioners and scholars, and into even more inspiring members of our greater Theatre and Film community. We are thrilled to celebrate their achievements today, and we cannot wait to see what they do next!

Message from Dr. Anthony Alan Shelton, Interim Head of the Department of Theatre and Film

To the resilient, committed, and remarkable graduates of the Department of Theatre and Film on your special day:

Graduation marks a significant transition, as many of us depart from the structured environment of university to embark on the journey of using our skills, wit, and persistence to forge fulfilling lives. I hope the friendships and connections you have made with your fellow students and instructors will endure and that you will continue to reach out to them, and us, for guidance and support. Remember, you will always be part of our community, which extends far beyond the confines of this campus.

I hope your time in our department has been fruitful, challenging and transformative, shaping your personal trajectories and helping you find value in friendship, fairness, and generosity in your dealings with others and in the profession you have chosen. You are entering a complex, but immeasurably richer world than any previous. As you step into a world that is increasingly embracing principles of social justice, diversity, and gender equity, I urge you to steadfastly uphold the ideals you hold dear. Embrace the complexities along with the amazing richness and the beauty of everything that surrounds you. Travel widely and listen to the stories, struggles and achievements of others. As storytellers yourselves, seek inspiration from the tales and realities of others, engage in dialogue, dream boldly and embark on projects that will take you far and wide. Your work will keep humanity’s stories alive while also inventing new techniques and developing deeper understandings and commitments to the world that is in the process of becoming.

Your time at UBC has likely been a mix of successes, elations, revelations, and love as well as frustrations, disappointments and sadness. This is life, but each of you has emerged sensitive, strong, rich in knowledge, and determined.

Go out into the world and be great.

In admiration and hope,

Dr. Anthony Alan Shelton


Sophia Saugstad (She/Her)

Sophia is a performer, director, and theatre creator. She is graduating with an Honours Degree in Theatre Studies from UBC, and is a graduate of the acting program at Studio 58. Directing credits include: 30 Neo-Futurist Plays (Bramble Theatre Collective), Unraveling (OR Festival/Fabulist Theatre), and Venus and Moon (Ignite Festival, Vines Festival). She has assistant directed for Carousel Theatre, Exact Resemblance, and UBC. Her dance-theatre piece Gravity in Your Eyes is premiering at the Dancing on the Edge festival this June, and her solo show Long Live Lexi Bezos is playing at the Edmonton Fringe this summer after a sold out run in Vancouver. 

Taylor Carlson (She/Her)

Taylor Carlson (she/her) is beyond proud to be graduating from UBC with a B.A. in Theatre Studies and a Minor in Creative Writing. She is excited to continue pursuing her craft as an actor and a writer after graduation. She is currently working on producing a YouTube channel: Taylor Talks Television, where she will discuss various topics surrounding performance studies, media studies, and more. As always, disability studies will be a major focus of her work. She would like to thank Michelle Quigg and Elisabeth Griffin for all their help, Kirsty Johnston and Olivia Michiko Gagnon for being incredible role models, and her partner Grace for being her rock.

Ana Laura Vazquez Paniago (She/They)

Ana Laura is ecstatic to graduate from UBC with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies and Psychology. In her time at UBC, she has been merging her interests in psychological research, performance studies within academia, and artistic work to represent her dreams and goals for the future of the world we have inherited. Furthermore, she was awarded the Angelica Camata Memorial Scholarship for academic excellence. Currently, Ana Laura is exploring the intersection of ethnicity, gender, and labour through fibre artwork, such as crochet. Of course, none of this would be possible without the help and guidance of their incredible professors over the last four years! 

Keerti Gupta (She/Her)

Keerti Gupta, a B.A. graduate in Film Studies with a minor in Creative Writing from UBC, hails from Mumbai, often dubbed "the LA of India" for its vibrant film and entertainment culture. As an International Major Entrance Scholarship recipient, she immersed herself in cinema and storytelling at UBC while honing her craft as an actor and filmmaker. Keerti contributed to the UBC Comics Studies, CMS Narratives Group, and Pop Culture Clusters as a Project Assistant, integrating digital media with academic research. Serving as Vice President of IndieVision, a student film production group, she spearheaded several key projects, including a K-drama-inspired music video. 

Chengfeng(Dean) Qiu (He/Him)

Raised and born in China, I pursued my academic journey in Cinema Studies and Philosophy as a double major with preferences in art cinema, post-humanism, continental philosophy, and Eastern philosophy. Having dedicated most of my time to readings like critical theories of gender, sexuality, and race and ethnicity for the past five years, I'm now transitioning to spiritual practices of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Carrying a positive-nihilist mindset, I aim to embrace the world as it is, spreading compassion and care for all beings in the universe. Beyond the realms of knowledge and wisdom, I find joy in nature, vinyl records, craft beer, and contemporary dance. 

Meghan Trahar (She/Her)

Meghan Trahar, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and a minor in Creative Writing from UBC, is an aspiring screenwriter. Originally from a small Welsh valley, she immigrated to Canada at age eight. Meghan uses feminist film theory and criticism to craft compelling, female-driven narratives that explore human complexity and domesticity. Notable achievements include selection for UBC's 2022 Stage and Screen Writes and publishing in The Ubyssey. As Meghan enters the professional world, she is eager to leave a lasting impact on cinema, supported by the invaluable guidance from her professors and teaching assistants. 

Madison Stiver (She/Her)

Madison is a Vancouverite who recently graduated from Film Studies with an Informatics Minor. She has a particular interest in cult cinema and music supervision. Madison spent her last university year with Blank Vinyl Project on the media team and creative committee. Her favourite part of university was putting on Goosehunt with an amazing team of people and seeing the joy it brought to people's faces. In her spare time, she likes to play various instruments and teach herself new computer programs. Madison is excited to move on to this new phase of life and eager to discover what the future holds. 

Bessie Pannu (She/Her)

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Bessie Pannu has always been interested in the world of cinema. Graduating with a major in Film Studies and a minor in Creative Writing, she combines her passion for reading along with a love for movies. Her time at UBC has allowed her to pursue a diverse range of interests that align with her hobbies, including video games, photography, and writing. In her work, she strives to center underrepresented voices, inspired by the community around her. She looks forward to entering the next stage of her life, and will always look back fondly at her experience at UBC.

Adriana McKinnon (She/Her)

Adriana McKinnon is graduating from UBC with a BFA degree double majoring in Acting and Film Studies. Her UBC credits include plays Coriolanus (Virgilia), The Parliament of the Birds (Sparrow), The Wolves (#46), The Festivities (Merchutkina), feature film Barstool (Brielle), and UBC Film Society's short film Barbarism Begins At Home (Laura). Adriana has been a published author since 2015 and loves to tell stories in a variety of mediums. Prior to UBC, Adriana trained with Deas Island Dance and TUTS Musical Theatre Camp. She performed in dance competitions across the lower mainland and won awards, including performing in the final gala for Peak Invitational Dance Competition Burnaby in 2018. 

Belle Nightingale (She/Her)

Belle Nightingale is a graduating actor from Kent, England. She has adored living in Vancouver during her studies, and hopes to work within the Canadian film industry while she continues to plant her roots here. Previous theatrical works include Pat in TomorrowLove (Ming Hudson), Rosa in Concord Floral (Arthi Chandra), Miss White in The Unusual Suspects (Susan Bertoia), and Diana in Pericles (Michael Corbidge). Film credits include Naked Cinema X (Tom Scholte & Dylan Calhoun) and Stuck in The Kitchen (Big Wednesday). 

Nico Pante (He/They)

Nico Pante is an artist from so-called “Vancouver” and a founding member of Bleed Through Theatre. He loves creating and telling enrapturing stories. Interested in the absurd and experimental his work takes form as postdramatic, clown, and devised performance. Anti-oppressive practices ground his work. Performance is exciting and essential as it has immense connective and transformative possibilities. Theatre and storytelling have been vital in Nico's life and he can't wait to share back the gifts he has received. He brings curiosity and eagerness to every process, questioning binaries and inviting playful imagination to the space! 

Julia Eckert (She/Her)

Julia Eckert is recent graduate of the BFA Acting program from Burnaby, BC. Her UBC credits include: Traces (Peyton), Saint Joan of the Stockyards (Mulberry), TomorrowLove (Charlie), Concord Floral (Bobbie James), The Birds (Yellow Warbler/Poet), and The (Un)usual Suspects (Mrs. Peacock). Julia is honoured to be this year's recipient of the Jessie Richardson Scholarship in Theatre Studies. As Julia leaves UBC and ventures our into the world of Theatre and Film, she is excited to re-enter the world of musical theatre, where her love of acting and storytelling first emerged. See her this October as Cherry Sundae in CTORA Productions' Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Yi Ming Liu (She/Her)

Yi Ming Liu is a passionate multidisciplinary artist with focus on devising, performing and sculpting. She previously trained at Rogue Studio’s Film Acting Intensive (2018-2020). Her recent devised work include, The Yoko Ono Cult at What Lab’s ExP and Naked Cinema X. She also appeared in UBC’s production The Wolves (Leora Morris) and UBC’s Commedia dell’arte show The (Un)usual Suspects (Susan Bertoia). Her upcoming projects include Vascular Necrosis (Jordyn Woods) and YOC at the Revolver festival. 

Victoria McNeil (She/Her)

Victoria McNeil is a recent graduate of UBC's Theatre Design and Production program. With a specialization in sound, Victoria has sound designed numerous UBC productions including Oil, The Wolves, and Saint Joan of the Stockyards. She is excited to enter the theatre / live performance world and is looking forward to creating theatre and gaining more experience in sound design. She most recently sound designed a show with Kindred Theatre The Lifespan of a Fact, and will be assistant sound designing Twelfth Night at Bard on the Beach this June. 

Taylor Wen (She/Her)

Taylor is a recent graduate from the UBC Theatre Production and Design program focusing on lighting and scenic design. Originally from Shanghai, her study in UBC introduced her to the world of theatre, and she is grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow as a designer here. She would like to thank all the faculty and staff for their support throughout her journey. Her UBC theatre and film credits include Tomorrow Love (UBC Theatre, Set Designer), For The Love Of Citrus (UBC Theatre, Lighting Designer), Monty Python’s Spamalot (UBC MTT, Lighting Designer), The Pillowman (UBC Face Drama, Director).

Midori O’Connor (She/Her)

Midori O’Connor, recent recipient of the Michael McQueen scholarship for her aptitude and dedication for technical theatre, is graduating with a BFA in Theatre: Design and Production. Midori specializes and is passionate about her work in stage management and costume design and is excited for her next chapter as she pursues a career in theatre. Some of her more recent credits include: Stage Manager for King Musu (UBC), Production Designer for Through the Looking Glass (Place Des Arts), Stage Manager for The How and the Why (Aenigma Theatre), Assistant Costume Designer for The Birds (UBC), Stage Manager for Parliament of the Birds (UBC), and Assistant Stage Manager for Something Rotten (TUTS). 

Nyssa Estrella (She/Her)

Nyssa Estrella never thought she would get to this point, but after four years, it’s curtains on her time at UBC. This former high school theatre/art kid, after various classes and practicum hours, has a newfound interest in costume design after her work for UBC THFL’s 2024 production of Rosamund Small’s Tomorrow Love. This interest combines her enjoyment of the theatrical arts and love of coming up with characters from her previous aspiration to enter the world of TV animation. She hopes to take that passion and put it to work onstage then later on screen. Nyssa is thankful for her high school teachers and fellow peers; her teachers and peers at UBC; her coworkers; and lastly, her family.

Muleba Chailunga (She/Her)

Muleba Chailunga really came into her own as a theatre artist during her time at the University of British Columbia. After years of hard work, triumphs, many trials, and many errors, she is pleased to be graduating with a BFA in Theatre Design and Production. Muleba is beyond grateful for the extent to which this program and it's many skilled instructors have enabled her jack-of-all-tradesism. She is emerging from this experience more passionate than ever about writing, directing, and costume design. Highlights from her time at UBC include interning in the Arts Club costume shop after receiving the Bill Millerd Award and working on her original musical, The Conception of Summer. 

Stephanie Shih (She/Her)

"Yay, I made it!"

Kit Baronas (He/Him)

Christopher “Kit” Baronas is a writer/director born and raised on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Otherwise known as "Vancouver." Kit is interested in stories centered around dramatical concepts with elements of unease. Often creating from his own life experiences. His films have played in festivals around the world such as Montréal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma and Seattle’s National Film Festival for Talented Youth. He is currently set to release his next project The Lame Shall Sing, a dark comedy based on his experiences growing up in a Catholic community.

Alexandra Sirola (She/Her)

I am Finnish and Canadian, born and raised in Finland. I moved to Vancouver to attend UBC and pursue my passion for visual storytelling through film. During my program, I primarily took on the role of Producer for our thesis films, revealing my natural ability to resourcefully and successfully bring a writer’s script to life, often exceeding their original vision. This year, my documentary short SISU won a $500 stipend for best film in the FIPR469A course. My 4 years in Vancouver also led me to discover another passion: bouldering. I've since merged this interest with my filmmaking skills, creating unique videos about the sport. I plan to continue developing creative content on my YouTube. 

Mac Pettit (He/Him)

Mac is a Vancouver-born writer and director. When he's not manically scrawling his next script onto a tattered legal pad, he can be found doing improv or building a spaceship set in his bedroom, for a film he insists will be completed in the coming year(s). Mac would like to take the remaining space in his bio to shamelessly promote his endeavours in Wedding Videography, information for which can be found @macpettitfilm on Instagram. "If you or anyone you know is looking for a Wedding Videographer, Mac is the person to call, 5 Stars" - the third-person author of this bio who shall remain unnamed.

Ben Mouland (He/Him)

Ben is a Vancouver based filmmaker from Montreal, Quebec. Graduating from Film Production, he was given the opportunity to create two program supported short films: Ultra Violent Light (2023) and Pulse (2024). He also directed a feature length film that was shot, edited, and completely funded on his own called Goldfish (2024). While he has a passion for directing, he spends most of his time in post production, winning awards for both sound design and editing. He also specializes in analogue equipment such as CRT's, Video-Tape Camcorders, and Vintage Video Mixer's to create dynamic visuals for musical artists around the city as well as experimental images for short form content. 


Maanvi Chowdhary (She/Her)

Maanvi, a documentary filmmaker, delves into the intricate tapestry of human connection and community dynamics through her craft. Her directorial debut, About Mumma, offers a poignant glimpse into the life of Shalini Chowdhary, a paraplegic mother and architect. Premiering at the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, it earned accolades for its intimate portrayal of familial bonds and exploration of human relationships. The film earned her a Best Documentary nomination at the prestigious Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Her latest short documentary Munna and Maanu explores the close relationship between her and Munna, a domestic worker employed at her family home for over two decades. 

Ajay Kumar (He/Him)

Ajay Kumar is a filmmaker and creative executive with 5 years of experience in scripted content production, capped off with his most recent job as a Creative Director at Dice Media - Pocket Aces - India's leading digital content company. During this time, he collaborated in conceptualising and developing 2 highly successful properties. Ajay was born in South Africa and has lived in 8 different countries thanks to his father’s diplomatic postings. This shaped his creative exploration during his Master of Fine Arts at UBC as he analysed what made any film truly global. Through his thesis he addressed neurodiversity and ethical representation while exploring the form of psychological dramas. 

Rame Ibrahim (He/Him)

Rame Ibrahim is a Palestinian Canadian film director born in Syria. His film work explores his very rich background, having lived in many places around the world. He engages in topics like refuge, politics, freedom of speech, the Palestinian diaspora, etc. 
He studied his B.A. in Istanbul, Bahçeşehir University, where he produced, wrote, and directed his first narrative short film, Eid, about his grandmother. His latest work, Ahmed, which talks about the expectations refugees have from governing bodies, got selected in the New York Shorts Film Festival. He is currently working on his third short film, Prisoner, about intergenerational trauma as part of his thesis for his M.F.A. degree in Film Production & Creative Writing.

Claire Fogal (She/Her)

Claire has been supported by SSHRC and UBC's Public Scholars Initiative throughout her doctoral research. Her dissertation celebrates the innovative theatre pedagogy of her 4 primary physical theatre teachers: Linda Putnam, Kathleen Weiss, David MacMurray Smith, and her father Dean Fogal. Two documentary films form part of the project. These teachers have expanded the theatre training lineages of both Jerry Grotowski and Etienne Decroux. Claire has published in both French and English, in Revue Percées and Theatre, Dance, Performance Training, and contributed to a braided chapter crafted by Virginie Magnat within Research and Reconciliation, edited by Shawn Wilson et al. 

While our congratulatory message extends to all of our 2024 graduates, this post only includes the profiles of students who have opted-in to be featured.