Fresno State students heading to national acting competition in Washington D.C

Jimmy Haynie (right) and Aruim Andrews (left) celebrate their win at the The Kennedy Center American College Festival region eight action competition. Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, Feb. 15 2020 Photo by: Jimmy Haynie

Eight years ago, Jimmy Haynie embarked on his acting journey in elementary school. Little did he know that it would manifest into his now successful acting career.

He has been working side by side with a colleague and close friend — Aruim Andrews.

 “We met a while ago when I was in high school, we started working together at Fresno State,” said Haynie.

“Every play I have been in, she has been in. She is older than me and she didn’t go to the same high school as me, but she knew me in high school. We have grown really close.”

On Feb. 15 2020, Haynie chose Andrews as his partner to compete with him in the Kennedy Center American College Festival (KCACTF) region eight acting competition. 

Haynie has attended KCACTF twice in the past as an acting partner. In 2019, with Haynie  being the actor and Andrew being the partner, they advanced to the finals and earned second place. 

This year, Haynie was now attending as the actor and Andrew as his partner. 

Each of the 342 nominees in the competition had to perform a monologue and two scenes with their partner. 

Sixteen finalists then performed for a huge crowd at the regional festival, which was hosted by California State University, Fullerton. 

Haynie and Andrew won the entire competition this year and were chosen to represent the five-state region and advance to the national competition at the John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., April 6-10.

The monologue they chose was from “Titus Andronicus” by William Shakespeare.

“The scene was very dark, very captivating but also super scary, gross and deep,” said Haynie.

 “I chose that scene because of its dynamic and because it is classical. And I love classical material,” said Haynie. It was also a huge contrast to all my other pieces.

“It definitely took me out of my comfort zone because I am not a mass murderer.”

Haynie said that he and Aruim chose that particular performance for the competition was because it spoke to them, it was difficult for them and made them better actors. 

“It was very personal, it just shows our range and our ability,” said Haynie.

Haynie said that he started to prepare for the performance over winter break, but he didn’t start getting on his feet for the competition until Jan.

“I was nervous, and it was nerve wracking because there are so many talented people. A lot of schools come and compete, and they take classes on this competition,” said Haynie.

Haynie, 21, was born and raised in Fresno. After expressing his love for singing, his 8th grade teacher from Washington Academic School in Sanger suggested that he audition for a play.

Since Haynie got the part for that first play, he continued to act throughout his four years at Sanger High School and now at Fresno State.

Haynie is now in his third year at Fresno State, he has been involved in production of Fresno State’s acting program for all three years of his college career with his main focus in acting and musical theater. 

Haynie was also a member of the Fresno State Chamber Choir. 

Haynie said that the favorite play he has acted in so far was “Fat Pig” by Brad Myers, which came out at the end of fall 2019 semester. 

The play focused on fatphobia, highlighting the pressures one feels to abide by societal norms that emphasize skinny as the proper way to inhabit the world. 

“I played Tom, which was a transformative character and an informative play,” said Haynie. 

The irony in Haynie’s favorite play being “Fat Pig” was that he and his partner decided to take a scene from the play to showcase as one of the two scenes for the competition.

He shared that he has nerves coming up about competing in Washington, D.C., not because of the play, but because he will be flying on a plane for the first time.

“I am really excited because I love doing new things. I am confident about our material, but I am very nervous about the flight,” said Haynie.

“I am also nervous about watching all of those other people compete because there are eight regions that compete and there is only one winner in each region. I am competing with all these talented people.”

Haynie said that he has not always had things he always wanted or mostly even needed. 

“I was raised around a lot of boys, and I couldn’t really be myself how I wanted to be myself,” said Haynie.” I was basically around older brothers and my family, and I didn’t really know that they were shaping who I was.”

In my adult life, I now get doubts about who I am, because when you do pieces, you always want to bring a part of you to the character to make it more real and personal and sometimes I doubt who I am or if I am good enough to play a role,” said Haynie. 

“It is really difficult for me to expect that I am worthy of things sometimes from my own insecurities in my head and from society.” 

Haynie shared that his biggest inspiration is his mother. 

“She has always reminded me to stay positive through everything. I have been through a lot in my life and I still continue to go through a lot. But I don’t let it affect what I love to do,” said Haynie.

 “I just use that to influence me to remain a good person and look for a brighter future. I guess it kind of also triggers me to go out and do more with myself and my career because I always second guess what I want to do.”

In his professional life, Haynie says that his biggest acting inspiration is Myers who is a professor in Fresno State’s theatre department. 

 “He always pushes me out of my comfort zone, even if he is good or I am good, he always challenges me to be better,” he said.

“He is beneficial for me and my acting career to know that I don’t ever need to settle for what I am, I can always do better and push to do better things and have room to grow. He is my acting coach through Fresno State and in life.”

Haynie says acting has allowed him to now be very sure of himself and what he wants.

“I am very confident, I don’t let anyone walk over me. I know what I represent, and I know what I bring to the table, and I do not let anyone overrule me or treat me with disrespect because I give a lot of respect and always come to work and eager to grow.”

“I know my worth and if I’m not being treated so, I’ll walk away because it is about having fun and growing and I don’t ever wanna feel like I am doubting what I love to do because of someone else,” said Haynie.

Haynie plans to continue graduate school after Fresno State and hopes to get accepted to New York University. He wants to work with any professional companies offering good opportunities for what he wants to do. 

“I want to be in film and I also want to be in live musical theater,” said Haynie.” I just want to act for the rest of my life.”

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