Politics Major Empowers Youth, Shares Story Through Theater
Date published: March 13, 2018
Although she herself is not able to vote, Liz Magallanes, BA ’18, works to make voting
possible for other people.
Liz Magallanes arrived in the U.S. with her family at age 7 and, after graduating
from Woodrow Wilson High School in Old East Dallas, started at UD in 2012 as a drama
major. In 2014, through her work in Dallas nonprofits, she heard about the organization
Mi Familia Vota and their efforts to register voters, specifically in the Latino community
and especially millennials. She jumped at the opportunity to join them in this work
and has been contributing to their endeavors ever since.
“I’ll stay there as long as I can,” she said. “It’s very fruitful, and there’s a great
need, especially now.”
Through Mi Familia Vota, Magallanes also works with high school students in her native
Dallas ISD, specifically at Moisés E. Molina in Oak Cliff and Thomas Jefferson in
North West Dallas, in a program called Emerging Latino Leaders, which began in Houston
ISD and had its first cohort in Fort Worth a few years ago before coming to Dallas.
“It’s very impactful working with youth,” said Magallanes. “The work we do is very
issue-based. We target upperclassmen and help them develop projects in the community,
voter registration drives, DACA workshops, and so on.”
Magallanes also coordinates citizenship workshops in conjunction with Catholic Charities
and area churches.
Her increased civic engagement led her to switch her major from drama to politics,
but theater is still an integral part of Magallanes’ life. Recently, she had a role
in a play called Deferred Action, for which she traveled to L.A. for Encuentro de las Americas 2017 for a month in
“It was a unique opportunity that brought together both worlds,” said Magallanes.
“I basically had been doing character research in the years prior.”
Her involvement with the play began in 2013, when she met the artistic director for
Cara Mía Theatre Company, and she and other DREAMers began sharing their stories with
him. In 2015, the production premiered at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in downtown
Dallas; at the time, she was involved in the talkbacks.
“It was very moving to hear feedback from the audiences,” she said. “Then, taking
it on the road, we got to hear not just the Dallas perspective but about what people
think from Canada to Columbia, and in other countries. It’s the universal core, the
conflicts that you see, and having to make decisions with lasting consequences.”
She has one full semester left until she graduates from UD, but she’s spreading her
classes out so will probably graduate at the end of 2018, after which she plans to
move to L.A. Currently, she is continuing her work with Cara Mía.
“This is a way for me to use both worlds, to bring it all together and use film, TV
and art in general as a platform for sharing stories the world otherwise wouldn’t
see,” she said.
In the photos: From Deferred Action. Top: (L-R) Lisa Suarez, Benjamin Lutz, David Zaldivar, Sonny Franks, Rodney Garza, Liz Magallanes,
Ivan Jasso, Frida Espinosa Muller.
Photo credit: Linda Blase. Photos copyright 2017 by Linda Blase.