Brandon Zamudio’s academic journey at Princeton began with politics, which is his major, and because of opportunities offered along the way, has included a couple of other destinations: French language and culture, and theater. He is pursuing certificates in both.
“If you asked anyone in high school what I would major in, they would have said politics,” he says. “After I came here, my interests shifted around. I thought I would go to law school and specialize in corporate or constitutional law, but I took French. Then I thought I would do a career in diplomacy, and I got more involved with theater.”
As the son of a Colombian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Zamudio learned Spanish at home. French is a language he picked up at Princeton through course work and international travel. He spent part of his summer after freshman year studying the language in Aix-en-Provence. The program
was sponsored by the Department of French and Italian. The following summer, he dedicated five weeks to an internship at the Château de Compiègne, a museum near Paris. The museum features art from the second French empire in the mid-1800s. His official responsibilities were to research artifacts that would be used in an exhibit the following year, but those responsibilities took him in another direction.
“One day I was taking a tour of the archives, and I found a collection of prints of newspaper illustrations of the American Civil War,” he says. “They were published in French newspapers in the 1860s, which I found really fascinating. So I initiated another project, and I analyzed them, described them and indexed them with a codified system that I created. That went up to the national database for French museums.”
His interest in theater was catalyzed by trips to Broadway offered through his residential college. The visits energized him, and at first he decided to break into Princeton theater as an actor. He performed in a couple of plays with the Princeton Shakespeare Company, but found that production was more to his liking. He connected with Theatre Intime and worked backstage, and later worked on lighting design for the Princeton University Players. By the end of his junior year, he had worked as an assistant lighting designer for three shows and as a full lighting designer for two shows. He also worked as the webmaster and business manager for Princeton University Players, and as a rising senior he was a summer intern in the general management department of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which stages 30 productions every July.
In his junior year, he produced and directed “8,” a play about California’s Proposition 8, for which he won the “Outstanding Work by a Junior” award from Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts
. The play, which was staged in New York City and Los Angeles, makes the case for marriage equality. At Princeton, it was performed as part of a benefit event in the Frist Film/Performance Theatre and was followed by a panel discussion with Deborah T. Poritz, the former chief justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and Daniel Pinello, author of “America’s Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage.”
Zamudio says the academic journey still very much includes politics. He has enthusiastically embraced courses in comparative politics
, international relations
, constitutional law, racial politics and communications regulation. He says his current plan is to reconcile his interests in politics, law, language and the creative arts by possibly working in arts or entertainment law. “If it happens, that would be great,” he says.