Luera combines creative skills
for career that serves community
“Someone told me long ago, it’s not about where you start, but where you finish,” says Texas State mass communications junior Gabriel Luera.
Since graduating from high school, the San Antonio native hasn’t missed a step in his life’s journey. When asked about his ambitions, he matter-of-factly replies, “Career goals? I have kinda already started on that,” and lists his current occupations: father, husband, promoter, musician and — thanks to his studies at Texas State — playwright.
While raising his two children, he’s put out seven hip-hop albums, completed his associate’s degree at San Antonio College, founded a marketing firm, and started a career as a serious emerging playwright. Incredibly, his numerous achievements have not distracted him as he presses forward to complete his bachelor’s degree at Texas State.
“I’m determined to see that through,” he says.
Luera has turned that determination into a force for change. Through his involvement with his community, he noticed how little manpower nonprofits could afford for marketing their services and reaching out to the community. So he and other students, including his wife, Vanessa Mendez-Luera, founded a nonprofit marketing firm, CommunicateSA, to work exclusively with local nonprofits.
“The reason we started it is because nonprofits all over struggle to get their message out to the public,” Luera says. “That’s where CommunicateSA comes in. We want to be the communications resource to help spread the word about their events, fundraisers and presentations.”
Additionally, CommunicateSA is a valuable resource for San Antonio students. By employing local students and graduates at the start of their careers, CommunicateSA helps young workers gain necessary experience to compete for jobs in the communication industry.
Luera’s community involvement also extends to the arts and music culture of Central Texas. For the past 10 years, he’s been a member of the hip-hop group ASTEX, which will release its eighth album this year. Earlier this year, he was involved with a community panel discussion and workshop on graffiti in San Antonio’s South Side.
“It attracted city councilmen, SAPD, aides from the state representative’s office and local graffiti artists,” he says. “All shared their opinions on the issue and what should be done to encourage kids to keep doing art while respecting private property.”
Beyond his community-centered activities, transferring to Texas State was the realization of a life goal for Luera. “I’ve always wanted to come to Texas State,” he says. “I loved my transition here. It was almost seamless. Everyone was helpful.”
After enrolling at Texas State in 2009, the Luera decided to take advantage of the unique opportunities to get involved with the university and work one-on-one with faculty members. In addition to his mass communication studies, he decided to earn a minor in theatre.
“Being involved in theatre here is definitely its own reward. The environment is ripe for exploration,” he says. “I didn’t start writing plays until I took Jim Price‘s playwriting class in the fall of 2009. He encouraged me to keep with it and crazy things have happened ever since.”
On the wings of that encouragement, Luera applied and was selected for the 2010 Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive in Washington, D.C. In the short year since then, he’s seen his work produced on stages throughout central Texas. In fall 2010 alone, three of his works were performed on campus and around Central Texas.
“My career as a playwright has been sort of a mini whirlwind. I just hope that continues,” he says. “Jim Price of the Theatre Department has been my mentor, my teacher and my hero ever since my arrival here. It’s refreshing to know there are still educators who genuinely care for their students.”
In pursuit of developing his playwriting skills, Luera seeks training beyond the classroom as well. This summer, he attended both a dramaturgy workshop at the Kennedy Center and the Dramatists Guild of America‘s National Conference in New York, where composer and Broadway VIP Carol Hall personally asked Luera to send her his work.
“I was floored, but greatly honored,” Luera said. “Being from Texas and in theatre, it doesn’t get better than Carol Hall talking you up.”
He’s currently working on three scripts that he plans to enter into festival competitions in the next year. His writing focus this fall is to be involved in more productions and work closely with directors — he even plans on auditioning for the first time to round out his stage experience — as he finishes his degree.
“Once I get started on something I run with it,” Luera says. “The only way to get the most out of Texas State is to get involved … I’m damn proud to be here right now. Go Bobcats!”