MSU’s Womxn of Color Initiatives Announces Critically Acclaimed Performer as 2024 Artist-in-Residence

The Michigan State University Womxn of Color Initiatives (WOCI) named Paige Hernandez as its 2024 Artist-in-Residence. The sixth artist to participate in this program, Hernandez is a multidisciplinary artist and critically acclaimed performer, director, choreographer, and playwright. She will be in residence on Michigan State University’s campus March 18 to 21.

“We are very excited to host Paige for this week of dynamic engagements,” said Delia Fernández-Jones, Associate Dean for Equity, Justice, and Faculty Affairs in the College of Arts & Letters and Chair of WOCI. “Her work on identity and navigating the world as a woman of color is so important for our campus and community. Having her at MSU and working in the Lansing community underscores how important the arts are for creating belonging.”

A picture of a woman smiling. She has long black hair and wears a blue and white shirt.
Paige Hernandez

Hernandez’s inclusive practice is informed by her own multicultural identity (Black, Cuban, and Chinese). Through her work as an educator and performer, she advocates for communities that reflect her own experiences and face systemic barriers.

As an Actors’ Equity Association actress, Hernandez has performed on many stages across the country throughout her extensive career of over 20 years. Most notably known for her effective fusion of theatre, hip-hop, dance, and education, she was named a “Citizen Artist Fellow” with the Kennedy Center and one of “Six Theatre Workers You Should Know” by American Theatre magazine. Her work on inclusive spaces and trauma-informed practices in theatre also has garnered her international acclaim. 

In addition to her role as a performer, Hernandez is a renowned arts educator who has taught throughout the country, to all ages, in several art disciplines. She has reached more than 10,000 students, from pre-K through college, in several hundred residencies, workshops, and performances around the world. She also supports professional development for educators, including keynote presentations for Disney and MSU’s own Wharton Center for Performing Arts.  

“I am so excited for this WOCI week in residence,” Hernandez said. “It’s been thoughtfully curated to cater to a wide variety of topics and experiences. I’m looking forward to connecting with the MSU community through enriching conversations while exploring identity through an artistic lens.”

“I am so excited for this WOCI week in residence. It’s been thoughtfully curated to cater to a wide variety of topics and experiences. I’m looking forward to connecting with the MSU community through enriching conversations while exploring identity through an artistic lens.”

Paige Hernandez

WOCI is an effort to organize events for womxn of color and their allies on MSU’s campus and in the greater Lansing community. As part of this initiative, the artist-in-residence program has hosted muralists, poets, podcasters and beyond here on campus to engage with the MSU community and greater Lansing area. By bringing together artists and communities, WOCI aims to create space for meaningful conversations about social and racial justice and equity. 

Hernandez’s residency is supported by funding from the College of Arts & Letters and the Vice Provost for University Arts and Collections. It is presented in partnership with the College of Arts & Letters, MSU Women of Color CommunityResidential College in the Arts and Humanities, the Graduate School, the Center for Gender in Global Context, and Arts MSU.

“We are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to welcoming Paige Hernandez to Michigan State University to engage and inspire our students as well as our campus and local community,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters and Dean of the Honors College. “A dynamic and accomplished artist and educator, Paige uses her performing arts skills to teach and encourage others to embrace their cultural heritage. Her residency is part of a collective and shared vision to make the work of womxn of color central to the intellectual and artistic life at MSU.”

In addition to mentorship and conversations with undergraduate, graduate, and K-12 students, WOCI is providing a week of free opportunities for the public to engage with Hernandez. 

Schedule of Events:

Storytelling Through Movement Workshop  
March 20, 6 to 8 p.m.
GenCen, 300 International Center
The community is invited to an inclusive and immersive workshop on storytelling that is based on movement and writing. Participants of all abilities are welcome to learn how to create and share narratives with more than pen and paper. We will be engaging with the ways our various identities intersect to shape our experiences and the stories we tell. Those who attend should bring a notebook and a pen. The first 10 people to RSVP and attend will receive a free notebook and pen from WOCI. 

Sisterhood Luncheon
March 21, Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Green Room, Main Library
MSU’s Women of Color Community (WOCC) and WOCI invite members of the community to join Paige Hernandez as the featured guest for WOCC’s Sisterhood Luncheon series. This event will allow participants to engage with our honored multidisciplinary guest and meet other women of color and allies in an informal setting.

Paige in Full: Performance, Demonstrations, and Insights 
March 21, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
RCAH Theater, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities
The community is invited to attend an interactive keynote performance and talkback conversation with MSU Department of African American and African Studies Assistant Professor Gianina Strother, MSU Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Associate Professor Sitara Thobani, MSU Department of English Postdoctoral Fellow Sarah Bruno, and Department of Theatre Assistant Professor Alexandria Davis. The event will be followed by a reception in Hernandez’s honor. 

Community members can register online for these free public events.

This story originally was published on the MSU Today website.