Kate Robards

It’s not often one gets the opportunity to interview someone who appeared before 1500 people at the Apollo Theatre. It’s even rarer that they are from Orange, TX. Kate Robards graduated from Lamar University in 2009 and has not slowed down since. She became a Studio Theatre Communications Fellow (2011), trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC, earned an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts (2016) and most recently graduated from the Barrow Group Professional Acting Program in NYC (2018).  

With a list of achievements such as yours, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally) 

Remaining open to rolling with the ups and downs and staying friends with folks I’ve worked with and collaborated with from all over the world.  

What is your most fond memory or favorite story of your time at Lamar University?  

It's hard to choose just one. Lamar University was the epicenter of my life for many years. I did work study 40 hours a week at KVLU and LUTV. I think my favorite experience was performing the role of Columbia in Rocky Horror Picture Show. My best friend Chris Murray played the lead "Meatloaf" and my other best friend Kyle Romero was Riff Raff. Both Chris and Kyle are working performers and Chris is in NYC as well. Kyle is in Austin. I just had a lot of fun.  

In what way(s) did your time at Lamar University impact your career or who you are today?  

It taught me to value relationships more than career. At the end of the day, we are all humans working through this together. A little kindness and accountability goes a long way. When I first applied to work at a regional theatre in DC (Studio Theatre) I remember being self-conscious about my degree. Lamar is jokingly called "Harvard on the Neches" and I was up against people who actually went to Harvard. I know this because after I got the position I was looking through the applications for the finalists for my position. I asked my boss why she chose me. I didn't have the fanciest of degrees or a ton of experience. She said simply, “at the end of the day I don't care about that. I ask ‘can the person do the job?’ and ‘who do I want to sit next to for the next year?’ That was a valuable lesson to value myself and to be proud of my education and time at Lamar. 

What advice would you give current students and young alumni in your field?  

My field when I was at LU and now in the “real world” has always been all over the place. Then and now I had people tell me to narrow my focus. Southeast Texas can be a very vocational based area, but a life in the arts requires extreme flexibility and a wide range of skills. I write, act, produce, and teach. I think I wish I'd taken some more business classes. Working in the arts and entertainment field means negotiating contracts, managing budgets, and filing company paperwork. This has been a huge learning curve for me and I’m still learning. I would say stay well rounded and trust your gut. You're in the arts in Southeast Texas so I'd also encourage everyone to make things. To collaborate with friends. To never discount when you'll run into someone down the line. The world is small. And I know this because I'm from Orange, Texas and have lived on three continents, in six major cities including Shanghai, Amsterdam, San Francisco, DC, and more, and I have run into people from Southeast Texas everywhere.   

Any final thoughts? 

I want to say that so many people I went to LU with are still making art and pursuing this as their passion and career. The training and education at Lamar is so special because it is not a place where you get lost in the fray. You can stand out, really make lifelong connections and feel the support of your community. It’s such an honor to be an alumni of Lamar. 

 Kate      Kate 2

Photos by JT Anderson