A first-year revelation sets the stage for the future

Trace Guzmán, who grew up in Texas, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in management science and entertainment, and plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.

Image credit: Andrew Brodhead

During his first year at Stanford, Trace Guzmán won a part in a short film – a comedy about college girls who team up to destroy the patriarchy by breaking boys’ hearts – directed by an upper-class student enrolled in the film and media studies program.

At the end of a 12-hour day on the set of “The Ice Queen Society,” which was shot on campus, Guzmán realized that he could happily continue for hours on end.

“I remember thinking, this is the best thing in the world,” he said. “Then I stopped and thought, oh, this is what it feels like to do something you love. That was the moment I fell in love with acting.”

As a sophomore, Guzmán acted in the Stanford Theater Lab’s production of Stupid F***ing Bird, a modern adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s landmark drama, The Seagull, by Aaron Posner, an American playwright.

Guzmán also pursued his newfound passion in the classroom through film studies courses, as well as classes on screenwriting and script analysis. His favorite class was “Writing the Television Pilot,” which is taught by Adam Tobin, a senior lecturer in the Film and Media Studies Program in the Department of Art and Art History.

To develop comedy writing skills outside the classroom, Guzmán joined the Robber Barons, the student sketch comedy group that performs in the Geology Corner Auditorium.

He also found ways to make visitors laugh during his guided tours of campus, noting that his impression of Bernie Sanders got a laugh a “solid one-third” of the time.

As a junior, Guzmán spent winter quarter studying in Madrid with fellow Stanford students through the Bing Overseas Studies Program. While everyone had to return home a couple of weeks early due to the pandemic, Guzmán had had enough time to improve his Spanish – his father’s first language – and to fall in love with Madrid and big city life. As part of the program, he had weekly conversations with a Madrid resident named Adrián, who became a friend. They still text each other to chat about film and music.

Guzmán, who plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, said he will miss the spontaneous conversations and intellectual vitality of Stanford. But he’s ready for the next stage of his life and the opportunity to use his art for good.

“I’m a Stanford student and I might shoot too high sometimes,” he said. “But whatever I do, and it doesn’t have to be through one vehicle in my life, I want to be intentional about it. Obviously, it’s a cliché to say I want to make a change in the world. But that’s a beautiful thing to want to do – and something a lot of Stanford students want to do. And I think that’s awesome.”