February 2013, Volume 17, Number 1

Making Their Mark

Cast Into the Limelight

Home to the famed Miami International Film Festival, Miami Dade College is known for producing many stars of its own, too. From television to Broadway to the silver screen, the College has graduated dozens of talented students who have gone on to pursue successful careers in the entertainment industry. The one thing they all say they have in common is that MDC gave them the tools and inspiration they needed to achieve their dreams.

A Magic Time

Raymond Forchion’s résumé reads like a Hollywood who’s who. Having shared screen time with the likes of Johnny Depp and worked under directors such as Ron Howard, this MDC alumnus knows his way around a camera.

“My theater and TV and radio production degrees helped me focus on all the different factors of my professional life,” said Forchion, a respected actor, writer, producer, director and talent coach who graduated from the College’s North Campus in 1977. A recipient of the acclaimed Team Player Award from The Black Hollywood Education & Resource Center, he has also served on the Screen Actors Guild National Board.

“I have utilized all the skills I learned at MDC from my fine professors and the very caring staff to fulfill my lifelong pursuits in the arts and entertainment industry,” said Forchion, currently putting those skills to practice in several projects including Due Penance, a crime drama he will produce and direct. He also conducts acting seminars and workshops around the country. 

“My MDC days were fantastic,” he said. “It was a magic time.”

Career Kick Start

Alex Hadad finished his very first “fairy-tale telenovela” at age 13 on a plastic typewriter.

“Writing telenovelas had always been my dream,” said the Emmy-winning talent and writer behind 2010’s Eva Luna, the highest-rated domestically produced telenovela in U.S. television history. “But it wasn’t until I was a student at MDC’s Kendall Campus that, through the support and encouragement of one of my toughest English literature professors, I realized I had a future in this industry.”

An MDC Class of ’82 alum, Hadad began his career with Univision’s WLTV-Miami. Developing many popular Univision shows, he made his way up the ranks and, by 2005, was executive producer for Univision in New York City. Two years later he created and wrote Mi adorada Malena, the first-ever online telenovela, and was project manager in Como ama una mujer, a mini-series produced by Jennifer López. He’s also served as head writer for the Latin Grammy Awards.

“MDC kick-started it all with the education I needed to pursue my career goals while staying connected with my community,” he said.

Finding Her Calling

With her talent and looks, Hannia Guillén was quick to attract Hollywood’s attention. But in spite of plenty of acting work in film and TV, including shows such as Burn Notice, the soap Passions and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, she always heeded the call of the stage, a love she found at Miami Dade College.

“MDC was crucial in helping me find my calling,” said Guillén, a Class of 2004 alumna. “I was instantly attracted to the quality of the program, its curriculum and productions, rivaling those at many other universities while remaining affordable and accommodating for those working full time – like myself.” 

Through her connections at the College’s acclaimed Prometeo Theatre, Guillén eventually met another MDC alumnus, Pulitzer-winning playwright Nilo Cruz, who first directed her in Antón Arrufat’s La repetición, then in his own The Color of Desire, and most recently in another of his plays, A Bicycle Country.

Guillén currently stars in New York City’s Repertorio Español production of Jorge Amado’s Doña Flor y sus dos maridos.

Hadad is currently writing Rosario, an original telenovela he created for Univision Studios, and he’s grateful for the Emmy Award he received for his distinguished work in television.


MDC Film & TV Talent

Plenty of entertainment industry notables got their start at MDC. They include:

  • Jencarlos Canela, actor
  • Teo Castellanos, actor, director and writer
  • Nilo Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
  • Lili Estefan, TV hostess
  • Katie Finneran, Tony Award-winning 
  • Andy García, actor, producer and director
  • Kathie Lee Gifford, actress and TV host
  • Yara Martínez, actress
  • Terry Miller, producer
  • Chris Myers, Emmy Award-winning sports anchor
  • Vivi Pineda, actress
  • Randy Ser, Emmy Award-winning production designer
  • Sarah Spiegel, actress
  • Sylvester Stallone, actor, producer and writer
  • Eva Tamargo, actress
  • Oscar Torre, actor, producer and director
  • Bob Vila, TV host, producer and director

— HP

More Making Their Mark Articles

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
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