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Women in Industry: Michelle Krusiec

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Since 1921, Virginia Tech has seen thousands of trailblazing women make their mark on the world, transforming industries and shattering glass ceilings. Michelle Krusiec ’95 is making her mark in the entertainment industry where she is an actor, writer and director.

Long before she performed for a national audience, Virginia Tech alumna Michelle Krusiec's stage was her family living room. "I would make my cup of noodles, and then I would perform in the living room, and then I would race between the living room, my noodles and the window to see if my dad was coming home. So I think performing and needing to see myself witnessed was very important. I don't think I would have put it in that way at that time. I think most of it just came from a desire to see a story in a play and to envision what that was like and to want to reenact it." She left home for the first time to come to Virginia Tech to pursue her passion. "One of the things that I think my department did very well in theatre was that it allowed me to write and to create material. And because of that particular tool, I was able to write something and that was my entree into the industry." From television to film to the stage, Michelle does it all. She recently worked on a film that differed from roles available when she first started in the industry. "I'm playing a crazy or slightly crazy artistic aunt, and it's centered on an Asian female protagonist. And it's really nice to be part of the story where at the narrative is about an API woman. Because when I first started in the industry, that was very rare. A lot of Asian characters are stereotyped as stoic, and those are the kinds of parts that I played early on. And now it's about actually showing their complexity and showing your interior life and having experiences that allow you to have colors and emotions that aren't always suppressed." Today the industry is showing signs of change. "I think what's happening now is that the industry is kind of starting to equalize. There are people behind the lens who are now coming from areas of representation, areas that need representation. And because inclusion is the conversation that's happening in the industry. As a result of that, more people are being given opportunities to pitch ideas." Michelle is also doing more in part because of the foundation laid at Virginia Tech and 20 years spent acting. "I was able to give myself enough experiences in both that I am now writing and directing and I'm performing, and it's come specifically because I took a very liberal arts approach towards education." She finds her sweet spot to be where her work intersects with activism and social causes. "And I felt like it's necessary for me to create narratives that focus on API women specifically, but that I share my experience in a way where creating the narrative is going to be the most empowered position to be in at the moment for me. So while I'm still acting, I feel like acting in a way is, it's kind of going its own track. The area that I feel like needs more cultivation is in writing and directing." Michelle says it's imperative for women to find mentors who offer support and community. "And so to find mentors and allies, and some kind of group that can help witness you. I think it's mentally healthier and it allows you to have a component where you can have an outlet and then you can go and do your work. But that outlet is part of your self-care. It's part of your mental health."