Alum spotlight: Walid Chaya (BFA 2011)

screen shot of walid's instagram account

Walid Chaya BFA in Performance 2011

Walid was born in Lebanon, but moved to the US when he was only two. Even so, his first exposure to theatre was a musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in Arabic that he saw back in Lebanon when he was five. “I’d never seen that before. I was so impressed that it was make believe and have memorized every lyric to that show.”

VCU was recommended by Jasmine Coles (2010 BFA Performance), who was a year ahead of Walid at John Lewis High School in Springfield, VA. On his visit to VCU, he saw Smokey Joe’s Café. “I loved that the show was so cultural and that the school was in a city and easy to navigate. Jasmine and I went to high school together and she’s still a role model.”

While he was at VCU, Walid started Moonlit Wings Productions. “I needed a summer job.” There are two divisions: A production company, which includes SuperNOVA casting, and The Education Division which teaches classes for all ages. The newer L.A. branch is called Studio For Performing Arts LA.

Each student creates a promo with marketing materials. “Cross promotion partnerships are a strong way to boost their social media presence and reach audiences with similar interests. Social helped me connect with clients and build trust for new clients. It convinces them that they can trust me as an acting coach or as talent.”

Walid continues, “I found my niche is the Business of Acting in the Digital Age. You are as talented and competitive as you look online. I meet actors who have gone to some of the best schools and they don’t have a reel. You have to create your own content.”

As a writer/director, Walid created Driving Ms. Saudi, a short film inspired by the #women2drive movement that was featured at 15 festivals. He’s now working on a follow-up feature, a gay Arab romcom called The Barent Trap.

Compiled by Liz Hopper (professor emeritus) and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the November 2022 Theatre Alumni newsletter