September 28, 2023

Christmas carols, decorated trees, bright lights, holiday cooking and family are what put many in the holiday spirit, but for Alina Tamayo, playing Mary does a better job.

Tamayo, a sophomore theater major, said she is excited to play Mary in the Christmas production at her church, The Church of God of Prophecy in Riverside.

Although she has been involved with her church’s Christmas production for as long as she can remember, Tamayo struggled to find where she belonged and was unsure of her future.

She sat in chapel at California Baptist University, and for the first time, felt that God was telling her CBU’s theater program was where she belonged.

“It was not until becoming a student and a theater major at CBU that I started to really appreciate the Christmas production, and more importantly, the Christmas season in general,” Tamayo said.

She now finds more profound significance in the holiday season and her church’s Christmas production every year. This year, Tamayo will play Mary in one Christmas program and sing in another.

Tamayo said her theater training has helped her appreciate the production as an artist. The skills she has learned have prepared her and helped her gain confidence on stage — so much confidence that she is able to transform into her character the moment her feet touch the stage.

She said acting has strengthened her faith, especially through her most recent role as Mary. When she steps on stage, she is sharing her faith with the audience.

“My faith has grown because of the opportunities of fellowship with the CBU community,” Tamayo said.

Sarah Sabella, senior theater major, has watched Tamayo transform over the past two years.

“She is really talented and has earned her spot in the program,” Sabella said. “I’m proud of her and confident that she is going to continue to grow as an actress.”

CBU has helped Tamayo grow stronger in her faith, confidence and talent, and she said she cannot wait for this year’s Christmas program at her church, which will be performed at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

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