Contact: Tonya Lowentritt
Date: February 7, 2013
HAMMOND – This year has started out with a bang for a pair of Southeastern Louisiana University alumni who are participating in two different reality television shows – one in fashion, the other in music.
Mat Arthur, a 2005 Southeastern graduate, has been selected for the current season of "Project Runway," a reality competition about fashion that airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the Lifetime Network.
A communications graduate, Arthur stumbled into the fashion world by chance.
"I had never made an article of clothing," Arthur said, "but I got asked to do menswear for a benefit show. I received some great feedback and caught the bug. It's been research and practicing my craft ever since."
Arthur attributes his experiences at Southeastern with helping him prepare for the real world.
"I discovered myself there. As one grows and develops, identity sort of becomes this evolving concept," Arthur said. "As cliché as it may sound, I realized the most about myself during my time at Southeastern. Also, my work is usually based on social observation, and I can honestly say that my string of theater and writing classes definitely shaped the way I filter the world."
In addition to his stint on "Project Runway," Arthur works as a salon/retail manager for Neill Corporation in New Orleans and also designs his own brand of clothing. He finds his work challenging.
"I find the best way to continue to grow as an artist or in any field is to continue to challenge yourself, take risks and push boundaries," Arthur said. "The process can be difficult, but the results come with such value."
Brandy Hotard, a 2008 Miss Southeastern and 2011 graduate in nursing, auditioned for American Idol this year for the third time.
"I auditioned for American Idol to prove I was ready for Hollywood," she said. "Luckily, the third time was the charm."
A psychiatric nurse from Port Allen, Hotard made it to Hollywood and begins competing this week to vie for a spot in the top 20 female contestants.
When Hotard received her golden ticket, she didn't know whether to be excited or cry, because her grandmother had just passed away. She says it was little bit of both emotions for her.
As a young girl, Hotard was inspired by country music, with Reba McEntire being her favorite artist. She describes herself as a combination of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, big shoes to fill she admits, and says she has a little bit of Janis Joplin in her voice with a slight rocker vibe.
When asked why she should be the next American Idol, Hotard said it's because she is homegrown and unique.
"I don't think there is anyone else out there like me. When I get on stage with the full music and the microphone in my hand, I almost transform into something different. When I watch myself on tape, it's weird to see the different characters I can transform into relaying the message of whatever song I'm singing."
American Idol airs on Wednesday and Thursday nights on Fox at 7 p.m.