1. What is your current job title and job location?
At the moment, I am both a Steward at the Off-Broadway production SLEEP NO MORE and a theatrical brand ambassador for TheatreMAMA, as well as a Founding Company Member with New York City Artists. At SLEEP NO MORE I am a member of the production staff, where I protect and maintain the integrity of the show for both our guests and our cast; at TheatreMAMA I assist in marketing Broadway shows in Times Square and for special events. With NYCA I am assisting with the administrative and creative development of a blossoming New York City theatre company, as well as performing (I'll be appearing in our premiere Off-Off Broadway production of MEDEA this summer at Manhattan Repertory Theatre).
2. What did you study at WIU? How did WIU prepare you for this career? How did the Career Development Center help?
At Western, I studied Theatre-Acting with a minor in Music Business. The theatre program at WIU helped not only introduce me to people that I am actively networking with as contacts in the professional world, but it also taught me how to manage a steady production load, how to develop my own performance work, how to develop my audition and marketing materials, and how to determine what kinds of projects I wished to develop.
Career Services was actually very helpful with my initial job search. When you first move to a place like New York City, you have to find a job...and quickly. In addition, the competition is FIERCE, and I had heard many unnerving stories of it taking weeks and even months for people to secure employment here - which could mean a plane ticket home. With the skills that Career Services helped me develop in terms of my resume preparation, my approach on how to search for positions and develop leads, how to market my skills to the professional community and how to confidently approach an interview, I was offered three positions within the first two weeks of my search.
3. Why did you choose this field of study?
Entertainment and performance - that's my passion. I've been working professionally as an actress for quite some time now, and I knew when I returned to college that my aim was to give myself the best tools possible to continue my career and reach my potential as an artist. WIU's theatre program offers a diverse array of theatrical classes that informed my knowledge of many aspects of this industry - both backstage and on the boards.
4. What is your favorite aspect of your job? What keeps you motivated at work?
One of my favorite aspects of my work is creating unique and lasting experiences for people - watching them approach a moment and knowing that this will be a memory they will carry with them for years. Whether they are first stepping foot in The McKittrick Hotel (the set for SLEEP NO MORE) or posing for a photo with their family next to a costumed actress, or even reacting to a Greek tragedy for the first time OR in a new way...you know you're affecting people. Also, telling stories and challenging people to think outside of their normal experiences...it's one of the most rewarding things you can ever have the privilege of being responsible for.
5. How do you balance work and your personal life?
At times this has proved as a challenge, since money is a nervewracking thing when you first move to a city like this. You feel the need to constantly work - particularly in such a competitive industry. The key is to find people that are striving for similar goals of a similar quality as yourself so that you can develop a solid support system - it's important to have people that you can talk to who make you remember why you're doing what you're doing and that you're not the only person dealing with the experiences and struggles that you encounter. Also, taking the time to take care of yourself and getting away from work life are important...you need an opportunity to recharge so you can keep your instrument in good shape. My friends and I enjoy planning group trips to the beach or to the park or really any activity that we can do together so that we ensure we're ALL getting some fun in from time to time (not that the work we do isn't fun to begin with - but the constant stress, competition and rejection of being a performer can certainly take it's toll if you don't nurture your soul).
6. What advice do you have for current WIU students?
Follow your bliss. Try new things. Face your fears. Don't live the life that others believe is right for you. You only have one short time on this Earth and it is completely your own to live the way you see fit. If you do what you love, the money will follow. That passion that you feel for your craft - whatever that may be - will drive you to be the best you can be, and that's how innovators are created. Be the exception...not the rule.