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Reflections on College Theater from Recent Graduates

Amanda spoke with two recent graduates on transitioning from student to actress.

By New York City

Amanda Charney, TMU contributor and sophomore at USC

Rough week.

Since Monday, my life has been chock full of insanity. Rehearsals from 6:00-10:00pm each night, papers due, midterms to study for, choir music to memorize, and I'm going to EXPLODE if I don't get my Pottermore email soon. I'm sure I'm not alone in enduring these weeks that require lots of Nutella to forget about all the stress and embarrassment of life.

What I really need though is a healthy dose of perspective, which is what, thankfully, this week's blog will provide. Here is college theater through the eyes of two recent graduates, and perhaps it will shed light on what is really important (and make me forget about how I crashed my bike into some guy in the middle of a crosswalk, spilling my mocha on him and stopping traffic).

Greta McAnany, class of 2010 USC, shared some perspective and encouragement from her experience in the School of Theatre. "In college I learned that getting cast in things is partially about talent, but more often than not your type has a lot to do with it," she says.

"In fact, one of the best things I took with me from college is the feeling that getting a callback is almost as good as getting cast in terms of validation, because after that there are so many things in the casting process that are out of your control."

Since graduating, Greta has been involved in the show Adding Machine at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles and has performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as a featured soloist with GMCLA. She is now taking a brief hiatus from her busy schedule of auditioning for the opportunity to found her own production company and produce a film about childhood obesity called Bite Size.

Greta has had experience with theater abroad as well, having participated in an Overseas Studies program through USC. "[Studying abroad] was incredible, and I would recommend it to anyone! It was amazing traveling experience with really wonderful teachers and exposure to theater culture in London…I got a lot out of it, especially with the classical Shakespeare training."

So studying abroad would be another good way gain a new perspective if you want to get a taste of what theater is like in another country!

Marisa Baram, 2010 graduate of UCI, also hit the ground running after graduation. "I made it into a wonderful showcase at the Comedy Store called the Funologues, where I was judged by a panel of celebrities. From that exposure and amazing networking opportunity, I pressed the fast-forward button and decided to just throw myself into the Hollywood acting scene. I've been working several part-time jobs, auditioning, and shooting various projects on both principal performer and background performer contracts ever since!"

She also has some advice about the question of managers, agents, and unions. "I highly, highly recommend doing as much research as you can when looking for representation. As far as TV/film goes, getting an IMDB Pro account is invaluable. Research, cross-reference, and then submit to the offices that you feel are a good match for you.

"My recommendation on unions is to not jump on them too fast. There is a lot of non-union work out there, much more than union, so you don't want to limit yourself. AFTRA is an open union, so anyone can join, but if you would like to join SAG, I highly recommend beginning to audition NOW for SAG projects to become eligible. You can also become eligible through background work by acquiring 3 SAG vouchers."

As far as preparation for the acting world after graduation, both Marisa and Greta emphasize the importance of getting professional audition practice while still in school. Of these auditions, Greta says, "It was such a valuable experience because it allowed me to get familiar with the professional world while still having the safety of school to fall back on."

Marisa wishes she'd had time to keep up auditioning throughout the entirety of college. "I auditioned professionally throughout my college career. However, I took a rather large break from my TV/film auditions sometime during freshman year when I realized the commute was a bit too much. I wish I had kept with my agent at the time and continued to audition...It's much harder to get started when you no longer have the tools and safety nets you do while in school."

So there you have it! Two actresses less than three years out of college and with so much experience under their belts already! I find stories like this inspiring; in the acting world today, a performer can get easily discouraged from agonizing over the state of the economy. Seeing successful people who were in the same position as we are not too long ago can lift our spirits and make us say, "Hey, maybe it will be alright after all!"


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