Amanda Charney, TMU contributor and sophomore at USC
Decidophobia: the fear of making decisions. Related to commitmentphobia--obviously, the fear of commitment.
Luckily for my significant other, I'm not talking about relationships here. I'm talking about the confining, constructed, and, often, scary decision about a college major.
To be clear, I am not having doubts about being a Theater major, nor will I be changing my major any time soon. But sometimes I wonder, what if I get out of college and suddenly find that when I begin auditioning professionally, it's not what I want to do for a living? How on earth can I get a job outside of the world of theater with a BA in Acting?
I know people always say, "It's not the major that matters, it's the fact that you have a college degree in general!" But I still find it hard to believe that someone with a degree in theater would have any sort of ease getting into medical school or getting a job in business administration over someone else who has a bachelor's in business. So once you commit to a theater major, does this mean you're stuck being an actor?
Not at all! First of all, there are so many different specializations within the Theater degree, including costuming, directing, playwriting, stage-managing, and so many more! There is opportunity for wiggle room within these concentrations, at least early on. In fact, at my school, theater majors are required to take a directing class, crew a show, and work in the shop! And many times, it is through these requirements that they find something that gets them even more excited than performing.
For example, I talked to Sarah Schuessler, who is currently working in costume design. Sarah got her undergraduate degree in Theatre from USC, and discovered her love of working with costumes while pursuing acting. "I didn't make a switch to costuming; I just took on as much as I could because I realized I wanted to do it all." While Sarah was the artistic director for a student-run theater group on campus, she found herself enjoying costuming more and more. "Because it was a small student-run group, you had to fill in wherever you were needed, so I found myself costuming a lot and being happy to do so." After graduating from USC, Sarah went on to get an MFA in Costume Design.
I also spoke with a current MFA Dramatic Writing student, Caroline Adan. Caroline got her BA in theater from Occidental College, and planned on pursuing acting. "Junior year, I took a playwriting class, and it opened up a new possibility for me. I had always liked to write, and I loved theater, I just hadn't thought to put the two together." She also says that although she doesn't think it is necessary for every aspiring playwright, acting training was really helpful for her playwriting. Caroline plans to stay in LA and work on scripts for both plays and film/TV.
These are just two examples of ways you can spread out beyond performing within the acting world. The most important thing is to be open to new interests; I know I myself am guilty of being interested in something other than acting, but trying to ignore it because I worry I'll get distracted or start splitting my focus. Try everything! You never know what you'll discover, whether it be stage managing, lighting design, or set building.
Next week, I'll be exploring options even further: where you go outside the acting world with a BA in Theater. I'll be investigating options within other fields, and touching on back-up plans a little bit.
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