Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: Julie Civiello
I'm on the cusp of graduating from Boston University with a BFA in Acting and Theatre Arts, so I'm on a non-traditional job hunt. This means my job search involves acting showcases, headshots and talent agencies instead of craigslist and the college career center.
As far as I can tell, finding stage acting jobs these days is just as hard as getting a job at a major bank. Broadway productions require a generous budget, especially the extravagant musicals. Playwrights are actually revising scripts and slimming down eight-person casts to two people or one to save money on productions. And since my age bracket is not in high demand for Broadway shows, my classmates and I are left scraping the bottom of the casting bucket.
In some ways, I guess I'm more prepared for the job market because my acting training at school included prepping for a showcase in New York City. It's the showcase that leads to the job appointments. Otherwise, it's hard to get anyone to pay any attention. You basically have two minutes to showcase yourself and your talent in front of New York's talent scouts, film casting agencies, and managers...many coming from huge names like Paradigm and Abrams, as well as Warner Brothers.
Then, come the envelopes - the acceptance and rejection letters essentially. They hold the results, which are hopefully requests for appointments and resumes and headshots. But there's no privacy involved in this "moment of truth." Each classmate who did the showcase in New York got an envelope at the same time - in a bar with everyone together mingling.
We each deal with this in our own way: Some ask for the encouragement, opening the envelopes in front of everyone, passing around the sheets marked with X's for appointments! Others, including me, run to the bathroom and wait until the stall latch is locked to peek inside. I tried to examine the weight and potential of the envelope before finally unclasping it and pulling out the damage. I was lucky -- I got requests for my headshot and better yet several requests for appointments.
One appointment was with the almighty Paradigm. I met with an assistant to an agent, who was not much older than I am, and very forward in her advice. She strongly suggested I immediately move to New York the Monday after graduation and make appointments and introduce myself to casting agents all over the city. I found this advice to be incredibly rash and risky, especially with the job market offering zero opportunities in the artist world. Her response to my concerns was the almighty question: "What do you want?" I stammered out an answer, something involving a roof-top garden, and a wish to be a part of a company of artists who share my values in the creation of art. In other words, something incredibly vague and eye-brow raising, full of pot holes and question marks. Her advice again was, "Just answer that question and do it."
Another appointment was with a more seasoned agent from the agency About Artists. She was a character and a saleswoman, who somehow found the right sticky note amidst the mountain range of papers and files that roll over her desk and most surfaces of her office. She also offered advice. She told me to change a lot of details on my resume. She even advised several of my friends who had appointments with her to change their names to something more pronounceable.
In both my meetings I was told I have comic timing, a unique look, and an individuality that is marketable (whatever that means.) So where has it gotten me? Not far yet.
Despite all the prep for these interviews by my theater program (mostly training us how to both sell ourselves and be humble and to flatter playwrights and somehow not seem so desperate), I'm still in the position of hustling for jobs and more appointments, while lining up waitress and nanny gigs on the side.
Luckily, I've got a back up plan - one that's gotten popular for my age group facing a tight job market.
I've lined up more schooling for the fall: a graduate program in LA.
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