Many people dream of being chased by paparazzi and having their names in flashing lights. But the reality of success in show business requires a little more than just talent.
Hannah Grannemann, the managing director for PlayMakers Repertory Company, said it also takes persistence, bravery and entrepreneurship.
“You have to be willing to make it happen on your own,” she said. “If you sit back and wait for someone to knock on your door, you won’t get anywhere. You make your own opportunities.”
For many, the first step is honing their acting skills through groups on UNC’s campus.
The Lab! Theatre Company, the musical theater group Pauper Players, Ebony Readers/Onyx Theatre and Student Television are a few outlets at UNC through which students can gain acting experience.
Sophomore Ramey Mize, who is involved in Lab! and STV, said it is important to take every opportunity to improve one’s own talents.
Other students are finding experience outside of campus groups.
A year ago, sophomore Astin Barnes said she started working with a production company in Greensboro to produce a web drama titled “The Hive.”
Barnes said she ultimately wants to attend medical school, but acting is something she enjoys outside of school.
She said she got involved with the web drama when searching for local acting jobs.
She said no one involved with the drama had experience, but the show has provided that opportunity.
UNC alumna Julia Yarwood graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in dramatic arts. She is currently on tour with Periwinkle Theatre for Youth, a theater group designed to educate youth about pertinent issues. She plays an addict in “Halfway There.”
She moved to New York City after graduation, and said she faced a number of struggles trying to get exposure.
She did acting jobs for free, took lower-paying acting jobs and even picked up other jobs outside the entertainment industry to help with her acting career.
Even with setbacks, she said she kept pushing and kept auditioning.
“Nobody is going to make your career for you when you are actor. It’s all in your own hands,” she said.
Yarwood said it is also important to build contacts. Half of her jobs, she said, were a result of maintaining relationships with people she had previously worked with.
Sarah Berk, a senior double majoring in English and dramatic arts, said she is moving to New York City after graduation to work with a company she interned with last summer.
She said meeting people face-to-face is more beneficial than connecting with people in less personal fashions, such as calling a company or sending a head shot.
While interning with an off-Broadway company last summer, Berk said she showed her coworkers that she was reliable and easy to work with by completing office work and transporting set pieces across the city.
But knowing people and being persistent aren’t the only things needed to break into the drama business.
Auditions are still a necessary part, and actors must express themselves well, Berk said.
Grannemann said actors must have an accurate knowledge of the type of actor they are so they don’t misplace their energy into a role they aren’t suited for.
“If you know this is what you want to do, you need to go into it with no reservations. You take the plunge, basically,” Mize said. “Just give everything of yourself and be very willing to fail over and over again until you succeed.”
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