My advice to graduating seniors pursuing a career in the theater.
It’s that time . . . caps and gowns and commencement addresses.
And millions of young adults entering the work force.
And thousands of those millions are looking for a career in the arts.
I got an email from an about-to-graduate-young-lady last week who asked for my advice in how to go about starting her career in the theater.
Of course I could have given her a lot of specifics, like where to send her resume, and what bars to hang out in, etc. Instead, for some reason, I was reminded of the 1980’s campaign to stop drug use . . . “Just Say No.”
(I know, just give me a second, it’ll make sense . . . I think.)
While saying no to drugs and a whole lot of other things when you’re young is the best thing you can do, for your career, you actually want to do the exact opposite.
Just Say Yes.
You’re going to get a lot of opportunities when you’re starting out, in a lot of different areas in the arts. Some of those opportunities may not be what you ever considered doing in a zillion years. So what? Just Say Yes.
Never thought about working in a press office? Just Say Yes. Agent? Costume Assistant?
Just Say Yes for awhile.
You’ve got time on your side. You may not be able to Just Say Yes in 10 years. But now, it’s an essential part of your growth and exploration.
And you never know where the Yes is going to take you. You never know what opportunity that you never even knew existed will end up being what you want to devote your life to.
But there’s only one way to find out . . . by saying Yes.
In 1993, I was a junior Acting Major at Tisch at NYU. And for some reason, to this day I don’t know why, one of my professors recommended me to be a Production Assistant on the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady.
Honestly? I didn’t even know what being a Production Assistant actually meant.
But I Just Said Yes.
And I wouldn’t be typing this today if I hadn’t.
(By the way, being a Production Assistant means getting fresh-off-the-bone roasted turkey sandwiches, walking dogs in a blizzard and being paid in lunch and subway “tokens” . . . and it was the most awesome thing you could ever imagine.)
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.