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Tepper Center helps give SU students an advantage as they transition from college to the entertainment industry
Tepper Center helps give SU students an advantage as they transition from college to the entertainment industryMarch 03, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Like most of their classmates, senior drama students Matt Benson and Andy Newlin have spent the past four years trying to perfect their craft and hone the artistry that is intrinsic to performing, whether on stage, television or in films. Consequently, they have spent relatively little time learning how to market themselves in the highly competitive entertainment industry. Both are involved in programs offered through the new Tepper Center for Careers in Theatre in the Drama Department of Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. The students say the programs will give them a head start as they make the transition from college to the professional world. The center is directed by Lisa Nicholas-Lobo, a professional actor, director and producer who spent more than 10 years working in New York City. Nicholas-Lobo started teaching at SU in 1998. Benson and Newlin are among 40 students who are enrolled in a new course, offered through the center, designed to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in meeting their professional goals. The course offers practical survival skills–tips on living in a big city, how to find an apartment and negotiate a lease, survival jobs, insurance, how to network and how to negotiate the public transit system–as well as advice from well-known professionals from New York City and Los Angeles.
“In college, we’ve been able to focus on the artistry, learning techniques that have been around for thousands of years,” Benson says. “Now we’re beginning to learn about the business end of the industry. The professional practices course that we’re taking is helping us to develop strategies that will enable us to market ourselves so that we can use what we have learned.” A few weeks ago, the students participated in a daylong Franklin Covey Workshop. Franklin Covey Co. is a leading learning and performance services firm assisting professionals and organizations in measurably increasing their effectiveness in leadership, productivity, communication and sales. Clients include major corporations, mid-sized businesses and government entities. The workshop, “What Matters Most,” helped students set six-month, one-year and five-year goals, and develop mission statements and a daily work schedule that will help them accomplish their goals. “The workshop was very helpful in getting me organized,” Newlin says. “There are just so many things you don’t think about as students. The workshop helped me focus on life beyond graduation.” Other guest speakers included Nancy Curtis, a New York City agent who did a day of mock interviews with the students and provided them information about letter writing and agent/casting director meetings. Brian O’Neill, author of “How to be a Working Actor,” did a hands-on workshop to teach students to be proactive in getting work as an actor. After Spring Break the students will participate in a weekend auditionworkshop for film and television led by Los Angles actress Caryn West, who also specializes in teaching auditioning skills for film, television and theater in New York City and L.A. Also planned are sessions about developing a style through wardrobe, on musical theater and on making your own theater. “The course is the perfect marriage of the business and artistic worlds and how to make everything work,” Newlin says. The students will also participate in one of two major New York City events: a New York City senior orientation field trip in which they will spend Spring Break meeting New York City agents, producers and directors, or a New York City Showcase April 9 at the New Dramatists, where they will have an opportunity to demonstrate their talents for agents, managers, casting directors and others from the entertainment industry. Newlin will be going on the senior orientation field trip, while Benson is among some 20 students who are preparing material for the New York City Showcase under the tutelage of Susan Appel, assistant professor of drama. “We will be meeting with a lot of industry people who are hot right now,” says Newlin about his upcoming trip to New York City. “I expect that we’ll learn a lot about what is happening in the industry right now and what kinds of things they are doing to be successful that others are not doing. I also look forward to seeing a lot of good theater. We’re scheduled to see about six shows during our stay.” Students participating in the showcase will have an opportunity to perform a two-minute scene with another student and a two-minute solo performance. Appel will also conduct a seminar at SU’s Lubin House. “The activities we’ve developed both for and with the students are the kinds of things I would have loved to have known when I was leaving school,” Nicholas-Lobo says. “They are the kinds of things that will put the students on track and help them create a vision for their life and career.”