In the Making

Spring Break NYC

Posted by cjaxon on March 27, 2011

The week before last was spring break. It couldn’t have come soon enough. I spent mine in New York, participating in OCUNYC for my third year now. OCUNYC is a great opportunity – the alumni living in New York prepare workshops and classes with industry professionals, from dance classes with the captains of broadway shows to masterclasses with casting directors, to audition prep and teaching us about Equity, the Actors’ Union. We also get to reconnect with recent alums we may have gone to school with, and network/meet new people. This year it was held in Chelsea Studios, a space where auditions take place all the time.

The best part is: it’s all FREE. One of the benefactors of OCU graciously donates to cover all the expenses of bringing faculty, renting out the studios, and even providing a meet-and-greet dinner on Monday night. We have to pay for transportation and any other meals that week, or entertainment and fun things, but even lodging is often taken care of. Our alumni network asks for volunteers to loan a couch or if a roommate is temporarily out of town, to put students up for the week. 

It’s a week that’s both refreshing to get off campus and into the “real world” of our business, and encouraging. To hear from working professionals that I’m on the right track is a real boost. It’s also a bit overwhelming, especially for first-timers. We work hard and get a lot of information thrown at us, and spring break isn’t exactly a vacation any more. But it’s totally worth it.

For my part, I learned that I’ve got all the right pieces, but I’m not quite ready to  knock it out of the park. Fortunately, thanks to these workshops, I know who I need to work with to continue training. I’ve already got some appointments set up for May when we go back for Showcase, and I’m looking into dance/masterclass schedules in the fall. Mostly I need to continue working on my audition prep, like picking really strong audition pieces, and being confident in simply being myself in the room.

When I first got there this year, everything was different. It’s suddenly more real. Like I said, I’ve done these workshops before, I’ve been to NY several times, but this time I looked around the airport and thought, “Wow, two more times and I won’t be leaving. The luggage I drop off will be all I’m bringing with me.” The fact of living out of 2 suitcases and a back pack is becoming more real every day. I looked around the neighborhood and the apartment I was staying in, and thought, “Could I stay here? Could I come home to this every night?” To be honest, I was a little anxious about it all.

Thank goodness for the rest of the week. The alumni have a few sessions they call NYC-411, where they talk from their own experiences on the basics of living in New York. How to find an apartment, types of “supplement” jobs to pay the rent, other things you’ll have to be ready to pay for, but also other things to do to have fun, to keep your sanity.

One thing I’ve got to remember, and force myself to do regardless of how I feel about it, is to audition for everything. It can be discouraging at times. I don’t really want to audition for American Idiot, punk-rock isn’t really something I’m interested in. I’m afraid of open calls, because you get in line at 6 am in the cold and there are already 50 people ahead of you. And 1000 might audition – how will they ever see me?? But they do, and they will. People books jobs from open calls all the time. And no, I may not be good at punk-rock, but there are so many times that one audition will lead to another, that I may not be right for one project, but I’m perfect for another.

This is why Lance, our acting teacher, informs us that our jobs are longer as “Actors.” Our jobs are as “auditioners.” It is my job, my duty, to get up and go to that audition. When you book a show, consider it vacation.

In spite of the daunting future ahead, I’m excited. I’m excited to move up there, to hang out with my friends, in New York. I’m excited to take classes there, to continue to focus my skills and grow as an entertainer and artist. I’m seeing more clearly just how blessed I am to be in a state of financial stability, to have saved a good chunk and not have loans to pay off. I plan to take August and September to get one, maybe two part time jobs, but to really focus on establishing myself as an artist and a person. Then during the “off months” of Nov-Feb, when there are a lot fewer auditions, I’ll work more.

I’ll move as soon as my contract is up this summer. Maybe after one week, maybe two. (Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll write about it the day I buy that one-way plane ticket!) People have begun to ask “Do you know where you’ll live yet?” The short answer is “Not at all, but it’s okay.” There’s a plan.

I’ll be emailing people over the summer to find a sublet. I forget that many people don’t know what that is. It’s is a very common thing in NY, especially for people newly moving up there. Subletting is where I’ll live in someone’s apartment and pay their rent while they’re out of town. They may have booked a tour or regional work outside the city, and they’ll be gone for a few weeks or a few months. They don’t want to pay their rent while they’re not living in the apartment, so they “sub-let” it to me. The downside, or exciting side as I’ll look at it, is that when they return I have to find a new place to stay. However, this is totally possible. One alum told us that he graduated a year and a half ago, and has lived in ten different places all over town!

There’s alot to think about, alot to prepare for, but alot that I simply can’t do until I just go. One of the casting directors that had a Q&A with us said “You’ll never have enough money to move here, and you’ll never be ready.” At some point, you just have to go. In fact, all this information the alumni throw at us are things that they didn’t necessarily know ahead of time, but figured out on their own, and they’re doing just fine. So what a head start I’ve got!

I know there are big things to consider, but for now all I’m really worried about is the weather. I need warmth and sunshine, and I’ve heard that they still have to wear long sleeves, even though it’s the end of March. Thank goodness it’s warming up here in the OKC.

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