Last month, I had the honor of being invited to speak on the Theatre Alumni Panel at my alma mater, SUNY New Paltz, during Alumni Weekend 2018.
I was so thrilled and overcome with nostalgia to be back in the comforts of Parker Theatre and McKenna Theatre, where I spent four incredible years rehearsing, performing, dancing, learning, growing as an artist and young adult. I wouldn't trade my experience as a Theatre Arts Major for anything, and it was days like this when I wish I could go back and do it all over again, with even more awareness and mindfulness about how fortunate I was to be a student there.
Speaking on this panel of badass female alums, all of us working diligently in the industry in some capacity, was such a fantastic opportunity to connect with the current Theatre Arts students, answer their questions and try to offer some advice on how to continue building their acting careers outside college. I tried to emphasize the importance of defining their own vision of SUCCESS and what will bring them happiness working in this field. And to remember to maintain a full, active, healthy lifestyle beyond "The Biz". For me, creating my own content and performance opportunities with friends has been key, and consistent networking and creative collaboration within NYC's comedy community has kept me busy and fulfilled for the last decade. As well as fitness, travel, quality time with family and friends, and sometimes just long walks in the woods.
Something else I tried to express to the students, in not as many words, but hopefully they understood my meaning: There are days when I feel like a total fraud, when I feel like I don't have the talent or training or face or body to be seen by an audience, then days when I feel like an overnight commercial and subway ad star, days when I feel like the funniest person on stage, days when I feel really empowered as a producer and director and writer, days when I think I've completely outgrown acting because it feels like the most self-absorbed job in the world, and then days when I think I'm going to explode if I don't get back on stage or in front of a camera again, because I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. At this point, I don't think any of those emotions are going to stop, but at least I am getting better at stepping back and recognizing them all. And at least I know I will always enjoy connecting with other artists of all background and ages as we move through it together.