Star Pupils Offer Advice on Making It in the Arts

Lacamoire The pros of college are that you need experience being away from home, growing up and becoming an adult. But if you have what it takes and there is an amazing opportunity — let’s say you get offered the national tour of “Wicked” — take it.

De Pablo There are many roads to achieve success. I have worked with tremendous actors who work with no training and with some who have gotten the most incredible training. But I don’t think I would have gotten into a place like Carnegie Mellon if my talents had not been guided by these teachers at New World and certainly by the students I was surrounded by.

McCraney If going to college is important to the artist, then it’s important. But if not, then not.

Getting into a good college theater or music program is painfully competitive. Some take only 12 to 16 students, based largely on auditions. What advice do you offer?

De Pablo It’s a muscle. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get. In the professional world, hopefully you are auditioning every day. The big advice is when you audition, especially if you have time, try to get the material memorized. Get your eyes off the page. Try to connect. One teacher said to me, “When you leave yourself alone, you can be absolutely compelling.” Get out of your own way.

McCraney I auditioned for New World three times. I didn’t get in until the last, and even then it was through a waiting list. The first audition, I was nervous and unprepared. The piece I had had no relevance to my life at all. It was Christopher Durang’s “Baby With the Bathwater.” I found it in a monologue book. I started to write my own pieces then. Even then, I knew work was not made for gay, poor, dark-skin teenagers.

Were your parents supportive of your desire to pursue the arts, a profession where jobs are scarce?

McCraney Most of the time — not about dancing but acting and writing, yes.

De Pablo My parents came from a comfortable reality in South America and they thought every reality was going to be a comfortable one. You want to go to this school — fantastic. They were incredibly kind, but a little ignorance is bliss, too.

Lacamoire They were extremely supportive. My mom especially would listen to the teachers, who would say your son is special, your son is doing things that other people can’t. She never said to me, study dentistry instead. Somewhere in there she was concerned and wanted to make sure I had a backup….

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