Hello! I’m Elyse and I’m a professional actress born and raised in Queens. Thank you fo taking the time to peruse my thoughts on what I have taken from my time studying literature at Queens College.
Firstly, let me say the people I met at QC completely flipped my life around. They remain my close circle and creative partners all these years later. I was a double major in English and Drama. Studying English in conjunction with performing profoundly helped me advance in my career thus far. Let’s just say– the power of rhetoric and knowing how to use it can get you far.
The skills you acquire can come out to play in such unexpected ways. Conversations I have had based at on Shakespeare or Dream Theory or John Donne or whatever—these all make you a more interesting person. People will want to engage in conversation withyou. You know things! Not just how to sit in silence and use a calculator or code or trollthe Internet; you know about ideas. You know how to contribute to a conversation, andquestion things and argue a point. You have had discussions and debates about these ideas. You know the stories of people all around the world, people whose lives are completely different than your experience. You can draw on this knowledge in so many different ways, in so many different settings— job interviews, auditions, networking events, family dinners! You never know which future employer is a huge Jung fan. And these things are important! It is all about connection.
When I was getting ready to graduate from QC, I was preparing to apply to Graduate School for acting. This experience is beyond daunting because the competition is insane. I was ambitious and only applied to the top 3 schools in the country. I wasn’t worried about the audition part (okay, that’s a lie), but even more, I was terrified to sit down and write the dreaded STATEMENT OF PURPOSE. Well, when I finally sat my butt down and got to it, it was easy. Not the facing yourself part, but the part where I said, “Come on girl. How many papers have you had to write on a deadline with no sleep and a billion things on your mind on a topic that doesn’t interest you at all? And you got A’s! You can do this!” And I did. And I got an A! Well… there are no grades on those things, but I was accepted to a program that only accepts ten students a year. A straightforward example of how your writing skill, and ability to put your thoughts on the page and make them work for you in invaluable.
At school, I kept writing, and finished my first play, which was produced in the Sky Festival at the American Conservatory Theater. Since then, I have been working nonstop in my field. I have toured and performed at the Moscow Art Theatre, The Town hall Theater of Galway, Ireland, Theatre Calgary in Alberta, and California Shakespeare Theatre. Since moving back to Queens, I have been working with my theater company (a company I started while at QC with other students) producing theater and acting. I was recently cast as the lead in a feature film and am in the middle of shooting as we speak!
(Multitasking… another thing I learned from my time at QC).
I’ve heard so many people say, “Well… yeah. I have an English major that will never do anything for me.” But that’s simply not true. You make it work for you. You have empowered yourself. You have the ideas and theories and stories and speeches of all the greats you have studied and written about and spoken about inside of you. And you actually know how to communicate! It always blows my mind how many people simply do not possess this skill. It will allow you to rise to the top faster than those who do not.
And part deux of that thought? I believe it is imperative to use this knowledge, this strength to pursue a career that actually excites you. What kind of job will make you excited to wake up in the morning? An editor? A playwright? A reporter? A Hotel Reviewer? Times are tough and starting salaries can be scary. But what will make that starter paycheck worth it is if you are working toward something that you want to be a part of. And every one of us has something that no one else has. Figuring that out is a really important step in the start of your journey as you—the grown up QC graduate who is now out in the “real world” stirring up trouble and making a difference. I still take side jobs to get the bills paid, and with every job I take, I make sure it is in some way related to my craft, or making me a better human, or something that I just flat out enjoy. At the end of the day the most important person is you—your health, your happiness, and maintaining your passion. You have the skills to do that. So go do it!
All the best,
PS: My sincere apologies for my abuse of the exclamation point. It’s always been a problem… tsk tsk…bad English major!
Connect with Elyse on LinkedIn.