Culture

For those who have been living under a rock, or out of the sphere of anything related to media, chances are you have heard of Bollywood. No, I didn’t spell Hollywood wrong. Bollywood is an actual word, and it’s now officially defined in the Oxford English dictionary.

After years of attempting to compete against its western counterpart Hollywood, India’s Mumbai housed film industry can stand firm on the morals of its own achieved global success.

Deriving from its former British colonial city name of Bombay, Bollywood has amassed an international following, catapulting its reach of producing almost three times as many movies a year than Hollywood, and allowing to call itself the largest film industry in the world.

The Status

India has its own breed of mega stars who now have the global clout, fame, and a buzz to rival those from America. With its presence at almost all International Film Festivals, Bollywood celebrities are now in a league of their own.

They have massive social media followings, make lucrative endorsement deals with top global brands, and have cash earnings that set them in similar brackets as top Hollywood celebrities. Their reach is not only in India, but their reach abroad is growing as many are choosing to branch outside traditional roles within the Hindi film industry and gain further exposure in the west.

Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World, is India’s latest global export who launched her foreign fame from Bollywood to crossover and become a recording artist to produce hit singles with Pitbull and Will. i. am. for NFL’s Thursday Night Football theme song. In addition, she has also become the first ethnic face of Guess, and landed a new ABC talent television show deal in Los Angeles where she is currently based. With a heavy media push, her team is attempting to introduce a stronger South Asian presence into the American media market. Among other global Bollywood stars with massive fame include Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Katarina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, and Kareena Kapoor.

The Reach

From Cape Town to Canberra, Rio De Janerio to Riyadh, the sheer appeal to audiences and demographics showcase how India’s Hindi film industry position now rivals Hollywood’s reach. The past 20 years have progressed the popularity of Hindi film, in turn allowing for Bollywood to become more of household name in several parts of the emerging world. In addition, the massively clean cut and conservative family approach of no nudity have allowed for its films to amass loyal fans not just in its diaspora communities, but throughout Africa, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Appeal

With its grand sets, exotic destinations, love stories, and iconic song and dance routines, many have dubbed the unique and drastically different format to western media part of its international success. Bollywood films have stayed close to traditional Indian values, but in recent times have become a creative playground to showcase a rising and rapidly westernizing population, home to 1.2+ billion people.

The Influence

With Bollywood paving the way for the western world to gain further exposure into Indian cultural values, art, and dialogues, the influence of it reach is massive. With its heavy hitting presence at every major international film festival – including Cannes – established Indian Industry award shows, and the trickling in of more Indian music, fashion, and media personalities into the daily lives of more westerners, it no longer remains a thriving industry.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is even developing the Emirate’s and world’s first Bollywood mega theme park project aimed at capturing the essence of Hindi cinema, covering a total of three million square feet. With a massive three phase development plan for construction in Dubai, the park will recreate for tourists and residents the extravagance and fantasy that is the world of Bollywood.

Have you seen any Bollywood films?

Image: Wikipedia

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

We are always so inspired by students who take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship while still taking classes and juggling a handful of other responsibilities. One of these inspiring students is Michelle Schechter, a current senior at Northwestern University who started the company For Real Dough. FRD takes a spin on a classic – chocolate chip cookies – and offers its customers an assortment of delicious edible cookie dough (that’s totally safe to eat!). In between classes and friends Michelle answers emails, dreams up new flavors, develops branding and packaging, and so much more. We are in awe of what she has accomplished so far, and can’t wait to see where she takes FRD next. Pass the cookie dough, please!

Name: Michelle Schechter
Age: 22
Education: Northwestern University
Follow: For Real Dough | Facebook | Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Michelle Schechter: I believe taking advantage of any point in my life is about being present. As we get older, we’re surrounded by more and more external (and largely technological) stimuli while becoming increasingly invested and obsessed with the next step, the next job, the next assignment, the next party, the next environment. I think by concentrating on being fully wherever I am and grateful for whatever that is, I have the best chance of stopping time from moving by so fast.

CJ: Why did you decide to attend Northwestern University for your undergraduate experience?

MS: At age 8, I fell madly in love with my next-door neighbor. He had his heart set on Northwestern and I decided right then and there that I did, too.

CJ: What are you studying? Do your passions for arts and cooking intersect at all?

MS: I’m pursuing a theater major, business minor, and music theatre certificate. I think I’ve realized my passions intersect more than I ever anticipated. Baking is creative and so is branding. They’re both very hands-on and experiential. And every business pitch or presentation is kind of like a mini performance.

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CJ: What originally drew you to cooking and experimenting in the kitchen?

MS: When I was about 6 or 7, I would present my own “Food Network Show” to anyone home who would listen. I would usually teach the viewers (my mom and dad) how to make cereal or a peanut butter sandwich. It was my absolute favorite game of make-believe. Maybe one day it won’t be make-believe.

CJ: As the CEO of For Real Dough, what do your day-to-day responsibilities entail?

MS: I oversee everything from production to branding. I’m in the kitchens once a week mixing up cookie dough. I’m also busy taking meetings, working on the website and brand design, conceptualizing flavors, and lots more. I have the help of some amazing friends and teammates who greatly contribute to the design and growth of the company.

CJ: Can you please tell us more about how FRD came to life?

MS: Yeah! I had the recipe for a few years and always loved cookie dough. But last Spring, I was enrolled in an Entrepreneurship class at Northwestern where I was able to explore the product in a more tangible way. At the end of the class, my team won a pitch competition and outside interest in the idea started growing. I decided to meet with the President of Northwestern on a whim to see if I could sell For Real Dough at the Northwestern Convenience Stores (“C-Stores”) and, after sharing samples and memories of cookie dough with everyone in the office, he agreed.

Jennifer Gamboa

CJ: How do you juggle finishing your senior year of college with friends, family, and business?

MS: It’s tough. And very busy. But I really try to spend my time and exert my energy towards things that bring me happiness and positivity. So at the end of the day, excitement and passion can overcome stress. It also helps to be surrounded by supportive and loving friends and family.

CJ: In your experience, what has been the most surprising part about entrepreneurship so far?

MS: The generosity of others. I never could have imagined that so many people would support and help turn a dream of mine into a reality. It’s been an incredibly humbling and eye-opening experience.

CJ: As a self-starter, how do you keep yourself on-track with goals and deadlines?

MS: I try to determine what success means for me and keep that goal in mind with every decision I make. From there, it’s passion for the project itself. It feels good to harness productivity and love and put it towards something that I know will make me feel artistically and intellectually fulfilled.

Michelle S Qs

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

MS: Wake up, have a little dance party, work hard towards my dreams, hug the people I love, take a nap, eat a snack, sleep.

CJ: What has been the best piece of personal advice you’ve been given?

MS: Your will to live must be stronger than your fear of death. (JK Rowling taught me that)

CJ: What has been the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?

MS: You must believe that what you have to say and give to the world is important.

CJ: What advice would you give your 17-year-old self?

MS: Nothing is permanent. Laugh more. Believe in yourself; don’t wait for someone else to.

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Image (top to bottom): Jennifer Gamboa, Rafi Letzler, Justin Barbin

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Julia Schlaepfer has been singing, dancing, and acting since she was a young girl. She started ballet at an early age, but it wasn’t until fourth grade when she performed in The Nutcracker that she realized she wanted to be a performer. Julia was involved with theater and ballet in high school, and when it came time to go to college, she moved across the country to New York City to study at the Atlantic Acting School through Tisch at New York University.

Julia is thoughtful, passionate about her craft, and so much fun to talk to about anything related to acting, singing, and theater. Working tirelessly to pursue her dreams, when Julia is not in class, she is in a workshop or rehearsal. Whether she is on-stage or on-screen, Julia is moving, emotional, and deeply immersed in her roles. Take a moment to get to know this rising star. When looking back at her 15-year-old self, Julia says it best when she notes, “Breathe. Remember that everything doesn’t just happen all at once, it’s a process.” We couldn’t agree more.

Name: Julia Schlaepfer
Age: 19
Education: Student at Atlantic Acting School, Tisch School of the Arts (New York University)
Follow: Backstage

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Julia Schlaepfer: To me that means wholeheartedly going after all of your dreams and not being afraid to fail. One of my old acting teachers used to tell us to dare to suck. That’s so applicable because it’s all about falling on your face and getting back up and trying again. Take advantage of all the opportunities you have now.

CJ: What are you studying at Tisch? Why did you choose to go to school in New York City?

JS: I’m studying acting at the Atlantic Acting School through Tisch at NYU. I auditioned for 11 schools because the programs are so small and competitive. I always knew I wanted to end up in New York just because it’s such a hub for art and the industry I want to go into. I really liked how you are also involved with academics at Tisch because it’s important to educate yourself on what’s going on in the world around you. I loved my audition, too. They wanted to know who I was as a person. I love the program – it’s three days a week acting and two days a week academics, which I feel is a good balance.

I have two academic classes and an elective that I take on my academic days, and then the other three days I’m at studio all day which is off-campus with the Atlantic Acting School. You get placed into different schools based on specific techniques and what your audition looked like. I’m at the Atlantic Acting School, where we study practical aesthetics, David Mamet’s technique.

Josh Marten

CJ: You’re from Seattle. What advice do you have for people moving across the country for college?

JS: Don’t lose contact with your family. I’m very close with my family. When you’re across the country, it’s nice to know that you have people supporting you back home.

Put yourself out there because everyone is going through the same thing as you. Most of them are in a new place and don’t know anyone. Let yourself have fun and meet new people. Spread yourself out and try everything because you never know what you’re going to find.

Enjoy yourself and have fun. You’re in a new place that you applied to. You chose the school. The academics and the work can get hard sometimes, but let yourself take breaks and have fun.

CJ: What sparked your love of performing?

JS: I was placed into ballet when I was young because I was born with my feet very turned in. I would trip over my feet as a baby, so the doctors told my parents to put me in ballet. I started ballet really young and I wasn’t interested in other sports. My parents were so supportive and would watch all of my performances. It was something that was always there and I never doubted it.

The moment I knew I wanted to be a performer was in the fourth grade when I did The Nutcracker. I was addicted and couldn’t stop.

CJ: You were involved in the Pacific Northwest Ballet and you did Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. What were those experiences like?

JS: It was incredible. From a young age we were thrown onto the stage with professional ballerinas. We got to interact with the older dancers and they were so welcoming. These artists that I grew up wanting to be were right in front of me interacting with me. It was so inspiring at such a young age. It fueled my love for what I do even more.

One of my favorite things about ballet is that it’s not only art but also athleticism. You have to be an athlete. I loved doing that hard physical work.

CJ: In addition to ballet, you were also in theater productions. How do you mentally and physically prepare for those roles?

JS: It’s changed since I’ve gotten to the Atlantic Acting School. Before, I would do a few vocal warmups and jumping jacks, get my body warmed up. If you don’t have a little bit of fear and a lot of nerves, there’s something wrong. My movement teacher at Atlantic taught us that it’s been scientifically researched that the moment before an actor steps onstage, the same thing happens in their body that happens in their body during a car crash. You have to act and perform at the same time, and that fear will never go away. You’ll always have that moment beforehand. Breathing is really important and reminding yourself that you prepared and did the work.

Now at Atlantic, we have an entire routine that we work on with speech articulators and vocal warmups. We also do a movement warmup to help us get inside our body. Thinking about what makes us feel alive is helpful and inspiring before we go onstage. I also like to listen to music.

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CJ: How do you stay motivated during each performance?

JS: It’s all about reminding yourself why you chose to be an actor in the first place. I chose to commit myself to this kind of life for a reason, and reminding myself how much I love what to do is helpful.

CJ: What is it like working, living, and studying with your peers who have become close friends but who are also in that same professional space?

JS: We all support each other so much. On the first day of class, our performance technique teacher told us to eat our humble pie. You’re only as good as your classmates and ensemble members. The people who I work with are great about that. They are there for you when you’ve had a bad day or a rough scene. They’re also supportive when you get good feedback or get a role.

CJ: You’ve done theater, ballet, singing – you’ve also done film work. How do your film experiences differ from your theater roles?

JS: Theater is so immediate. You have two hours to tell a story and it makes you feel alive. I love film because the acting is a lot more subtle and it feels more real a lot of the time. Obviously it’s not as theatrical. With film I feel like I’m telling a more intimate story, which I love. Sometimes it’s hard because in the middle of an intense scene you might be stopped and have to do another take. You always have to be on your toes but that’s what makes working on films is exciting.

CJ: How much time do you actually spend auditioning?

JS: It was hard last year because I was still getting the hang of things at school. This year now that I have a better feel for my schedule, it’s a little bit easier to audition. This fall I auditioned for, and will be in, a television pilot called Easel R. There also an online database through New York University where student directors can contact me. Then you have to decide whether you’ll have enough time to do that project and balance school at the same time. School and training is very important to me, so there’s not too much time for that. If I can, I’ll take advantage of as many opportunities as I can while trying to stay sane.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you’ve learned from being a working actress?

JS: One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to stay true to yourself. Moving to New York City to pursue an acting career at 18-years-old is terrifying. It’s a rough business, and it can be easy to lose sight of why you started in the first place. It’s really important to bring it back and stay grounded. There will always be people telling you what you should and shouldn’t look like, and those opinions are all going to conflict. As long as you have a clear vision of your goal and who you want to be as a person and how you want to conduct yourself, that’s what’s really important to being grounded and staying yourself.

CJ: How has taking classes changed the way you act or view acting?

JS: It’s changed it a lot. David Mamet created this technique called practical aesthetics and it’s a four-step script analysis process. You go through all these steps and at the end you have a clear action of what your character is playing in a scene. Before I’d just read a script and start acting, but now it’s a clear and simplified version of your character encompassed in whatever scene you’re playing. It helps bring characters to life and really humanizes them. It’s been fun to explore a method of what you do when you’re onstage.

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CJ: How has what you’ve learned in your acting classes helped you in your everyday life?

JS: It’s helped a lot in terms of just being a really curious and empathetic human being. My teachers say that the number one rule of being a good actor is being a nice person. Every day when we’re analyzing scenes and trying to bring someone’s story to life, you feel so much for this character. You’re always taking this person’s side because at the end of the day you have to portray them in an honest way. It makes you curious about other people and open to listening to others.

I’ve also learned to be more present with the people around me and connect with people on a real level.

CJ: What advice do you have for other youth or peers who are interested in acting?

JS: Be a nice person. That’s so important because people won’t want to work with you if you’re not a good, genuine, and caring person. When you walk into an audition room, people are going to remember you if you’re kind and open to trying to new things.

Also, work hard. Hard work pays off. It’s so applicable to acting because it’s really tough, and there will always be 100 other people auditioning for one role. If you sit down and prepare and learn the material, no one can ever take away the amount of work that you do. If you work your butt off, that’s going to show.

CJ: Every day must look different, but what does a typical Monday look like for you?

JS: I wake up and have to be at the studio by 8am. Classes start at 8:30am. I will have an assortment of script analysis class, Shakespeare class, movement and voice class, speech work, or film class. We get done with studio at 6pm. I then have rehearsal for a few more hours after that. When I get home I do academic work for the next day.

CJ: What specific things do you do to improve in your craft?

JS: I stay in practice. I’ve gotten so many amazing tools from Atlantic and my training about how to be your best emotional, physical, and mental self. I do my warmups every day. Keep applying yourself and practicing.

CJ: What do you like to do in your free time?

JS: I like to go to plays as much as possible. We get a lot of free or discounted tickets through Atlantic, so we take advantage of that. I also like to get away from the theater sometimes. I like to go to Washington Square Park with friends, watch movies, go for walks along the river, and spend time with friends. I like to feed my soul with as many different things as possible.

CJ: What play has had the greatest impact on you, and why?

JS: I would say the play Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph. It was the first play I fell in love with. It’s incredible. It’s the story of two children who first meet in elementary school, and the play skips around throughout their life. Their story is tragically beautiful and important because of how exposed and vulnerable the characters are. So many people hide those ugly parts of their lives but Joseph just throws it all out on the table. It feels so real to me.

Also any play by Anton Chekhov. There are no words to describe the amount of heart he has poured into each and every one of his characters. His plays have truly changed my life.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old-self?

JS: Breathe. Remember that everything doesn’t just happen all at once, it’s a process. You’ll get to where you want to be eventually. Also, remember that happiness comes first. Working hard is important, but at the end of the day you have to be happy.

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Image: Andrew Schlaepfer, Josh Marten

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Whether it is a role in the theater, on a television show, or in movies, Caroline Lindy will seriously impress you with her talent. A graduate of Kenyon college with a focus on Drama, Caroline not only has incredible acting skills, but she adds depth to her work with her study of dramatic literature. With diverse experiences on the sets of an operetta, Law & Order: SVU, Liberal Arts, and most recently a music video, Caroline is learning a lot and excelling in her career. Despite her success, Caroline also experiences self-doubt every now and then, but her positive outlook keeps her motivated. Continue reading to learn what advice Caroline has for youth interested in acting, what she has learned from being a working actress, and how she determined what to study in college.

Name: Caroline Lindy
Age: 24
Education: B.A. from Kenyon College
Follow: IMDb

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

I define “seizing your youth” as taking full advantage of these years where anything is possible and nothing is off limits. It’s about being open to everything and everybody. When you’re young, it’s your job to never stop learning, growing and figuring out what you want and need from life. It’s a time to take risks, fail, and as corny as it sounds, reach for the stars!

What did you major in at Kenyon College and how did you determine what to study?

Kenyon College has great Drama and English programs, and I was originally interested in studying English. Ultimately, I realized I was more interested in the process of analyzing and physicalizing works of dramatic literature rather than exploring works of fiction and non-fiction. I continued to take English courses but chose to focus on Drama more intensively, and it became my major.

What or who inspired you to become an actress?

I grew up in New York City, and I was lucky enough to have parents who took me to plays and musicals and made me watch Hollywood classic films. I danced next to the television set while watching Singing in the Rain and recited Shakespeare along with Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I loved everything about the theater and the screen from a very young age. That exposure is what probably inspired me to pursue a career in the field.

Did you always know that you wanted to act professionally?

Yes, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself for a long time. I was too embarrassed to really audition for any plays until my senior year in high school. Entertaining people is scary territory, and it took me awhile to develop the confidence to be able to sometimes fail and embarrass myself in front of an audience.

What was your first professional acting role, and how did you go about securing it?

My first professional acting role was when I was in the sixth grade. I took an after-school musical class where we sang show tunes, and I performed with great gusto. The teacher knew the director of the Bronx Opera Company, and I landed my first role in their production of “Boccaccio”, an operetta. I played one of the village children and sang in the chorus, and I was totally delighted. It was the most exciting thing that could have happened to sixth grade Caroline Lindy.

You were in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. What was that experience like and what was your biggest take away?

The experience was very exciting! SVU films in NYC, but I got the email about an audition just as my plane landed back in Los Angeles after a visit to NYC. I quickly filmed my audition and sent it to the NY casting office. I got the part, and had to turn right around and fly back east. Filming only took a day, but was a total blast. Everyone was warm, welcoming and professional! I felt very lucky to have been given a role.

You are in the new Dizzy Bats music video, GIRLS. What was it like shooting a music video, and how is the process different than filming for a movie or television show?

Most music videos require actors to focus primarily on expressions and gestures as opposed to text and dialogue. I actually find shooting a music video to sometimes be harder than shooting a scene for screen, because you are provided with less information about your character and have to be comfortable just being yourself with a camera right on your face.

What was your favorite scene to shoot in the GIRLS music video? What was the hardest scene?

I really enjoyed the scene that we shot on the Ferris wheel.  The views of Los Angeles and the Malibu mountains off in the distance were truly breathtaking! The hardest scenes were the driving scenes. Connor [Frost] was driving and I kept on distracting him, almost causing us to get into minor accidents. Luckily we made it out alive. Don’t film and drive!

Caroline Lindy

What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a working actress?

Stay a student. Never stop learning from people who have been in the industry for longer than you.  Don’t be afraid of rejection – it’s inherently part of the profession, so learn to accept it and move on. Once you stop being afraid of hearing the word “NO,” then you can start having more fun at auditions, and start showing casting directors and other industry folks your true artistry.

What advice do you have for youth who want to be professional actors/actresses?

Being a professional actress demands that you throw yourself into an incredibly competitive group of people with giant egos and enormous amounts of talent. However, it is also an industry that embraces the individual. The most important piece of advice I think I could give a young actress would be to just be you. When you’re just starting out, bring yourself into every audition, because there might be a million girls who look and sound similar to you, but there’s no one who is exactly you. So show that to the world! If this casting director doesn’t love you, the next one will! As long as you’re enjoying the process of building a career, don’t give up.

What does a day in your life look like?

When you’re an actress you have to be ready to embrace an unpredictable schedule. I get auditions notices throughout the week and therefore have to keep my schedule fairly open and flexible. I usually try to start off my day with physical and vocal warm ups, followed by auditions, classes or rehearsals (if I’m in a show). I’m also constantly taking on freelance work to supplement my income.

How do you overcome self-doubt or stage fright?

There are times when I feel terrified or feel like a failure, and I say things to myself like, “maybe I should go to Medical School.” However, I remind myself that my favorite feeling in the world is being on stage and feeling the energy of an audience. I love acting because I love entertaining people, I love telling stories and I love being around other people who like to create those stories with me. It’s my favorite thing to do, and it keeps me motivated and inspired.

What motivates you?

My parents, other family members and friends. Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to pursue this career.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Dare to be different! As long as you are a considerate, thoughtful and good person, who cares what people think of you? Be yourself and have fun. Life is too short to live any other way.

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

Rachel Geisler is awesome. It’s as simple as that. We first met Rachel during an internship in New York City, and since that summer, she has been doing incredible things. For instance, she played Anna in the Spring Awakening National Tour. Pretty cool, right? She also spent a semester in London traveling and studying. When Rachel isn’t auditioning, she is honing her acting and singing skills and working part-time. We are beyond inspired by Rachel’s self-motivation and determination, and we can’t wait to see her again on-stage and on-screen! Read on for insight into her pre-show rituals, what she does when she forgets a line during a live performance, and a sneak peek into what life was like on the Spring Awakening National Tour.

Name: Rachel Geisler
Age: 22
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts at New York University
Follow: Twitter

How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?

Seizing your youth means taking every opportunity that you might have in your youth that you won’t have when you’re older. Things like taking a job or an internship that doesn’t necessarily meet your desired trajectory just take that experience and to enjoy it. A lot of my friends still get a lot of financial help from their parents, so that frees you up to take a restaurant job and to audition, which is super helpful and something pretty specific to being at this age.

What did you major in at New York University and how did you determine what to study?

I majored in Musical Theater. I grew up in New York City so I was always exposed to theater. My parents took me to shows and to the ballet when I was younger, and that definitely had a huge impact on me. I always loved the arts. I didn’t know that I wanted to perform for a long time. I wasn’t that person. Some of my friends had that moment or the show that they saw that made them want to perform forever, but I think it was a gradual appreciation for me and once I started taking voice lessons, it became more serious for me.

I found a summer camp, Stagedoor Manor, that I went to from when I was 12 to when I was 18. It was a performing arts theater camp and I was inspired by the teachers and performers to pursue theater. When I started at NYU, Musical Theater seemed like the obvious choice for me.

Did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?

I spent a semester in London. I think that everybody should study abroad at some point. It was an unbelievable experience, not just for theater but for the academics. I decided not to take any theater classes when I was there, but I saw a lot of shows. It gave me a great perspective and refreshed my appreciation for theater, which I needed at the time. Just being able to travel and being in Europe and having access to cheaper flights was great and I got to see a lot of new countries.

What or who inspired you to become a professional actress?

I started at NYU, which can be a very overwhelming place. It’s a big school and there are a lot of things to study. After my freshman year I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to stick with theater. And then I got the Spring Awakening National Tour and when I ended up doing that, there was no going back. That experience solidified theater for me.

I interned at Seventeen Magazine the summer before thinking that I was really interested in publishing and the fashion world. I had never really made up my mind as to which direction I wanted to go in, and then after the National Tour, I knew that theater was what I wanted to do.

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You played Anna in the Spring Awakening National Tour. Tell us about that experience.

It was the best year of my life thus far. It was so much fun. I was a huge, huge fan of Spring Awakening when it was on Broadway. I saw it about eight or nine times. I was that theater geek who saw it every weekend I could.

I loved being on the Spring Awakening National Tour, I got to see the rest of the country. My family had traveled but we never really traveled within the United States. My mom is from Japan so we were always in Asia or elsewhere, but seeing the United States was a really fun experience. Especially getting to do that with 20 other people around your age and who also love the same thing that you love, it was a really wonderful experience and I grew up a lot on that Tour.

How do you prepare for a National Tour?

You have to be in the best shape you can possibly be in, vocally and making sure you’re taking care of yourself. You’re going from bus to plane to theater, and all of the traveling does take a huge toll on your body. Just going in with an open mind and being open to the new experiences. Take care of yourself but also remember to have fun and take advantage of what I was doing.

How do you stay motivated on-stage night after night of performing?

That’s a tough one. We did 137 performances of Spring Awakening. A lot of tours do upwards of about 600 shows. For Spring Awakening, the whole cast is pretty much on-stage for the entire show. We’re sitting on the side and watching the action happening. It’s easier to stay engaged when you’re on-stage and supporting your fellow actors. You don’t ever want to be that person who is zoning out.

Getting tired does happen and you can get jet-lagged. We were in Colorado and got altitude sickness. There were points in the show where I would make sure to embrace what was happening. Even if I was exhausted and wanted to be done with the performance and go to bed, I would remember that I was on the National Tour of Spring Awakening. I would remind myself that I wanted this for so long and that I needed to enjoy it. That would always bring me back when I got tired.

What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a working actress?

One of the best things that I’ve learned is to be a good person. There are a lot of talented people. You think sometimes that there are some roles that only one person could play. But there were so many girls that could have played Anna in Spring Awakening, so I think the thing that sets you apart is to be a good person.

You have to be the kind of person that the director or casting director would want to spend 12 hours a day in rehearsal with. If you set yourself up with success by being nice and professional and being open and kind, that will set you apart from the millions of other people trying to act and land roles. Some of them might have an attitude problem or take the opportunities for granted and be a diva about it. I got really lucky with Spring Awakening because everybody was young and didn’t have much of an ego, but that’s not necessarily the case with other circumstances. Keep reminding yourself that you want to be the person that other people want to work with.

How do you overcome self-doubt or stage fright?

If you’re not scared there’s something wrong. It’s just a matter of learning how to channel the self-doubt and stage fright. I always get nervous. I’m always scared. I love performing but I’m not the best with public speaking. It’s just different ways of approaching different performances or exhibition.

With theater, it’s just doing the most work you could possibly do so you can do the best show no matter what. If something goes wrong, you should know the character and the story. If someone drops a line, you’ll know how to pick it up and keep the story moving. That is completely necessary in theater. People forget lines all the time. We did 137 shows and if you lose focus for one second, a line can leave you so you have to trust that the rest of the people you’re working with can handle the situation.

Have you ever forgotten a line and what are you thinking in that moment?

All the time! I didn’t have that many lines in Spring Awakening. There was one show where there was a horrible smell on-stage and I kind of choked a little bit, so everyone on stage with me thought I forgot my line because I couldn’t get my words out. It was horrible. But then someone was on it with the next line and you bring yourself back to it. If you’re in character and you know what your character wants to say, it might not be the exact line but something along those lines. Then you’ll get a note from your Stage Manager telling you that what you said wasn’t the actual line, and you’re like, yes, I know. I forgot. The next time you’ll get it right.

Do you have any pre-show rituals to get into character?

Some people go crazy with their pre-show rituals. I am really into music so if it’s a first night of a show, I try to figure out the right playlist that gets me in the state-of-mind. For Spring Awakening, that was more pump-up music because that show was a lot of energy. For other things it could be mellower. I love to listen to music.

I also try to go around to everyone who I’m in the show with and just say “hey.” When you’re on tour, you get to the theater and everyone goes to their dressing rooms and you don’t see each other until you’re on-stage. I just love to touch base and catch up really quickly and say “hi.”

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What advice do you have for youth who want to be professional actors/actresses?

Do it. There are so many people who will tell you so many different things about how hard it is, and it’s true, it’s not easy. There are definitely waves of success and sometimes you think you’re perfect for something and it doesn’t work out – maybe you’re too tall or you don’t fit into the costume of the previous person who played the role.

I’m a huge believer that you have to be a smart person to be a smart actor. I think education is insanely important and not just training. Training in the craft of acting is hugely important, but I think that learning the history of what you’re doing and keeping yourself informed on current events and being well-read just makes you a better actor. If you have things that are not related to theater or drama, that’s great because most of the time you’re playing real people and it helps to have those experiences.

That’s one of the reasons why I chose NYU – they have a huge emphasis on the academic side of theater and making sure you’re a well-rounded person as well as a well-rounded actor.

What does a day in your life look like?

It’s so different. I live with two people who have pretty standard schedules and mine is all over the place. If I have an audition, which hopefully I do, I like to go to the gym to wake my body up and do yoga. Sit in the steam room for a little bit. After an audition, I call my mom and talk to her for a little bit. I work at a restaurant so I’m there three or four times a week. That’s part of my day. Because I went to school in New York, I still have use of the facilities so if I have time, I’ll practice monologues and sing to help me feel connected with my craft. When you’re waitressing and auditioning constantly, you start to feel like you’re this product and you have to reconnect with your craft and what you worked really hard to do. I try to do that as often as possible.

What activities were you involved in throughout high school? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

I loved high school. I did a little bit of everything in high school. I played basketball, did yearbook, and student government. I went to a really small private school in New York so everybody was involved in everything, which was great. I went to a school with somewhat of an art scene and they definitely appreciated the arts a lot.

One of my teachers, Margie Duffield, was a huge influence on me. I always loved singing and dancing and she was the one who pushed me to do more acting, and she introduced me to a lot of the techniques that I use now and when I was in school. That was a really big thing for me and having that influence who made me realize that I was enough and I could do more than musical theater.

What has your experience been like going to college in New York City?

I loved it. Clearly, I never left! It can be hard because sometimes the city is very overwhelming. My brother is now at the University of Maryland and I hear all these fun stories about what they do on-campus and all these things that are so foreign to me. One of the things about being in New York is that I was very involved with the theater community. After I came back from Spring Awakening, I was able to continue auditioning and working and do readings and workshops. Things that people not in the city don’t necessarily get to do.

I’m also a huge family person and my family lives here and at the time my younger brother was here, so it was important for me to be in New York. I thought NYU was the best fit for me so it all worked out. If I hadn’t been in New York, I wouldn’t have been able to audition for Spring Awakening, and I wouldn’t have had that experience. Everything happens for a reason.

What motivates you in your everyday life?

If you want to pursue theater, you have to keep yourself motivated. You won’t have someone everyday telling you “Great job!” Unless you’re doing a show you don’t really get that reinforcement. You have to take every little victory that you can get. If you’re standing in a studio and you hit a note better than you felt like you have a week ago, take that victory. That’s a step towards what you want to be doing.

I’ll go take a dance class and motivate myself to do what I want to be doing. When you’re not in school, there’s no one telling you that you have to go to this dance class or read this play. I try to read as many plays as I can. One of my friends is actually doing something that I admire – she’s reading a new play every day. Before she goes to bed, she reads a new play.

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Who is your role model?

My mom. It’s so cliché it almost pains me to say it. She studied art in college and didn’t necessarily end up pursuing it for the rest of her life, but she has such an appreciation for it and is so supportive of me. She’s one of those people whose words just make sense to me. She’ll just tell me what I was thinking – who knows you better than your mom?

There are definitely people whose careers I admire, but I don’t know them on a personal level so I can’t really call them a role model.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Calm down. Being in high school in general, especially with theater, it seems like so much focus on doing an exact thing a certain way to get into college. It just seems like that is your goal – to get into college. I don’t know anybody who didn’t figure it out for themselves. They might not have gone to the college they wanted to go to, or maybe they spent a semester somewhere and worked really hard and transferred, but it’s not the end all be all. People change their majors and idea of what they want to do all the time.

In high school, you’re thinking you have to get into a specific school for a certain program. I would tell myself to calm down and that everything will work itself out. Enjoy high school because it’s such a weird time where you’re old enough to start having fun but you’re still living with your parents and getting all the benefits of that. Enjoy it and don’t think too far ahead of yourself.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully a show! I went back to school after Spring Awakening and I put all of my focus on that because graduating was really important to me. I graduated this past May and worked a little bit this summer on a few projects. My friends have started writing plays and directing and choreographing, so I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of their work. You don’t get paid or anything, but collaborating is so fun.