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Set Yourself Up for Success right from the Start!

By: Megan McDermott, Accelerated Artist NYC Career Coach

Do you have dreams of embarking on a career as a performer? And are you about to apply to BFA or MFA programs in acting or musical theatre?

Here are some things to consider when choosing a BFA or MFA program:

1. Where? NY? LA? Imagine a whole life – where do you want to be when living your dream creative life? Start by basing this on your goals, but take into account also your personality, what weather makes you happy? Do you prefer the bustle of the Big Apple or a smaller theatre/indie film scene, such as those found in DC, Chicago, Philly, Atlanta, or Pittsburgh. Or perhaps, Hollywood is calling you and the beauty of LA feels like where you belong. Check out programs in places you can see yourself living and working and creating a home long after completing your degree.

2. When? Is this the right time in your life/career to enter into an intense conservatory program? Is it better for you to take your “gap year” and travel. Or did you just complete a BA or BFA and maybe want to take a few years to work and learn on the boards or behind the camera, create some connections, and build a bit of a resume before you enter into another artistically demanding program such as an MFA? When you go also depends on where you are in your growth and openness as a human being and a creative individual and how much life experience you’ve had. Is this really the right time for you?

3. People! Both the fellow actors you meet in class and the faculty especially faculty are really the artistic relationships that will end up leading to your strongest industry connections and yield future collaborations. Keep in mind also alumni, guest directors, resident playwrights as well. Are there opportunities to understudy or play small parts on a main stage theatre associated with the program? This is a great way to get to know working actors in the industry who can pass along vital advice as well as friendships. Check out the faculty’s experience - are they working actors /directors/ writers? You want to train with the people that have had the acting career you desire. Think of the actors whose talent and careers you most admire – who did they train with?

4. Programming: Back to goals and think big picture. What do you really want to do?  Where is the focus? Theatre/Film/ TV/Musicals/Dance? Certain programs are more theatrically focused, others very well rounded. If you want to do classical work make sure that is a MAJOR part of the training program’s curriculum. What musical theatre programs have the best reputations and are the voice teachers training in the technique that’s right for your voice? Do other departments work together – would you be able to collaborate with the playwriting and directing programs and other musicians? Certain schools have better industry connections and showcases but you want to make sure your craft is the focus and you get the best training possible!

5. Finances: Are you able to afford a degree at this time? Be sure to research your options with loans and financial aid. Do some programs have full or partial scholarships? Consider the debt of a major MFA program on an actors’ budget. Do you need time to save? These programs are usually full time with rehearsals in the evenings and on weekends so it is often impossible to work a side job. Plus, they are ensemble based and require you to be fully present. This may narrow your options, but don’t let these fears get in the way of getting the best training – there is always a way! Remember, learning to balance financial realities with creative endeavors is a must for anyone embarking on a career in the performing arts!

Getting into these schools – this is where Accelerated Artist can help! Once you have done some research on schools, we can help clarify your career goals and identify your brand “sweet spot”. Then we pinpoint and focus in on what you do better than anyone! With brand specific audition material that shows your full range AND that you are super jazzed about you can confidently enter into those audition circuits and share your work and be free to be “you’ authentically in the audition room!

Contact an Accelerated Coach today to get started on your path to the acting career of your dreams!