Before graduating the University of Florida this past spring, I remember feeling eager and filled with so many questions. Where do I go from here? Do I apply for grad school? What goals should I set in order to reach my dreams? The acting program is top notch in many ways-the skills and lessons I took from my mentors are impossible to put a price on. Well..I guess my tuition is the price, but ok let's get back to nostalgia here. Nonetheless, I came out of UF with a professional mind, an understanding of the value of my work, and a drive to get my career moving.
In my last semester of college especially, I remember wondering: will there be people beyond these walls to help me out there? To give me tips and pointers? Or just to understand and relate to what I'm going through? I was fully prepared to dive right in on my own, but many of my mentors and friends reassured me that I will never be truly alone. They all continued to say one thing: the Gator Nation is strong out there. They encouraged me to gain knowledge from currently working Gator grads and to be ready to humbly give knowledge, once I reach my own successes and milestones. When many of my classmates began reaching out to graduated friends in New York and LA, and started to get jobs and internships from these connections, I realized just how strong the Gator Nation really is and how important it is that we continue to support each other and stick together upon graduation.
I don't know if many programs are like this, but I think it's another thing that sets UF's Acting program apart from others. By understanding and respecting each others' individual gifts and talents, we look out for each other and keep an eye out for what might be a great gig for someone else. I mean how crazy is it that I run into Marcellis Cutler at my first professional audition, learn he's Gator, and work with him during my professional debut at the Emerald Coast Theatre Company? Crazy awesome is what it is.
So far, I've set my eyes and goals on LA, checking in with fellow grads, like Chelsea Stancil and Cynthia Hilaire. It's been so exciting to follow their journey and see their success over in LA. It's no surprise if you know these ladies, you know they are both fierce and dedicated. It's also been great to see other fellow Gators like Zoe Brown, Angelique Rivera, and Adam Kattan shine out there in such unique ways from commercial work, to television, philanthropy, modeling, you name it. A guy I went to high school with, Storm Wilbur is killing it in LA, starring in music videos of big artists such as Avicii and Dillon Francis. It's so encouraging to see them succeeding. I'm looking forward to getting out there, planting roots, and experiencing LA through my own point of view, as well as theirs. It's so refreshing to know that Gators are out there, with the same training as me, slaying the game as we millennials like to say.
So, what have I been up to in the meantime? You bet I've been working my tail off to gear up for LA or wherever life takes me in the upcoming months. I've been rehearsing for Sylvia, auditioning, learning to market myself, and building my portfolio. Most recently, my attention has been on networking with friends and local photographers to collaborate on shoots. I can't tell you how refreshing and right it feels to sit down with another artist and bounce ideas off of each other. To be excited about what we are going to create. Pictures say a thousand words-another reason it's so important to have a diverse portfolio that captures the many sides of you.
I reached out to Josh Andrews, a current BFA Musical Theatre student at UF, to see if he wanted to collaborate on a project. I noticed that in addition to his incredible theatrical skills, he is also very skilled at photography. You can also tell right off the bat, that he loves doing it and he loves experimenting with texture and lighting. That's an immediate indication of someone I'd love to work with-someone who's willing to play and experiment in the artistic process. To my excitement, he said yes! We met at the Jacksonville Town Center a few days ago and shot in the middle of shopping madness, but it didn't bother us too much. In fact, I think it made it an even more fun and interesting experience. We were sort of feeding off of the energy bustling around that place. I've included a few shots from that day below. Enjoy!
To view more shots from my collaboration with Josh, just click the Gallery tab at the top of the page! The photos can be found in the Fashion & Lifestyle folder in the Gallery.
You can view and follow Josh's work on Instagram at @photews, as well as on Facebook at facebook.com/photews.
Thank you Josh. It was a truly a joy to work with you. Stay tuned for more collaborations soon!
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