What brought you to UNT?
I heard about UNT though my sister. She went there before I went there and I had several friends that went to UNT as well. All these people had really wonderful things to say about it. It was close to home too so it sounded like a really good school for me.
What was it like to study at UNT?
It was wonderful. I was really prepared for it from my high school. I got a lot of college credit for it, but all of the professors I had were really helpful. They helped me a whole lot, and of course I had all these wonderful friends to help me through it as well. It was a good a place to study.
What was the biggest lesson you learned while in schooling and in your field of work?
I guess my biggest lesson I learned was to always work as hard as I possibly could both in school and in my field of work. This is only because hard work always paid off for me. I was taught if you continued to work hard you would always be granted or something good will always come of your hard work. That's the biggest lesson I was taught.
What are you currently working on?
Currently theatre wise I am working on a show in Coppell. It is with a theatre called Theatre Coppell and we are doing a show call Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol. It tells the story from the point of view from Jacob Marley's so it's really cool. That's what I've got going now as a part of the cast.
What was your career path after graduation?
I will say I am very lucky. The things that have happened for me were a lot of luck. I work at a box office now for Dallas Summer Musicals and I got the job because one of the guys I work with was in a show with me. He walked up to me during one of the shows and asked me if I wanted a part-time job there and I said sure. I got the job there so that was good, and while I was doing a show there at that same theatre a few months ago, I had one of my friends who works with an agent named Kim Dawson and the agent came up to me and introduced herself to me and told me that my friend worked with her. Along the way I got signed with her.
How has your training and experience helped with your work?
It has prepared me for all of the little things that you didn't know where that important. Preparation was the most important thing that I was taught. Always be prepared for everything no matter what. Even if you don't really know the answer or just believe that you will have everything with you. The training I got acting wise really paid off a lot. It helped me grow as an actor and a performer. It has helped me grow as a person as well.
What connections if any were made that helped you get to where you are?
The one I can think of off the top of my head is Susan Sargeant when we did Once in a Lifetime it was an awesome experience. She was one of my favorite directors to work with because she really appreciated her research that she did though the entire script, for all of the characters, the back ground stuff she did. She was really wonderful. It wasn't just that, but because she was really encouraging in my performance. Whenever she gave notes it was never you doing this wrong so you're never doing anything right kind of thing, it was try it this way because I know you can do better. She could see there was something more there. And it was because of her, that I was able to get more connections in the Dallas area that helped me grow.
Is there anyone you go to for advice now?
I guess the person I would go to for advice right now is my dad only because he has always been there for me. If I'm scared or terrified of something, I always turn to him. And most of the time he seems to know the right answers.
Do you have any advice for people in the early stages of this career?
I would say, and I have read other articles about actors giving other advice to younger performers, but one that really rung with me was to never stop trying; to always keep going even when everyone else says to stop. Don't stop. Keep on trying and keep working as hard as possible because you will never know what will happen. Anything is possible. Anything can turn around at the last moment.
Why would you recommend UNT to future students?
I would recommend UNT to other students because I felt like I was at home there. I meet all these wonderful people there and met all of these wonderful friends that I have still who helped grow as a person, who helped me in my field of study, and not only that, but the professors I had were really wonderful. They helped push me as far as they could. They had a belief in me that I really appreciated. The one I can think of off the top of my head is Sally. In one of her theatre courses, acting period and styles, we were doing a chapter in Greek theatre and at first it was difficult because of the language and everything, but she really pushed us to delve into the language. I eventually got into it and it really helped me. It freed me up on stage a lot.
What presented itself as the toughest challenge after graduation?
The biggest challenge I had was honestly finding a job because there were a couple places I thought of applying to, but other than that I had nowhere else in mind. I had to figure out what places worked best for me. So that was my biggest challenge after graduation. It has been pretty good for me. It has been a lot of luck. After I got my job with the box office and then with Kim Dawson, it wasn't necessarily easy, but I had contacted that I could talk to. It wasn't necessarily easily but it wasn't necessarily difficult either. I have been lucky in the fact that with those contacts I have been able to get into shows. It's steady enough which is good.
How was your career path affected by your degree?
I don't want to say it has been easier to find work, but I will say theatre wise I feel like because of my degree it has helped me seem a little more prepared. I feel like when I go out and audition people can tell that I've had training either through workshops or through my degree. I think because of that degree people can see I have training, I have education, and because of that I can go as far as I can and do certain things that other people may not be able to do.
Is it different than you expected? And if so, how did you land where you did in the theatre world?
It was not as different as I expected as a matter of fact. It's actually been sort of similar to what I had at UNT. It was basically meeting through classes or meeting people through shows. Once you meet those people you create connections and you get to venture out.
What is one piece of advice that you'd give to someone considering attending our school or current students?
I would give them the advice to learn time management. When I was at school, it wasn't necessarily that the work was hard but figuring out what you needed to designate to each thing time wise. Once I learned time management, I was able to figure out my class schedule to figure out what worked best for me and it helped me get through school as easily as I could without struggling too hard.
What would you say the best experience you had while you were a student?
My best experiences wasn't exactly one, but it would being around friends in the theatre department. We always had fun and we always cared about each other. There was a really strong bond between us all that I really came to love and appreciate.
Julie Petrasek is a senior at the University of North Texas double majoring in Theatre and English.
On campus Julie is involved in Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Fraternity, the University Players, and Kappa Delta Sorority. She hopes to be an accomplished actor and writer in the Dallas area, but also finds interest in technical aspects of theatre. She is an honor student looking to learn from as many experiences as possible whether it is as an actor, designer, or writer.