What brought you to UNT?
A desire to find a place where art was part of the culture and not part of the curriculum.
What was it like to study at UNT?
Studying at UNT was like going on a roller coaster. You had your ups, downs, terrifying loops and excitement every semester. But in all it was a great journey.
What was the biggest lesson you learned while in schooling and in your field of work?
You can only be heard if you speak. And if the opportunity to do what you love does not seem to be there, it is up to you to make that opportunity happen. Invest in you and others will soon invest in you, too.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on finishing two full-length plays before the year is out. Outside of writing I am producing and directing a series of one act plays which go up this December. I'm excited for this show especially because I'm working with a cast of current UNT students and it feels like I'm back at school producing my own plays on a shoestring budget.
What was your career path after graduation?
After graduation I went the corporate route and started working as a sales representative with AT&T. I took about two years off from theatre to start a family and save up the money necessary to independently produce my own work. Currently, I am still working at AT&T and preparing to submit to graduate schools around the country to continue my studies into playwriting.
How has your training and experience helped with your work?
Theatre at its core is a study into multiple fields. Regardless of if you remain in theatre or go another direction in life, theatre will teach you skills necessary in any field, anywhere.
What connections if any were made that helped you get to where you are?
If any opportunity ever came for me, it was because I maintained friendly relationships with my fellow classmates and professors. The people you meet in college are going to be your first professional contacts and references when you're trying to get jobs in the industry.
Is there anyone you go to for advice now?
Often, when I'm trying to decide whether or not to stage a show or want feedback on how one of my plays is developing I ask people that are not involved in theatre for their advice. I choose people not involved in theatre because they are the ones who will eventually become the audience members taking in my show, and knowing what they like helps me create better scripts and better shows.
Do you have any advice for people in the early stages of this career?
Do not give up. "No" does not mean no to you as a person or in your craft. It only means no at this moment. Opportunity will come, but only when you constantly work toward your goals.
Why would you recommend UNT to future students?
At UNT I was given the freedom to explore what I wanted to explore. The professors and the program allowed for that kind of flexibility. As time has passed I found that the world can be an inflexible place. Finding a place or a time in your life where you can truly find what you need and what you want is rare. And when that times passes you find yourself cherishing such places. UNT was that place for me.
What presented itself as the toughest challenge after graduation?
The toughest challenge was balancing the responsibilities of post-grad life (bills, family, etc...) and personal artistic endeavors. It took two years but it eventually began to work out. It's still work-in-progress but every day I find new solutions to different challenges.
How was your career path effected by your degree?
Everything I have done for my career has been centered around what I studied to earn my degree. Any major decision I make is also measured on how I can continue to produce and write plays.
How did you land your first job regarding theatre?
From self-producing my own work. I raised up the funds, handled auditions, directed, designed posters, programs and press releases, and even did light board operating.
Is it different than you expected?
And if so, how did you land where you did in the theatre world. I expected it to be more difficult, to be honest. Taking the route of producing my own shows is certainly hard work but it is not as hard as anything that school or family life hadn't already laid on me.
What is your next big thing or future projects?
Currently my team and I are focusing on producing a series of short plays written by my brother in December. The show is slated to be staged at the Teatro Dallas space. From there I am looking to submit plays into several different conferences, contests and graduate schools. Going forward, I am also seeking to produce more plays and write better and more meaningful scripts.
What is one piece of advice that you'd give to someone considering attending our school or our current students?
You will only get what you put in. Classes will teach you a lot about what roads you can pursue in your journey as an artist, but it is up to you to take that extra steps necessary to travel that road. Take time to learn independently. Do more vocal exercises. Read more plays. Watch more shows. Get inspired by others. No class will provide you the magic bullet to success. Professors can only share wisdom that sets the stage for success. It's up to you to apply that wisdom, pursue your passion, and find your success.
Is there anything else you can think of not discussed about your experiences that you would like to communicate?
Nobody has ever lived in the past, nor shall they live in the future. We live only in the present. Live, then. Live for your today and aim only for what you love. Give everything to today and nothing less.
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.