‘My Big Break’ lecture teaches UVU students how to turn dreams into reality

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Provo-native singer-songwriter Madilyn Paige, professional dancer Chelsie Hightower and Caitlyn Cutler Daw, director of The Killers music video for their song “Wonderful, Wonderful”, sat at a stage in the Grand Ballroom to answer questions on what they’ve learned from their accomplishments in the entertainment industry. On a screen above was technical Broadway crew member Tim Riggs and actor and television host Chase Ramsey who joined the lecture via video messaging. Hosted by The Artist’s Toolbox, these panelists shared the stories of their “big breaks” and what they’ve learned in their journeys of turning a passion into a career.

“I think it’s really important to hear from people who’ve been through the real-life experience. I think training and getting prepared is one thing and it’s really important, but once you’re out in the industry, it’s a very different ball game,” Hightower said. “There’s a lot of lessons you learn along the way and things you don’t learn in class when you’re actually out there like social networking and working with people from all different walks of life. Those sorts of things you don’t learn till you’re out in the industry. Really hearing first-hand experience from people who’ve been through it is extremely valuable.”

The Artist’s Toolbox Lecture Series was created by the UVU Arts Resource Council to provide UVU students with opportunities to learn and develop practical and non-academic skills. Although these lectures have focused on dealing with the trials that come in the industry, The Artist’s Toolbox will also be teaching other valuable skills such as paying taxes as an independent business person, managing finances and acquiring an agent, according to Arts Resource Council Executive Chair, Gayle Tingey. Tingey said that the goal of Artist Toolbox is to allow students to learn from experts in the field as they’re preparing to move into their own creative careers.

“By learning and implementing ideas that are presented, UVU Arts graduates will be ahead of the game,” Tingey said. “They aren’t the glamorous things associated with the arts industry, but they are critical.”

The first lecture featured Joseph Genny, author of New York Times best-selling novel Crucial Conversations, who shared what’s he’s learned from the difficulties that artists face in the field. “My Big Break” on Nov. 8 was the second of the three lectures that The Artist’s Toolbox plans to have each semester.

At the event, the panelists discussed the moment in their life that they “made it”, as well as what success in the entertainment industry taught them, such as when Paige mentioned how she overcame stage fright to achieve her goals.

Lisa Torres, a member of UVU’s Ballroom Back-up Team, asking Chelsie Hightower for advice on making it as a professional dancer.

The speakers discussed using rejection as a motivator, as it is impossible to not face rejection at some point in the arts industry. They emphasized that it’s important to not let rejection stop you, rather, it’s best to learn from it. Riggs said,“You’re worth more than their reason for rejection.”

Riggs also explained the importance of developing working relationships, as they’re essential for success. Ramsey said that one of the important things in the industry is to always keep pushing yourself and look for new opportunities to further your career. He explained that even when you feel you’ve made it, you cannot take a step back.

“The hustle never stops,” Riggs said.

Although these events focused on the arts, The Artist’s Toolbox encourages students from various fields of study to attend. Sophomore Tristen Call, who is studying to go into dental school, was one of the attendees who isn’t studying art but found value in the event. He said that the part that stood out most to him was when they discussed the struggles they had, from starting out to facing rejection and that the willingness to push forward despite the challenges pays off.

“Even though I‘m not specifically going into the arts industry, there were a couple of things I can still apply to my goals, my future, and [my] education,” Call said.

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