Over the years, SETC News, the bi-monthly newsletter of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, has collected success stories of professional audition candidates. Check out some of the recently featured stories below and find more in our SETC news archive!
Jessica Medley landed her first acting job at a professional theatre – a summer stock opportunity at The Prizery in South Boston, VA – through the 2018 SETC Professional Auditions in Mobile, AL.
How did your 2018 experience at SETC Auditions help you?
Without SETC, I never would have been connected to The Prizery theatre and would absolutely never have found out about that opportunity by myself. Through this experience, I have learned just how important it is to do your best to stand out in such a large audition setting, as well as how important it is to be kind and helpful to others as much as possible. You’ll never get far in this career if you are not enjoyable to work with and flexible in the callback and rehearsal space. This opportunity has also brought me a lot of confidence personally as I now have the tools under my belt to know that I do have what it takes to work as a professional actor and flourish in this field so long as I keep working towards my goals and dreams.
Was this your first professional job?
It was my first professional job at a theatre. My first professional gig was in 2017 at the Royal Palm Railway in Tavares, FL, where I worked on The Polar Express Train Ride, singing and dancing the story of The Polar Express on a real train.
What type of shows do you like to do best?
I much prefer musicals and shows that carry a message that is relevant to the current times. I recently did a production of Spring Awakening as Wendla and so enjoyed being able to share such an important message.
Actor Charlie Meeks, who has worked in theatre off and on for almost a decade, says SETC Auditions are “the main reason why I have been able to find professional contracts.”
How did you get your first role in theatre?
I started in 2010 with a production of Harvey at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, TN. My first professional contract came from Katy Brown at Barter Theatre with The Barter Players. I worked there as a summer player, and it was one of the best and most influential experiences in my career.
How long have you been involved with SETC?
I auditioned for SETC the first time in the spring of 2018. Before that, I had never auditioned for anyone I hadn’t previously met or knew about. I really think that first audition prepared me and gave me an idea of how things work for future auditions. One of the biggest things I learned is discipline and self-motivation. At my first SETC, I only had a single monologue prepared. Just one. I didn’t plan on being called back. I just wanted to experience it. Then, after a few callbacks, I realized I had a lot of work to do. So, now I have a few monologues always ready and at least a song to sing.
How did SETC assist you in advancing your career?
After the spring 2018 SETC Auditions, I accepted a contract with Tecumseh! outdoor drama in Ohio for the following summer. At the 2019 spring SETC, I auditioned and accepted a contract with Emerald Coast Theatre in Florida and one closely following that with a touring children’s theatre. SETC has given me the opportunity to be seen and audition for many theatres all at one time. It’s a scary, exciting and incredibly fun experience. Being able to audition with all of the other actors and actresses and being able to meet representatives from the attending theatres helped open up many doors, and it helped me focus in on where I want to work and what I want to do as a performer.
Sarah Leigh Beason attended her first SETC Professional Auditions at the annual convention – and scored a summer contract with Theatre West Virginia, portraying Lily St. Regis in Annie, Spirit McCoy in Hatfields and McCoys and Ramona in Paradise Park: The Musical.
What was your first professional job?
My first professional work was at The New Vic Theatre in Kalamazoo, MI, while I was in high school. However, my first contract out of college was at The Barn Theatre in August, MI, where I was able to become an Equity Membership Candidate.
How do you get your jobs? Do you always work as a professional?
Most of my jobs come through auditions such as SETC, but also through general networking and submissions. I generally work only as a professional, though I will occasionally use my skills to help out a good cause on a non-professional basis.
How has SETC helped you move forward in your career?
What I enjoyed about the spring SETC (in addition to booking a job!) was the learning opportunities made available. I thoroughly enjoyed attending workshops, networking and gaining current information about different companies and what casting is currently looking for in auditions, since there isn’t as much opportunity for this type of learning as a professional actor who spends most of their time in the Midwest.
Aaron Moore, a 2019 BFA graduate of Valdosta State University, got the opportunity to fulfill one of his dreams – performing on a cruise ship – as a result of his audition at the 2019 SETC Professional Auditions.
How has SETC helped you in your career?
I had been working in a completely different career field for eight years after completing my associate degree. When I decided it was time to go back to school to finish my degree in musical theatre performance, I really didn’t know where to start. A mentor and friend who is closely associated with SETC suggested that I attend the spring convention and do the Undergraduate Auditions. Wow, what an experience! Not only did I find the right school for me, but I also made so many incredible connections to other professionals. My first year doing Professional Auditions, I booked with The Prizery Theatre in Virginia. This past year, I had several really exciting callbacks for year-round work, one of them being with Norwegian Cruise Line. Norwegian is a company I have dreamed of working for and was so hopeful to even get a callback time with them. Just one week after the SETC Convention in Knoxville, TN, I received a call offering me a contract as a vocalist for Norwegian! This incredible job opportunity would have not happened had it not been for SETC. All thanks to the connections that SETC provides.
Olivia Pelton, a student at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, got her first professional job through SETC’S Spring 2018 Professional Auditions and spent the summer of 2018 working as a performer in a variety of shows at the TEXAS Outdoor Musical in Canyon, TX. Pelton, who has acted since age 6, is pursuing a BFA with a double major in musical theatre and acting.
How has SETC has been instrumental in helping you get started or moving you along in your career?
I attended the Southeastern Theatre Conference Convention for the first time in Mobile, AL. It was the spring of my first year of college, and my first professional audition conference experience. I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend, for without doing so I never would have had the chance to receive my first professional acting job with the 53rd anniversary season of TEXAS Outdoor Musical this past summer (which truly was a dream experience!). I received three additional job offers, after accepting 11 callbacks at the conference, and all as a college freshman. That experience truly gave me immense momentum on my journey with self-confidence as a performer and offered great hope for me personally as a young theatre hopeful.