March 27, 2013

Spotlight on Alumni: Stephanie Jung

Stephanie Jung Stephanie Jung

I loved my time in the Acting Conservatory.  The program isn't for everyone but it was exactly what I needed when I needed it.  It made me a better actor.  I was lucky to pick-up some valuable tools and met some great people in the process. 

I'm a Vancouverite born and raised so my first experience with Toronto summers happened the year I graduated.  I booked my first gig before I graduated—Factory Theatre/Luminato's production of Tough! by George F. Walker.  It was an amazing experience.  We ended up receiving a Dora Nomination for Best Ensemble for the show.  That fall, I got to be the voice of a Chi Chi the panda on Teletoon's Life's a Zoo which won a Gemini for Best Animated Program/Series.  Some of my theatre highlights include Cahoots' The Madness of the Square by Marjorie Chan, If We Were Birds by Erin Shields at the Tarragon Theatre, and Necessary Angel/Luminato's Tout Comme Elle.  Working on Tout Comme Elle was such a fantastic and giddy experience.  50 women onstage!  50!  At the same time!  I was in the rehearsal room with some of Canada's best actors.  I was like a teenager, grinning like a fool,  because I was working with people whose work I had admired for so long.  Unreal. 

Madness of the Square The Madness of the Square by Marjorie Chan Produced by Cahoots Theatre Company

What is your fondest memory of studying Theatre at York?

Seems silly—but I loved that we got to do Restoration scenes complete with costuming in acting class in third year.  I'm obsessed with ornate costumes (corsets and anything with a giant hoop skirt) and loved putting on layers of foundation garments and skirts to complete the Restoration “look”.  In acting class we had quick lessons in learning how to walk properly with our new hoop skirts and the fine art of flirting with a fan.  We even donned our corsets for voice class to learn how to properly access our breath in such a constricting piece of costume.   

Did connections, friendships, relationships you made at York help you afterward?

Absolutely!  I'm from Vancouver so I was brand-spanking new to the Toronto theatre scene.  Some of my closest friends were fellow theatre Yorkies who had graduated before me.  They showed me the ins and outs of the Toronto scene and introduced me to people who worked in all areas of theatre.

What was the most challenging aspect or experience of training/studying at York?

My third year in the acting was probably one of the most challenging and exhilarating years of my life.  Classes were intense, the workload sometimes felt like too much, and our unmounted rehearsals took up weekday evenings and Saturdays.  I lived with a roommate who wasn't in theatre and there were times where I didn't see her for three days straight because she was in bed by the time I got home and I usually left for school before she woke up.  It was an insane schedule but I loved every minute of it.  Sounds cheesy right?  Absolutely.  But it's true.

If We Were Birds If We Were Birds by Erin Shields
Produced by Tarragon Theatre

Do you have any advice or tips for York students just about to graduate? about to join the job market?

  • You will probably be poorer after you leave school than while you were a student, especially as you're trying to find a job that will be flexible enough to work around with you being an artist.  Learn to budget.  Seriously.
  • Keep every receipt.  It will be important for filing your taxes as an artist.  If you don't know/can't do/want-to-poke-your-eyes-out-when-confronted-with-the-idea of filing your own self-employed taxes, invest in an accountant that specializes working with artists (not H&R Block).  Best investment you'll make.
  • Set aside a percentage of each acting paycheque for taxes.  Put it in a savings account that you don't touch.  This will help if and when you have to pay taxes come tax time.
  • Keep taking acting classes after you're done York.  Acting is a muscle.  It needs a really good workout every once in awhile. 
  • Don't show up late for rehearsal.  Turn/Silence your cell phone in rehearsal.  Getting hired for a job is sometimes not just about your talent but whether you are easy or difficult to work with in the rehearsal room.  People will talk about your work ethic and your talent in the same breath. 
  • Go see theatre.