What do you hope to communicate to the class of 2015?
I hope to encourage them. I hope to inspire them … Everybody’s path is different and unique, in terms of what they will conspire to do and what path they will take. But, after all that, Â it’s [about] belief in self, finding your strength and understanding your weaknesses. It’s about networking, it’s about reaching out. Â It’s about faith. It’s about potential. What I’ve found in my life, the most difficult part sometimes, is just believing yourself.
Having studied drama at Carnegie Mellon University, how did education influence your artistic and career development?
In one sense, people in my particular field don’t necessarily want to know, or need to know, that you have a college degree. But, with that being said, for me it was important to get the training–to get a specific conservatory training–because it gives you a foundation. And more than that, it sets you apart.Â Another basic tenet of life is: People’s perspectives have a lot to do with your ability to succeed sometimes. … You’re qualified and you’re talented–that can be one truth. But somebody’s perspective of your abilities is another. So when you have that college degree–in my case Carnegie Mellon, a very respected university–it opens doors.
What motivated you to co-found Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA)? Why should more people give back?
‘To whom much is given, much is required.â€ I’ve been given a great deal. I worked my butt off, but I’ve been given a great deal. So, therefore, I believe in giving back when you can and being of service … The definition of true success is finding your passion, your particular passion … The flip side of that is giving to others; being of service to others. I wholeheartedly believe that.
This piece was written by Rebecca Nichloson.