Theater professor advises students on how to reach success

By Giselle Arroyo (J-101 Staff Writer)

Vanessa Mizzone’s favorite role was as Lois in “American Horror Story- Asylum” and her other big role was as Elise, a sonogram tech, in “Jane the Virgin.”

A theater role she was particularly proud of was the role of Emily in “Our Town” at The Actor’s Gang.

“It was an iconic role,” said Mizzone.

She described it as a turning point in her experience as an actor.

“If there is something you enjoy doing or want badly enough, you will find time in your day to do it,” Mizzone said, relating to how she makes time for auditions. “Prioritizing is key,” she said.

She suggests to her students that they find what works best for them and to organize their life so they can be as efficient as possible.

Not just in class, but when scheduling auditions.

She said that sometimes her priorities will have an impact on her sleep, but thats it worth it.

When dealing with a difficult actor in the entertainment business, Mizzone says to just “take a breath.”

She mentions that blowing up will affect the whole atmosphere of the rehearsal.

Having a good support system is important when dealing with rejection in the entertainment industry.

Venting is a good way to move on. An actor also needs a “strong sense of self” when dealing with rejection.

“You have to have a thick skin and you have to try not to take things personally,” said Mizzone

One piece of advice she has for students who are pursuing a career in film or theatre is if your heart is in it, you have to work for it.

“You have to work 150 percent. It’s not enough to be talented, it’s not enough to work hard you have to do everything possible,” she said.

The important thing is to have perseverance and never give up.

“It’s not going to be eas. You have to be realistic. You have to find a job that pays you money,” Mizzone said.

“As an artist, you have to find a way to be financially stable,” she said.

Mizzone prepares for an audition by “research, scoring the script, and then making strong choices.”

When auditioning for television or film, she practices with the camera.  “I practice as much as possible,” Mizzone said.

Coming into an audition with a memorized script can improve an actor’s reaction to other actors lines. “It’s important for me to not be worried about the lines,” Mizzone said.

In film and television, there is no time for character development like in theater.

“You make your choices and go,” Mizzone said. “In theater it all comes out during rehearsals.”

Mizzone has never had any regrets in her professional career. “There is nothing I regret because it put me where I’m supposed to be right now,” Mizzone said.

A lesson that she has for actors is “don’t care what people think of you.” Mizzone put all of her energy that she spent on trying to get people to like her, back into her work.

This was a tactic that helped her succeed. “I wanted people to like me and that got in the way of the work,” she said.

After the birth of her children, her priorities changed. She doesn’t care if people don’t like her because she doesn’t have time to waste.

Mizzone said “Being liked or being accepted should not be a concern “as long as you’re being honest to yourself and putting yourself in the work.” said Mizzone

“Know who you are and own it. Don’t try to be something you are not.” She has received more work because of this.If you did your best, did the prep and didn’t get the role, “it’s not because of you,” Mizzone said. “Someone else just fit the role better… it’s not because you’re not good enough,”

A good age to start acting is “as soon as you want to do it,” said Mizzone.

There is no age limit when it comes to acting because there are actors of all ages needed to play different roles.

ELAC is a good place to try out acting or experiment in anything else, “Take a class here. Just go for it,” Mizzone said.

Getting experience is how to get a foot in the door. “Training is key,” Mizzone said.

Students need to have a technique or discipline on how to approach roles and projects, “Unless you have experience it’s going to be really tough,” Mizzone said. Taking classes is the first step. Learn to build resumes with plays or student films.

Currently, she is preparing to appear in a short film named “I Never Got to Say Goodbye.”

She is also preparing to do a live reading of a musical named “Swan Song.”It is a pitch for theater producers that was put together by the writer.

Mizzone has a professional career in the entertainment business, as an actor, producer, and writer, all while being a full-time instructor. Most importantly, she is a mom to two young children.

She is a part of both the SAG-AFTRA and the Actor’s Equity Association unions.

“I feel like I found a really great home here,” Mizzone said.

She has had the pleasure of working with some of the best people in her field.

The theater department focuses on creating pathways and opportunities for their students.

Students are working with professionals who can help them create a good foundation in theatre.

Jasmine Alcala a Theater 100 student for professor David Scott, is planning to take a theater class with Mizzone.

“ I think it would be really cool to take one of her classes next semester.”said Alcala.

These bases in theater can be applicable to film and television training as well.

They have the chance to apply their training just outside their door.

“We’re in the middle of the entertainment industry,” Mizzone said.

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