OCU alumna Kelli O’Hara teaches a class during a previous workshop.
Graduating from college, looking for a job, and moving to a new city can be daunting challenges, especially if they happen at the same time. The stress is even greater if you are in one of the most competitive professions in one of the world’s toughest cities.
That is the reality for many OCU graduates aspiring to get a break in the entertainment business in New York City. Fortunately, alumni in the area have joined together to support one another and new graduates who come to the city.
One of the ways they help is by assisting in Oklahoma City University’s annual performing arts workshop in New York City. This program has been setting attendance records since its inception four years ago. This year, students signed up for the workshop’s 80 spots in a record-setting two minutes.
The spring-break workshop, open to dance, music, and theater majors at Oklahoma City University, allows students to study alongside theater professionals and get expert advice on how to live and work in the Big Apple.
OCU alumni working in various areas of the New York entertainment business serve as instructors for about a dozen classes. Arts management students also can take classes geared toward their field. Classes are designed to give students tips and tools to begin their transition from student to professional. The workshop is offered to students at no charge, thanks to the OCU-NYC alumni chapter and a generous grant from university trustee Ann Lacy, who was instrumental in bringing the first workshop to fruition.
In addition to classes, the event gives students valuable networking opportunities with industry professionals and alumni, said Lyndy Franklin Smith, OCU-NYC Alumni Association president.
Kendra Barreda, assistant director of alumni relations at Oklahoma City University, said the New York City chapter, which is more than 500 members strong, actively supports professional and networking opportunities for alumni and students.
"OCU-NYC is a vibrant alumni chapter," Barreda said. "Its members are an outstanding support community for current students and for each other. Oklahoma City University has a strong presence in New York City’s professional theater world, and events like the OCU-NYC workshop bring about additional growth."
This year’s workshop will be held from March 15 to 18 and will feature master classes for "White Christmas," "Jersey Boys," "9 to 5," and "Memphis."
Other topics include voice, casting, equity, commercial auditions, precision dancing, and a mock audition workshop that simulates a New York City open-call experience.