Stage fright: addressing the anxiety of pursuing performing professions

Addressing the anxiety of pursuing performing professions


Going into a field like acting, broadcast or literature can be overwhelming for a student. High school classes rarely teach students how to navigate career paths like these. This furthers some misconceptions surrounding these professions, and the amount of work needed to achieve success in them.

The structured writing environment of school has dissuaded many students from writing outside of the classroom. According to Ellie Summerfield ’23, lessons in class can make writing seem like a dull and tedious task when it should be viewed as an opportunity for self-expression.

“I would say write about something you’re actually interested in,” Summerfield said. “Don’t force yourself to write about something because you think it’ll be successful, or because you think people will like it. Write for yourself.”

Summerfield has been writing pieces for herself since she can remember and intends to one day publish a novel. Although she’s had support along the way from friends and family, Summerfield’s ambitions have been primarily self-motivated.

“I have a few friends who are also into writing, but my journey has been mostly self-motivated, self-done, all of that,” Summerfield said. “I have all these memories of going to my family computer in my kitchen to write stories on Microsoft Word.”

Despite being an independent author, Summerfield knows that collaboration is beneficial to artists of all kinds and has participated in a multitude of workshops and camps to get critiques and suggestions from other writers.

“I’ve been to writing camps, and I do enjoy writing with other people,” Summerfield said. “It’s really good motivation to be with other people who also write a lot and enjoy doing so, and I’d like to get involved with more groups like this.”

South offers a variety of groups for writers of all types including the Tower and Looking Glass, but a recent addition to this list is the Writing Club run by English teacher Erika Henk. Over the last three years, Henk has organized a group in which students can expand their writing range and co-create pieces.

“The club is writing a combined piece in hopes of publishing,” Henk said, “They just started, so there’s still some kinks to iron out, but I’m letting the students take the lead and they’re doing just that.”

As an English teacher, Henk has often experienced students seeking advice on their work, or recommendations on how to improve their writing in general, and this club provides the perfect opportunity for such students to improve their technique and share with their peers.

“It’s really student-led,” Henk said. “A lot of the more experienced writers who have written for years in their spare time can give advice to those students who feel less strongly about writing.”

Adam Llorens ‘10, Director of Broadcasts and Game Communications at Special Olympics International, has known since he was a kid that he wanted to go into live television and sports. With help from teachers and professors along the way, he was able to put the effort in to get the job he wanted.

“A huge starting block for me at Grosse Pointe South was Steve Geresy,” Llorens said. “Starting with him, those TV production classes really opened my eyes to the broadcast industry.”

According to Llorens, being familiar with broadcast equipment from high school classes helps when students are looking for experience in college. He said that a crucial step is establishing background, most likely an internship the summer before junior and senior year of college.

“The internship is the most important thing that’s going to lead you to a job offer,” Llorens said. “It’s not just getting the internship, having the door open is phenomenal, but once that door is open, you got keep your foot on the gas pedal and keep going. You have to show up early and stay late, go above and beyond the job description.”

Llorens got an internship with NBC during summers in college. He said experience and impressions are two key points to progress in the field. Utilizing college resources to find the connections to those who do the hiring is vital.

“You’ve got to use that alumni network base to your advantage,” Llorens said. “A big reason I got in the door at NBC was because of a professor at Notre Dame that had a very good relationship with NBC Sports.”

When applying and reaching out, Llorens believes that the worst thing that can happen is rejection. If applicants are persistent with contacting others, that’s how they can get internships or even full-time job offers.

“Put yourself out there, because 80 to 90 percent of the emails that you send are going to go unresponded,” Llorens said. “There are no fees to be found in this process because you’re not losing ground. In fact, you’re gaining experience about how to craft emails and what works and what doesn’t work for some people.”