Brooke Shields ’87 and four other University graduates spoke about their professional experiences in theater and music in a panel on Friday morning as part of the University’s effort on Reunions weekend to open up new career paths to graduating seniors and young alumni.
Davis McCallum ’97, Molly Hickok ’82, Robert Taub ’77 and Christopher Janney ’72 chatted alongside Shields about their experiences in the arts both on campus and after graduation. Acting Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts Michael Cadden moderated the discussion.
Many of the speakers noted the impact the University had on their artistic careers.
Taub, a concert pianist and CEO of MuseAmi — a music software company that uses technology to make musical composition accessible to a broader audience — said his experiences at Princeton helped prepare him for the creative world. He also noted that the last time he was in McCosh 50, where the panel was held, he was attending an 8 a.m. organic chemistry lecture.
“Princeton gave me the opportunity to learn how to speak creatively, whether in an organic chemistry course or in a music course,” he said.
For Hickok, the University paved the way for a career in the arts differently. She said she always wanted to be a performer but never had a plan about how to make her dream happen. Once she arrived at the University, she immersed herself in its artistic community.
“At Princeton there is this dominant culture of running the world someday,” she said. “But there is also this little subculture underneath. That is what I have followed both here and in my work.”
Today, Hickok is a performer and founding member of Big Dance Theater, an avant garde performance arts group in New York City that synthesizes elements from dance, drama, the visual arts and music in its shows.
Another alumna, however, came to the University already famous. Shields, who began working as a child model when she was 11 months old, noted that her early start in the arts gave her a different career path than that of the other panelists.
“I looked at being [at Princeton] as a luxury. I came in having been an artist, but I wasn’t able to fully own being an artist until I came here,” she said, explaining that her time at the University taught her the importance of learning through failure. “I learned it was okay to fail because I could always start again.”
McCallum, a former Pyne Prize winner and a current theater director in New York City, said that an internship at McCarter Theatre during his time at Princeton helped him discover his love for working in the theater, calling it an “ad hoc family” for him.
The subject of family came up during the discussion, as the panelists described their struggles to balance their artistic lives with their family lives.
Hickok said she never had children, partly because of the realities of her job in alternative theater. However, not all of the panelists took such an approach — Janney noted how excited he was to share his love of the arts with his two children, one of whom is pursuing a music career.
“My children were my inspiration,” he said. Janney currently serves as the artistic director of PhenomenArts, Inc., a studio which combines his interests in music and architecture.
The panelists also offered advice for students thinking of pursuing a career in the arts after graduation, stressing that students should follow their passion and not be overly afraid of earning a living.
“Follow your own true interests, and things tend to work out properly,” Hickok said. Shields expressed a similar view.
“If you’re an artist, there is no question about it. It is your fabric,” she said.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/06/01/31003/