Sinclair Daniel ’15 and Cecilia Parker ’17 joined Elizabeth Zitelli’s acting class on Tuesday, Oct. 6 for a Q&A session with students and Drama Club members. Daniel, a 2019 graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and Parker, a senior also studying acting at NYU, participated from their homes in Brooklyn, having a good laugh about their common exposed brick walls, apparently a frequent feature of Brooklyn apartments.
Parker discussed her experiences studying acting at NYU—including with Stonestreet Studios, a film acting studio affiliated with the school—and her Shakespeare in London experience, which unfortunately was cut short due to the pandemic. Daniel recounted her involvement with NYU’s Atlantic Studio, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, a summer spent with the Williamstown Theater Festival; her work in theater, TV, and voiceover; and her recent role in the D.C.-based Shakespeare Theatre Company’s adaptation of Peter Pan, a show some Holton students had the opportunity to see.
Drama Club member Nyla Jones ’22 asked for tips regarding the audition process for colleges. Both alumnae recommended practicing monologues, choosing plays that really speak to you, and getting to know the characters well.
Brielle Herlein ’21 inquired if either had been able to perform during the pandemic. Parker said she’d spent her summer with a theater group on a farm in upstate New York, where they were able to hold a socially distanced, interactive show about climate change and extinction for small audiences. Daniel has spent time participating in virtual readings (both for fun and professionally), recorded voiceovers, and will soon film a short on a farm.
Both alumnae shared their experiences with side jobs that support their acting careers, tips for audition videos and making yourself stand out from others, opportunities for those not majoring in drama, and ideas for making connections to generate work. Both stressed the importance of building connections and networking one’s way into potential work. “Be nice to people,” Daniel said, adding that much of her work has been through word of mouth. Parker agreed and said, “’I will hold you up’ is a great rule of thumb,” referencing the traditional Holton theater saying.
When Zitelli asked the two actresses why they continue to pursue this passion, Daniel replied, “This is the thing that I love to do more than anything.” She said she sees the pandemic as an opportunity to be reborn from the ashes. Parker noted how people have turned to art during these times. “Whatever we do next is going to be on our own terms, because no one is going to do it for us,” she said.
Both alumnae agreed that find a way or make one has taken on new meaning in recent months.