Amber Swenson Junker '05 has working professionally as an actor, musician and performing arts instructor in Minneapolis and New York. She earned a master’s degree in musical theater from the Boston Conservatory.
Her advice to aspiring actors:
- Work as hard as you can in college. Don’t take anything for granted. Learn from everything you do—the actors that work hardest have an edge on other performers who choose to be lazy. Opportunities don’t tend to fall in your lap. You reap what you sow, and always look for ways to make opportunities for yourself.
- Know what advice to take and what advice to ignore. I faced a lot of criticism that I should focus my interests and not pursue more than one thing. I’m so glad I didn’t take that advice. My well-roundedness is why I work so often, and it’s also why I don’t have to have any jobs outside of my field. Any professional will tell you, the more you can do, the more you become a valuable asset
- Trust your gut—know what you’re willing to do and not do.
- Be prepared—have an arsenal of monologues at your command.
- Audition as much as you can, even while you’re in college. Auditioning is a separate set of skills, and the more you do it, the better you are, and the better you are, the more you’ll get hired.
- Don’t give up easily. Be persistent!
- When you’re offered acting jobs, make sure they’ll help you. Is it a great director, a great part, a great theatre, will you get noticed??
- Be nice! If you’re a mean person or a diva, people will stop hiring you.
- Never stop learning. Keep reading plays, seeing plays, etc.
- Know that at Cornell, you are a big fish in a small pond. That changes when you leave college. Don’t let that scare you, take it as a challenge.