Conservatory of Performing Arts

CBS Executives Present "Student of the Business" at Point Park University

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CBS executives with Point Park students in the Center for Media Innovation. Photo | Shayna Mendez(Center) CBS executives Tiffany Smith-Anoa'i and Fern Orenstein with students in the Center for Media Innovation

CBS executives discussed career opportunities in the television industry with Point Park University students during on-campus workshops this semester. 

"Having this opportunity shows Point Park's dedication to preparing students for their careers. I chose to attend Point Park because it was close to my hometown, but I've stayed here because I recognize how well-equipped cinema majors are when they graduate."

-- Daymon Long,
Class of 2017


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Tiffany Smith-Anoa'i, executive vice president of diversity, inclusion and communications, and Fern Orenstein, senior vice president of casting, presented "Student of the Business" to cinema arts majors, followed by a casting workshop for theatre and cinema majors.

How to be a Student of the Business

  • Keep your resume current and personalize your cover letter
  • Research the person with whom you are interviewing
  • Send a handwritten thank you note following an interview and stay connected
  • Know your elevator pitch and be personable
  • Know your brand and what you want to do
  • Do informational interviews as a way to get to know someone
  • Be professional on social media (everything you post follows you in life)

"Fern and Tiffany had so many practical lessons for our students regarding becoming students of the industry and how to apply themselves to make their dreams come true," said Rick Hawkins, artist in residence in the cinema arts department. "One of the most interesting ideas they shared was that diversity wasn't solely focused on having racial inclusion in a cast, but of developing 'diversity of mind' when being creative."

How to Market Yourself Effectively

  • Have a professional and a personal social media presence (it can't be a little bit of both)
  • Your entire reel should be no longer than two minutes (you have six seconds to grab someone's attention on YouTube)
  • Be consistent with your resume, headshot, materials, etc.
  • Utilize Point Park University (location in Downtown Pittsburgh, get on set of films shooting in the city, collaborate with classmates, make connections, etc.)
  • Make sure your headshot pops and clearly illustrates the role you are trying to book
  • If you really want to know how others see you, go to your local mall and ask a stranger what they would cast you as

"The description of headshots — make sure it looks like you and what you're most likely to be cast as — is what we teach, but it's helpful for students to hear the same information from multiple sources," said Robin Walsh, associate professor and head of acting. "Also, the advice to not take things personally, to realize how many variables there are in play, was terrific."

What Students Are Saying About the CBS Presentations

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"Having this opportunity shows Point Park's dedication to preparing students for their careers," said Daymon Long, a senior cinema production major from Northern Lebanon High School in Fredericksburg, Pa. "I chose to attend Point Park because it was close to my hometown, but I've stayed here because I recognize how well-equipped cinema majors are when they graduate."

"I am glad to have had the opportunity to attend a presentation like this and get the perspective of casting directors from a major network. They offered a lot of good advice," said Lisa Naso, a junior acting major from Northport High School in Northport, N.Y. "They encouraged us to create the work we want to perform and take advantage of getting seen by an audience online."

"A key message I took away from the presentation is that there are so many opportunities out there, and it's just as simple as reaching out and knowing the right person," said Zachary Brown, a junior cinema production major from Galeton Area High School in Galeton, Pa. "With initiative and determination, you can go anywhere."

"It was remarkable to learn so much more about the nature of the casting business," said Jackeline Gonzalez, a senior acting major from John A. Ferguson High School in Miami, Fla. "The key message I took away was that it's best to think of your headshot as a role/performance instead of just a photograph." 

Photos by Shayna Mendez, senior photojournalism major

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