Students often say that getting a job is hardest after graduation, but for Nick McCord and Joseph Tran, both CSUN theatre graduates, graduation was the perfect time to get their big break.
McCord, who graduated in 2004, worked as a theatre lighting designer at the Falcon Theatre and at the Highlands nightclub while he was an undergraduate student at CSUN.
“I started interning at the Falcon (theatre) after high school,” said McCord. “I started off by helping out in the office and ushering performances.”
McCord believes that the experience he acquired at the Falcon Theater gave him the opportunity to build up a strong resume.
“From there I worked my way up to actually operating the shows and eventually designing,” said McCord.
“The Falcon gave me the opportunity and experience to build a resume, which would open the door to designing at other venues,” said McCord. “To this day I still get invited back to design.”
According to McCord, working at the Highlands nightclub offered him the opportunity to get acquainted with the corporate scene and live music.
“Working at the Highlands was a huge turning point for me,” McCord said. “I was introduced to what is called corporate theatre and to another love of mine, live music.”
McCord had the opportunity to work for big shows which include artists like Alicia Keys, The Wallflowers, Chingy, and many more.
Working with these artists gave McCord the experience he needed to build a strong resume.
“The Highlands left me with a huge resume by the time I left,” McCord said. “It was quite an experience.”
McCord, who now works as an independent lighting designer, attributes his success to the message CSUN theatre professor Rick Greaver gave him as an undergraduate.
“The message that he conveys is that nobody is better than anyone else and we’re all in it together to make this production the best that it can be,” McCord said. “So lose the egos!”
McCord advises students pursuing a career in theatre to get involved in as many internships as they can in order to build a strong resume by the time they graduate.
“Experience is so valuable especially in Los Angeles,” McCord said. “Keep track of the work you do and build a strong resume so when you graduate its icing on the cake.”
According to McCord, he advises those seeking a career in his field to be prepared to deal with the egos that are met in the business.
“I suggest to anyone getting ready to jump in to be prepared,” McCord said. “There are a lot of egos out there! So try real hard not to catch one-so Rick Greaver can sleep a little easier at night.”
Joseph Tran, also a theater graduate, is now a well-known magician, who performs at different venues all over the world.
According to Tran, he was able to use his love for theatre and incorporate it into his passion for magic.
“I am a professional magician,” Tran said. “I put my theater skills into my magic performance because I produce my own shows.”
According to Tran, his passion for magic began while he was growing up and living in a neighborhood with no children to play with.
“I had an old deck of cards and I picked up magic as a way to get occupied,” Tran said. “When I turned 16 I realized that I had become real good at it (magic).”
Tran is now a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, where he shared the stage with magicians that he admired while growing up.
“The Magic Castle in Hollywood is home to the Academy of Magical Arts,” Tran said. “I perform there often.”
As an undergraduate at CSUN, Tran learned to take whatever opportunities came his way.
“I learned that what I had to do was absorb everything I was interested in,” Tran said. “There are so many opportunities in college and you have to take them.”
As an undergraduate at CSUN he was engaged in some motion picture acting in which he played a prisoner of the North Vietnamese Army in Mel Gibson’s “We Were Soldiers.”
“I started acting my senior year,” Tran said. “It was tough because I had to balance study and work.”
Tran advises students who wish to pursue an acting career to listen and to react to what is being said to them.
“Learn to listen. Don’t just hear people, but listen,” Tran said. “It’s not only about listening, but about reacting to what is being said.”
Magic is like a theater performance in the sense that he performs magic for the audience and the audience reacts to his tricks, Tran said.
“To do what I love to do, magic and acting is really cool,” Tran said. “I love how the audience gets involved in the show.”
Tran plans to continue working with CSUN’s theatre department and is planning on producing a few independent films on his own.
Tran enjoys the sensation that his magic can produce in the audience and admits finding it rewarding.
“Magic is something unique in the sense that I love how you can bring ‘wow’ to the audience,” Tran said. “Both (to) kids, who believe in everything, and (to) adults, who believe in nothing, and to make adults go ‘wow,’ is simply amazing.”
Rosario Mendoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org