An Actor’s Advice for New Students

Tuesday, Sep 04, 2018
Hannah Rose Caton
Juilliard Journal
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Hannah Rose Caton
Hannah Rose Caton in the third-year production of Caryl Churchill's 'Top Girls' from fall 2017

Be Brave

Embarking on the journey to study at Juilliard has been one of the best decisions of my life. My three years here have been full of reflections—experiences where I have chosen to see the glass as being more than half full. Had I not faced the challenges of being far from home and of navigating a different culture and experiencing transitions within the school, I would not be who I am today.

Studying at Juilliard necessarily involves having a great deal of self-discipline, and this discipline has helped me to cultivate an unwavering focus, a strong belief in myself, and a recognition that I must always work hard to achieve my goals. I have learned that I am more resilient than I thought. Crossing thresholds of pain can be a powerful motivator, and no mountain is too big as long as you’re curious enough to find a way to climb it!

Another important skill I’ve developed at Juilliard is the importance of being brave, especially when using my voice at times of significance. I’ve learned that we are not just here to be liked nor should we diminish ourselves as artists by failing to seek truth. An important poem given to me by my voice teacher Kate Wilson during my first year has become a life practice for me. It’s by Marianne Williamson, and it reads in part:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness That most frightens us

The third most important thing I’ve learned at Juilliard is that being successful does not mean that you are exempt from failing sometimes—failure is just the compass that tells you to move in a different direction. And in fact, failure is the most telling teacher of all. When looked at like this, you can survive anything and create art beyond what you thought you were capable of.

I’m excited about starting my fourth year. Who knows what’s out there for me? What I do know is that I will have had the best preparation possible to support me in my dream—when I succeed and when I fail. I look forward to my last year and to embracing all I can from my generous teachers and gifted peers, and also remembering those who have come before me, including [late Drama Division director] Jim Houghton, a wonderful man.

Hannah Rose Caton played Zoe in An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Playwrights ’14) at the Chautauqua Theatre Festival this summer