When Katie Keane, this year’s Pflaum speaker, graduated from Emporia State, her goal was to become an actress. Her lecture Tuesday night in R.Q. Frederickson Theatre in Roosevelt Hall focused on what it takes to make it or break it in Hollywood.
“It takes persistence, passion and courage in this career,” Keane said in her speech, “nothing else can take the place of that.”
But Keane said the business of acting is a tough business to break into. She said she did not want to “sugarcoat” it, but that she wanted to be honest about the how hard it is to be a working actor in Hollywood.
“Just keep acting,” Keane said, “(this business) is a continual test of your desire to be an actor.”
The lecture began with an introduction by Jim Ryan, professor of communications and theater, followed by a compilation of short clips of Keane’s work, including pilots that never aired.
“We are very, very proud of this alum,” Ryan said.
Keane said she was grateful for the opportunity to speak as a Pflaum lecturer. She also said returning to ESU has helped put things in perspective.
“I really needed this,” Keane said. “I think it’s really helpful as a working actor to come back and see how far you’ve come… I can’t imagine doing anything else but this.”
Keane said the biggest struggle that she faced in becoming an actress was what she called the “acting paradox,” which is going into an audition well-trained and pretending like its the first time.
Keane also shared some of the obstacles of being a beginning actress in Los Angeles – nerves, bad agents and “slightly talented lucky people” – that she had to overcome until she got her first part in a commercial for Jack-in-the-Box.
“You are in charge of protecting your performance,” Keane said. “That is what it means to be a versatile actor, to give your best no matter what the circumstance.”
The key, according to Keane, to overcoming these obstacles is confidence in one’s self and abilities. She also said that she had to learn not to be so polite.
“That desire to please gets in the way of you as an artist,” Keane said.
Keane also offered some tips on doing well in auditions and did a mock-audition with students that volunteered at the end of her performance. Her biggest tip – do not let challenges affect the performance.
“It’s really nice to hear advice from a professional,” said Cara Lohkamp, junior theatre major. “It’s possible.”
The Pflaum Memorial Lecture, held annually to honor the memory of George R.R. Pflam, is presented by the department of communication and theater and is supported by the Performing Arts Board, according to ESU’s website.