From Brooklyn to Elkin, UNCSA alumni forge their personal entrepreneurial paths

As a young female in Brooklyn, New York, alumna Dwana Smallwood knew she was a…

As a young female in Brooklyn, New York, alumna Dwana Smallwood knew she was a dancer,
but she under no circumstances dreamed she would turn out to be a company owner. “The language I converse is
dance,” says the dancer, choreographer and educator who established Dwana Smallwood Performing
Arts Middle in the community where by she grew up. The word “entrepreneur” didn’t
register, even as she built and sewed T- shirts, produced customized dolls, and braided
hair to pay for dance lessons.

T. Oliver “Tim” Reid (B.M. Music ’93) was basically born executing in Gastonia, North Carolina. While at UNCSA,
he had adequate savvy to nutritional supplement his classical voice diploma with dance and acting courses to make his personal custom-made instruction program for musical
theater. “It’s component of my DNA,” he says. “I have to be creative, and I have to be
a robust chief.”

Louis Jeroslow (B.F.A. Style & Creation ’95) arrived at UNCSA with a huge variety of interests formulated through arts magnet
education in Miami, Florida. Although Layout and Creation centered his future, his insatiable
drive for knowledge set the stage for an terribly various career, from Blue
Person Group to winemaking.

Because finding theater in a sixth-quality producing assignment, Sean Murray (B.F.A.
Drama ’89) nurtured a intention of turning out to be an actor. Following earning his degree, he expended the
upcoming 14 yrs gathering accolades as an actor, director and producer. Identified
to consider possession of his career trajectory, Murray and his husband, Invoice Schmidt,
fashioned the award-profitable Cygnet Theatre in San Diego, California, close to wherever Murray
grew up.

Although their encounters are unique, these 4 alumni share attributes that are
popular among the prosperous business people, according to Iris Cole, who teaches a program
for the new educational minimal in entrepreneurship that is offered by the Division of Liberal Arts. These properties include eyesight creativity persons, workforce and partnership creating
resiliency and a advancement mindset, she states. And the alumni agree that these characteristics
— if not born at UNCSA — ended up definitely nurtured in the conservatory ecosystem.

Following learning in the present-day dance software at UNCSA, Smallwood grew to become a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
for 12 years. For the duration of that time, she appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” right after which
she was questioned by Oprah herself to become the architect of the dance application at the
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. She expended 4 a long time there.
When in South Africa, Smallwood had an “aha” moment that led to the next section in
her occupation. “That was the place I arrived nearer to finding my purpose,” she mentioned. Smallwood
felt termed to give back again to the neighborhood she experienced grown up in by opening her own
dance college. “Brooklyn experienced offered so a great deal to me. And I desired not just to give again
but to say thank you. I’m not positive the place I would be if that neighborhood had not supported
my goals.”  

Dwana Smallwood helped to develop the dance plan for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership
Academy for Women in South Africa.

In 2013, following returning from the Winfrey Academy, Smallwood adopted her vision by
developing a nonprofit organization and then searching for a facility in Brooklyn.
Immediately after a single appear at a 4,000-sq.-foot loft with soaring ceilings, skylights and big
home windows, she knew she had observed her imaginative residence. “I realized this had to be an arts
place,” she claims of the former stone-and-granite business enterprise. “I realized I could develop a
room below the place children could sense protected, be totally free from bullying and chill out in the foyer.”

Smallwood remembers assisting arrange an worldwide tour for the College of Dance although
at UNCSA. Innovative dancers acquired how to assemble dance floors and to set up lights,
and then traveled to Europe, having lessons and carrying out alongside their friends in
Germany, England and Scotland. “I was collecting all the items required, pulling all
the aspects alongside one another. You have to be geared up for anything and be completely ready to change
on a dime,” she says. “I went so lots of sites I in no way assumed I would go, and fulfilled so
quite a few men and women I would not have achieved normally.”  

She states that was good training for starting up a enterprise. “Nothing is ever what it
appears. So you regulate, you adapt.” 

Reid started out flexing his entrepreneurial muscles whilst a pupil, connecting with peers
and campus leaders to manage, finance and create an all-university student output of “Little
Shop of Horrors.”  

Because graduating, Reid has spent 20 many years on Broadway, most recently in the Tony Award-profitable
“Hadestown” and “Once on This Island.” He also created and produced his personal cabaret exhibit, “Drop Me Off In Harlem.” Now he
is flexing these similar entrepreneurial muscle mass as a founder of Black Theatre Coalition,
aimed at removing the “illusion of inclusion” in American theater. The coalition works
to reshape the ecosystem for Black theater gurus who have been marginalized
by systemically racist and biased ideology.

T. Oliver Reid

T. Oliver “Tim” Reid performs at an opening night time gala for the New York Cabaret Convention.

Reid claims he in no way believed of the doing arts as anything at all but entrepreneurial.
“It necessitates all the capabilities you have as a performer — music, dancing, acting — plus
persons capabilities and communications, getting in a position to fundraise and express your concepts to
get awareness,” he suggests. “UNCSA is excellent for that because there are so lots of people today
with diverse capabilities and expertise, some of the brightest minds.”  

While Jeroslow focused on Style and design and Production’s lighting application, he took excess
courses in welding, complex path, set building and drawing. “I took each
course they would permit me into,” he says. “I wished to take up every thing I could fill
my head with.” His driven pursuit of understanding fueled a job that has encompassed
— frequently simultaneously — touring with rock bands developing and managing present elements
for Blue Male Group flipping homes training helicopter pilots and generating wine as
a companion at Elkin Creek Vineyard, creators of award-successful European-design and style wines in North Carolina’s Piedmont region.

Louis Jeroslow

Louis Jeroslow is co-operator of Elkin Creek Winery.

Jeroslow suggests UNCSA was instrumental in instructing him dilemma-resolving and collaboration,
two vital ability sets of an entrepreneur. “You have to leave your moi at the door
in a collaborative natural environment,” he states. “Everyone is bringing ideas to the desk,
and the position is to find the greatest final result for the task.”

At UNCSA, Murray learned to be adaptable. “We weren’t taught just one way of functioning.
We ended up given a great deal of unique selections,” he suggests. “I remaining with a large amount of threads
I then wove jointly to find my personal way.” As an actor in teaching, he was essential
to understand about costume design and style, set building, lighting and other crafts. “I loved
it,” he reported. “Not all people did. I couldn’t get enough, and now, 20 many years later on, I
tap into those people competencies just about every working day.”  

Sean Murray

Sean Murray stars in “On the 20th Century” at Cygnet Theatre.

He also realized to acquire risks, which aided him get the leap to located Cygnet Theatre. “It was terrifying. We had no thought what it would take, but we took a deep breath
and we went for it,” he says. Cygnet has grown from a startup theater business
in a strip mall storefront with an annual price range of $20,000 to an business with
a 246-seat theater in the arts district and a finances of $3 million. “When you produce
a little something your self, you are responsible for its success,” he suggests. “You just can’t blame
someone else if it doesn’t triumph, but you never have to hold out for a person else to
approve what you are doing or making.”  

Like artists and business owners across the globe, these alumni faced a major problem
in 2020: how to preserve their desires alive all through a pandemic that brought on so lots of organizations
to terminate, suspend or seriously curtail operations for additional than a calendar year. Conservatory-instilled
resilience served them pivot and energy by.  

With general performance opportunities restricted and his enthusiasm fueled by the loss of life of George
Floyd, Reid concentrated on his Black Theatre Coalition (BTC), decided that when Broadway
reopens, there will be alternatives for all. “There were no Black standard managers
operating on Broadway when 
it shut down,” he says, including, “Less than one particular per cent of Black artists doing the job in
theater will make it to Broadway.”  

Through its apprentices, fellowships and workshops, BTC advocates for inclusive choosing
tactics on Broadway and throughout professional theater and is performing to make certain
that artists of coloration are all set when possibility knocks. Reid’s five-year strategy calls
for a 500% increase in Black performers doing work at the major amount of their fields.  

Throughout the country, Murray has employed the earlier calendar year to indulge just one of his passions:
supporting the function of new playwrights, significantly writers from underrepresented
populations. Cygnet has supplied on the internet readings of new performs by Black and Asian writers.
“We weren’t heading to do some thing just to be executing a thing,” he states. “We have been only
heading to do anything that was meaningful to us and supported our eyesight.”

Enthusiasm was also the lifeline for Smallwood’s firm. “I viewed institutions
and firms devastated,” Smallwood says. “I was fearful, but I could not embrace
that as my destiny.” With classes moved on-line and her aspiration “surviving, but on everyday living
guidance,” she turned again to the neighborhood that had usually supported her. Dad and mom
and donors arrived via, and she was able to inevitably open her doorways for hybrid
instruction, retaining her staff members of 14. She has spent the yr writing grant proposals
at the level of two per 7 days, building video clips to sector her systems, and arranging
for the following crisis.  

UNCSA gave me the equipment I have required to fulfill any challenge. That is been the situation all
alongside, and it’s accurate now.

Louis Jeroslow

A sigh of reduction — both hesitant and triumphant — is in her voice as she asks, “Did
I just make it by that?”  There is no hesitation for Jeroslow in describing how
he and his several ventures have survived. “UNCSA gave me the resources I have wanted to meet up with
any obstacle,” he says. “That’s been the scenario all along, and it’s real now.”