Class teaching theatre students how to market themselves

Theatre and Dance students at Northwestern State University are learning some of the best methods to help them stand out when they begin looking for professional jobs.

A group of students are taking a class, “Branding the Artist,” taught by actor and director Joe M. Hernandez. The three-week class runs until Feb. 2.

“The course is designed to provide students the opportunity to have the tools to market themselves in the theatre industry,” said Hernandez. “Throughout the course, students are learning the proper way to structure a resume for both the theater industry and for jobs outside of our industry.”

Students in the class are being asked to build a website, create business cards and a cover letter and establish a social media presence. They are also researching prospective companies that they are interested in applying for and discussing taxes for an artist.

“The most important elements of the course they’re writing an artistic statement and manifesto,” said Hernandez. “These two assignments that I just mentioned are the foundation for what they will build their entire brand.”

Hernandez earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Mobile and an MFA at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Hernandez has taught master classes at a number of colleges and universities on some of the material in “Branding the Artist,” but this is the first time has developed a full course.

“My hope is that this course is allowing the students to ask themselves the hard questions that many artists are afraid to ask,” he said. “For instance, when they look at themselves in the mirror they ask the question ‘What do they see?’ They ask, ‘Who am I?’ Self reflection as an artist is vital to the development of success in our industry in my opinion. Most importantly, we have to know who we are, what we stand for and what sacrifices are we willing to make to be successful in this industry.”

Hernandez said hopes the students walk away prepared to embark on the next chapter of their lives and equipped to go into an interview or audition with the materials needed to be successful.

“I hope that they walk out of the course a little stronger, a little wiser and a little more confident in who they are as artist than they were when they walked into the course for the first time,” he said.

PHOTO: Visiting theatre faculty member Joe M. Fernandez leads a class, “Branding the Artist” at Northwestern State University.