We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Hawkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I hate making mistakes, yet I keep putting myself in situations where I’m at risk of failing, or at least not succeeding. I try to take any risk or challenge as a learning experience. Majoring in theatre was one of the biggest risks I’ve taken, and granted, I didn’t graduate with a job lined up. Graduating at the start of the pandemic was terrifying, to say the least, and many people I know who had solid post-grad plans ended up having to reconfigure their futures. One year later, I find myself ready to take on any challenge the reemergence of theatre brings as I prepare to move from LA to New York this summer. Little risk reaps little reward, so I plan on taking some pretty big risks. In my junior year of college, I decided to independently produce and direct a musical, without a theatre company or financial backing to help. I managed to fundraise and apply for grants and recruit a team of extremely talented actors and designers to successfully create the production. There were a lot of “learning experiences,” but we ultimately brought in about 300 students to its 3-night run, and had a great time doing it. I look forward to continuing to take even bigger risks and see how they pay off.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The fact that theatre has transformed my life might seem like a bit of an overstatement, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the influence the arts have had in my life. However, I didn’t see my first professional show until my senior year of high school (The Lion King on tour). In my hometown, the arts were not a priority. My first exposure to theatre and performing was in church, acting and singing in the Christmas Nativity Productions and the Easter Passion Plays. When I found a passion for directing and producing, I had trouble finding many successful role models in my desired career path. When Marianne Elliott won the Tony for Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, in 2015, I realized how important it was to increase female representation in a male-dominated field. When I entered college, I was determined to expand my knowledge and field of shows by uplifting underrepresented communities on campus in the shows I participated in. The exposure that theatre brings to its communities and the influence it has is unparalleled. There is nothing like sitting in a room, creating a unique community, experiencing the emotions live onstage with actors, reacting to the creations of the designers, and being influenced by the director’s vision. So much goes into a show and I love being part of the process.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I always have to start with a drive down the PCH (when it’s not rush hour) with the windows down and good music blasting. If it’s a nice day we can spend some time doing a beach picnic in Malibu or grabbing some brunch along the beach (I love the Interstellar Cafe in Santa Monica). For some good views, I’d probably take them for the classic Runyon Canyon hike. We’d have to go to the Americana or the Grove to shop a little and go to Innout for a classic California burger. For some fun music and cocktails, I love going to The Blue Collar on Fairfax! Usually, I rely on Yelp and friend recommendations as well to discover new spots.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to the Aeneid Theatre Company at USC. Being part of the company throughout my four years at USC taught me how to be a more open-minded artist and collaborator.