Entertainment Group hosts Actors Panel
On Tuesday night, the Trojan Entertainment Connection hosted actors from Mean Girls, One Tree Hill and Even Stevens at its annual Spring Actors Panel in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.Starstruck · (Left to right) Stephen Colletti from One Tree Hill, Daniel Franzese from Mean Girls and Bethany Joy Lenz from One Tree Hill. – Alicia Beatty | Daily TrojanThe panel included professional actors Paul Johansson, Daniel Franzese, Steven Anthony Lawrence, Stephen Colletti and Bethany Joy Lenz.“We’re excited to continue the trend of One Tree Hill and Mean Girls, because we had Lee Norris in the fall and last spring we had James Lafferty and Jonathan Bennett,” said TEC co-president Shannon Stern. “I planned the panel of actors and actresses of TV shows and movies I love because what better way to end my tenure at USC than that.”Panelists spoke to students about a wide variety of their experiences in the industry, ranging from their favorite moments to challenges they are still dealing with today.Stern began the discussion by asking panelists to speak about how they first began acting. While each panelist took a different path to finding their love for acting, all five agreed that passion and drive are the most crucial keys to success.“You need to absolutely have a love affair with [acting], or else don’t do it because otherwise it’s too hard … It’s a lifestyle choice,” Johansson said.Many of the panelists found their passion for acting at a young age. Franzese, who was unable to take acting lessons growing up because of his family’s financial situation, said he would go to his local Starbucks in Barnes & Noble when he was growing up and read acting books for hours.Most importantly, Franzese said, students should just “start making stuff.” He said that there is no better way to begin a career in acting than to make your own project and start practicing.“You’ll start making bad things, and more bad things, and next time it’ll be not so bad, and you just get good at it eventually,” Franzese said. “Your biggest value is your youth so start your kickstarter and buy your camera or do something low-budget with your laptop but make stuff. It’ll be bad at first but it doesn’t matter, it’s about the idea of creation.”The actors did acknowledge, however, that the road to a successful career in the entertainment industry is not an easy one. They discussed challenges they have faced along the way, such as sexism, overcoming stereotypes or finding one’s own identity. Lenz offered perspective about the challenges of being a woman in the entertainment industry.“You deal with producers on set that want to smack you on the ass, and joke about being their next girlfriend and there is only so much you can do about it, unfortunately,” Lenz said. “It’s a real unique challenge trying to navigate who you are as a woman and [being] comfortable in your own skin … but the industry is continuing to get so much more [female] friendly than years ago.”Franzese, who came out as gay for the first time publicly yesterday, said he has had to work around the “gay glass ceiling” that exists, and directors and producers who thought he couldn’t play certain roles.Students such as Elena Legan, a sophomore majoring in biology, said she appreciated the honesty of the panelists and how they shared personal stories from their lives.“They were so real with us and their answers made them seem like actual people and not just celebrities,” Legan said.Former One Tree Hill star Colletti shared that his identity as an actor is still developing. After temporarily putting his love for theater aside in high school in order to pursue sports, he said that when Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County came to his hometown and wanted to film a reality show, it was “fate and pure luck.” He was able to use the show as a platform to become a host on MTV’s Total Request Live and later starred as the character Chase Adams on One Tree Hill.“I feel like I’m still becoming an actor because there’s so much more to learn,” Colletti said.Student actors and non-actors alike took the panelists’ messages to heart. Rachel Rubin, a freshman majoring in business and cinematic arts, said that although she does not plan to make a career out of acting, panelists still had valuable information to offer.“I liked how they emphasized knowing yourself and knowing where you want to go because that applies to any industry,” Rubin said.Editor’s note: This post has been updated.