Challenge Journal 4: Writing as a Medium for Change

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(Apologies in advance for this horridly watermarked image)

As part of my capstone project, I’m interviewing five performers and writing about their experiences as people of color in the world of the performing arts. One of the people I recently interviewed, Yoshiko, spoke extensively about finding ways to marry her interest in writing with her dance major. She spoke about how the world of the performing arts, especially dance, can often feel daunting and esoteric, and thus dance is often as a world inhabited by dancers & dancers alone. She mentioned that written pieces often feel accessible and approachable, even if the reader is unfamiliar with the subject matter. (Of course, there are many factors that go into this — the format in which a written piece is presented and to whom it is primarily presented also affect the piece’s accessibility)

I’ve been thinking about this recently as I prep for graduation. What are ways I can practically apply my writing minor to my career in musical theatre? Of course, I could always intern for a publication like Playbill.com, but I’m wondering if there are less explicit ways to utilize my writing minor to help me achieve my career goals & make a lasting impact on the industry at large.

Many of my goals in musical theatre are centered around furthering diverse representation of all ethnicities on stage. I also am focused on the inequality and injustices that take place in show business, specifically surrounding issues such as sexual harassment and unequal pay between genders. I wonder if there are ways to write about these issues without seeming overly preachy or politically biased and to write about these issues in such a way that I inspire rather than belittle. (I mean…I know there are ways, I just need to think harder about them and actually carve out time to carry them out)  I think that’s what I’d want to use my writing minor for ultimately!

Hmm…I’m still tackling this problem. Honestly, school has me swamped at the moment, and I’m not really expending energy thinking about things that are unrelated to my immediate plans. I probably should, because those things are obviously super important to my own personal integrity as a writer & artist & human being! But I’m just trying to get through the next two weeks of classes! However, I’m holding myself accountable to sitting down the day after classes are over with my notebook & writing down some of my top goals and priorities for the next five years. I’ll keep you posted (:

XO, Jess

2 thoughts to “Challenge Journal 4: Writing as a Medium for Change”

  1. Hi Jess,

    This part of your capstone project sounds really interesting! First of all, it seems like you are very passionate about the topics you are covering so that is a perfect place to start. It also seems like the perfect mix of your passions for performing arts and discovering how and where inequalities exist.

    As far as using your minor in writing to further your career, I believe that you shouldn’t over think it, especially now. I believe that you can use the writing skills that you have developed here at Michigan to help you in any walk of life. I know that I have had those same concerns. I want to apply my writing skills to a specific job such as being a screenwriter, but I’m just not sure yet what my path will be. I like your idea of once you are done with classes, writing out your goals moving forward, I might do the same now!

    – Oliver

  2. Hey Jess!

    It’s an interesting dilemma, figuring out what to do with your writing after graduation. I think your ultimate goal to use your writing to talk about hard topics in show business is a good one and an admirable one.

    I think that another cool way to think about your writing expertise is to frame it as communication expertise. For me, I think that understanding how to write a solid essay or how to write for a certain audience has taught me a lot about crafting effective messages. It’s also helpful for diagnosing crappy communication. Like, think about the form of a good body paragraph for a literary analysis: topic sentence, lead in to evidence, the evidence, analysis, concluding sentence. If any of these parts is missing, the message you’re creating doesn’t come across as clearly or as solidly. It’s the same with other forms of communication.

    Good luck with school!

    -Regina

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