New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Tisch Mentorship Program Helps Young Women Pursue Business in the Arts

Thirteen students have been paired with arts industry professionals who hope to give them a better idea of what their future careers may look like.
The Tisch School of the Arts hosts many majors that require in person instruction. Students at Tisch and other schools have begun to worry about the possibility of a virtual fall semester. (Photo by Alina Patrick)

This month marked the start of a new mentorship program that pairs female-identifying Tisch School of the Arts Drama students with top entertainment industry professionals. The Women’s Mentorship Program is a product of efforts between Tisch and the live entertainment ad agency Serino Coyne.

The program consists of 13 students interested in the business side of the arts industry. Students are paired one-on-one with women from companies like Disney, the Shubert Organization and Serino Coyne. Over the course of the semester, monthly sessions will be held where mentees will have the opportunity to learn about communication, leadership and other essential management skills from their mentors.

Serino Coyne Managing Director Leslie Barrett had the initial idea for the program and said that the goal is for mentors and mentees to develop a relationship that will provide the mentees with greater insight into what the industry is really like.

“There’s real strength and power in a one-to-one relationship that you can develop with someone,” Barrett said.

Rachel Friedman is a Tisch Drama administrator in career development who oversees the day-to-day operations of the mentorship program. Friedman said that the real value of the program is in providing young women entering the entertainment industry access to working female professionals who can share their experiences. Both Hollywood and Broadway remain overwhelmingly male-dominated.

All of our mentors have reached an incredible level of success, but not without challenges,” Friedman wrote in an email to WSN. “My hope is that our students can learn from these women, clarify for themselves what they are truly passionate about and create lasting professional relationships.”

The idea for the program came to Barrett when she found herself at the 20th anniversary show for “The Lion King” in 2017. She recalls sitting in her row, looking to her left and right, and realizing how all the women in her row had inspired her and helped her along the way in her own career. The help was much-needed, according to Barrett, who said she entered the industry not having many connections. It was that thought which led her to develop the program.

Once Barrett had the idea, she immediately got to work seeing if she could make it a reality.

“I took a bunch of women to breakfast, and we started talking about what a mentorship program would look like,” Barrett said. “And they all said ‘just tell us where and when and we’ll do it.’”

From there, Barrett reached out to Tisch Drama’s former associate chair, Michael McElroy, who helped her implement the program at Tisch.

Tisch senior Cati Kalinoski is one of the 13 mentees this semester. She’s been paired with Lauren Reid, Chief Operating Officer of the live theater production company the John Gore Organization. Though they have only had their first one-on-one meeting, Kalinoski said she has already felt the positive effects of the mentorship.

“She has been tremendously supportive and informative, and I really feel like this program is a partnership,” she wrote in an email to WSN.

All female-identifying Tisch Drama students were sent an email last November inviting them to apply for the program. From there, Friedman said a three-person committee reviewed the applicants and paired them with mentors based on their career interests.

This summer, the department plans on evaluating how the pilot program did and may look to expand it to offer mentorship opportunities to more students.

Since the initiation of the program, Barrett has already heard from more professionals expressing interest in participating.

“There are a lot of women in the business who have written me to say, ‘how can I help?’” she said.

For now, Barrett’s hope is that this program helps guide young women entering the field and encourages them to pursue opportunities in the arts industry.

“There is no right way to navigate your career in the arts,” Barrett said. “And I hope that they learn that they should just follow their heart.”

Email Bethany Allard at [email protected].

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