Do you need a degree to be an actor/actress
If you have the dream to be an actor/actress after Form 5, do you still need to pursue your tertiary education? Do you still nee a college degree? In this segment we have interviewed one of our local star ‘Julian Cheah’. Although he has a lot of ego to offer to the public he has some great advice for young teenagers who are on the track to pursue their career as an actor/actress after SPM. “Do you need to pursue a degree if you are keen to be a movie star?”
- Tell us a little about your self Julian?
I am an actor and film producer making a career out of movies. When not making films, I lead a very quiet life with my family and close friends.
I enjoy making films for the depth of communication which the medium allows, even to international markets.
I also get satisfaction out of changing or re-defining ideology for the way people are shown and think in the world.
- Which university did you pursue your education ?
New York University (NYU) for a film degree.
- How did you end up choosing that university as your place to study?
I went to an American university counselling centre and they said that NYU has a good film school.
- Some believe that being an actor, you need not need to pursue tertiary education? Is it true?
A lot of actors make it without needing to go through college or university, it depends on luck. To make it big in the business, it is about talent and the people you know and the deals you strike to make it possible for you to get your success, so a university degree is totally useless in this respect. Having said that, considering how tough it is to make it in the movie business, it is wise for people to get a degree in any other major, be it law or business administration, so that if you fail as an actor or filmmaker (and unfortunately, most people will because of the toughness and coldness of the profession), you have something else to obtain success for your life.
- How does your tertiary education benefit you as an actor?
It doesn’t really, except maybe give you a better perspective of people, world situations and life, which may lead an actor to sharpening his/her performance of roles, but apart from that, tertiary education doesn’t help in any way at all. Look at Hong Kong, where a lot of acting roles are given to popular singers with hardly any education, just because producers think that their music fans will pay for cinema tickets. Sad to say, unlike medicine, law, architecture or accountancy, a university degree does not impress producers into giving anyone acting roles.
- Would you recommend any good colleges/universities to students who wish to pursue their education in the film industry?
To be honest, for those really serious about wanting to make some kind of success in the film industry whether as a star or director, they should just mingle with known film people and work their way up by developing relationships and getting breaks. In other words, start with actual film crews which are in production and get any position given, then just work and try to make friends who can give you the opportunities that you need. To sum it up, university degrees are a waste of time in the film business. If you want to secure yourself in life, get a law or business degree instead. If you want to be brave and plunge into the movie business, then just dive in and hope for the best.