If you’ve been to an Angelo State theatre production in the past two years, chances are Julia McDaniel had a hand in it.
A native of Seagraves, McDaniel originally came to ASU for the pre-dentistry program, but she never got her theatre “hobby” out of her system.
“I took a couple of biology and chemistry classes,” she explained, “and I did well in them, but I didn’t enjoy it. I was still involved in the productions on campus and was like, ‘dentistry isn’t what I want to do.’ Theatre is really what I’m good at and what I enjoy doing.”
A member of the ASU Honors Program and now a double major in theatre and psychology, McDaniel combines both majors while working on ASU productions.
“Theatre is definitely my main focus,” she said. “I’ve been doing theatre for a long time, but I had to take a couple of psychology classes for my degree plan, and I just really enjoyed it.”
“I’m on the technical side (of theatre),” McDaniel continued, “I stage manage and do lighting design. I feel like the psychology stuff has helped me become a better stage manager because I’m more understanding of where people are coming from and the different personalities that I meet and have to manage.”
And all of her hard work has paid off. McDaniel spent this summer interning for New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She was one of only 20 interns for the company chosen from schools throughout the U.S.
“It’s their Powerhouse Theatre season,” McDaniel said. “The purpose of my internship was basically to help new writers workshop what they’ve written. We had a lot of brand news plays, but we had a few that were still in the writing stage, so they did readings, and some were able to stage full productions.”
“My part in that was both in production management and general management,” she continued. “Basically, making sure everything gets done on time and everybody meets their budgets. There was a lot of tracking of receipts and budget. We also dealt with contracts with the actors and designers.”
But it wasn’t all busywork. McDaniel also got to see all of the shows that came through the company and meet several celebrities.
“After every opening, we’d have what is called a celebration,” she said, “which is basically a big party with all the interns, staff, actors, designers and directors. I got to talk to Uzo Aduba and Dascha Polanco from ‘Orange is the New Black.’ It was really cool to meet all of these people and have a good time.”
“I felt like I got a more well-rounded experience at ASU, as opposed to a bigger school where I may not have the opportunities I’ve had here.”
Plus, with Poughkeepsie just a two-hour train ride from New York City, McDaniel was able to spend an afternoon in the Big Apple.
“I got to go into the city once and see ‘Avenue Q,’ which was amazing,” she said. “Then we ate outside of the public library in a little café, so that was cool.”
Now back at ASU, McDaniel has her sights set on being the stage manager for ASU’s upcoming holiday dinner theatre production, “My Fair Lady,” graduation in May 2018, and a bright future.
“My end goal is to open a theatre company,” she said. “My ‘right now’ goal is to work professionally as a stage manager for a few years, and then maybe go to grad school. I want to work my way up.”
And while she’s always known it, McDaniel is quick to acknowledge all the opportunities ASU has provided her, especially after interacting with the other interns over the summer.
“I enjoyed working with other interns a lot,” she said. “It was really nice to make connections with people that I knew were going to continue on this career path. A lot of them were from large schools, like Yale and NYU, and others were from art schools. It was really cool to learn what they’re studying and compare that to what I learn here.”
“A couple of times it did make me think, ‘Wow, why didn’t I go there,’” she continued. “But then they talked about it more, and I felt like I got a more well-rounded experience at ASU, as opposed to a bigger school where I may not have the opportunities I’ve had here.”