Actress and singer Maria-Christina Oliveras ’01 has a simple word of advice for aspiring professional artists: Be the CEO of your own company.

“Define your mission statements, what you want to put out into the world … do your research,” Oliveras said. “You have to know what the game is, whether you choose to play is on you.”

Oliveras, an award-winning actor and singer with extensive Broadway experience, imparted this advice at the end of a three-hour Yale Drama Coalition workshop entitled “The Business of Acting and Audition Technique.” The workshop drew nine students to the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media on Friday.  After graduating from Yale College, Oliveras moved to New York, and then to Denver to attend the National Theatre Conservatory, which has since closed. After returning to New York, Oliveras was casted in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Machinal” on Broadway and several off-Broadway shows. She returned to New Haven in 2018 to perform in “El Huracán” with the Yale Repertory Theater.

Oliveras said that entering the professional world of arts can be “daunting.” Her workshop aimed to dispel some of the myths of the profession and equip students with the knowledge necessary to succeed in the field after graduation.

“The more we practice here at Yale, the better prepared we will be for the real thing,” said Angela Barel di Sant’Albano ’20, who organized and participated in Friday’s event. “Having workshops with people like Maria-Christina who have been to Yale and lived in this environment is invaluable. She understands our world and what we will need to succeed when we get to New York, LA or London.”

Throughout the workshop, Oliveras emphasized that professional artists are CEOs of their own companies who must manage their brands, employees, finances and growth. Oliveras spoke about finding and building relationships with agents and managers, auditioning and attending to self care. She also made sure to debunk the “starving artist myth” and offered tips she had learned through her own experiences as a young professional. She emphasized the importance of safe housing, tolerable “survival jobs,” health care and gym memberships, adding that “you have to survive before you can thrive.”

Oliveras defines herself as a “Fili-Rican actor-singer-educator-producer-artist citizen” and considers educating young artists an important aspect of her work. She led her first workshop at Yale in 2013 and has since worked with individuals and groups on both performance techniques and professional development.

“I rarely saw women of color in the classroom or on stage as I was growing up, and being the child of immigrants who supported my ‘hobby,’ it took me a long time to realize that it was possible to succeed in this business and make a living,” she said. “I believe my presence as a first-generation woman of color is vital as an actor and educator.”

Friday’s workshop was funded by the Traphagen Funds and the Office of Career Strategy.

Lindsay Daugherty | lindsay.daugherty@yale.edu