As graduation slowly approaches, I've gotten the question: "What are you going to do now?" While it's normal to get that question from faculty, family, and friends, the subtext behind the question is different for me than it is for others. I am an actor about to graduate with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from a top ten university. It's impressive, regardless of what major, to be attending such a prestigious school, but because I study a non-traditional major the question "What are you going to do now?" really means "What's your plan B?".
Any career in fine arts, whether it's photography, acting, or playing an instrument, has a stereotype that it is not sustainable or considered to just be a "hobby". And while yes, it is hard to pursue a career in the arts, it's hard in any field to get a sustainable job. Just because the fine arts can be a hobby or something to do "just for fun" doesn't mean it's not as serious as any other career. Artists work hard and have a responsibility to society to create content, and it usually takes longer than your typical 9-5 job to get it done. In addition, artists can't just "leave their work at the door" when they get home. Their responsibility as artists is carried with them through all aspects of their lives. And here's something that not everyone seems to understand: artists make what they do look easy. Behind their beautiful artwork is hours of blood, sweat, and tears, but all audiences and consumers usually see is just the finished project. So while fine arts majors aren't studying "core" subjects in a traditional way, they are still working hard to perfect their craft.
Art also has a major impact on society. Many aspects of art are used for entertainment, but it can be educational, therapeutic, and informational too. Art can communicate and connect others in a way that language can not. It brings people from numerous backgrounds and cultures together and gives them a reason to connect. It can create emotion, cause a reaction, and change perspectives with just a stroke of a paintbrush or a pointed foot. Art is used in physical therapy, scientific experiments, classrooms, protests, and debates. Without the fine arts, the world would lose an outlet for communication.
So when people ask me, "What are you going to do now?", I can't help but smile. Regardless of what people think about my major or the fine arts, I know I am making a difference in my community. I am going to break boundaries, take risks, and work my hardest at making this world a better place through my craft. So no, I do not have a plan B. I do not regret studying art in a mainstream university. And I do not think I am making a mistake.
I know what I am doing is important.