The summer before his senior year of high school Minnesotan Joshua Negussie had an inkling that if he wanted to be accepted by one of his dream BFA programs, he had better start planning right away. But knowing there would be so many elements to the process, including not just applications and essays but also auditions, Negussie had no idea where to start. Fortunately, Negussie found My College Audition, a coaching, training, and mentoring portal for the competitive world of performing arts college admissions.
Now a freshman at one of his top-pick universities, Negussie reflects on the importance of college-level training, his post-graduation plans, and the role My College Audition played in getting him where he is.
How did you know you wanted to get a degree in the performing arts?
I always knew I wanted to get a degree in the performing arts. I knew I wanted to be in an environment that would allow me to be in an intimate working space and work alongside like-minded artists, an environment that allows me to fail and make mistakes and be able to grow exponentially…I want to be around people who are open and free enough to try different things and be able to really just grow together as an ensemble across four years where we can be a family…so we know what it's like to work and collaborate with other artists. So when we embark on our journey outside of college we know what it's like to learn from one another and listen and be able to be malleable so we can best help each other. That's what I really wanted so that's why I wanted to get BFA training.
What was the application/audition process like?
What was interesting about the application and audition process was that it was really divided into two major parts. For most students, of course, it's a big thing that everyone gets nervous about. And it was like that for me as well. I was super nervous, and I didn't know how to apply for college —transcripts, recommendations, college essay, all that jazz. That was still something that I had to do, but what was unique and also equally challenging for people who wanted to apply for the performing arts was that there’s a whole different second component too, which was the audition process.
So it was very difficult to be able to navigate that on my own or understand how it works within a year's time, and to be able to be successful at it. It was really a challenge in the beginning.
I found My College Audition, and that's what literally changed my life. I would not be here right now without all the knowledge they gave me, the guidance they gave me to be able to understand what I needed to do within that last year…I wanted to be an actor and go to a school for acting so I had to learn monologues: a contemporary monologue, a classical monologue, a song to sing.
At what point in the process did you find My College Audition?
I found them at the end of my junior year of high school…I already kind of had an intuition that like, okay, I can't just like pick a monologue and memorize it. I knew I had to prepare, so I looked it up and I found My College Audition and they had a summer program.
So I thought I’m going to do this, see what it's like, maybe I learn a couple things. And it was like jaw drop oh my gosh I am so happy that I went to this because I had no idea of what I would have done. They really broke down within one week every single thing that you would need to do…month by month by month of what you would need to do to be successful. It was broken down so well for each student as far as their own needs and where they're located and how that affects certain things. They were super, super caring and so it was really nice to have that.
How has having a My College Audition scholarship supported your aspirations?
For me, like a lot of other people from marginalized groups, I did not have the money to get that training or get that education, and I know there's a lot of kids that are like that. Being able to find opportunities and have institutions or companies conceive of the ambition and the hard work and the belief in yourself, believe in your dreams and give you that chance, to reach out their hand and make that bridge between your burning ambitions and the future, it's such an amazing, beautiful thing. They were able to help me bridge that gap, to allow me to get that coaching with the scholarship. It really shows their integrity and their honesty of how they are with helping people to get to the highest potential of what they can do.
What are you hoping to do after graduation?
I grew up in a school where there was barely any diversity. I was the only Black guy that liked theatre, only Black guy in everything, and so I felt very left out, like I never saw my voice heard. So it took me a long time to realize that my voice mattered, that I had a value with my voice and I needed to speak up and share my perspective of my own story. So when I graduate I want to be able to embody characters and stories that shed light on stories that aren't told, that show there's POC talent, there's people who are just like me who have that potential, but they are not given the opportunity.