Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Viana '22
Many Auburn University Theatre alumni have pursued their craft all across the country, but today we wanted to share about a graduate who is currently working towards their dream on the open seas. Jenna Viana graduated from Auburn University in 2022 with a BFA in musical theatre and minors in dance, history and business. You may remember her from roles such as the Baker’s Wife in "Into the Woods," #07 in "The Wolves" and Wendla in "Spring Awakening." She is currently setting sail on the Royal Caribbean ship, Harmony of the Seas, where she works as a featured singer playing Rizzo in "Grease" and Novella 1 in "Columbus." We caught up with Jenna about her current project and future hopes and gained some wisdom from a recent graduate to share with our current collegiate theatre students.
While there are many moments of excitement post-college, Jenna says the most exciting part of her post-grad journey thus far has been booking the job with the Royal Caribbean. “Getting to travel and do what I love every day has been the biggest blessing,” Jenna shares. The job not only allows her to travel, but also is setting her up for success as she continues to work as an actress. She hopes that, with the financial help from this job, she will be able to move to New York City and begin auditioning there.
With all good things come challenges though, and for Jenna, it was missing Auburn in the fall. “The most challenging part since graduating was when August rolled around and I wasn’t going back to Auburn,” she says. “I absolutely love a routine and the uncertainty and the unknown was really strange to navigate and accept.” As luck would have it though, she booked the job with Royal Caribbean in September and now gets to work within a new routine.
Her time at Auburn has influenced the work she does now: “It instilled in me the confidence and self discipline that I feel is needed to handle a career in the arts.” She stresses that a career in the arts is self driven, and it requires you to be your own boss in many ways. The busyness of her collegiate career has set her up to be able to navigate emails, self-tapes and balancing multiple jobs. On top of that, she says her professors gave her an invaluable toolbox of skills and techniques that she now draws from in the professional world. "They would take forever to list, but at the center of it all is a passion for performing that they helped me cultivate.”
When asked to offer her best advice for current theatre students, Jenna says, “It pays to be versatile.” In addition to developing her performance skills at Auburn, she also worked in the theatre’s costume shop. Now, on her current contract, she utilizes the skills she learned there, and is the wardrobe supervisor in charge of all laundry and repairs. “You never know what skills in the realm of theatre will come in handy one day,” she says. “I encourage students to be open to learning all they can about the industry.”
On top of helping young performers get jobs, Jenna also notes that multifaceted learning creates multifaceted, well-rounded and appreciative artists: “Always push yourself to improve. Keep taking classes and lessons and watching videos online — it can only help you keep growing!” Training isn’t perfected with a degree, and Jenna encourages students to be lifelong learners, in charge of their own growth and responsible for their own training post-college.
Jenna also encourages students to take full advantage of every opportunity presented to them. “I attended an open call for Royal Caribbean during my senior year of college in Atlanta as part of a project for Jeri Dickey’s dance capstone class,” she explains. Because of this moment, Jenna got her foot in the door and booked a job with Royal Caribbean almost a year later. “I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” she says. “Take advantage of all opportunities you have and you’ll end up right where you are meant to be!”
We are so proud of Jenna for her drive and achievements post-graduation! We know that this is only the start of a long and promising career, and we can’t wait to see what she does and where she goes next. For more about our alumni, current students and our department’s upcoming 2023-24 season, stay tuned to our website and social media.
Tags: Theatre and Dance