Whether she’s serving as an associate producer for the only all student-run musical theater group on campus, MUSKET, staring as Tracy Turnblad in the company’s production of Hairspray, or studying business at Ross, sophomore Hillary Ginsberg puts passion in everything she does. Her Campus UMich had the pleasure of chatting with this talented teen on her experience in theater thus far and her plans post college.
Her Campus: When did you first start your acting career and what companies have you been a part of?
Hillary Ginsberg: I have been performing for as long as I can remember. I believe I started voice and piano lessons at age four and my first show was when I was eight. It is the only thing I have ever been truly passionate about. I have been a part of local and regional theater companies, and when I was a freshman in high school I performed in my first equity production. It was at a dinner theater around me. The show was A Christmas Carol. It ran for 52 performances and I had a substantial part. I did about thirty shows with a local community theater. I was involved from age eight through college. The past two summers I have gone back and helped with the children’s summer theater program as well.
HC: How did working with these companies compare to being a part of MUSKET?
HG: Though I have loved every performing opportunity I have had, for the most part, MUSKET surpasses them all. I am not sure if it is because it is the most recent company I have had the honor of being a part of, but either way it has been incredible. The shows are amazing because it includes students from all schools on campus. I have worked with musical theater majors, vocal performance majors, acting majors, political science majors, dance majors, BTA’s, engineering majors, etcetera. Everyone is so talented and so committed to this group. In addition to it being incredible to meet these people, I have had the honor to learn from these talented individuals. That is priceless.
HC: Did you always know that you wanted to pursue performing arts at a university level?
HG: It’s funny, my theater goals have changes drastically as I’ve grown older. If you asked me in elementary school or middle school I would have said my dream was to be famous and be on Broadway. Through high school, I had a manager and an agent. I was always auditioning for things hoping to get my big break. I had a few close moments, with 13 and Bye Bye Birdie, but I never made it. Even through my college process that was my goal. I auditioned at every school I applied to to perform. I auditioned at 11 schools in either musical theater, acting or vocal performance. I was accepted to some programs, but I had almost an epiphany at the end of my senior year. My goal shifted from wanting to be on Broadway to wanting to be a part of the Broadway process. My dream was to be thanked at the Tony’s as opposed to getting one. There is something special and honorable about nurturing a production from first read to final product. Though my love for being on stage has never changed, my career path has.
HC: What has the process of becoming involved in the arts in college been like?
HG: When I came to school, I assumed an a cappella group would satisfy my love for performing. I focused my welcome week on preparing for a cappella auditions. I was a member of KHK, the Jewish a cappella group on campus, my whole freshman year. I loved the group and I loved the people. At the beginning of sophomore year when I was told about MUSKET, and Hairspray that was the first time I thought about doing another production. When I was cast as Tracy, I was stunned. I was convinced I would never perform again on that level and here I was being cast as the lead in a university production surrounded by music majors, me a mere business student. From then on I was committed to MUSKET. I guess you could say I came to school not thinking I was good enough to pursue performing arts on the production level, but a few pushes later I have had the most amazing year fulfilling goals I never expected too. No matter your major, if you are interested in something, pursue it. You never know what will happen and you might end up even surprising yourself.
HC: You are planning to receive your dual degree in Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Screen Arts with a minor in Performing Arts Management. How is it balancing a rigorous course load with practices and performances?
HG: You could say it has been challenging. When I first called my grandma to tell her I was cast in Hairspray her word for word reaction was “I don’t know if I should be happy or sad. You’re going to fail all of your classes.” I was happy to prove her wrong by not failing any class, but it has been a difficult year. Rewarding, but difficult. I know now that I have found MUSKET I will continue to be more involved and I will continue to have to balance school with my performing. My studies are special because it allows me to pursue exactly what I want to. Though I will be here a fifth year to finish, I will leave school on the path I have always wanted to be on. I know my experience with MUSKET has only helped reinforced the career path I have chosen. My studies make me unique and though they’re rigorous, I couldn’t be happier.
HC: What has been the highlight of your acting career thus far?
HG: For me, the process working up to the show has been the most fun part. Trying out different things, getting to know the cast, the drama of voices coming in and out and the love shared by the whole team. That has always been the most important part for me, but when a local review of Hairspray came out after the show calling me a rising star, I cried. Your success in this business is based on what other people think about it. To hear such humbling words from a complete stranger made all the hard work, the sleepless days, the sickness and everything else worth it. At that moment I felt like my childhood goal to be famous and be on Broadway was met. I will never forget that moment
HC: How do you hope to combine your passions for business and theater after college?
HG: My dream career changes everyday. In general my goal is to do the business of the entertainment industry, so producing, managing, casting, sales, research or marketing for film, TV, or Broadway. If I can combine my nerdy math skills with my love for performing, I will be happy no matter where I am.