“I always get funny looks from fellow actors when I tell them I’m in business school,” chuckles Stern freshman Annie Qian, “but to me, it makes perfect sense.”
“When researching schools, Stern emerged as the only undergraduate college with a prominent entertainment business program. The Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology specialization (BEMT) and the Stern & Tisch Entertainment Business Association (STEBA) were just two of the reasons I knew this was the right place for me. Plus Stern’s New York City location enables me to continue pursuing acting opportunities.”
Annie, who most recently appeared on an episode of CBS’s Blue Bloods and plays the recurring role of Kelly on TBS’s Are We There Yet?, realized she also wanted to study the business side of the industry she loves.
A self-described shy and awkward child, Annie sought solace through ballet and piano lessons but says something still felt missing until she discovered acting. She got her break at 13 when she arrived at an audition to accompany a no-show friend and impulsively tried out. “I went in without any training and landed it! By the time I finished shooting the commercial, I knew I wanted to be an actor.” Coming from a traditional Chinese immigrant family, she says her choice of profession was at first less than ideal, but her mother was supportive and encouraged her to acquire training. She was accepted at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she cultivated her technique. “I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m on stage and never felt more at home than when I’m facing a camera,” she effuses. “When I perform, I have no inhibitions.”
Since she’s been at Stern, Annie has seen her performance and business studies coalesce. “My coursework and acting experiences often inform each other,” she explains. “As an actor, I am both ‘salesman’ and ‘product’- every time I enter an audition, I am promoting myself. I’ve learned valuable communication and marketing skills in the classroom that translate into improved auditions.” Each time she performs she learns something new as well, including how to deal with diverse personalities. “It’s essential to be professional and get the job done no matter what differences arise on set or stage. Being flexible and collaborative is also a valuable asset when navigating the business world.”
In addition to advancing her acting career, Annie plans to one day produce films. “My grandfather, who was a known actor and director in China, completed a screenplay that several major Chinese networks sought to produce, but negotiations fell through when he passed away. I hope to finish what he started, and the business and networking skills I gain at Stern will help me realize his vision.”