Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Autumn Kirkpatrick
Current Location: Philadelphia, PA
Autumn, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I am a musical theater artists based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I began my theater journey like most kids, with the fourth grade school play. Eventually I transitioned into children's theater, and after deciding that I wanted to pursue acting as a full time career, made my way to the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts. I then went on to study musical theater for four years at the University of the Arts here in Philly. I just graduated with my BFA in May of 2020!
That's awesome! Congratulations on your recent degree. What have you been up to since graduating?
Since graduating I have been exploring what it means to be an artist durning the pandemic and diving deeper into my passion for baking. I also have a passion for baking and traveling! I started my own home bakery business, Kirky Cakes, in January of 2018. You can follow my baking journey on Instagram @kirky_cakes!
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road, what are some struggles you've faced along the way, and how have you overcome them?
It has definitely been a bumpy road, but it has only just begun! I have faced a lot of self doubt, and rejection in my short career thus far. Being a six foot tall girl in the theater industry gives me no choice but to stand out. I have learned over the years to be proud of my height, and consider it my biggest strength, rather than a weakness. Of course it isn't always easy to hide my insecurities, but this small change in my mindset has opened up so many doors for me. Being proud of who I am has been the key to competing in an overpopulated field with so many talented and unique individuals!
I have also struggled a lot with my move across the country. So many of my friends thrived when they went away for school four years ago, and I had an incredibly difficult time adjusting to my new life here in Philadelphia. It has never been easy for me to leave my friends and family back home, and I miss them all every day. However, my passion and love for the Philly theater scene, and the wonderful family I have created for myself here keeps me coming back. I have learned that sometimes the most challenging situations are what allow me to grow and dream bigger than ever before.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
The biggest thing I learned in college is to really take care of yourself as an act and as an artist. We all grow up with such a cut-throat view of the industry, that we forget we are valuable assets. Our thoughts, feelings, ideas, creations, and desires are important! You do not have to neglect those unique qualities about yourself to be successful in this industry. In fact embracing those qualities is what will help you thrive in and out of your career.
If I could talk to my younger self I would tell her to take more time to think about what she wants! You don't have to audition for that school or take that gig just because it's what other people would do. You always have the right to make your own choices. Choose what will make you happy!
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
The best piece of advice I have ever been given is to never judge the success of your auditions by whether or not you book the gig. My senior musical theater performance professor instilled in us that the most important person to impress is yourself. Set your own personal goals for each audition that only you are capable of fulfilling. If you meet those goals, then your audition was a success! If not, figure out how to meet that goal for next time.
Can you tell us about an inspiring life event? Something maybe that inspired you to pursue a life in the arts?
Most of my inspiration comes from my family and the brilliant artists that I am lucky enough to call my friends. I have always been fascinated by people, and by the stories we all hold. I am inspired by human resilience, and by the fact that joy can still shine through, despite all of the tragedy humanity faces.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
The proudest moment of my career so far was a one week workshop of a new musical called The Omniscients written by James Ijames and Michael Kiley, and directed by Matthew Decker. That week was the most overwhelming, exhilarating, and inspiring week of my college life. To sit on the ground floor of a new musical with such an all star team from the Philly theater scene was unreal. The cast was full of so much love, and I will never forget how wonderful the entire experience was.
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What purpose do you think the arts play in today's society?
I think the arts have an incredible responsibility to society. The arts have the ability to expand people's understanding of the world around them. Artists can tell stories of the underdogs and of those who have been silenced. We can provide a foundation for deeper conversations about the state of our world. However, with all the weight of the drama, is light of the comedy. Art also has the ability to make people smile. Artists can help people forget their troubles, if only for a moment, and spread joy to those who need it the most. This dual capability is just one characteristic of art that gives it a powerful influence that can shape the world for the better.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
I hope that the arts industry will be met with more respect and appreciation as we move into the next chapter, after the pandemic. I hope that school art programs will be given the funding they deserve, and that the next generation will be filled with creative minds who will continue to use their art to create a better, kinder world. I have the highest hopes that live theater will make a roaring comeback soon. In the meantime, I have faith that the artists of the world will stop at nothing to tell stories and unite people in inventive new ways.
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