Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Neil Starkenberg.
Current Location: Los Angeles, Ca
Neil, thanks so much for joining us for this interview. Before we jump into it, why don't you tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Long Beach, CA and went to the Academy of the Performing Arts (APA), a program attached to Huntington Beach High School. After that I went on to receive my BFA in Musical Theater from Cal State University of Fullerton, and continued to work professionally in California for a year or so after. Just shy of two years after graduating college I took my first bow on Broadway as Pepper in Mamma Mia!, after that I went on to star as Romeo in For the Records BAZ: Star Crossed Love at the Palazzo Theater in Las Vegas, Nevada. I have also had the pleasure of working on television shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Instinct, The Today Show, and the premiere of The Meredith Vieira Show.
Can you tell us about what you're currently working on ?
Since COVID-19 I have been working on a Voiceover career as well as coaching students online in acting, singing, dancing, and saxophone.
Overall, has it been a smooth road? If not, what are some of the struggles you've experienced along the way and how have you overcome them?
Anything in the arts is extremely hard. I would love to tell you that it has been as smooth road but I can't. If the uphill battle of "no's" before a "yes" wasn't hard enough, I was unlucky enough to have endured not just one knee surgery, but two in my career. Having danced all of my life, I was faced with the task of re-learning to walk, jump, bend, and stand again... but I did it and I'm still standing.
Having to go through those struggles, were there any lessons you learned along the way?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way is you cannot appreciate the highs if you cannot learn from the lows. The love for my craft is so much stronger, and my passion is so much deeper because of everything I have learned.
Having worked in the arts across the country, has there been any advice you've been given that you've taken with you and applied to your life?
Someone once told me "go be a force in the world" and I have tried to apply that in everything I do and believe in.
That is an inspiring piece of advice. Is there anything that inspires you to keep up with that mantra?
It may sound cheesy but the kids in the arts today inspire me. They're so invested and so pure of heart in their performances, & work ethic that it always inspires me to give my all every time. No matter how big or small the task or the role may be.
In all that you've done so far in your career, what do you consider your proudest moment?
Hands down my proudest moment was having my my mom and dad in the audience, watching me take my first ever bow on Broadway. To have them see their hard work and determination, as well as mine pay off, it was beautiful.
With our current state of affairs, what role do you think the arts plays in society?
The arts in my opinion play a huge part in our society. It allows us to escape for just a bit and it's inclusive. Everyone is welcome. That's a big reason why I loved the arts when I was younger. I found a group of people like me, who wanted to create, and feel accepted for who they are.
We've often heard that the arts are in a pivotal, almost transitionary period. What are your hopes for the future of the arts industry?
My hope for the arts is that it continues to grow and expand our world we live in, and adapt to our new time. Whether that be online performances or shows being streamed live, I hope that we can continue to bring the arts to as many people as possible.
The Rose Center Theater's Virtual Revue you are performing in is titled TOGETHER AGAIN. What role do you think the arts have played in unifying people?
Togetherness, Family, As one; to me these are all meanings of the word unity and more importantly is what the arts have meant to me. My second family, where we come “Together"... as one.
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