Posted October 18, 2010
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN PASHA
ACTORS' EQUITY MEMBER and THE ACTORS FUND WORK PROGRAM (AWP) PARTICIPANT
John Pasha's love for acting began when he was 11. After performing in school plays, he worked with The Actors' Theater of Minnesota and The Children's Theatre Company. John received his BFA degree from Boston University and spent a year in NYC before completing his MFA from the University of Delaware, PTTP.
The Actors Fund Work Program (AWP) supports its participants in identifying and finding meaningful work to complement their industry career or supports them in finding a new career.
The following is an interview with John, conducted by Kathy Schrier, the Director of The Actors Fund Work Program.
Kathy Schrier: Tell me about your acting experience right after you finished your BFA.
John Pasha: I was lucky to get work at The Shakespeare Theatre in DC, which made me an EMC. I then spent three years at the University of Delaware-with summers at the Colorado and Utah Shakespeare Festivals. After graduation, I returned to New York, since I was still EMC, started to book non-union work-big mistake.
Kathy Schrier: What do you mean "big mistake?"
John Pasha: I honestly didn't understand what it meant to work non-union-but I learned. There were no rules-I sometimes worked 14 days straight, or worked 12- hours days with no overtime pay-and forget earning credits towards health insurance. I soon realized that I could not be a professional actor without being union. As a result, when I was offered a job with the Southwest Repertory Company I joined Equity. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have also served many times as Deputy.
Kathy Schrier: So acting wise, what have you been doing these past 11 years?
John Pasha: I have been busy doing Regional and Off-Broadway Theater-The Pearl Theatre Company, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Pioneer Theatre Company-to name a few.
Kathy Schrier: So if you were busy acting, why did you come to AWP?
John Pasha: No surprise-I had some good years-and some not so good years. I realized that acting is a wonderful career-but I needed to find another career to complement the acting that was equally fulfilling. I had it with survival work-I didn't want to take work just to pay bills.
Kathy Schrier: How did AWP help you?
John Pasha: Wow. The counseling services helped me define my strengths and interests outside of theater. I also came to realize that it didn't have to be an either or-I could have more than one fulfilling career at the same time. AWP hooked me up with teaching work-I have taught SAT prep and tutored middle school kids in both math and English. Also The Fund's Money and the Performing Artists group helped me understand the importance of financial well-being.
Kathy Schrier: Where did this all lead you?
John Pasha: In January of 2009 I returned from an eight- month acting gig-to a horrible labor market. The teaching work had dried up, and even survival work was hard to find. This was a real wake-up call. I always thought about health care-with AWP's encouragement- I went to a nursing school open house. I began volunteering in a hospital-realized that I wanted to be a nurse-applied to school-got in-and was given a full tuition scholarship.
Kathy Schrier: Nursing? Will that allow you to continue acting?
John Pasha: Actually, I spent my summer break performing at Shakespeare Santa Cruz. It was a fabulous summer, but I have to admit I missed school! I do know that after I finish my degree and get licensed I must spend time working in a hospital to build my clinical foundation. There will be no way I can act during this period. However, because the demand for nurses is expected to continue to rise, once I have a strong foundation, I believe I will be able to have a dual career.
Kathy Schrier: So how is school?
John Pasha: I am President of the Student Body and an honors student. Most important, I love school and look forward to getting my license at the end of this academic year, and begin practicing.
The Actors Fund is a national human service organization that helps all professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The Fund is a safety net, providing programs and services for those who are in need, crisis or transition. For more information call 212. 221- 7300- or visit www.actorsfund.org.