From Berridge to the Big Apple
Berridge Alum Julia Longo talks about her path from Berridge to NYU, and beyond.
Ian: Tell me a little about yourself! Where did you grow up? Where do you live now, and what was your college experience like?
Julia: I grew up in New York, specifically Staten island and Brooklyn! I’ve actually just graduated from NYU Tisch’s Stella Adler studio and have made the decision to start living and working as an actor in the city! My college experience was an exciting and busy three full years. I was able to take courses during the summer at NYU’s abroad center in Florence, Italy and was able to study at Tisch’s Stonestreet studio to gain exposure to on-camera training during my final summer as a college student. I'm currently living in my Manhattan apartment and beginning to navigate post-grad life as an artist!
Ian: How did you get started with Berridge?
Julia: I was looking for summer abroad programs that focused on theatre and acting. I really wanted to travel and knew it would be hard to find legitimate acting training that also offered some sort of “experience” as well. I heard about Berridge online- it was among a list of abroad-based summer programs that offered serious arts training. I realized the combination of acting training and a travel experience was what I was looking for and so I decided to send in my application! I had attended several theatre-based summer programs before and while I really enjoyed the training I received, it felt very ‘scripted’ and by the book. I was looking for an adventure and an experience that would help my college applications, so I joined the Berridge family.
Ian: Did you already know you wanted to do acting? What role did berridge play in your career development?
Julia: My summers during high school were really a time for me to do what I was passionate about. I wanted to act more than anything and I wanted to find a situation where I could act every day. In New York, there are so many acting programs that one can choose from but Berridge was a way I could push myself out of my comfort zone- I wanted to explore myself as an artist and meet other great people that wanted to do the same thing.
Ian: You mentioned Berridge would help with a college application- what was that like?
“A summer program in France” is always going to be a conversation starter on a college application. The whole concept of a high schooler being comfortable enough to travel by themselves to a foreign country to study what they’re passionate about speaks for itself. It’s a move that will get students out of their comfort zone and that is what these acting schools want to see. I think many of the big conservatory programs are craving students with unique experiences and backgrounds to really prove the saying, “there’s no ‘right’ path every artist takes.” It also helps (but doesn't guarantee anything) to have a bit of serious training before auditioning for a conservatory-style acting program. It helped me quickly acclimate to the lifestyle and rigor of a program like Tisch's BFA acting track.
Ian: Is there an area of your acting work that you wanted to work on while at Berridge?
A lot of the experiences I had before Berridge were very structured in that I felt I was being taught “the rules” of becoming an actor. I was learning very typical practices such as memorizing monologues or working on a scene but I was lacking creative inspiration in my work. I was drawn to Berridge because of the creative aspects the program offered. Electives like the Writer-Perfomer class were attractive because it was clear we’d be developing our own work and having the opportunity to show it to our peers. The bottom line was that I really felt valued as a young artist at Berridge. It’s easy to look at a young person and assume they have nothing to say simply because they haven’t lived very long yet, but my work and my voice were taken seriously and allowed me to grow into the artist I am today.
Julia Longo's acting reel. See more at julialongo.com.
Ian: Berridge is described by many alums as a "life-changing experience." What did post-berridge 'you' look like?
Julia: I came into Berridge with a lot of self-consciousness. When we’re young it can sometimes feel like everyone is watching us, just waiting until we mess up. It took some getting used to, but I was finally told that it’s okay to mess up and make mistakes especially in my work as an artist. I had freedom to make those mistakes and explore myself at Berridge without fear of judgement or consequence. As an artist, one needs to have the confidence to make bold choices and figure out what it is they have to offer. My summer at the Chateau made me aware that I do have something to offer and that I should be taking advantage of my skills as an artist.
Ian: Was there a technique or style you had learned at Berridge that stood out?
The Alexander Technique! I studied movement with Dan Milne at Berridge and could not believe how quickly I learned how to use my body effectively on stage. Every day we would learn a new way in which we could use our body to convey meaning in our work. It was a wildly creative way of expression! I didn’t have any formal dance or movement training prior to working with Dan so although I was starting from scratch, he worked at a pace that was rigorous but absolutely fulfilling.
Ian: I’m sure there were many, but could you tell me about one favorite moment that happened for you at Berridge?
So there is this insider tradition where all the boys would somehow end up with the extra bread for the day after dinner. We’d have ten or so fresh baguettes that were picked up from the bakery down the road in the morning and we became very jealous that the boys would always sneak them out of the kitchen at night! On one of the open performance nights we performed a song called “If I were a boy in the Carriage House” and exposed their midnight routine of sneaking bread. I’m pretty sure we were given some of their stash the next day...
Ian: Did Berridge Prepare you for the “real world”
Yes, it absolutely did. Many of my acting instructors have said, “if you’re passionate about something else, you should explore that as a career too.” When I heard that for the first time I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to believe that a successful career as an actor was as impossible as they made it sound. After a similar conversation with some instructors at Berridge, I realized that what was actually being said was if I wanted to be an actor, I must find a way to keep acting. It may not always be profitable or include fame but as long as it’s still fun, it will be fulfilling. As I’ve started to grow as an artist and finish up college I’ve realized that fame and money are largely synthetic when it comes to the life of an artist- it really isn’t what this is all about. Berridge taught me how to live as an artist and love what I do.
Applications are now open for all programs. Students will be admitted to Spotlight, Generate, Summer in France, and Creative Semester programs on a rolling basis following completion of all application materials. We hope to welcome you to the Berridge family very soon.
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