Julliard Girls

Interview by Jaclyn Bethany
Photo by Zayira Ray

Katherine Turner, right, and Bianca Crudo.

Katherine Turner, right, and Bianca Crudo.

 
 

Bianca Crudo and Katherine Turner are both first-year MFA acting students at the prestigious Juilliard School. Crudo and Turner were photographed for Constellation by Zayira Ray on location at Lincoln Center. 

 

Bianca Crudo

Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Bianca! Where you are based? Where did you grow up?
Bianca Crudo: I am based in Brooklyn. I was born and raised in Toronto and moved to Connecticut when I was 10.

JB: What is your earliest memory of acting?
BC: My first grade class did a production of the Robert Munsch classic, Moira and Max's Birthday Party. I played Moira and Max's mother. Halfway through our performance, the boy playing the father started vomiting from stage fright. I stepped in and played his part, as well. 

If you can’t find work that you want to be a part of, you must make it yourself.

JB: What made you decide to pursue acting beyond an undergraduate degree? 
BC: After spending two years out in the real world after completing my undergraduate degree [at Fordham University], I felt I needed more tools and more time working on my craft in order to prepare myself for a lifelong career in theater and film. Ultimately, I decided to apply for graduate school because I thought it would be a great project to undergo, and I really like projects. I became more invested in the result the further along in the audition process I went.

JB: Was attending Juilliard always a dream of yours? What was the audition process like?
BC: Of course! Auditioning for grad school is like putting yourself in actor’s boot camp. I spent weeks working on my applications, and once they were over, I spent the month leading up to my auditions solely working on my six pieces. Once I found out I made it to final callbacks for Juilliard, everything started to feel like a free fall. The program is everything I could have wished for. It's rigorous but also so fun. I learn as much from my classmates as I do from my professors. 

JB: Why do you think Juilliard produces such extraordinary talent?
BC: I admire the women who graduate from Juilliard because I think they continue to defy the expectations of women in both theater and Hollywood. Juilliard stretches actors to work on parts that they may never get the opportunity to play upon graduation, so I think daring to defy expectations becomes a part of who you are by the time you graduate.

JB: What is your dream theatrical role?
BC: Somebody please let me play Juliet! 

JB: What do you hope to accomplish after graduation?
BC: The best part about being at Juilliard is that artists who are as excited and eager to work as you are surround you. I hope that upon graduation, I continue to be surrounded by these amazing artists and that we can continue creating work together! 

JB: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to pursue acting? 
BC: If you can't find work that you want to be a part of, you must make it yourself. 


Katherine Turner

Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Katherine! Where you are based? Where did you grow up?
Katherine Turner: I am based out of New York City, but prior to that, I was working bi-coastally in the Bay Area and the D.C. metropolitan area (where I was born and raised). 

JB: Do you recall your earliest memory of acting?
KT: This is a story that I don’t quite remember, but my parents always say that when I was young, they started to worry when they heard me murmuring alone in my room one day. They thought maybe I was losing it, but soon discovered after peeking in my room that I was acting out all the roles to my favorite movies in front of the television. Around that same age, I declared that I wanted to grow up to be an actress. They never questioned my sanity and well being after discovering that. But really, I’m kidding, because their support has meant the world to me and given me the courage to go full throttle and pursue my acting goals. 

JB: Was attending Juilliard always a dream of yours? 
KT: No. Actually, if you had told undergraduate Kathy that she’d be here, having the accomplishments I have (including Juilliard), she would give you the side-eye. A recent phase in my life consisted of me building my vision and my confidence in my ability to fulfill it. Early on in life, I came up against a lot of emotional bullying and let downs in my artistic journey. Though I never stopped pursuing a place in the arts, I didn’t always have the gumption to claim my space, which I inhabited in my wildest dreams. But through the process of getting older and wiser, I saw that those early hurdles [served] to make me stronger and ready for what was and is still to come. So when the time came for grad school, I just went for it. And here I am. 

JB: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to pursue acting? 
KT: Let no one—I repeat, no one—tell you what you are capable of as an artist. Those who make it their business to devalue your work in order to assert their authority are the frauds, not you. Define what success is for yourself (not what media and others tell you) and be willing to make your own path to it. Know WHY you do what you do (besides wanting to win awards and make money) and what about it fulfills you. Growing as a person is growing as an artist, so always practice self-care, self-awareness, and humility. Finally, let your passion lead you, because it seems that when you do work you are passionate about, you end up right where you are meant to be.

Growing as a person is growing as an artist, so always practice self-care, self-awareness, and humility.

JB: Whom do you consider to be your favorite female playwright and/or director working today? 
KT: The majority of my work that I’ve done professionally has been on new or recently published plays, which has included works by some phenomenal women that are spreading like wildfire. Two that come to mind are Danai Gurira (who wrote The Convert and Eclipsed and stars on The Walking Dead) and Mfoniso Udofia (whose plays Sojourners and Her Portmanteau will be featured by New York Theatre Workshop this season). I find that the women I come across in this industry and in this city are all non-conformists; they have no intention of hiding or demeaning all they have to offer [in order] to make others comfortable. What also inspires me about these women is how they choose to push forward in their work regardless of any resistance, making the space for themselves and for others like them. They don’t wait for it to be acquiesced to them. There’s no time for that. 

JB: What do you hope to accomplish after graduation?
KT: I would love to build a varied and long-lasting career in theater and film. I love the role of collaboration in this art form, so to work in some of the circles that my favorite artists inhabit and make breathtaking work would be bliss. I would also love to make work that is relevant, innovative, and directly interested in confronting the conditions of ourselves as humans in the “world” we have created. I want to further push the role of storytelling in our society and not only provide entertainment and catharsis, but also question and make connections across multiple platforms and communities. ★

These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.