Last week at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, the former Studio Head of Dreamworks Animation, Gail Currey, sat in front of a large audience and was interviewed by the Institute’s President, Kent Devereaux, about her impressive career in the entertainment industry.

What transpired was quite inspirational.  But most significantly, Gail Currey offered a number of wonderful and insightful tips to any aspiring writer or artist hoping to forge a career in the ‘Biz,” tips that she followed herself as she rose through the ranks of Hollywood.

Here are a few of the gems:

–In our rapidly changing world, a person in the arts (or any other field for that matter) shouldn’t focus on finding the answers to questions, but rather on asking key questions. Specifically, she has repeatedly asked herself throughout her career questions like, “Am I bored with what I’m doing?”; “Am I fulfilled and happy with my current career?”; “What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing?”; and “What am I not doing that I should be doing?”

–What is looked for in new hires are people with genuine talent but also people who show up on time. She stressed that it is always the combination of attributes–standout talent in any specific area and a strong sense of personal discipline–that makes a person attractive and lifts careers.  Talent alone most often doesn’t cut it.

–Be willing to take on menial entry-level positions and then prove your competence.  In other words, make yourself indispensable regardless of where you find yourself on the career ladder.

–Always volunteer to do more.

Unspoken, but clearly evident during the presentation, is that it certainly doesn’t hurt to also be gracious and exhibit more than a dose of humility–traits Gail Currey has in spades.  This is a person who rose to the top of her highly competitive field and what was clearly evident last Thursday evening is that she has never stopped asking herself the important questions and is always reaching higher.

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I’m the Program Director of the low-residency MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen being offered by the New Hampshire Institute of Art.  Our last residency ran July 21-31, 2016 and we are now considering applications for starting the program with our January 2017 residency that runs January 6-15.  I’m also a playwright and screenwriter, producing partner in my production company Either/Or Films (The Sensation of Sight and Only Daughter) a professional script consultant, and the author of The Playwright’s Process.