Going Pro


Casey Giolito ’17 hopes to pursue a career in acting. Giolito, along with other students, must find a balance between career aspirations and school. Credit: Emily Rahhal/Chronicle

Jesse Nadel

On a typical school day, while all of her friends begin their homework, Anya Andrews ’17 runs down Hollywood Boulevard in pajamas and slippers, receiving strange looks from those who pass by her.

Soon after, she bursts through the doors of her destination into a room full of teenage girls who are all dressed exactly like her.

It is a casting director’s office, one of more than 20 she has visited in the last two months.

For Andrews, acting is her passion, and auditions are a part of that.

“Going into auditions is honestly just like going in and having a mini-conversation, and it can be really fun,” Andrews said. “Sometimes they’ll have you do ridiculous things, but they just want to see how you’ll react.”

Andrews realized her love for acting at a very young age. The daughter of an actor and a writer, she believes that performing simply “runs in her family.”

“My dad had to babysit me when I was younger, so he would take me on auditions with him, and I would just hang out with the casting directors as he did his auditions,” Andrews said. “Soon, I just started getting called in for my own auditions, and I realized how fun I thought it was.”

Now, over a decade later, Andrews has an agent, is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, has been in several national ad campaigns and has been through countless auditions.

Though many disappointments come with the auditions, Andrews tries to not let these get her down, she said.

“I’m always going in for commercials,” Andrews said. “I get called in for voice-overs a lot too. It’s really fun, and it’s kind of disappointing when you don’t get it, but when you do, there’s nothing like it.”

Last spring, Andrews shot a national commercial for Infinity TV and recently got a callback for a Raisin Bran commercial.

Andrews is not the only student at Harvard-Westlake who wants to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

After playing the lead role in his mandatory fifth grade production of Grease, Casey Giolito ’17 found that acting was something he really loved to do.

“I hadn’t even thought about acting up until [the play],” Giolito said. “That’s when I realized my love for the theatre and just having people watch me turn into a different character.”

Giolito, who had to split his time between West Side Story rehearsals and baseball practices last fall, does not want to act professionally while still in school because he does not have enough time for it.

Casey Giolito ’17 performs in the winter play, “West Side Story.” Credit: Emily Rahhal/Chronicle

“Right now, I just want to take acting classes and get better,” Giolito said. “I don’t really want to be a child actor, but when I’m an adult, I think that’s the time to pursue it as a career. Acting is probably my number one pursuit in life. There is nothing that I think is more fun to do, and the idea of doing that for a job is really exciting.”

Elizabeth Gaba ’17 has a similar philosophy when it comes to her passion for singing. Since the age of seven, Gaba has been practicing singing.

For the past 10 years, she has been taking vocal lessons with the same teacher and has attended numerous summer camps to improve her singing skills.

“Singing has always been very therapeutic for me,” Gaba said. “It was always something that I had gotten a lot of encouragement for. I have such a passion for music in general, and singing is just the best way I know how to express it.”

As a result of her passion, Gaba co-founded the school’s first a cappella group.

Additionally, she has been in Chamber Singers for the past two years and was in West Side Story this past fall.

While Gaba is mainly performing in school and not professionally, she said she hopes to find a career that involves singing in the future.

“It’s absolutely something I hope to do with my future,” Gaba said. “My dad worked in the music industry, and music is such an important part of my life that I really don’t see myself pursuing any other sort of career. Even if singing doesn’t work out, I still intend to try to make a living doing something with music.”

When Jenny Lange ’17 got an Instagram direct message from the owner of a clothing company called Olivia Rose, she had no intention of modeling. But, after the company owner asked her to do a few shoots for the online retailer, Lange became one of their official models.

Since then, Lange has been asked by several other companies to be a brand ambassador, meaning that she represents the companies on social media platforms.

Despite her experience modelling and sponsoring brands, Lange says that her real passion is for acting.

“I definitely don’t want to be a model as a career. It’s fun right now, and I would always love to help a company, but acting is definitely more of my passion and what I would like to pursue in the future,” Lange said.

However, similar to Giolito, Lange finds it hard to pursue a professional acting career while attending school.

“Acting is something that I’m somewhat pursuing right now, but I haven’t had much time to audition,”

Lange said. “I’ve been auditioning for small things. Definitely in the future, when I learn more and gain more experience, I’d want to actually pursue acting as a career and study it in college.”