According to a 2013 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27% of college graduates were working in a field directly related to their major. This statistic may seem ominous to those students that researched, sweated, and internally deliberated their choice of major. However, there is always more than one road diverged in the proverbial “wood.”
If you browse possible careers for marketing graduates you’ll come across job titles that are often repetitive. Pick a list, any list, and you’re sure to find the usual: market analyst, marketing sales representative, market researcher, they’re all there. What you won’t find is actress.
For 2003 marketing graduate Elisha Skorman (her adopted screen name) the dream was clear: “I knew from a young age I wanted to move to Los Angeles and pursue acting,” but the path wouldn’t start where you would expect it. “I was really introverted growing up, I was shy.” said Skorman. “I was always hiding behind my mother’s legs.” So, how does a modest youth go from using a maternal barrier to being nominated for Best Actress at the Madrid International Film Festival? In a word: persistence.
As a teen, Elisha began attending acting school in Austin and made appearances in several marketing campaigns in San Antonio, including a spot in the ubiquitous 90’s Taco Bell commercial: Taco Bell Has Done It Again. These experiences laid the groundwork for Skorman as she received her first break:
“I was asked to be in a music video and the director needed me to cry. I couldn’t just cry on command, so it took several takes and some coaching, but finally, I just let go. I screamed as loud as I could and the tears started coming down. I knew in that moment this is what I wanted to do.”
As any artisan can tell you, your calling doesn’t always pay the bills. While moonlighting as an actress, Elisha worked part-time at a beauty salon and attended the School of Business full-time. Long days and even longer nights finally paid off as Skorman crossed the stage with degree in hand, but the celebration was mixed; it was time to make decisions:
“My mom wanted me to stay in San Antonio, but I always knew I wanted to be in Los Angeles. As soon as I got my diploma, I packed my car and took off for the West Coast. I didn’t know anyone in the area, but I knew that’s where I belonged.”
Although not a novice to the acting profession, Skorman struggled to find employment in her chosen career: “Everyday in LA was spent trying to find a job, any job. I had to make it happen though, so I took a job as a waitress with no experience whatsoever.” As stated in many a career advice guide, Skorman “paid her dues” and in 2004 found herself attached to a talent agency, as she slowly crept into the industry. The same year, she landed a minor role in the comedy short The Plight of Clownana, subsequently leading to appearances on The Young and the Restless, CSI: NY, and Dealership. By 2012, Skorman had produced a lengthy portfolio as an actress, but her next project would also put her on the other side of the camera.
In her first visit back to the Incarnate Word in over a decade, Elisha reminisced about her experience as a Cardinal: “I can’t believe how much the campus has changed since I was here. All these new buildings, but it still feels the same.” The San Antonio native came home to attend a screening of her new independent film, Autumn Wanderer, at the Blue Star Contemporary, which features Skorman alongside her husband Nathan Sutton.
Autumn Wanderer takes a pragmatic approach to mental health by utilizing Sutton’s own experiences with panic attacks as muse. The indie film highlights a real world issue in a way that allows the audience to take a naturalistic look at the effects of a mental disease. Sutton’s character, Charlie, is dealing with the possibility of inheriting his father’s schizophrenia. As Charlie deals with the loss of his longtime girlfriend and his lingering mental struggle, he meets the mysterious Nia, played by Skorman.
Developed from a short story written by Sutton, Autumn Wanderer is a product of the couples independent production company, Mohawk Street Productions. Now as an executive producer, Skorman has come full circle from delivering SWOT analyses in the classroom, to employing her education in social media strategy, public relations, and selecting venues to promote the film. Skorman explains:
“I wanted to get that edgy, hometown feel. We needed to pick a location that was outside of the box, so we laid out the opportunities and the threats and decided on [Blue Star] an art gallery that would attract an audience that would be interested in our film. We’re branding ourselves in order to retain a certain audience.”
Skorman has played many roles, but her new position as marketing coordinator has allowed her to reflect on her classroom encounters. Particularly, the learning climax of many a graduating senior, Capstone. Skorman elaborates: “Capstone was a really important part of my academic experience. The teamwork involved, strategizing to reach a solution; I definitely gained a lot of practical experience from the project.”
Although Skorman took the road less traveled, the skills and knowledge gained from studying marketing at the UIW School of Business have assisted her in following her passion. When asked to give advice to current and future Cardinals, Skorman reiterated a path of persistence: “Study hard, [the Incarnate Word] will get you all the help you need to be successful. There’s no reason you can’t live your dream.” Sutton also left a few words of wisdom for entrepreneurial minded students, “It doesn’t come all at once; you’re not going to be the CEO overnight, but minor breaks lead to big successes.”
Autumn Wanderer will be available for download on April 8th.