See More From Chicago Fire

One of the biggest struggles of the business is how to move from your training to starting your career. The early auditions and projects can be hard to navigate, and even harder to predict. This is an area where we have had a strong track record, and you can see that by looking at the success of our alumni on the website. After the training is finished, our students level up. They nail the audition that books the agent. They make the first film, or land the first guest spot. They book the first commercial. That means we have a lot of “firsts”. They are getting jobs and becoming part of the working talent pool in Chicago or elsewhere in the country. Most recently, our alumni have been taking over guest and recurring spots on the following shows – Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Hope, APB. You can watch the one with Deanna Reed-Foster here. On the show, she also has worked with Joe Minoso, a regular on the series, and Aj McGhee, both students of Rick and Kathryn’s. We know how to get you where you want to be, and we do it pretty quickly. We get you in the ring and then we keep you there.

two men“Joe Minoso plays tough firefighter Joe Cruz on the hit NBC drama Chicago Fire. ‘NIU was probably the most important three years of my acting career’, he says. ‘NIU was all about giving me tools I can use practically as an actor…the faculty got things out of me I didn’t even know I had…

Minoso continues to reflect on the lessons imparted by outstanding teachers, especially Kathryn Gately, former director of the Master of Fine Arts Professional Acting Program. He recalls a day when, exhausted and unprepared, he had a breakdown in an acting class. After letting him vent, his instructor told him he had wasted a lot of everybody’s time – a lesson he says serves him well to this day.

‘Sometimes work is really emotional stuff. You make yourself go to some really dark, deep places, and it can be taxing, emotionally and mentally,’ he says. ‘On a set like Chicago Fire, every hour you’re not filming costs thousands of dollars. You have to know how to keep that emotion contained and ready to go and be prepared when you’re called so you can deliver without wasting the valuable time of many people and actual money.’

Those lessons, the kind that are not found in any textbook, but are imparted by excellent teachers, are one way higher education can help artists develop their unique voice and the skills they need to succeed.”

-Northern Now, Spring 2016