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After Working for Oprah, MSLCE Student Decides to Pursue Theatre

By Amy A. Ross

Seth Zimmerman decided it was time to go back to school after about a decade navigating the media and entertainment industries with professional success, but without the personal satisfaction he longed for.

A life-long theatre aficionado, Zimmerman was involved in theatre in high school. However, when it came time to pick a field of study, he became convinced that theatre was not a feasible choice for a career.

Instead, Zimmerman moved to Indiana, where he studied telecommunications at Indiana University. Although he had resigned himself to the idea that making a living in theatre wouldn’t be possible, he did his best to keep one foot in the door. A short stint as a stage manager at a theatre company in New York one summer further aggravated his fears about the implausibility of staying afloat in the theatre business.

“I learned tons about how many of the people there weren’t theatre professionals; they were architects, writers, accountants, etc. I realized that it is really hard to make a living in the arts without being really good,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman went on to build a career in the media and entertainment industry, with internships at The Daily Show and World News Tonight, before landing a job with the Oprah Winfrey Show.

“I got a job doing research and wound up as the senior research coordinator for the show. They asked me to stay on when they switched to the Oprah Winfrey Network,” said Zimmerman.

On the side, he continued with theatre and writing and in 2011 fulfilled his dream of graduating from the Second City training program.

“We wrote and produced four shows and I produced a show at IO (previously know as the Improv Olympics). It was actually then that I realized I wanted to do something more with the arts,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is now determined to make himself “good enough to make a living” in the field that has always captivated his attention.

“I would like to be a creative director for a theatre company, but I’m also a big outdoorsman and nature enthusiast so even something related to an aquarium or zoo would potentially interest me; anything that educates as well as entertains,” he said.