We spoke with Canadian actress, Hannah Simone, most recognized for her role as Cece on Fox’s hit show New Girl and former VJ at MuchMusic. We asked Simone to share memories of her academic career and tips for students getting ready to go back to school. Read on for why she feels that education is a crucial experience for all individuals.
What are your greatest memories from getting ready for university?
This question brought up so many wonderful memories for me and my university experience. I went to two universities, UBC for undergrad and Ryerson for a grad program. My family was so proud and excited when I decided to go to university not once, but twice! Education is such a huge priority in my family. From a young age, my dad instilled the value of education in both my brother and I. We were taught education is a privilege and a gift that no one could take from us. My favourite thing about going to university was the empowering feeling I got from being able to study and explore any topic I chose.
For me, my educational background is the greatest tool in my actor/producer tool kit
Can you tell us about your academic journey and how it helped prepare you for your current career as an actress?
I think about this question all the time. Throughout my on-screen career, from MuchMusic to New Girl and onwards, the big question people would often ask is “What advice can you give me to break into the industry?”. My answer was always “Go to school.”. In my experience, this industry appreciates people who are educated. Also, this is an artistic career with no guarantees so I found being educated gives you a sense of safety and confidence that you can pivot within the industry if necessary. With an academic background, you can then go into writing, producing, becoming a talent agent — it truly is the greatest sense of security.
I also personally found that my academic foundation gave me such diverse experiences to draw upon as an actress. Growing up, I changed schools and countries often. The changing environments helped shape me as an actress and gave me the skills to quickly connect with people on set. For me, my educational background is the greatest tool in my actor/producer tool kit.
What advice do you have for students getting ready for back to school?
It excites me that there’s a whole new generation getting ready to go back to school. I would say try and use your time at school as an opportunity to find yourself: your likes, dislikes, interests. I remember in my first year, I explored courses in all different faculties from psychology to political science. Through trial and error (hello quantitative stats is NOT for me), I eventually discovered my true passion and interest in political science which led me on a linear path to work for the United Nations. The strongest advice I have for students getting ready for back to school is to use your first year as an opportunity to explore different fields of study.
Do you have advice for young women striving for a career in the industry?
Firstly, get an education! Figure out where your passions lie. Your power in the medium of media takes root when you become a storyteller. When I started acting, I saw up close the incredible influence the people who were in control of telling the stories had. Likewise, I was able to identify what important stories were not being told and needed a voice. I found that what makes a powerful storyteller is life experience. My advice is that throughout your academic journey is to travel, take opportunities to explore new subjects you don’t know about, and immerse yourself in cultural experiences. Hopefully, then you can become one of the people who are writing the stories for the next generation.