The Daily Times: Maryville High School alumni chart varied paths to careers in the arts

A career in the arts isn’t out of reach, three Maryville High School alumni told today’s students, encouraging them to say yes to opportunities.

When Steve Stanley graduated in 1990 and headed to Rhodes College in Memphis, he studied mathematics and religion before settling on French.

“I was going to be a French teacher,” he told Maryville students gathered in the high school theater Wednesday morning, Nov. 20.

But first he wrote “one fairly mediocre novel” with a friend before they decided their style was better suited for screenplays and began making their own movies.

A master’s degree in film and television from Savannah (Georgia) College of Art and Design (SCAD) led to an internship at a Los Angeles talent agency that Stanley said changed his life.

He intended to write and direct films but ended up working on financing projects for clients such as David Schwimmer. Then he ran a distribution company and started producing films and directing documentaries.

“A career in the arts is fantastic,” Stanley told the teens. But he encouraged them to figure out whether their passion will be a hobby or a job.

“There’s something beautiful about doing it as a hobby and just doing it for the love of it,” he said. “Doing it as a job changes your relationship with it. For me, it was worth doing full time, but I kind of had to constantly renew my joy about it, because sometimes you become jaded.”

Currently he’s a professor at the SCAD, which also gives him time to write and direct films, such as the documentary short “Conway Pride.”

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