A panel of creatives highlighted Western Academy of Beijing High School's annual Career Fair on February 28, sharing their stories of "making it" in a notoriously difficult industry.
"In schools the arts are how students begin to understand their own identities," said High School Principal Melanie Vrba. "WAB has always had a strong connection to the arts, and hearing from professionals who have made the arts their career opens our students up to new ideas and possibilities."
Among the panel of artists, filmmakers, musicians and actors was Chinese pop singer Lao Lang. Gaining fame in the early 1990s, Lao Lang connected his audience through the lyrics of several hit songs, which young people found relatable. The singer released four albums during his career, and is now a judge on the hit television talent show, "I Am a Singer."
"I started a band when I was still studying science and engineering in university," the famed singer told students. "Sometimes your career path won't be clear at the very beginning, but that's okay."
WAB Alumni Robert Johnson, known in the music industry as Andreyun, was also sitting on the panel. After graduating from WAB in 2012, he went to school in Norway but soon decided on an alternative path: to immediately pursue a career in music.
"I saw opportunities here. There's a big market," he said when asked about focusing his career in China. "If you can get noticed in Asia and get on top of the lists for a song you write, then you can get a lot more calls and business."
WAB High School students asked about a common uncertainty among aspiring artists: How much luck is involved?
"You create your own luck," several of the panelists agreed. They said your hard work, passion, thoughtfulness and preparation combine to be what many people end up calling "luck."
"You never know who you're talking to. There are opportunities everywhere," said Rick Garson, founder and CEO of VX Entertainment and former executive producer of the Billboard Music Awards. "Turn over every stone. You have to just go for it."
The panelists discussed their varying paths to success, differing educational backgrounds and career accomplishments. They stressed that there in so set pathway that leads to success in the arts.
"It's about finding and investigating your passions, and working hard on them to turn your career into something you love," said Nick Kovalevich, COO of Base Media.
WAB's High School encourages students to remain open to taking a variety of paths to success. A new initiative called the Capstone Project allows students to explore their passions and dive deeply into an area of interest that may turn into future studies or a career. Grade 11 student Emmanuel Croset came to WAB specifically to take part in Capstone, focusing his work on continuing to develop as a photojournalist.
I have been to many international schools all around the world, and I have always wanted to be able to start building my portfolio and learn about photography, and only WAB gave me this opportunity to do so," Emmanuel said.
To learn more about how WAB empowers students to learn their best and make a difference in the world, visit the Learn page on WAB's website.