AFTER FOUR QUARTERS at Stanford, Sophomore Allie Trimm decided to move to New York to pursue her career as a Broadway actress. Trimm has returned to the Great White Way after experiencing formidable success as a child star. As a Stanford student and actress, I was intrigued by Allie’s story and its relevance to fellow artists at Stanford who may be contemplating similar choices. We were lucky enough to meet up with Allie in New York City, and grab a sweet treat while we were at it.
FLEMING: TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU BECAME A PROFESSIONAL ACTRESS BEFORE YOUR TIME AT STANFORD.
TRIMM: I started doing theater professionally when I was nine years old. When I turned thirteen I signed with an agent and booked my first Broadway role in 13 The Musical. The following year, I was cast in the revival of Bye Bye Birdie with John Stamos on Broadway. Having balanced school and acting my entire life, I knew I wanted to focus on different interests at Stanford. I had my agent keep an eye on roles for me but I really delved into some other passions at school.
F: WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE STANFORD AND PURSUE YOUR CAREER AS AN ACTRESS IN NEW YORK?
T: It was by no means an easy decision. It was strange to leave Stanford after fall quarter for the holidays and know that I was not coming back. I ultimately left because I felt that I wasn’t making the best use of my time at Stanford. I knew that I would be better off using these years pursuing my acting career in New York and planning on returning to that good ol’ HumBio core later.
F: YOU’VE BEEN LIVING ON YOUR OWN IN NEW YORK FOR ABOUT EIGHT MONTHS- DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE IN LEAVING STANFORD?
T: I do. Living in New York has definitely been a bit bumpy, and it’s made me realize how much truth there is in the “Stanford bubble.” Even making new friends in NYC is difficult because they don’t all live within a four-minute bike ride from you. To some extent I feel like Stanford was a safety net for me… but despite the challenges that New York has thrown at me I really feel like it was the right move. I’m pursuing things that I am fully passionate about, and I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
F: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ACTING PROJECT IN NEW YORK?
T: My first gig moving to New York was a one night only concert reading of Parade by Jason Robert Brown. I literally moved here the week of the show and started rehearsals with half the cast of the television show “Smash” and some amazing performers, including Laura Benanti and Jeremy Jordan. This experience was a great way for me to feel grounded, confident and really ready to jump back into the city.
F: WHAT HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR YOU THUS FAR?
T: When I was fourteen, there was an audition notice in New York with the breakdown description: “looking for a voice in the style of Allie Trimm.” I went in for the audition and they booked me on the spot, and I did readings of the show Allegiance on and off for six years. As I grew up, the character did as well. (Shows go through huge changes in the developmental stages before opening on Broadway). When it was announced that the show was going to Broadway, I was brought in for the final round of callbacks but was ultimately too young for the current version of the role. This was an instance where I started facing some serious doubts about whether or not I have thick enough skin for this industry.
F: WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU LEARNED FROM THIS DIFFICULT EXPERIENCE?
T: My experience with Allegiance made me realize that if I was going to make this work, I couldn’t just expect to pick up where I left off as a child actor. I have to do my own work, and I can’t expect other people to bring work to me. It’s like failing a midterm at Stanford—sometimes you need that bad news to wake you up. I’m learning to separate myself from the chaos of this industry and remember that I am here to create things. Despite the challenges, I know that if I weren’t doing this, I would feel that something in my life was missing.
F: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ASPIRING ACTORS AND ACTRESSES?
T: First and foremost, you have to really take care of yourself… mentally, physically and emotionally. Secondly, it’s a good idea to start building a network. Developing relationships and maintaining them can be a full time job, but it’s so important in finding ways to create and generate opportunities. You can’t just sit at home watching Netflix waiting for the phone to ring. It’s not going to ring. You’ve got to take some initiative and open some doors yourself. Lastly, be kind. People want to work with talented people, but they want to work with good people more.
My interview with Trimm prompted some interesting questions. For some, college is the only place they can imagine being at this time in their lives. For others, the opportunity to pursue one’s dream presents itself too rarely to pass up. I don’t believe there is one correct path.