Arts & LifeCulture

Jesus Christ Superstar performer Aaron LaVigne says young artists shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes

Oct. 28, 2021, 10:16 p.m.

“My strongest asset was being able to navigate everything,” said Aaron LaVigne as he reflected on the ups and downs of his career in acting. LaVigne came to Hillel at Stanford on Thursday to speak to students at an event hosted by the Ram’s Head Theatrical Society. LaVigne is currently on tour with rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar and plays the musical’s lead. 

LaVigne started acting in high school, where he took a musical theater elective course during his senior year and proceeded to land lead roles in the spring musical. During this production, he not only discovered his craft and how it fulfilled him as an artist, but he also became part of a larger community of creatives. He also mentioned that his college improv group was a key milestone for him.

“It opened me up to this world of theater and music students that I’d never hung out with before,” LaVigne said.

Throughout his talk, LaVigne highlighted the importance of being patient and open to making mistakes in the industry. He told the audience about when he first moved to New York City, where he experienced the eye-opening culture of a cosmopolitan city but was confronted by the hardships of working in acting. He failed several Broadway auditions while working a day-job at a restaurant. Reflecting on these experiences, LaVigne emphasized the necessity of perseverance, describing how he kept writing songs and showing up at auditions despite his fatigue or, at times, heartbreak.

“Wake up early in the morning and just go,” LaVigne said. He encouraged young actors to put themselves out there and take advantage of the opportunities in the highly-competitive, but growing, entertainment industry.

“Do it now,” he said about applying to internships and summer programs, which helped him better understand who he was as a person and an artist.

He also encouraged artists to network, saying that it’s valuable to meet people and develop a supportive creative community. 

“Yes, you have to be good at your craft or your skill, but if you want to be successful and want to work in an environment that you can enjoy, then it’s about people. Everything’s about people,” LaVigne said.

Above all, LaVigne told young artists to pursue what they love. He encouraged students to take time and figure out what they want to accomplish as performers and to not be afraid of making mistakes.

“There’s a shift in the culture of the arts,” LaVigne said. “I feel like we’re in this cool area where we can kind of create what we want to be for ourselves.”

Leyla Yilmaz '25 is a writer for the Arts & Life section. She is from Istanbul, Turkey and a prospective Biology major who enjoys frequent trips to the bookstore and collecting cacti. Contact the Daily's Arts & Life section at arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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