Rick Mastroianni, 2009, New York City, NY
Where do you live? In October, my fiancée and I left everything behind in Chicago to start a new life in New York City. It's great to be back on the East Coast, but life has never been so busy.
What are you up to? We decided to move to New York City with no job or even apartment, just big dreams, a little money, and a lot of love. Admittedly, we got lucky. Within our first month, I landed a professional career as a studio manager of the top acting studio in the country. A short time later, my fiancée got an awesome position overseeing sales for a company that offers conferencing solutions for clients like the United Nations and Bank of America. We stay busy, to say the least. I'm very proud of what I do, but I've never worked so hard in my life. When you advance professionally, the responsibilities add up quickly. Right now, I'm in charge of the entire admissions department at the studio (which is a lot of work), but in addition to that, I oversee all day to day activities including the company's accounting, classes, and even group workshops. Essentially, we develop beginner actors for work on major networks like Disney, Fox, Nickelodeon, and even Netflix. Sometimes I work six days a week, ten to twelve hour days - but it's worth it to see these people get picked up by major agencies and management companies throughout the city.
Work is work, though - and just one part of life. I'm thrilled to say that In February, I proposed to the love of my life in the middle of Grand Central Station. It was an amazing experience! We were surrounded by hundreds of random people, cheering for and congratulating us. The wedding is at the end of August. We're getting married in Central Park and our reception is across the East River overlooking the Manhattan skyline. It's truly a dream come true. Oh and I can't forget - we have two beautiful dogs and the coolest cat in the world. We're taking our love and our family to the next level and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him!
How'd you get here? Immediately after high school, I moved to Chicago to attend film school at Columbia College.
"I had no idea what to expect and seriously took a huge risk by moving half way across the country with zero life experience. I was eighteen years old and had just come out to my parents a few months prior. Life was a whirlwind of change; I was so hungry for something new and really went out there on a whim. Fortunately, it paid off."
A few months in I met my future husband on a dating website and we hit it off almost immediately. We moved in together rather quickly because I couldn't stand living on campus and he knew it. Yuck - the thought of living so boxed in with so many rules still gives me the chills! Anyway, to pay the rent and make ends meet I held several jobs throughout college - all full time. Essentially, forty hours a week working, twenty five hours in class - plus homework, scripts, essays, and term papers...I still don't know how, but I made it work. College was good, but definitely not amazing. I feel like I learned more about making deadlines, cramming for exams, and manipulating my grades than I did about the actual film industry. I always envied the fact that many of the people I went to school with only had classes to worry about - they'd spend all of their additional time on set filming, writing, or just being creative instead of needing to make money. But, life is about getting done what you need to. Long story short, I graduated college while I was working at a massive high end salon in Lincoln Park. I became the Assistant Manager there, but life became so routine for both of us. We decided to quit our jobs, drop everything and move to New York... Crazy!
What are your goals? We have a five year plan that's pretty in depth - but one of the biggest goal for us is to have kids. There's a bit that needs to happen before that's a reality for us, but I'm so excited to build a family.
Advice for WHS Students? Growing up as a gay boy at WHS was terrifying. Even in the last ten years, society has changed tremendously - but I know there are definitely kids and teens out there going through what I (and many others) did. It's true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but that's easier said and understood now than it would have been then. Even early on in grade school, I knew I was different. I grew up thinking if I said or did one "wrong" thing, I'd be outed, humiliated, and shamed. I suffered terrible anxiety because I was born different than a lot of the other kids I knew. When it came to these feelings, high school was the worst! I know how hard it is and if you're like me and reading this, I just want to you to know you're not alone. There's so much to life after high school and college...it will all come together if you let it. Gay or straight - life in general is confusing. I still have to constantly remind myself to just let it all happen. I struggle with this every day, but I'm slowly learning to go with the flow, control the controllable, and appreciate everything.
What is something that bugged you today? Slow walkers make my morning commute extremely annoying.