Meet Jasmine Vaughns, Music Theatre student at the University of Melbourne

Jasmine Vaughns, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) Student. Photo by Giulia McGauran.
Jasmine Vaughns, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) Student. Photo by Giulia McGauran.

Jasmine Vaughns, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) student, talks about meeting her idol in New York and the importance of being brave.

Hi Jasmine! Tell us about the Music Theatre course – what are you currently doing in your studies?

I’m studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) and our first project for the year was Mongrel. It was a collaborative process where we were put in small groups with the Bachelor of Music (Interactive Composition) students and created an original work. The performances are usually cabaret-style, short form pieces and my group did a pop musical about the Australian Open. It was an exciting process having the artistic freedom to create whatever we wanted, and it has been rewarding to work with the Interactive Composition students as well as my peers. We also put on two major shows per year. This year we’re performing Flora the Red Menace and On the Town. These shows are a chance to put into practice everything we’ve learnt in our training.

How has the course differed from your expectations?

I didn’t expect the course to be as full-on as it has been. In some ways I feel as though I’m in a bubble, having class from 9am-6pm and then locking myself away in a practice room after hours, or coming in to practice on the weekends. While it can get hectic and stressful at times it has also been so rewarding to dive in head first and refine so many skills. I feel very grateful to have shared these past three years with the other members of Company 19. It’s inspiring to work alongside such talented individuals. We’ve all pushed, challenged and grown together and I’ll miss that supportive company environment when I graduate. I’m also very thankful for the tutors we’ve been lucky enough to have over the three years – I can’t put into words how much I’ve learnt from them, and how they’ve changed and improved me as a performer and as a  person.

What advice would you give someone at the beginning of their degree?

The biggest advice I’d give to those studying the Music Theatre program is to be brave, be bold and be kind to yourself. Each day you come to university is an opportunity to explore, play and grow as an artist and person. Looking back on my first year, I was so hesitant and shy – so afraid to fail and get things wrong. But making mistakes and trying various things is where the fun lies and where the learning occurs. It’s also important to find things outside the course that make you happy. It is easy to get bogged down in the work, but I believe it is important to be kind to yourself and to take care of yourself first and foremost. I discovered that I really enjoy Pilates and working out. Recently I got back into reading, going out for brunch each weekend with friends (although taxing on my bank account) – anything that’s enjoyable counts.

Who is your hero in your field/ life generally and why?

My hero in my field would absolutely have to be Audra McDonald. I have admired her ever since I can remember. She always plays lead characters in my favourite musicals and she’s a performer I aspire to be like one day. In January 2019, we undertook a Global Atelier elective in New York City where we did a two-week intensive including masterclasses with the likes of Jen Collela and Lonny Price. One of the masterclasses was with Audra and I was so grateful to be able to work with her on the floor. That experience was probably one of the biggest highlights I’ll ever have. She was so humble and gracious and so passionate about telling the character’s story – it was amazing to see her work in that way and have that experience with her!

What does your dream career look like? Has this changed since starting your studies?

My goal after I graduate is to perform. I’d love to find an agency to represent, or that represents me, and delve into auditioning for musicals, plays and film and television. I’ve known I wanted to perform since I was eight. Studying has ignited the passion even more and has given me to the tools to have a long, sustainable career. It has also encouraged me to think of possible business ideas to do with the arts and other ways I can be involved in an artistic industry.

Overall, my time here has taught me that my training doesn’t end here, that I have my whole life to continue to learn and grow as a performer and that’s something I’m looking forward to. I can’t wait to see where I am in 10 years’ time and what that picture looks like … I have no clue, but I’m excited.