Who wants to work on `Millionaire’? Grad does

By Georgiana Rushworth
November 30, 2000

Jenine Ikeler

by Georgiana Rushworth

“Charm and persistence will get you there, but hard work and talent will keep you there” was Katina Corrao’s theme for her Career Development speech on Thursday, Nov. 16.

“Corrao was a very entertaining and knowledgeable speaker full of advice for aspiring actors,” junior Lauren Norton said. Corrao explained the three guidelines she has learned to follow in the acting business. The first was, “the importance of who you know, the second being charm and persistence will get you there, but hard work and talent will keep you there, and the third is to learn how to use your let downs to your advantage.” She then began to tell her story of how she made her dream of becoming an actress a reality.

Corrao graduated from Cabrini in 1996 and with help from Theater Director, Neal Newman, she flew from Pennsylvania to San Francisco, Calif. to study theater. She tried to find work by going to cattle calls, which are auditions for 300-3000 girls just like Corrao; they all studied theater in college and were waiting for their big break.

As she continued to attend the cattle calls and waited for her phone to ring, she was given some good advice, “Katina, it’s who you know,” they told her. She didn’t know anyone famous, but she did know people and made a list of 100 names. She sat down with her list and dialed and dialed and dialed telling everyone she knew that she was looking for work, until one day all of her effort began to pay off. One of her friends called her back telling her that they were having auditions in Allentown, Pa. for extras in a movie with the television star Luke Perry from Beverly Hills, 90210. Corrao saw this as her big break and went to the audition to try out for the part.

During the audition she realized no one was bringing the extras lunch, so she went to the nearest deli where she ran into Jim Belushi and his friend. They were discussing an article written about them working in Second City together, a springboard for comedic actors, and needed to get this article to Chicago. Corrao could not pass up this chance so she volunteered to go to Chicago and bring the article to the woman that was to read it. She explained that she was auditioning for Second City and they were delighted. She was sent off with the article and she booked a flight to Chicago.

This could have been her chance to become a star, but the woman she was to meet had a death in the family and was unable to meet with Corrao, so she went home, took out her list and began to make her phone calls.

She experienced many upsets and accomplishments before she made it to where she is today, such as: being directed to the wrong room for an audition and missing her time slot, but she also got to tour with Sleeping Beauty for two months, which she loved. When she arrived home from her tour she finally received the letter she had been waiting for. “As I was going through my list of names I remembered that I knew someone from Cabrini that had connections with New York City and had a manager. I called them right away and made an appointment to meet with the manager. As soon as I met with her she told me I was `too average and would never get booked.’ This didn’t stop me, and in fact it fired me up and motivated me to do it.” Her determination did pay off because the letter was from the manager signing her up with a three-year contract. No more cattle calls, she now bypassed everyone else at auditions.

Corrao landed jobs with improv groups, David Letterman and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” The last thing that she really had her heart set on was to work on Saturday Night Live and luckily Darrel Hammond from SNL lived in her building in NYC. She approached him about working on SNL and he told her to leave her headshot and resume at the front desk. Two days later she got a phone call from the casting director asking her to be in the SNL season premier.

None of this came easily to Corrao. In order to keep her dream alive, she could not give up. She used her let downs as advantages and motivation and 70 percent of the jobs she got she received were through people she knew. Corrao said, “Make a list of who you know now. You aren’t too young to begin now.”

She wanted everyone to walk away from her speech thinking about making the best use out of their time at Cabrini and understanding that it is okay to make mistakes. She said to take advantage of everything that is given to you right now and don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Be honest so when you do make it to the top you can be proud of yourself and look back and know that you worked for it.

Corrao said that she was greatly inspired by Dr. Zurek’s Mass Media class her freshmen year because he pointed out to them that this [Cabrini College] is the real world and to pursue your career now.

“I believe when you graduate from Cabrini you should be sharp, smart and ready to face the real world because you are living in it now,” Carrao said.

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Georgiana Rushworth

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