by Tim Pate
As you may have gleaned from this blog, I’m quite proud of the College of Business, from which I am earning a minor in business administration. However, I am also delighted to be a part of the College of Liberal Arts, where I am earning my degree in Journalism and Technical Communication. Both Colleges have incredible academic programs, and they each host activities and events that enhance the college experience for their students.
Enter Ben Hilzer, a junior accounting and finance student in the College of Business, who lives at the intersection of these two colleges. In addition to being a fervent business student, Hilzer is also a self-proclaimed thespian and played the character “Jake” in Colorado State University’s production of “Evil Dead: The Musical.” I saw the R-rated show on opening night and laughed myself to tears. Hilzer’s character is a tobacco-spittin’ hillbilly with surprisingly good singing abilities, and he was one of the highlights of the show.
Hilzer’s Twitter feed is an eclectic combination of his thoughts on business, theater, sports, and music. He displays such enthusiasm for these areas of his life; I knew his perspective would be an interesting one for this blog. So, I caught up with Hilzer a couple days ago to talk about his unique dedication to business and the arts. Here is our exchange:
TP: What has being in Evil Dead taught you about business, and vice versa?
BH: Being in “Evil Dead: The Musical,” as well as theater in general, has shown me the distinct overlap between business and theater. Most notably, the importance of your personal brand. In business, we try to develop our personal brand for job interviews and career building; similarly in theater, your personal brand is crucial for auditions and development for your acting career.
TP: Tell me a little about what you do to build your personal brand.
BH: To build my personal brand I like to keep a strong online presence, most notably with Twitter and LinkedIn. I comment on finance and business aspects while also staying true to my arts/entertainment passion; I like to stay up to date with news. I also attend networking events CSU and the COB put on so I can constantly promote my personal brand: a passionate, always growing student.
TP: How do you balance the two things you are pursuing?
BH: I balance the two things by allocating my time during the day to my studies and the rest to theater. There is also never a bad time in between classes to memorize lines or learn a song. Acting and performing is such an amazing escape but still remains practical in business.
TP: Can you tell us a little about the audition process and how it compares to a job interview?
BH: The audition process begins with a monologue in front of directors for every show for the semester. The directors then call you back specifically for their show to see where you can fit (for Evil Dead, we had to perform a song as well). After that, the directors post a cast list and rehearsals begin. The audition process relates to a job interview in the regard that both are trying to prove to someone why you will fit in and benefit their team (or show). Whether that is with outstanding leadership in business or your characterization and ability to take direction in acting, both have the sole purpose of showing someone you can benefit them.
TP: What was your favorite part about performing in Evil Dead?
BH: My favorite part about performing in Evil Dead was playing such a zany character and being a part of such an amazing production. The special effects, props, projections, sounds, lights, they’re all amazing and something I have never seen before. It truly is an amazing show to watch and be a part of.
TP: What do you want to do when you graduate?
BH: When I graduate, I would like to be associated with the arts/entertainment in some way. I am studying accounting and finance, so integrating the two would be ideal; however, I am all about opportunities.
Hilzer is also a vocalist and pianist for the band Three Plus Me, which plays in various locations around Fort Collins, as well as a member of the Dean’s Student Leadership Council in the College of Business (as though he wasn’t already involved enough).
This weekend marks the final showings of “Evil Dead: The Musical,” and I highly recommend that you attend (unless you don’t do well with blood, that is). The production starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the University Center for the Arts. Tickets are available online.
Be bold – sit in the “splash zone,” and watch what a business student can do on the stage.