Tiffany Cooper Allen '88
Where did you go to school after you graduated Mercy? What did you study?
I hold a Bachelors in Science in speech communications and theatre with a dance minor from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky (MSU). I chose MSU because it had a great theatre and dance program, which prepared me for a career in the arts.
How did you end up in your career?
My passion and love for the arts started early on. I fell in love with music, dance and acting, while watching the Mickey Mouse Club TV show in the late 70s. I was a hyper child that didn't fit in, so the arts gave me self-confidence and peace. Also, I had very encouraging parents that enrolled me in dance and music classes early on. The rest is history.
What do you love most about your job?
Well, I have several careers. I'm a Broadway/TV Actress, Singer and Dancer, Executive Speaker Coach and Arts Educator. As a Performing Artist, I love telling stories that make people think, heal and create positive change. I believe this is the power of the arts. It can bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. As an Executive Speaker Coach, my job is to help people communicate effectively and bring out their unique perspective. I love watching my clients transform into to engaging storytellers. As an Arts Educator, I enjoy teaching and passing on what I have learned as a professional performing artist. It's about encouraging and preparing the next generation for success.
When and why did you move to NYC?
I moved to NYC in 1992 because I wanted a professional career in Film, TV and Broadway. I didn't know anyone in the city, so I had to be strategic about the move. After my senior year in college, I decided to work at Hershey Theme Park in Pennsylvania because it was close to NYC and I could make connections before moving to the big city. I'm glad I had a strategy because it paid off and made my transition a lot easier. My advice to any creative person moving to NYC or Los Angeles, HAVE A PLAN!
How have you and your sister pursued your dreams together and how have you pursued them individually?
We have always had shared interests and supported each other but we never pursued our careers together because we're different people. I started working in theater immediately after moving to NYC, followed by a European tour of Grease Das Musical in Germany. Soon after, I started performing on cruise ships and doing concerts, TV, film and Broadway. My sister, Nicole, began by performing in Children's Theatre in college, then advanced professionally to regional theaters, cruise ships and eventually touring all over Europe in an international tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. The last show we did together before was Porgy and Bess in Bregenz, Austria. Overtime, Nicole's passion for food and cooking became her number one priority. Today, she is happy as a private chef in NYC, educating her clients about food and making beautiful highly nutritious meals. I went from performing and living over 20 years in NYC to living and performing in Alaska. I currently live and work in beautiful Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and much, much more including many fabulous wineries. I never thought a rich artistic life outside of NYC or LA would be possible, but it is. In some ways, my life is richer now because I allowed myself to live outside of my comfort zones.
How did Mercy prepare you for this career?
Mercy has given me the discipline and spiritual foundation I draw upon today. My personal relationship with Christ is the center of my life. I thank Mercy for being so supportive in offering these gifts. I never understood what it meant to be a "woman of Mercy" until I left and realized how much the academy did to encourage being spiritually rooted and having a sense of purpose.
What advice would you give other Mercy girls who may be interested in pursuing a career in the arts?
The advice I would give to young performing artists is that talent is half the equation because it takes more than talent to make it in this business. You have to treat it like a business and have a marketing plan. It's called show 'business', not show 'art' for a reason. Learn everything about how this business works, don't be naive. Make MARKETING AND BUSINESS classes as much of a priority as the acting classes. You will need the business and marketing savvy to navigate a career in the performing arts. Here's an interesting fact about the business by an acting business coach expert: 97% of actors entering the show business market place leave within the first 3 years because they couldn't figure it out on their own.
What have been some of your favorite memories you've made working in theatre arts productions?
Wow, I have so many great career memories. Highlights include booking my first Broadway show, Bombay Dreams, my Broadway National Tour of Guys and Dolls, understudying Adelaide with Maurice Hines and appearing on All My Children several times. I recently recorded my debut solo EP/album Satin Mood, a jazz tribute to Julie London. Also, I'm shooting videos to accompany the songs. This project will be released to the public within the next few months.
What is your favorite Mercy memory?
My favorite memory at Mercy was performing in my first musical, Cinderella, during my freshman year. I played the evil step-sister, "Portia". But what stood out about this musical is how diverse the cast was and how the director embraced non-traditional casting. I learned so much about listening, holding the stage and character development. This is when I truly fell in love with the "craft" of acting and singing.
Any other closing thoughts?
GO AFTER YOUR DREAMS AND NEVER GIVE UP! Just remember that in order to have a successful and fulfilling career, you have to be a balanced person. Keep your body and mind healthy. This business is full of ups and downs and if you don't have other healthy interests and passions you could fall into bad habits. It's also important to remember that people are not overnight sensations. You will pound the pavement. There is no set timeline; just enjoy the process and the hustle. Embrace a spirit of service. I truly believe we are blessed by how much we give of ourselves, not by what we get. Invest in relationships!
Check out her website: www.Tiffanycooper.com.