Paula Cizmar

Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography
Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography

USC School of Dramatic Arts

Mentoring, to me, grows from a basic intention: creating a safe, secure support network so that my students recognize they have the space to dream and make something that never existed before. As a writer who teaches, I’m intimately aware that so much of the creative act is done in isolation; there is tremendous fear involved—fear of operating from a place of deep personal passion, fear of being exposed, fear of not being good enough, fear of being paralyzed by the blank page. It’s my aim to guide students toward the antidotes to fear and isolation, and this has cross over and carry over into so many other facets of life. The creative process invites my students to dig deeply into their own hearts and imaginations, to be authentic, to explore, experiment, take risks.

To me, it’s a fundamental necessity to collaboratively establish the kind of environment in which they can do this. I’m there to let them know they’re not alone as they search for meaning, create something that is significant. Mentoring, at its essence, is all about being there as students start working toward their future—even if they have no idea what that might be, or where they will go.