It’s not easy being a newcomer.
Especially when you’re a newcomer to a career in the arts – where the hardest part can be simply getting a foot in the door.
The Newcomers Podcast, started by senior motion pictures major Cole Marvin, aims to help open that door for aspiring artists. Through writing and voice acting opportunities, Marvin and his team help to give new creatives a chance to showcase their work and build their portfolios.
“There’s a lot of students that have way more potential, way more talent than we give them credit for because they’re young,” said Marvin. “But they just don’t have the support system or accessibility to showcase that.”
In the summer of 2019, Marvin started the podcast after hearing many of his theater alumni friends complain about a lack of material to show prospective employers and industry professionals.
“Many of them had a pretty great resume of the things they had done in college, they might have a recorded scene, but they had very few things to actually show someone,” he said.
After these conversations, Marvin realized there was a need for a platform that could make artists’ first steps into the professional world a little bit easier. To fill this need, he teamed up with recent Belmont graduates Megan Huggins and Taite McKinney to make a podcast.
Each episode features the written work of a novice writer – whether it be a collection of poems, a short story, or a play. The piece of creative writing is then voiced by an upcoming actor, with the aim of building up their voice acting experience.
The end product is 15 minutes of storytelling, crafted from start to finish by young artists.
Co-producer Huggins believes Newcomers gives young people a much-needed opportunity to share their first works with the world.
“I think it is important to provide a platform for young voices and new voices. I know that there is a lot of that already, but I always do believe there can be more,” said Huggins.
There’s no limit to what stories can be shared on the podcast. The content spans many genres, from a humorous short story to a political speech about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Senior theatre performance major Jacob Gill got the opportunity to voice a short horror story, “The Chandelier” by Taite McKinney.
“It was a completely and utterly positive experience and I loved it every second of it,” said Gill.
It was Gill’s first time voice acting, but he was happy to have the opportunity to learn the ropes through the Newcomers team.
The podcast often serves as a learning lab for students, allowing for newcomers to explore and make mistakes, said Huggins.
“We’ve kind of branded ourselves new to the business, which allows us a lot of grace,” said Huggins. “It’s okay if it’s not perfect because we’re all working together.”
The podcast team has also had to use grace in their approach to creating episodes in quarantine. They went from using a studio to record to doling out the best tips for recording under a blanket at home.
But after these minor adjustments, they’ve been able to continue their storytelling even through COVID-19.
“It’s incredibly important, especially at a time like this, where the physical medium is just not attainable right now,” said Gill. “This is a beautiful medium for aspiring artists and starting writers and starting voice actors to start to hone a craft that is always used, and it will always be used for a long time to come.”
Whether it’s in a studio or recording from home, what’s most important to Marvin is that he and his team are able to make a difference in the lives of the people newest to the arts industry – the newcomers.
“If we can give a future employer, a friend, or someone randomly listening to the podcast a glimpse of the type of talent that these younger artists have, I feel like we’ve done our duty to our community.”
This article written by Kendall Crawford. Contributing reporting by Ty Sato.