Daniel-Orians-AlumnusDANIEL ORIANS, CLASS OF 2012

Daniel Orians graduated from University High School in 2012. After high school, he attended Ball State University and earned a degree in Theatre Design and Technology. He currently lives in New York City and works as a lighting technician, most notably as a substitute spotlight operator on Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. Below Daniel answers a few questions about his professional experiences and how University prepared him for life in college and beyond.

What have you been up to since leaving University?

I attended Ball State University and majored in Theatre Design and Technology with a concentration in Carpentry and Lighting elements. I was heavily involved in the theatre program all 3.5 years there, and I put forth over 100 volunteer hours in the scene shop my freshman year. I was also the treasurer for BSU Backstage (a student-led club for the design and tech option). I also got involved interning as a lighting technician/stagehand at Emens Auditorium (the roadhouse on campus). With the help of the staff there I was able to create an on-campus job for myself there as a stagehand. That position ranged from helping load in and load outs with the touring shows to general maintenance around the space. It was through connections there that led to a summer internship with Mid-America Sound. I saw a different side of the entertainment industry there, including festivals and what went into prepping concerts and the like.

Upon graduating from Ball State, I got a full-time job with Mid-America Sound as a lighting technician. I freelanced with local theatres in the Carmel/Indianapolis area, as well as with IATSE Local 30 and 317 Productions. After working with MAS for 3.5 years, I made the move to New York City. I currently work as a substitute spotlight operator on Disney’s Aladdin and do other work through IATSE Local 1, Off Broadway theaters, and various corporate communities.

How do you feel University best prepared you for college?

University High School does an outstanding job at preparing kids for a college education. From the expertise of the faculty and the small class sizes, to the diversity of the student body, it opened my mind to new ideas and thought processes. I learned how to write and form arguments. It pushed me beyond my comfort zone at times, and I came out better because of it. It gave me a chance to take initiative and become a leader.

Do you see that the core values you learned at University still apply to your life now? How?

I still try to apply the six core values to my life now. Of the six (diversity, commitment to excellence, commitment to personal responsibility, creativity, stewardship, and mutual respect, support, and trust), there are three that I actively strive for on a daily basis, though I can confidently say that they all affect my daily life.

The big three for me would have to be, first, creativity, which may be a given for me in regards to my choice of profession. By default, I am always involved in something creatively driven. But I also try to challenge myself in being actively involved in something new and out of the norm every day from my work to what I eat, etc.

The second would have to be stewardship. To me, it is both admirable and necessary in this world. It is so easy to just be in it for yourself, focusing only on your goals and aspirations. But to actively choose to serve those around you in what you say and do is something that I am thankful University instilled in me, so I can share it with others.

And finally, commitment to excellence. I have always had pride in the work that I do. I always want to make sure that I am putting out a product or energy to the best of my ability. But in particular, since moving to New York City, the main hub of my industry, I am challenged to be the best of the best amongst incredible peers and coworkers. University planted good habits in me that helped me get to where I am.

All of this being said, I still work to incorporate all of these values into my life and work. In my time in high school, I was honored with the University High School Core Values Award before my graduation, which has served as a reminder to me of where I come from and the values that have aided me in shaping who I am today.

Please share your best University memory.

I had so many good memories at University High School; it’s hard to pick just one. I remember J-Term, assemblies, playing games at lunch, hanging lights in the gym, and being the overall tech guy for productions and morning meetings. I especially loved the trips to Mammoth Cave and other hiking trips, getting to be out in nature with my friends.

But my best memory from my time at University was more a feeling. Whenever I recall my days in high school, I just remember the sense of feeling welcome. I came from a public middle school and was already pretty shy and introverted to begin with. Walking into the cafeteria at University, I never felt the pressure to be forced into a clique, because there weren’t any. You could sit anywhere and feel like you belonged. And that meant more to me than anything else.

What has been the most valuable experience you have had since leaving University?

I think the most valuable experience I have had since leaving University has been my recent move to New York City itself. I had never lived outside of Indiana, away from my friends and family. I didn’t have a job lined up before moving out here, as I was committed to freelancing full-time in my field. So packing up everything I owned, renting a truck, and driving to The Big Apple to start on a journey when I had no idea where it was going to lead was absolutely terrifying. The first few weeks of trying to make connections, meet people, and find work were the hardest. But after pushing myself out of my comfort zone more times than I can count to network, talking to fellow BSU alumni, and putting myself out there to find work, it got easier. One gig led to another and another, and eventually I stopped being so scared about my uncertain future in NYC. The overwhelming feelings that living and working in a city of millions can give you became less overwhelming and more exhilarating. So, in summary, the most valuable experience that I can share is the one that has changed my life and my career, and the one that challenges me to expand the boundaries of my comfort zone every single day.