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2009年7月份,我给一个老朋友(Simon FT-MBA,2010春季班)为申请MBA而写的Essay提了几点比较关键的修改建议。后来,她成功拿到Simon的Offer。再后来,她建议我做留学DIY咨询方面的工作,并向我介绍了我的第一个客户。最终,我的第一个客户也成功拿到几个TOP16商学院的面试并顺利拿到Duke Fuqua商学院MBA的录取。 本人毕业于上海复旦大学管理学院国际企业管理系,属于商科科班出身并且做过管理工作、有领导经验的人士。


留学参考:My Story: From A-List Actress To Olin MBA (1/2)  

2017-03-12 03:03:27|  分类: DIY留学综合信息 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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留学参考:My Story: From A-List Actress To Olin MBA (1/2)




How is this for a movie pitch?

Picture a teenager who is mesmerized by Bollywood films. Holed up in her room, the Indian-American girl plays out scenes and choreographs her own dance routines. Despite being a musical prodigy, her gifts don’t extend to the stage. But fast-forward to a few years later. She wins a national beauty pageant and is flooded with opportunities, including the chance to become an actress in India. She puts college on hold to cross the ocean and pursue her dream.

Two years later, against all odds, the girl practicing dance routines in her room has emerged as one of India’s most bankable stars, an award-winning actress with 595,000 Twitter followers and a seemingly limitless future. So what does she do? She quits and goes back to school, of course — and then gets accepted into a top MBA program!

Sound like a rags-to-riches drama in the tradition of The Princess Diaries? No doubt — but it’s also the true story of Richa Gangopadhyay, an MBA candidate slated to graduate this spring from the Olin School of Business at Washington University.


You could label Gangopadhyay an accidental star, a dreamer who craved adventure, a lost soul wrestling with what she wanted from life. She is also far from your cliché starlet. In her celebrity days, you wouldn’t find her guzzling champagne in swanky clubs or weaving through Mumbai in a Porsche. Instead, she stayed true to her roots: the down-to-earth Richa, a Michigan native who treasures her loved ones — and the Detroit Red Wings.

“People find it very strange that I’m an actress when people close to me know that I am neither a girly-girl nor a drama queen,” she tells Poets&Quants. “I’m not the typical diva actress that most people expect when they meet me.”

Forget the glitz and glamour of cinema. In India, Gangopadhyay didn’t spend her days living in a mansion. Instead, she lived in a nondescript apartment, first with a cousin and later with a close friend. In fact, you would’ve been hard-pressed to even find Gangopadhyay at home. Her job entailed draining 17-hour workdays, and that didn’t include promotional appearances or traveling for modeling gigs. With projects often short on time, she was required to learn intricate dance sequences on the spot (occasionally on forbidding, terrain-like cliffs). Of course, there were always script changes and reshoots to pack on the pressure.


“Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I did it,” she admits. “When you’re riding high at the time, it’s really difficult to say no. Then, you just end up taking on a lot more than you can handle. As it happens, it starts to negatively impact your routine: your schedule, diet, exercise — everything! That was Leadership 101 for me: Don’t spread yourself too thin.”

Indeed, Gangopadhyay’s acting career was almost an MBA boot camp, where she took a big swig from the proverbial fire hose every day. Beyond the creative element, she also had to learn how to promote her films, balance competing demands, and even manage a staff of six. Despite coming from an artistic background, her cinematic experiences prepared her for the rigors of business school.

“While I was on a shoot, I was constantly thinking about how to leverage new business opportunities for my next film, reviewing scripts and negotiating contracts,” she explains. “One thing I needed to keep a keen eye on was not being taken advantage of. These are all of the things that we are actually learning in business school. For me, in retrospect, it has been about learning by doing and validating it with an MBA degree.”


Moving to India wasn’t the only leap of faith that Gangopadhyay has taken in her career. At the peak of her fame (and earning power), she retired from acting to return to Michigan. The reason? She had an epiphany: She wanted to finish her undergraduate degree so she could pursue an MBA.

For her, acting was never about the money or fame. Instead, she treated her time in India like a sabbatical, a time to take risks and grow. “It was the break that I’d needed to figure out my long-term plan.”

That plan eventually led to Washington University in St. Louis, which appealed to Gangopadhyay’s desire for a small community that embraced diverse backgrounds. During her time as a full-time MBA, she has resurrected the Olin Sports, Media and Entertainment Club (OSMEC), turning it into one of the most popular organizations on campus. At the same time, she has prepared herself for a career in marketing, where she hopes to work in a position that leverages her passions for education, public speaking, and writing.

Her affable manner and inventive slants positioned her to succeed in a cutthroat field like acting. In the end, she believes more fundamental virtues put her over the top when it comes to B-school. “What differentiated me from other actresses was that I never tried to change myself to fit into some stereotype, which is often what people expect out of you, especially in this public-figure kind of role. I am and always have been this suburban girl from Michigan who cherishes the simple things in life. I think that fame and fortune, generally, are byproducts of hard work. Never lose sight of your goals and just focus on working hard, first and foremost. I think that worked out well for me.”

How did Richa catch her first big break? What were some of the perks and downsides of fame? How did her classmates react when they learned that they had a celebrity in their midst? Find out in Richa’s own words.

Her Story:

I was born in New Delhi and came to the United States when I was three years old. My parents were pursuing higher studies in Pittsburgh at the time. When I was seven, I moved to Michigan and lived there for 14 years. I would consider myself a hard-core Michigander. Michigan is known for its cold climate, warm people, and natural beauty. I get very, very emotional whenever I hear those “PureMichigan” ads on the radio; they are always a tear-jerker for me. I’m also a huge fan of the Red Wings, Pistons, and, of course, Eminem.

I was a graduate of Okemos High School and was involved in lots of extracurricular activities. I played on the varsity tennis team for four years. In addition, I founded and ran my own youth tutoring program for at-risk students in urban school districts for four years. Giving back to the community and making a difference has always been a huge passion of mine.


I was intrinsically artistic from a young age. I’ve always been very, very passionate about performing and visual arts in my life. Drawing and painting were definitely hobbies when I was a kid. I was the lead violinist, the first chair, in my high school orchestra during my junior and senior years of high school. Fun fact: My orchestra teacher used to be baffled by how I could memorize pages of concertos and play by ear while the rest of the class would have to wait and read the notes. I do have a knack for music, mimicry, and things like that. I’m told those are great skills to have.

Since childhood, I was brought up with the family value of appreciating and absorbing the best of both the American and Indian cultures. I’ve always thought of myself as Indo-American. Since a young age, I saw a lot of my Indian friends shy away from speaking our mother tongue (Bengali), but I’ve always spoken Bengali and English with comfort and confidence. I’ve also been visiting India since I was five years old.  My parents always taught me to take the country as-is and not compare it to anywhere else in the world. For this reason, I always found myself clarifying doubts and stereotypical misconceptions to people from both cultures and countries.


For college, I attended Michigan State University — which is the better Michigan school! During my time there, I was exploring dietetics and nutrition as the field that I wanted to pursue. By the time I got to my sophomore year, I had decided to take a little break from studying so I could explore acting in India. It was just around the time that I’d won the Miss India USA title in 2007. Miss India USA is the oldest and most respected Indo-American pageant in the states for nonresident Indians. (They have a slang term for us — NRIs.) Just like any other Indian-American kid, I had grown up with Indian films, or what Westerners would call Bollywood films. Winning the national title of Miss India USA opened up opportunities in that realm for me.

I participated in theater during middle and high school, but I never got the lead roles. In fact, I was always a “sidey.” I was just happy to be on stage and loved the excitement of performing on stage. During my teenage years, I was also actively learning and choreographing Indian classical and Bollywood dances. When I went into Indian films, it was more of a matter of unleashing the inner artist in me. I’ve always believed in pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I really wanted to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime venture by living in another country and trying to excel in a field where I never really had any training or experience before.

So going to India to act was more of a sabbatical for me at the time, because I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wasn’t digging human nutrition and dietetics for a long-term career pursuit. Naturally, when it comes to these Indian pageants, going into the entertainment field is a natural next step. A lot of people try it, but not everyone makes it. You either need to have a godfather in the industry or be a star’s kid or have some amazing edge that sets you apart from the rest. It’s an incredibly competitive field. For me, having the edge of winning a national pageant title really helped.


I was 21 years old. No one, not even myself, knew that I had any acting talent whatsoever. It was a complete shot in the dark. I had this urge to explore it. Everyone thought I was crazy. My friends and family were definitely skeptical. When it came to Indian cinema, there are 22 languages spoken in India and there are several big regional industries within the country. At the end of the day, I think my parents saw how determined I was about pursuing it, so they allowed me to give it a shot.

I’d taken a trip to Mumbai during one of our family trips to visit relatives. During that time, I was able to meet with some top producers and directors. It was really encouraging because they all said I had potential, but I had no acting experience. So I would definitely need an acting primer! They suggested that I audition for Actor Prepares, which is a premier acting institution in India. I sent over a video audition from Michigan and got selected.

That’s when I took the leap of faith and moved to Mumbai, but it goes without saying that there were several conditions that I needed to meet before my parents would let their only daughter travel across the ocean to explore new territory. It wasn’t like, “Hey, mom and dad! I have these film offers in line. Let me just move across the world to pursue them!”


My parents set it up so that it would be very, very difficult for me to actually make it work out. The first thing was, they didn’t want me to stay alone in Mumbai, which is kind of the Los Angeles of India. That’s where the film industry hub is. They wanted one of my cousins to come and live with me in Mumbai. That meant that she would leave a job in the city where she was living to come and support me. My parents thought that was just a far-out idea. As luck would have it, my younger cousin left her job in Kolkata and took it as an opportunity to further her own career. So she moved to Mumbai just for me and promised my mom that she would be my guardian and would make sure that I would not fall into any kind of trouble.

That other thing was, my parents said, “OK, you’re going to have acting school for three months. Within the year, you either need to get a gig or you’re coming right back.” By gig, she meant a big commercial film in a lead role! Once again, she was assuming that it would never happen. Here’s the funny part: I finished my three months of acting school. Within a month, I started flying cross-country doing modeling for various top fashion and beauty brands like Pepé Jeans, Malabar Gold, and Peter England People. I was going on four or five flights a week to go to shoots.

My parents helped financially support my cousin and I for the first year, thinking that I would probably be coming back within the first year of my acting pursuit. But then, to everyone’s surprise, I was able to financially support myself. As a thank-you to my parents, I sent them on vacation!



Then, I got my very first audition call for a lead role in a big-budget movie. This movie was going to launch the grandson of a very large movie mogul and was being directed by one of the most well-known, critically acclaimed directors in India. What happened was, the director saw one of my photo shoot pictures and told the assistant director to track me down and audition me because I fit the mold for the character he had. It was a huge opportunity, but I actually just did the audition for kicks. I didn’t take it seriously at all. I figured I was going to take it as a practice run. Next thing you know, I get a call from the assistant director who tells me the director had chosen me from among 800 other girls who’d auditioned for the role across the country. I discussed it with my parents — who were completely in shock! Within a week of accepting the role, I started shooting.

It turned out to be a huge international box-office hit. The movie was called Leader. It was a political drama and I played the role of a news reporter who was also the love interest of the protagonist. We filmed it in 2009 and it was released in 2010. It opened in 80 theaters across the U.S. and UK. Incidentally, it was the first and only audition that I had to do in my five-year film career. That film is what catapulted me into a full-fledged career. There was no turning back then.

I was famous overnight. One thing I was always very sure of was staying grounded. I was the same Richa that I was when I was back as a college student at Michigan State, maybe just more worldly-wise and mature. I became an internationally recognized star with a few thousand Twitter followers. The media interviews just came pouring in. I found myself leading a very, very hectic life from then on. There’s a lot of glamour, glitz, and money (of course), but being an actress was very, very intense. There was a lot of hard work. You were “on,” quote-unquote, 24-7.


I used to have 17-hour workdays. It was incredibly demanding. There were actually times when I would find myself shooting four films simultaneously and that was in addition to doing celebrity appearances, modeling for ramp shows, and traveling internationally for shoots. That was a whirlwind, in and of itself.

The song-and-dance sequences are something that is very unique about Indian film. For each film, there would be four or five songs, with at least three being peppy dance sequences. I would have to learn the dance choreography on the spot, in sometimes extreme locales including the edge of a cliff, on a jet ski, in old castles or rural villages. All of these had six to 10 costume changes per song. I guess it would be very similar to what you’d see in a Broadway musical.

For me, the easy part was emoting in different languages. But the harder part was having to learn new dialogue after having spent hours memorizing pages and pages of dialogue. Sometimes, my directors would just decide to cut everything out last-minute and then say, “You have 10 minutes to learn these new lines” — in a different language that I didn’t know. It was high pressure all the time. Then you have a production team of over 100 people just waiting on you. You don’t want to let anyone down, especially when you are the newbie; you are just starting to establish yourself and gain momentum. The early days were definitely demanding.


Another thing that people don’t realize is that, as actors, we’re always managing multiple aspects of the commercial business. There is a tremendous amount of multitasking and time management involved. You’re always thinking on your feet. You’re constantly working against deadlines. We would finish up a film within four to six months from start to finish. Then, of course, comes the promotion. Before and after the film releases, I was the face of marketing. So I would have to constantly give pre- and post-release interviews. That’s what would really pitch the movies for better business at the box office. That was a huge responsibility that I think that I delivered well on. I would also use social media regularly to engage the fans.

While I was on the shoot, I was constantly thinking about how to leverage new business opportunities for my next film, reviewing scripts and negotiating contracts. One thing I needed to keep a keen eye on was not being take advantage of. These are all of the things that we are actually learning in business school. For me, in retrospect, it has been about learning by doing and validating it with an MBA degree.

Looking back, the good of the industry would be traveling, meeting cool people, (of course) the pay, and experiencing new cultures. I got to see the most amazing parts of the world that I would never have got the chance to see otherwise. These included places like Jordan, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, and Bangkok, all courtesy of these very dreamy dance sequences. I also actively made friends wherever I went and I keep in touch with many of them now — including many of my background dancers for those dance sequences. That was a great networking opportunity.


I have to admit that I really discovered India after I actually lived there as an actress. I have to thank one of the directors in Bollywood for telling me, right before I went to India, that to be an effective actress you have to completely immerse yourself in the culture to be able to reflect it authentically in the characters that you play. I think that those subtle nuances showed in the characters that I played.

Coming to the media, I don’t think that I realized it initially, many of the media interviews were intrigued by this distinct American-ness that I manifested. For example, I was always fiercely independent. Unlike many of the Indian actresses, whose moms always accompanied them onto the set and managed their affairs, I was in India on my own and did everything by myself, which was extremely unheard of for most female actresses out there.

My parents were always a call or email away for advice. For my day-to-day affairs, I was a strong and confident American woman who was defying the norms. Coming to speak in two different accents, I speak three different languages fluently and am conversationally fluent in two others that I learned during my time as an actress. It was hilarious sometimes having one foot firmly in each culture, and I had to switch my accent for Indian audiences to neutralize it so they would be more comfortable listening to me, and then I would have to change back to my American accent for my friends back home. It was all completely intentional. Learning languages for me was like learning music. I treat languages like I was able to learn pages of concertos as a kid in orchestra.








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