Numerous Owls from around the world are working in the arts, and their contributions are varied and vast. They’re lighting up the big screen, receiving ovations in prestigious opera houses and recital halls, bringing the house down at the hottest comedy clubs, and so much more. Six artists from around the globe — Anna Christy Stepp ’98, Antoine Plante ’00, Gabi Chennessi ’12, Rebecca Carrington ’97, Ron Bozman ’69 and Rebecca Udden ’73 — took a moment out of their busy schedules to share some insights into their fascinating careers.
Anna Christy Stepp ’98
Professional opera singer, coloratura soprano and winner of the ARA's 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Credit: Headshot by Dario Acosta and stage photo by Robert Workman
“An interesting part of being an artist in opera is the universal language of music. I recently sang in a French opera in Germany, in a production originally directed by a Russian. The cast members represented France, Germany, Sweden, the U.S., Italy, The Netherlands and Russia. We sang in French, rehearsed in French, German and English, and managed to go along in one language or another. But none of that mattered in the end because we were simply there to perform that piece together.
“One of my favorite aspects of this career is the travel. I have always found it fascinating to go somewhere and live there for two months, the typical length of an opera contract. You're no longer just a tourist, you can really absorb the language and culture and how others live, and see and hear some amazing art. Another bonus is the exposure my children are getting to high quality music and theatre. I feel very fortunate to have found success in something that is also my passion.”
—Anna C. ’98
Antoine Plante ’00
Conductor and artistic director of innovative Houston orchestra
“As the artistic director of Mercury: the orchestra redefined, I have to think about big things. Almost every day, I ask myself about the role of arts in our community. How can I really impact my community in a meaningful way? How can I make art more accessible, better and relevant? Not always obvious, but the joy of performing and knowing the immediate, powerful impact of a good concert makes it all worth it.”
—Antoine P. ’00
Gabi Chennisi ’12
Director and cinematographer
“I'm a director and cinematographer with a background in feature films, documentaries, commercials, music videos and branded content. While in school, I interned at Pixar Animation Studios with a focus on technical direction. After graduating from Rice, I worked in Atlanta as a shooter/producer for HLN/CNN, co-founded a production company in Los Angeles and shot my first feature film, a horror-comedy called Clinger. I recently moved to Seattle to work full-time with Microsoft as the video director/cinematographer for HoloLens, where I shoot holograms and mixed-reality experiences.
“The most interesting thing about being an artist is the variety of work. On any given day, I might be strategizing, writing, casting, shooting, editing or directing. I also enjoy the opportunity to work at the intersection of disciplines. I'm passionate about art and science/technology, and finding ways to synthesize the two fields is always exciting.”
—Gabi C. ’12
Rebecca Carrington ’97
One half of the international music and comedy duo “Carrington-Brown"
“I am a cellist and singer, who performs in a music and comedy duo with my husband, Colin Brown, who also sings and plays the bagpipes. We perform mostly in Europe in English, German and French. One of the most interesting things about doing our show is seeing how differently our audiences react, depending on where and in which country we are performing! Our aim is to give our audiences ‘a full entertainment experience,’ so that at the end of the evening, they leave with more than just a folded ticket stub and a program!”
—Rebecca C. ’97
Ron Bozman ’69
Internationally acclaimed movie producer, Oscar recipient and winner of the ARA's 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.
"The most interesting thing about being a film producer is the telling of the story. That is the major goal of my job — managing the transformation of words on a page to scenes on a screen to a finished film. Integral to that is doing so within the financial structure that funds the process that creates the story. Within that constraint is the challenge of ensuring that everyone involved is making the same movie. In my experience, the scale of the project has nothing to do with the satisfaction derived from the filmmaking process. Small films are equally as interesting as large ones — the process is the same. All in all, it’s a tremendously fun way to make a living."
—Ron B. ’69
Rebecca Udden ’73
Actress and founding artistic director at the Main Street Theater in Houston
Rebecca Udden in Main Street Theater's 2013 production of "Memory House." Photos by Kathleen Trojan.
"The most interesting thing about being an artist is collaborative problem solving with wildly talented people. Each production starts out with a question: How are we going to do this? How will we build a working 1930s pub? Make it rain onstage? Present Stoppard’s three-part epic, "The Coast of Utopia," in a 99-seat theater? Each person on the team may have an answer, but the solution the group achieves is always so much more interesting and complex."
—Rebecca U. '73