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Jared Scheinberg: Interview With A Multi Skilled Performer & Counsellor

By Michelle Sciarrotta

Jared Scheinberg is a performer, writer and social worker and is currently a career counsellor at The Actors Fund, specialising in career assessment and exploration for creative artists. He enjoys using humour to help individuals conquer their fears. Jared has recently published his debut e-book “I Love You But We Need To Social Distance: A Guide To Staying Together When You’re Stuck Together“. 

Hi Jared, thanks for speaking with us at TheatreArtLife! How are you doing and how are you coping with the current pandemic?

Hi, thanks for inviting me to speak with you! I’m grateful to be doing well, thanks. I’m trying to use this time to remain creative, to stay connected to family and friends and to learn how to use a stove… I’ve been coping with the current pandemic by engaging in some creative projects and some practical self-care activities like journaling, writing jokes and of course, virtual karaoke.

You’ve got an impressive list of career credits across your performance work in TV, film and theatre, as well as your counselling work. How do you feel your performance work has helped shape your counselling and social work? And vice versa, do you feel that doing both has shaped your artistic work?

I’d say both professions complement each other quite well. Being an effective performer for me is much like that of being an effective counsellor. In both roles, I’m trying to be in the present moment, actively listen to other people and often times have to improvise, so I capture a real moment with someone that leaves a positive impact.

Also, I feel like a lot of acting techniques are rooted in psychology. Whether, it’s performing or counselling, I often find myself asking a lot of questions to understand the way that people think and the reasons why people behave certain ways. It’s kind of like being an investigator and I enjoy the process of studying human behaviour.

Some of the projects that I’ve written for short films and particularly a web series on YouTube I wrote called “The Clinic”, was definitely inspired by the themes that I’ve encountered through my experiences as a social worker.

How did you first realise you had a passion for both of the worlds you work in and how did you get your start?

I’ve always loved to perform. As a little kid, many home videos are of me pushing other kids out of the way so I could be a “ham”. In the 6th grade, I was in my first musical and this really changed my perspective on acting. I fell in love with the excitement of live theatre. From there, I continued to perform in school and local community theatre shows, eventually got a manager and then started auditioning in Manhattan for TV and film projects.

I realised that being a social worker was another great career pathway through the influence of my parents. My dad’s also a social worker and my mom worked as a special education teacher. The positive impact that they’ve had on numerous people has been a great inspiration to me, so when I decided to return to school in my mid-twenties, I decided to pursue social work.

I’m sure the pandemic must have exacerbated your career counselling work with The Actors Fund with so much of the Arts and entertainment world on hold right now? What words of wisdom could you share with our readers who are entertainment professionals currently facing difficult times?

Professionals in the entertainment industry are among the most creative, unique and resilient individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I’ve heard amazing stories about the ways in which entertainment professionals have thrived, even in the face of tremendous adversity.

I would say to any entertainment professional, “don’t underestimate your capacity to adapt to change”.

What I have found helpful for both myself and entertainment professionals, is to try to use this time productively by continuing to be creative, enhancing and expanding on your skill sets, and exploring how your skills as entertainment professionals are transferrable to many other career opportunities. Many entertainment professionals I’ve worked with state: “I don’t know what else to do. I haven’t had a ‘normal job’ in years and I don’t want to go back to working as a server.” I believe that there are so many skills and talents entertainment professionals have that are of incredible valuable to many industries.

Part of career counselling in The Career Center at The Actors Fund is exploring what skills individuals have and more importantly, what skills they enjoy using, so they can find new meaningful career options both inside and outside of the entertainment industry.

Most importantly, I think not feeling alone and having a supportive network of peers is essential.

I especially love working at The Actors Fund because the community of individuals who participate in our services are incredibly supportive and encouraging and find comfort in getting to know each other.

Where can people find out more and get assistance from The Actors Fund? Is this available to everybody?

The Actors Fund has so many incredible services, available to everyone who works in performing arts and entertainment- not just actors but to everyone who works in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance. Along with The Career Center and career counselling, The Fund offers emergency financial assistance, as well as senior care, HIV/AIDS, women’s health, mental health, addiction and recovery, and disability support services; affordable housing; financial wellness services; health care at The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts in NYC; and health insurance counselling and enrolment support services; along with other types of supportive resources.

You can find out more information about The Actors Fund by visiting the website. Eligibility to engage in these services varies; the website outlines the criteria to engage in these services.

To participate in career counselling, the first step is to attend an orientation. Orientations occur online every Monday and Thursday. To register, please visit our workshop calendar.

Aside from professional issues, the pandemic has also shone a light on the challenges of our relationships, which you address in your e-book. Can you tell us about the book, and what people can expect from it?

Sure, thanks for asking! I’ve been performing stand-up comedy for the past few years and have been writing many jokes during the pandemic. I started to self-reflect and thought: how can I combine my love for helping people with my love for comedy. After reading an article about how the pandemic has contributed to growing divorce rates and relational problems, I thought writing an e-book to address these issues would be a fun and creative project.

The book is a guide for how we can better communicate with our partners. It presents the reader with useful tactics and tips using jokes and humour. I like to think of it as a Dear Abby response letter, if Abby were to entertain an empty East Village dive bar at 2 in the morning.

You can download the e-book for free here.

While I know things aren’t back to normal just yet, are you currently working on anything that we can look forward to?

Over the past 4 years I’ve been writing a musical titled “The Narcissist” with my close friend and amazingly talented collaborator Bryan Kimmelman. The musical is about a selfish scientist and his attempt to save the world from his own clone. The story takes place in 1996, after they began cloning sheep in Scotland.

The musical has a 90’s vibe; we are kids of the 90’s and love that era of music. You can hear songs from the show on our website. We are currently in the process of looking for a director and hope to have a reading in the near future.

I have also been busy building off of the idea from my e-book by also creating a self-care comedy YouTube Channel, which you can check out here.

Links:

Jared’s Website

The Actors Fund Website

Jared Scheinberg on Twitter

Also by Michelle Sciarrotta:

Accessibility At The Smith Center Series: Part One

James “Fitz” FitzSimmons Interview: The Boys In The Band On Netflix

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