School, Stage & Screen Podcast

A new podcast created by University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumni takes listeners inside the entertainment industry with stories and advice from Broadway performers, television actors, movie producers, make-up artists and more. 

School, Stage & Screen” is an exciting new podcast that focuses on success stories and fantastic failures from the entertainment industry. Separated by two decades of life experience, producer Brian J. Leitten (BFA E-Media, ’02) and Broadway performer Dylan Mulvaney (BFA Musical Theatre, ’19) delve into the differences between college and the real world with other CCM alumni like Diana Maria Riva (actor from Netflix’s Dead To Me), Andrea Stilgenbauer (producer of Kidding and The Affair on Showtime) and Brian Newman (Jazz Musician and Bandleader/Arranger for Lady Gaga's Vegas Residency “Jazz & Piano Show”).

A mixture of Jimmy Fallon meets TED Talks, the podcast is an exploration of transformative moments that will enlighten current students and graduates who dream of using their creativity to jump start their career.

The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple PodcastsSpotifyDeezerTuneInStitcher and the CCM website.


Episode 1: "New G., O.G." (April 5, 2021)

Co-Host Brian J. Leitten (BFA E-Media, '02) realizes there needs to be a way for the younger generation to connect to the older in the entertainment industry. After linking up with Dylan Mulvaney (BFA Musical Theatre, '19), a fellow UC College-Conservatory of Music grad with two decades between them, they embark on a deep dive into lessons learned in college, and how they translate in the real world. 

Brian J. Leitten: Welcome to the first episode of “School, Stage & Screen.”

[Mic taps, "1, 2, 3, 4" countdown]

[Orchestral music]

Brian J. Leitten: I'd like to thank my classmates, my professors and my mentors. And now, I'm ready for the real world!

[Orchestral music stops. Record scratch. Hip-Hop music begins]

Leitten: Hey, I'm Brian, a filmmaker and producer.

Dylan Mulvaney: And I'm Dylan, an actor and content creator.

Leitten: We're the hosts of "School, Stage & Screen," a podcast that explores the transformative...

Mulvaney: [Interrupting] Brian! You're so old school, I've got this. [Music speeds, intensifies] We are going to get all the tea from industry professionals about college, their wins, fails and everything in between. This season's guests are all loans from the University of Cincinnati's college Conservatory of Music, which is also where Brian and I went to school.

Leitten: I think the first thing we need to do is tell everybody a little bit about ourselves.

Mulvaney: [Sings] School, Stage & Screen!

[applause]

Mulvaney: Oh my gosh, okay, well, I'm a Capricorn, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, and I'm from San Diego, California. I've been dancing, singing, acting my whole entire life, which brought me to the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for Musical Theatre, where I got my BFA and I just graduated from there in 2019. And right after graduation, I joined The Book of Mormon, the musical national tour where I played Elder White up until the shutdown. And now since then, I've joined TikTok, and I've gone viral there and on Instagram making funny videos, and now I’m living in Los Angeles. How about you Brian? Give me a little bit of your like IMDb if you will.

Leitten: I am a Virgo, my pronouns are he/him/his and I also have a BFA from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, but it is an Electronic Media, which is now called the Media Production Division. I studied there for four years before moving to New York and getting my first job out of college in the music and talent department at MTV. I produced and directed MTV’s “Made” for four years documentary TV show on that channel. And I was also the director of production at VEVO for five years before going out on my own and creating my own production company. And I pretty much travel the world filming with Olympic athletes, superstar artists, just to tell their stories.

Mulvaney: I never know where Brian is. Sometimes I just don't even ask because it's just an, it's a new city every zoom that we're on.

Leitten: Three days ago, it was Daytona Beach, Florida; today it’s DC and tomorrow it’s Albany. And then who knows from there? Who knows? I live in LA, and hopefully I'll be back there soon. after some of this work goes away.

Mulvaney: Okay Brian, I think we need to let them all know like, how do we know each other?

Leitten: Well, we've known each other for two years, like this is very close to our two year anniversary.

Mulvaney: Where are my flowers? And we met at the University of Cincinnati.

Leitten: Who would have guessed?

Mulvaney: And so you were an Adjunct Professor working at the University correct? And what program do you work on there?

Leitten: For the last eight years, I've been an Adjunct Professor of Documentary Film and Production in the Media Production Division. And each year in the class, we produce a documentary. And in 2019, we decided to produce a documentary about the graduating seniors in the Musical Theatre Department.

Mulvaney: You were this man that walked in with the camera and a plan. And yeah, it was great. It was just like, ‘Oh, my God, who is this guy filming us.’ But of course, we're Musical Theatre majors. We loved the attention. So it was very welcomed. And then I went off on tour you were filming. And then about a year later, I would say you know pandemic hit, and I get an email from you saying, ‘Hey, I've got this idea.’

Leitten: Do you remember me?

Mulvaney: I did! Of course, duh. And you basically kind of pitched me “School, Stage & Screen.” And here we are a year after that. And so what was like how did “School, Stage & Screen” start in your mind? Like, what was the brainchild for this?

Leitten: I think it started from COVID not having anything to do and my brain goes a million miles a minute. And I think I was reading an article about someone that had graduated from CCM, the College-Conservatory of Music and no clue that they had gone to school there. And I started just kind of researching who else had gone to school there. There's some big time Broadway stars and big time directors, television producers, actors on Netflix. And I just thought to myself, these people's stories need to be told. And I think through the work that I do as a professor, I've really focused on educating the next generation mentoring them into their careers. And this was just another opportunity to show college students and recent grads that there is a path to success in the entertainment industry. And here's a chance to show you some of the people that were in your shoes 5, 10, 15, 25 years ago, and you can learn from them. And my first inclination was I need to have a co-host that is of a different generation than I am. There's a couple years between us…

Mulvaney: Just a few! And I will say like, there are so many paths to take. And I think that's what I'm so excited about this podcast is, you know, you get a degree in one certain major, but then you can do so many things with that degree. And I think that hopefully our listeners will also learn all these different roles in production, in TV and in theater, that you didn't even know necessarily existed. So there's a lot going on that you know, we don't even know about.

Leitten: Speaking of that, let's play a clip from our interview with CCM acting alum Nicole Callender.

[whoosh transition sound effect]

Nicole Callender: I am a stunt woman. I'm also an intimacy coordinator and I also act. I've doubled for Nia Long, I've doubled for Kerry Washington, Janelle Monáe, Raven Symone, Rori Godsey. Oh, Regina King.

[whoosh transition sound effect]

Leitten: I can't wait to hear about her doubling for Regina King on “The Leftovers.”

[hip hop music plays on record, record stops]

Mulvaney: Brian, like how did you get to CCM? What was that path?

Leitten: Initially, I wanted to go to college to be a marine biologist. And I got into the University of Miami, Florida. I took a trip down there, sat in some classes and was utterly bored. And looking at the other colleges that I'd applied to and got into and got scholarship money from, Cincinnati was next on that list. So I actually came to the University as an undeclared major. And the first girl I dated in college was in the Electronic Media Division. And she told me about classes in television and film and I'd never once thought that you could go to school for that. And I was hooked.

Mulvaney: Did you do like many home videos or anything before going to college?

Leitten: No, I was actually on the other side of the camera. I was in the musicals in high school, I was in the plays, I was in show choir, I was in regular choir…

Mulvaney: I’m still waiting to hear you sing by the way, so I know that day will come.

Leitten: Karaoke the next time I'm in LA, maybe.

Mulvaney: I'll see you there.

Leitten: And I think even at that point, I wasn't really supposed to be in front of the camera or performer at a higher level. I was the one that was kind of always directing everybody. And like, coming up with choreography that might be interesting. I was the one that learned the, well, I learned the facilities of the lighting for the musicals, and I would design the lighting and then pass that information on before I graduated. So even in high school, I was really kind of directing and producing behind the scenes without realizing that was what I was doing.

Mulvaney: And what you would end up doing for a lot more years.

Leitten: Yeah. And I love it. It's, it's… I love being behind the camera so much more than being in front of the camera. Well, how did you end up at CCM?

Mulvaney: Well, I’m from San Diego, so it's a little farther away than you were growing up. But I had a gal from my town going to CCM and she was a junior when I was going to be auditioning — and those auditions, for anyone listening, if you're auditioning for musical theatre or like acting it is like, these stage moms are vicious. I mean, they're going ‘oh, you know, what is your daughter singing and how good of a dancer is your son’ and really very intense, but I got in. And they, CCM does this basically like Welcome Weekend for the accepted students. And I thought that was so cool because there were no other schools really doing that. You got to go see their Senior Showcase. You got to sit down in rehearsals, you got to perform for the teachers and work with them one-on-one and you got to hang out with the kids. And it was just, you felt like a college kid, like you felt… You know, you're like a 17/18 year old like, ‘Oh my god, like this is so fun.’ And that got me hooked because I knew that I could be happy. There was a bunch of other, you know, kids, and especially a lot of like queer people. I you know, I wasn't used to being around that many gay people, which was so exciting. And I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the — it felt like Disneyland.’ And so yeah, that's how I ended up at CCM and it was an easy pick for me honestly.

Leitten: I think we like again, we should throw another clip in from two other people that were in the same major as you were that graduated before you, Andrew Chapelle and Raven Thomas, and hear a little bit about their audition experience.

[whoosh sound effect]

Andrew Chappelle: I felt like the kind of the key to life was just like learning how to audition. When you are auditioning in the real world, it’s just you.

Raven Thomas: Man, like I was going out for everything, like Andrew was talking — like you just get your thing, what this is the first one so let me handle that and then let's go to the next one tomorrow.

[whoosh sound effect]

Mulvaney: Okay, I just adore those two and good news for you. That is our next episode — is with those two amazing human beings, so you do not have to wait long.

Leitten: No just a week. Raven Thomas and Andrew Chappelle talk about Hamilton, which they were both in and it's really intriguing conversation.

Mulvaney: Now, before we leave our gorgeous CCM chapters of our lives and into the real world, did you have like a specific class or production that had like, a lot of impact on you?

Leitten: I don't know, if there was one class that impacted me. I think it was just the camaraderie of the students, especially senior year. Everybody worked on everybody else's senior projects. I acted in a friend's senior project. I produced a friend senior project. I don't actually think I had a senior project because I was working on so many other senior projects.

Mulvaney: We're gonna have to be going through your like transcript now and probably seeing that big F on that senior project. But somehow you still got the degree. And you know, CCM, it's so funny going in, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, it's Disneyland.’ It's not always Disneyland. It is a very tough place. I mean, you have to want to do what you're doing, your major, so badly, because you're going to spend 12 hours a day doing it, but it's the people there that help you get through. And I think, of course, I learned so much. But I also just learned from watching other people or, or learning like those basic life lessons.

Leitten: Yeah. And it's tough CCM, almost all of the majors you have to audition to get in. And it's, it's one of those things where you hear people talk about look left, now look right, only one of the three of you is going to make it in this business.

Mulvaney: I wish I could like tell myself when I was at CCM, that to stop trying to prove myself because I already was accepted. I think that you get there and you're still trying to be like, ‘look how good I am, look how good I am.’ But you already got in. So just you know, enjoy working on material and not, you know, feeling like you have to constantly be like proving yourself, you know. It's good to want to be talented and want to find confidence, but you don't have to go into overdrive. I wish I knew that.

Leitten: Yeah. And I think I, I should have chosen a little more direction. You know, there's different tracks that you can study in the Media Production Division, and I kind of was all over the place. And I probably should have focused a little more. Halfway through my junior year, I was ready to go to the next big city. I went from little town Indiana, to Cincinnati, Ohio, and I was ready for New York or Los Angeles.

Mulvaney: Funny enough, I think the one class that I took at CCM that has to do with what I'm doing now — and I didn't realize it — was Comedy Web Series. And it was you'd write skits and perform them and edit them and it's like TikTok now! And I, looking back, you know, years have passed and since I took that class sophomore year, and it's like, oh my gosh, like I had no idea how much that would matter. So, like you said, you didn't necessarily know you were going to be a director or, you know, I didn't know I was going to be making these comedy videos. But here we are.

[Hip Hop music]

Mulvaney: So you've graduated a few years ago

Leitten: A couple years ago.

Mulvaney: What was that transition like? I know, we just said New York, was New York the answer?

Leitten: Yeah. New York was the answer. I was in the quarter system when I went to school at CCM, and my senior year, fall quarter, I interned at MTV for the full quarter. So I was living there and there were only certain classes that were offered in the fall that you had to take to graduate. So I had to come back and do an extra quarter in my fifth year of school before actually graduated. My job at MTV was mind-blowingly amazing. And six weeks into my internship, they gave me a full-time job. I remember them asking me if I wanted to be someone's assistant. And I was like, Of course I do. And then when they told me it was paid, I was like, of course I do! I think that year, I got everybody the best Christmas presents in my family ever because I was so excited to be like, ‘Look, I earned money. I did this on my own.’ And they told me I could keep the job if I dropped out of college. And I did not. My parents help pay for college, so I finished college. And luckily my internship coordinator who became a close friend and my first mentor in New York and who was the executive producer of our podcast…

Mulvaney: Hi, Robin!

Leitten: She looked out for me. And when the next job opportunity came up, she put my name in the hat. She got me an offer and within two or three months of graduating from college, I had a job offer in New York and, and I moved there.

Mulvaney: Brian, this is sounding like you didn't have any weird odd jobs or, you know, struggling artists moments, like please tell me that's not true. I guess I shouldn't wish the odd jobs on you but usually… did you not have one?

Leitten: I don't think I had odd jobs, I had like jobs. I, in college I worked at Barnes and Noble because I loved reading, I still do. I worked at Montgomery Cyclery and Fitness, which is one of the biggest bicycle shops in the country. I worked at the Gap…

Mulvaney: Okay, I will accept these. These are acceptable, but this is coming from someone, why I asked you this is because at one point right before I got Book of Mormon, I was, I had actually that morning it was I worked at starting at a 4:30 a.m. shift. I got hit by a car. And then I still went to work handing out deodorant wipes in Penn Station at 5 in the morning.

Leitten: That is quite an odd job.

Mulvaney: And I will tell you the reason I did that is because I refused to take like a job that was like regular hours. Like I only wanted to do like one offers, like I, like I wanted to just like do a day of handing this out. And I wanted to do a day of holding this sign and because I never wanted to get so invested in a side hustle that I forgot what I was in New York to do.

Leitten: I don't think I ever really had that odd job. I I worked at Max and Irma's for two or three months right before I left Cincinnati, and I was a horrible waiter. Horrible.

Mulvaney: But I think everyone should do it at some point just so they know. It is you need to treat your waiter treat everyone with respect

Leitten: Treat everyone with kindness.

Mulvaney: Yeah, and give them a nice tip.

Leitten: When I left my first job at MTV, just for some extra money, I did PA on a Fall Out Boy video. And at one point, all this colorful confetti was thrown up in the air and sprinkled around and you know, that fell through into the band performing and somehow the floor had gotten wet. And at the end of it, they're like, okay, cut. Let's do that again. And I'm a PA. So I'm doing all the grunt work. And they're like, ‘Okay, everyone, all the PA is come in, brush all the confetti into the middle and then pick it up and get back on the ladders and we're gonna throw it’ and sagging wet confetti. It was disgusting. And then at the end of the night, they needed one or two people to stay longer. And I had nothing to do and I was trying to meet more people to get more work. But then I got paid like eight hours of overtime. And it was a phenomenal paycheck for one day of crappy work. That's the oddest job I've ever had, I would say.

Mulvaney: And so would you consider MTV to be your big break?

Leitten: Definitely, definitely. I wasn't doing full on production when I started there. But over the course of a couple of jobs, I was able to like work my way into production. So I got to PA on a bunch of shows, I was an executive assistant to the producers of shows, I got to give notes on shows before they went on the air. A couple of my ideas became shows or became performances inside other shows. And towards the end of my first five years at MTV, I kind of shifted over to mtv.com. And I got to interview every single musician that came into MTV for an entire year. And it was a phenomenal experience of being around superstars and having to keep your cool. And also figuring out how to tell a story doing an interview, editing those into short bites that go on the internet. And that was kind of like my first foray into producing and from there, I jumped in and started working on “Made” and I for four years I produced that I went into the field and I shot full episodes on my own.

Mulvaney: I watched that as like an 11 year old I'm pretty sure.

Leitten: Yeah, probably.

 Mulvaney: Wasn't “Next” another show too? Like a dating show.

Leitten: Yeah, “Next” was a dating show on a bus. But I did not work on that show. But my friend did do the voiceover for that show.

Mulvaney: Okay, it all comes. Yep, it's six degrees.

Leitten: I want to throw it back to you. What was your first job out of college?

Mulvaney: My first job well, that was the passing out of deodorant. But I got very lucky. And my first audition in New York — We do a big showcase in Cincinnati and New York, but New York is for all the agents and managers and casting directors. And it went really well for me. I had my first audition was Book of Mormon, which was my dream show. And I actually think, Brian, that when we recorded that documentary in Cincinnati, the last interview you asked me ‘if you could be in any one show right now, what would it be?’ And I said Book of Mormon, because when I was 17 years old, I went into an open call for it. And I kept just getting callback over callback for callback…

Leitten: Before college, you auditioned for Book of Mormon?

Mulvaney: I was auditioning for it in Los Angeles. I wrote that I was 18 on the piece of paper. And then I got to the final, final, final and I had I put my 18th birthday It's my start date like date available. And I just messed up the tap dance so bad. And I was like totally kidding. They met they email me ‘Dylan, we love you. Can you just practice your tap a little bit?’ And that's, I ended up going to college because of that experience. Like if I had nailed that tap, I might have not gone to CCM and have that experience.

Leitten:

Well, you lied, you fibbed. You embellished, you faked it.

Mulvaney: I embellished and I did, I faked it till I made it, everyone.

[whoosh sound effect]

Mulvaney: And that is going to be a reoccurring segment on the podcast this season, when our guests faked it ‘til they made it.

Mulvaney: Anyway, I still knew the casting directors. They were excited for me to get to New York. It's my first audition. And I got the job after like a few weeks of living in New York, and I went on tour. I graduated in April, I was on the road in June. Wow. So I would consider that my big break his Book of Mormon It was so crazy to because I'm from San Diego, I got to make my debut in that San Diego Civic Center, which is the the theater that I grew up going to see all the shows that when I was young, I probably saw over 50 musicals there.

Leitten: Were your friends and family in the audience?

Mulvaney: For sure and I blacked out. I mean, I cannot remember a thing that entire weekend. But it was like so emotional because you go to school for something like musical theatre, and you're like, ‘Oh my gosh, am I actually going to be able to use this degree like, can I do this?’ And to have that confirmation was like, just the, my favorite feeling in the world was taking that first bow. So that is something that I think I missed so badly during this this past year is that I just I want to have that connection with an audience again. I want to feel that that same energy happening.

Leitten: Performing in front of your friends and family on your opening night. That sounds like a pretty good moment.

[whoosh sound effect, clock ticking]

Mulvaney: [Sings] If I could turn back time. [Speaking] Okay, everyone, welcome to the first segment of turn back time.

Leitten: I want to know if you look back in time, what was your like biggest failure, whether it was in school or right after college?

Mulvaney: My turn back time, Brian, it was during Book of Mormon and like I said, I was on such a high all this. Well, I've did about 250 shows before we closed and I would say maybe around show 151, 180 you start to go on autopilot. And it was one I think we were in maybe, gosh, Memphis or somewhere in the towards the south or who knows. And I just didn't go over my lines at all. And the Book of Mormon especially the opening number is called “Hello.” And it is so quick. I mean, it's line, after line, after line. And so you have to be on top of it. And I just felt so confident ‘Look at me, Dylan. I've been in it for so long. I'm going to hit the autopilot button.’ So the first guy goes “Bonjour.” Then I go, “Hola.” And then the third one goes “Ni-hao.” And then I say “Me llamo Elder White.” So it went something Brian, could you actually, I know you're a singer. So you will help me out? Can you do? Bonjour? Then I'll go and then you say No-hao, ready?

Leitten: Yep [snaping to keep time] Bonjuor.

Mulvaney: [Indistinguishable groan]

Leitten: Ni-hao!

Mulvaney: And I didn’t, I forgot what I was supposed to say. It came out [indistinguishable sound] People could, like I messed, nobody else could sing because it was ridic.. like you, I just totally threw everyone. People were laughing. People were so confused. Like onstage, the cast is like, because you are you're part of that rhythm. And so I had such a learning lesson in that moment. It's like, always just go over your lyrics in your mind. Don't think you're too good to like, practice.

Leitten: I think after that story, every guest that comes on this show we need to do turn back time with.

Mulvaney: I agree. Can I hear your turn back time?

Leitten: I think we definitely have to call it the fact that about 30 minutes ago, I forgot to press record on this conversation.

Mulvaney: Oh, yes. I should have known what your turn back time was. And I will say I wasn't very frustrated with you. But we we did have a blip there.

Leitten: We did. But going back in my career. There's plenty of times where I've failed. And I think you have to learn from every moment and kind of keep those lessons close to your heart. I would say pretty early into my career at MTV when I was interviewing everyone that came through. I was doing an interview with Nelly Furtado, who I absolutely loved and probably was a little like starstruck. And I forgot to press the record button and didn't realize it till about 23 minutes into a 30-minute interview. And I just hit the record button and didn't say a thing. And as we got to like the manager saying ‘we don't have any more time we got to get going.’ I just threw in there, ‘Oh, yeah, we have a couple more questions. I know she's coming back to TRL next Tuesday, maybe we could do five more minutes then?’ And they're like, ‘Of course we can.’ I was like, great. I will never tell anyone what happened. But I did have to tell my producer afterwards. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I don't know how to tell you this. But I forgot to press record.’

Mulvaney: Everyone gets one. And you have now had two, but that’s okay.

Leitten: But it didn't happen since then. Until 30 minutes ago.

Mulvaney: Wow. Well, that's a that's a really good full circle moment, actually.

Leitten: Yeah. And what I did, once that happened, I had my desk, I had a television, and I put a post it note that said, ‘always press record,’ and I put it on the television. And for those first five years at MTV, every time I messed up, I would put a post it note on the television, and eventually I couldn't watch the television anymore, because there was all my mistakes. But it was a constant reminder to like, make sure I was working the right way.

Mulvaney: I think my post it note would be, ‘sing the right lyrics, please.’

Leitten: Don’t go on autopilot.

[Hip Hop music]

Mulvaney: So both of us, it seems like we've been on the road a lot. We've gotten a lot of places. Now, how do you feel like you keep your life balanced as someone in the arts?

Leitten: I don't think I have a balanced life, I'll be honest. My brain runs a million miles a minute. And if I'm not working on something, I'm trying to create something. In the last two years, I've tried to start writing scripted narrative content, and the ideas keep coming. And I can't keep up with myself. I do make a lot of time to go hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain biking. I moved to California to do that. And I grew up doing that. I'm an Eagle Scout and it's a part of me. I have to be out in nature, even though I'm completely allergic to it. So I do spend a lot of time in the wilderness outdoors. I absolutely love it. And that's, that's probably the best way, by spending time with friends try not to talk about work. But as a freelancer, when you're running your own business, you're on 24/7 365.

Mulvaney: Was that scary to like, decide to leave these huge companies like MTV, VEVO… and be like, ‘Oh, no, I'm going to create my own production company.’ How did you decide to do that?

Leitten: It's incredibly difficult. Because these other companies I was, I was staff, I had a salary, I had benefits, I had vacation. And when you go freelance, you're giving up that security. You don't know who your next client is, you don't know what your next project is. And it's something that if I tried to do it right out of college, it would have been extremely difficult. The fact that I did it later in my career, I've had 10-15 years of contacts, who I've worked with and who I can, you know, tell I need work or reach out to and show my reel and say, ‘do you have any work for me?’ But if I had to do that early on my career would have been a difficult decision. But it's, it's difficult. You're the CFO, you're the COO, you're the CEO, you're the creative director, I did my own website, I do my own bookkeeping. You have to wear a lot of hats.

Mulvaney: I know. And I think actually, even the younger generation, including myself is now figuring out how to do that not because we wanted to, but we kind of just have to during this time, because I mean, I I liked being told what to do. I liked being on a stage and somebody saying stand here, stand there. And now there's nobody to do that. So I have to do that for myself and I, in a way this past year I think has given artists a lot of power and ownership over what they are producing and what they're putting out there. Like it's, it's kind of fun. I'm still young, I'm like, ‘Oh yeah, I'm my own CEO. I'm my own you know bookkeeper...’ No, I'm not my own bookkeeper. I still need all the help and that's my favorite part about this podcast is because we get to learn you know people's different tips and tricks because I, neither of us probably lived the most balanced life, but a lot of these people do live very, you know, full lives with kids and dogs and you know, all the things that as an artist you, you know, hope to maybe have one day and it's obtainable. You can have it too.

Leitten: You can! Someday I will, but not anytime soon. I'm too busy.

[Hip Hop music]

Leitten: You know what, I want to know something. You were touring with the Book of Mormon for close to a year and there's got to be some secrets that you can spill. I want to know what the 411 is on touring nationally.

Mulvaney: Okay, you don't get a day off. You're traveling on Mondays. You, you can see everybody's faces in the audience. So you know if you're yawning or you're taking a nap like, we can see you. You know, people just running around naked backstage and it's like a, you are literally in a family. It is a group of 50 people and you're with them every second of the day because you don't have your family with you. You're, you know you aren't in one city, with your own apartment, you're going from hotel to hotel. So it's, it's exhausting in that way, but it was the most fun ever, ever, ever.

Leitten: Did you have a stage parent? Like who's in charge of you? Because I can't imagine they're letting you go on your own?

Mulvaney: Well, they [laughs] nobody should’ve let me go, I hope, at no age should I ever be left to go anywhere on my own. We have a company manager, this is kind of interesting, actually. So there's a company manager and an assistant company manager, they are like your parents, basically, they print out your flight tickets, they book your rental cars, but they also throw the parties. And so they're the ones that you know, on Thanksgiving, you've got this giant, you know, we're in Mexico City at the palm restaurant. And you know, there's they got turkey and everything. So there are those people too. And there's so that's what's interesting is, you know, you see a bunch of people on stage, but there is a probably the exact amount, if not more of those people working backstage as well.

Leitten: That's incredible.

Mulvaney: Any film secrets for us?

Leitten: Oh, be careful what you say. And watch the kind of contracts you sign if you get into reality television, because what you say can be manipulated. It can be taken out of context, it can be rearranged. Editing. IT can be editing. And a lot of that is in contracts, like make sure you got a good lawyer, make sure you read through your contracts. There are contracts that I have marked up, because as the producer, interviewing and doing the questions, they want the right to adjust when I'm saying and I don't want that to happen. So I'll go and I'll redline it and say, ‘you can use my voice but not in a negative or untrue portrayal of what was said,’ like a good editor can make the producer be the be the bad guy.

Mulvaney: You can get into a lot of gray areas.

Leitten: So have a good lawyer, because you never know the kind of craziness that goes into a contract.

[Hip Hop music]

Leitten: I think this podcast is born out of knowledge about growing about learning. And I want to know if you have anyone in your life that helps you that mentors you that, you know, looks to take you to the next level when you're ready.

Mulvaney: Actually mine, I'll bring it back to CCM. There's a faculty member named Katie Johannigman, she joined the faculty relatively young, she had, she was a graduate of the school a few years before I was and they brought her on as an adjunct. And because she was young and fun, and had all these new ideas, I think we really clicked and she saw something in me that I didn't know if other people saw, especially, you know, celebrating my femininity, and my quirkiness and all those things that I was scared of showing, because you just hear in theatre, you know, ‘oh, you need to be able to play straight’ or ‘you need to be the manly man.’ I think she celebrated those things that now I realize those are my powers. So when I get, you know, most of these roles that I'm auditioning for today are, you know, feminine, or they're non-binary. And that is so exciting. And I, I wish that I had more of that energy at school. But how about you any mentors that you're still in contact with right now?

Leitten: I've actually been really lucky. My parents like right off the bat, great mentors in the professional world. Robin Hopkins, executive producer of this show, was my internship coordinator turned, you know, very close friend. She was the one who'd been living in New York for 10 years before I got there, who knew how to do everything, would tell me exactly how to do it. And then I'd go do it my own way, and come back and say, ‘Oh, you were right, Robin, I should have done it your way.’ So she was a big influence on my first five years in New York City. And then from a work perspective, my first couple of bosses were really great about taking me to the next level when I was ready. And most recently, when I was at VEVO, I had a really great boss in Scott Rich, who saw something a little more than just being a producer and director and helped me be able to be a better people manager and to look at like, what is that next step in my career? And how, you know, how do I prepare for it? I've been really lucky when it comes to mentors. And in that same sense, I have turned it around and become a mentor, right? Like I've had eight years of college students, some I still talk to some I still work with, some have become incredibly close friends. And you know, it's like I have all the experience I want to share it. I want to share the mistakes I've made so that other people don't have to make them.

[Hip Hop music]

Mulvaney: I'm excited for everyone listening to tune in to these incredible interviews that we have coming your way

Leitten: We have an amazing lineup. I will say I am just as excited as you are to share these interviews with our audience.

Mulvaney: If there is a job that you would consider in the entertainment industry, we are going to cover it.

Leitten: What do we have? We have Broadway stars…

Mulvaney: We have producers of television, we have music directors, we have intimacy coordinators, stunt coordinators,…

Leitten: Hair and make-up!

Mulvaney: Hair and make-up

Leitten: Some made amazing hair and make-up stories from a legend in the industry.

Mulvaney: It has broadened my mind as far as all the possibilities there are, and a lot of pivots along the way. So you know, these people didn't always just start out as one thing and they did it you know, six years later. They went from A to B to C to D…

Leitten: There's a path.

Mulvaney: Maybe not always a forward path, but it's, it's, it's an all over the place kind of path.

Leitten: So make sure you stick around every week. Every Monday we're gonna have a new episode, and enjoy “School, Stage & Screen.”

Mulvaney: See you next time!

[Mulvaney sings “School, Stage & Screen]

[Hip Hop music]

Mulvaney: On next week's episode, we are taking a deep dive into all things Broadway with an original cast member from Hamilton, Andrew Chapelle, and a current LA cast member of Hamilton Raven Thomas, and we're going to cover all things musical theatre.

[whoosh sound effect]

Raven Thomas: I never had a dream of like being on Broadway. Like someone asked me that when I was being interviewed once like, did you have a dream of being on Broadway? And I don't know exactly what my dream was. I just know that I wanted to perform

Andrew Chappelle: Hamilton is a little bit more forgiving and loosey-goosey when it comes to like, ‘oh, how do you feel you should do this?’ And slowly they kind of rein you in to their vision but the bones of it were you felt like we're your own.

Leitten: Thank you so much for listening. To learn more about “School, Stage & Screen,” check out all the links in our show notes. If you want to know more about the College-Conservatory of Music, visit ccm.uc.edu. Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @schoolstagescreen — one word — and Twitter @schoolstagepod. Our show is produced by Robin Hopkins and edited by Blake Hawk. Our associate producer is Shannon St. George and our assistant editor is Matt Harris. Our music is composed by Ryan Fine, make sure to check out his link in the show notes. A big thanks to Kevin Burke, Becky Butts, Stanley Romanstein, Curt Whitacre and Melissa Neeley-Nicolini. Our sponsor is the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. This has been a Hyperion XIII production.

[Mic taps, "1, 2, 3, 4" countdown]

[Orchestral music]

Leitten: I'd like to thank my classmates, my professors and my mentors. And now, I'm ready for the real world!

[Orchestral music stops. Record scratch. Hip-Hop music]

Mulvaney: [Sings] School, Stage & Screen! 

[Leitten and Dylan laugh]

Hyperion XIII production.

For more about UC's College-Conservatory of Music, visit ccm.uc.edu

Instagram: @schoolstagescreen

Facebook: @schoolstagescreen

Twitter: @schoolstagepod

Brian on Instagram: @bleittz_delightz

Dylan on Instagram: @dylanmulvaney | TikTok: @dylanjamesmulvaney

Edited by Blake Hawk, Throughline Media

Song by Ryan Fine (BFA Commercial Music Production, '17)

Show art by Graff Designs

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/cQPSdefhKmc?rel=0

CCM alums Brian J Leitten (BFA E-Media, '02) and Dylan Mulvaney (BFA Musical Theatre, '19) introduce themselves and give you a sneak peek at Episode 1 of the new "School, Stage & Screen" podcast. Listen to the full episode on Monday, April 5!


School, Stage & Screen Trailer

Jordan Glickson: My first day at Interscope, 50 Cent and The Game have a legendary falling out that results [intense string music] in shots being fired.

[Mic taps, "1, 2, 3, 4" countdown]

[Orchestral music]

Brian J. Leitten: I'd like to thank my classmates, my professors and my mentors. And now, I'm ready for the real world!

[Orchestral music stops. Record scratch. Hip-Hop music begins]

Leitten: Hey, I'm Brian, a filmmaker and producer.

Dylan Mulvaney: And I'm Dylan, an actor and content creator.

Leitten: We're the hosts of "School, Stage & Screen," a podcast that explores the transformative...

Mulvaney: [Interrupting] Brian! You're so old school, I've got this. [Music speeds, intensifies] We are going to get all the tea from industry professionals about college, their wins, fails and everything in between. 

[Hip-Hop beats return]

Brad Look: [Interview excerpt] We had David Bowie in our make-up trailer. He says 'uh, excuse me, dear boy, would you take some photographs of me in the jungles?' He wasn't even in the film!

Diana-Maria Riva: [Interview excerpt] My most recent production is a Netflix series called Dead to Me and I play Detective Ana Perez.

Mulvaney: This season's guests are all alums from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, which is also where Brian and I went to school!

Andrea Stilgenbauer: [Interview excerpt] I worked on High School Musical and High School Musical 2Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure — all of those.

Andrew Chappelle: [Interview excerpt] I did two episodes on Escape at Dannemora. I was in a scene with Benicio del Toro — my head was spinning!

Nicole Callender: [Interview excerpt] I am a stuntwoman. I am also an intimacy coordinator. 

Leitten: So what happens when guys get excited?

Callendar: One of the things I use, it's a strapless thong.

Mulvaney: So is that kinda like what a drag queen would use to like, tuck things away?

Callender: It's similar in design.

Look: [Interview excerpt] I approach alien make-up as if its a person, just from a different planet! [laughs]

Mulvaney: As a recent musical theatre grad, I want the inside scoop on what is happening on Broadway!

Chappelle: The beauty of Hamilton was that they were really great about leaning into our individual personalities for the roles. 

Leitten: After 20 years in the business, I love to see how the industry constantly changes. 

Stillgenbauer: [Interview excerpt] The producer role, it's just so hard to explain. It's a little bit of everything from the start of production, to breaking down scripts, to budgeting.

Leitten: I want to hear more.

Mulvaney: [Sings] More please!

Riva: [Interview excerpt] The creator of the show, Liz Feldman, told me, 'I thought you were just going to be a detective until I met you.' It's been a super fulfilling artistic journey.

[Record scratch]

Leitten: Dylan, bring us home.

Mulvaney: [Sings] School, Stage & Screen! 

[Leitten and Dylan laugh]


A man and a young person pose for a photo

Podcast co-hosts, Brian J. Leitten and Dylan Mulvaney.

With support from CCM, “School, Stage & Screen” is developed by Hyperion XIII Productions, co-hosted by Leitten and Mulvaney, edited by Blake Hawk (BFA E-Media, ’12) and executive produced by Robin Hopkins. Learn more about the creators in their bios below. The series features music by Ryan Fine (BM Commercial Music Production, ’17).

Follow “School, Stage & Screen” for episode details, updates and more: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.


"School, Stage & Screen" Episodes

  • Ep. 1, "New G, O.G." : Brian J. Leitten (BFA E-Media, ’02) and Dylan Mulvaney (BFA Musical Theatre, ’19), Podcast Co-hosts | April 5
  • Ep. 2: Andrew Chappelle (BFA Musical Theatre, ’09) and Raven Thomas (BFA Musical Theatre, ’16), Cast members of Hamilton on Broadway | April 12
  • Ep. 3: Diana-Maria Riva (BFA Drama, ’91, MFA Theatre Performance, ’95), Star of Netflix’s Dead to Me | April 19
  • Ep. 4: Nicole Callender (MFA Theatre Performance, ’92), Actress, Stunt woman and Intimacy Coordinator for Power Book II: Ghost on Starz | April 26
  • Ep. 5: Brad Look (MFA Make-Up & Wig Design, ’88), Emmy-award winning special effects and make-up artist | May 3
  • Ep. 6: Jordan Glickson (BFA E-Media, ‘02), Vice President of Music and Talent at Vevo | May 10
  • Ep. 7: Stanley E. Romanstein (MM Choral Conducting, ’80; PhD Musicology, ’90), Dean of CCM | May 17
  • Ep. 8: Randa Minkarah (BM Broadcasting, ’82), Co-Founder of Resonance AI | May 24
  • Ep. 9: TBA | May 31
  • Ep. 10: Andrea Stilgenbauer (BFA E-Media, 02), Producer of Californication, Kidding and The Affair on Showtime | June 7
  • Ep. 11: Brian Newman (Jazz Studies, att. ’99-’03), Jazz Musician and Bandleader/Arranger for Lady Gaga's Vegas Residency “Jazz & Piano Show” | June 14
A headshot of Brian J. Leitten

Brian J. Leitten is an Emmy award-winning director and producer specializing in music and documentary film. His production company, Hyperion XIII, has spent the last decade at the forefront of filming expedition races and wilderness content.  In 2012 Brian became the Director of Production at Vevo, developing new programs for artists to showcase their personalities. Prior to Vevo he produced and directed MTV’s “Made”, which gave high school students the opportunity to realize their dreams through hard work, dedication and a lot of dancing.

In 2012, Brian founded the Emmy-nominated Production Master Class at the University of Cincinnati and has been teaching documentary studies to the next generation of storytellers. In 2014 the PMC took home the top honors at the Broadcast Education Association Awards and received an Emmy nomination in June 2015. In 2017, their documentary film, Expedition Alaska, won Best Northwest Feature at the Spokane International Film Festival and the President’s Award at the DocUtah International Documentary Film Festival. For his dedication to the ever-changing classroom experience, Brian received the prestigious “Outstanding Young Alumni Award” from the University of Cincinnati in 2014 and the “Outstanding Alumni Award” from the Electronic Media Division in 2019. 


A headshot of Dylan Mulvaney

Dylan Mulvaney (they/them) is a non-binary actor and content creator living in Southern California. After graduating in 2019 from the BFA Musical Theatre program at CCM, they joined The Book of Mormon National Tour playing Elder White for 9 months, until COVID-19 struck. Other theatre credits: The Old Globe, Cygnet Theatre, Joe’s Pub, Moonlight Stage, and Diversionary Theatre, where they won the Stage Scene LA award for Best Actor in BARE: a Pop Opera. They have spent the past 8 years leading the musical Living Over the Rainbow in various workshops including NYC, LA, and Dallas, with hopes to play the show to an audience in late 2021. In pandemic times, Dylan joined tik tok and has had multiple viral videos, soon to hit 50 million views. They are currently writing, producing, and developing their own content in Los Angeles. They hope to spread joy and some laughter in 2021 and beyond.


A headshot of Robin Hopkins

Robin Hopkins is an award-winning actor, writer, producer, and podcast host. Her acting and writing credits include Boardwalk Empire, Louie, Hindsight, Mi America, VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live and Divas, MTV’s Teen Mom Reunion Special and O Music Awards. Robin was the Executive Producer for the Amy Schumer podcast: 3 Girls, 1 Keith, and is currently the co-host of the popular People’s Choice award-winning podcast If These Ovaries Could Talk where she chats weekly with LGBTQ families, highlighting, normalizing, and lifting them up for all the world to see. She is also the co-author of the book "If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We've Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family." Learn more at ovariestalk.com and robinhopkins.org


A headshot of Blake Hawk

Blake Hawk is a screenwriter and editor, having worked since 2017 as a writer and script consultant for companies such as Boulderlight Pictures, Utopia and independent producers and directors. Blake first worked as the Lead Editor for SpinMedia, overseeing their collective brands including Vibe Magazine, Spin Magazine, Pure Volume, Celebuzz, and more. Going freelance in 2014, Blake has worked on projects for Nike, Pepsi, JCPenney, Beats by Dre, IvyPark/Parkwood Entertainment, Spotify, Dr. Oz, TVG Network, Fullscreen, Warner Brothers, Netflix, Interscope Records, as well as an award-winning campaign for Herbal Essences.

About Hyperion XIII Productions

Hyperion XIII is an award-winning television and film production company. Hyperion tells compelling stories focused on the outdoors, sports, music education and documentaries. The company has worked with MTV, Vevo, Facebook, Fox Sports Network, Outside Television, beIN Sports, Dr. Oz, Morgan Stanley, McDonald's and Clean & Clear. 

Learn more at https://www.hyperion13.com/


About University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Declared “one of this country’s leading conservatories” by the New York Times, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts. The school’s educational roots date back to 1867 and a solid, visionary instruction has been at its core since that time.

CCM offers nine degree types (BA, BM, BFA, MA, MM, MFA, AD, DMA, PhD) in nearly 120 possible majors. The synergy created by housing CCM within a comprehensive public university gives the college its unique character and defines its objective: to educate and inspire the whole artist and scholar for positions on the world’s stage.

CCM works to bring out the best in its students, faculty and staff by valuing their unique backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. CCM’s student population hails from 43 different US states and 32 different countries. The school’s roster of eminent faculty members regularly receives distinguished honors for creative and scholarly work, and its alumni have achieved notable success.

CCM is comprised of eight academic units, which span the spectrum of the performing and media arts:

  • Composition/Musicology/Theory,
  • Ensembles and Conducting (Choral Studies, Commercial Music Production, Jazz Studies, Orchestral Studies and Wind Studies),
  • General Studies,
  • Keyboard Studies (Harpsichord, Organ and Piano),
  • Media Production,
  • Music Education,
  • Performance Studies (Strings, Voice and Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion) and
  • Theatre Arts, Production and Arts Administration (Acting, Arts Administration, Dance, Musical Theatre, Opera and Theatre Design and Production).

CCM’s world-class facilities provide a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment. In 2017, the college completed a $15-million renovation of its major performance spaces, ensuring that CCM’s facilities remain state-of-the-art.

CCM is an accredited institution of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) and the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) as well as a member of the University/ Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA). The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

CCM stands as the largest single source of performing arts presentations in the state of Ohio. The annual calendar boasts nearly 1,000 public events, ranging from solo recitals and master classes to fully-staged opera and musical theatre performances.

Visit us online at https://ccm.uc.edu/