In the theatre with Ian Frank ’04 and Emily Tate Frank ’05
January 5, 2012 By Cindy Long
Associated Bank in Wisconsin, Minnesota and parts of Illinois
featuring Superbowl MVP and Green Bay Packers quarterback
Centre's drama program can boast many success stories — actors, designers, producers, directors, writers and script supervisors — to name but a few. As a married couple in a steady march toward “making it” in the performing arts, Ian Frank ’04 and Emily Tate Frank ’05 offer a unique perspective.
Emily is currently appearing in a TV spot for Associated Bank in Wisconsin, Minnesota and parts of Illinois featuring Superbowl MVP and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, as well as appearing in the Chicago Premiere of “Opus” by Michael Hollinger at Redtwist Theatre. Ian is in the second year of the MFA directing program at DePaul University and has transitioned out of acting. The work is hard, but the reward is growing success and a busy schedule.
“I am flattered by the title of 'professional actor.' I feel like I’m not quite there yet as I still have to work a day job,” Emily says. “So theatre fills my nights and weekends. But, that’s what much of Chicago theatre is right now and why it’s so exciting. For many theatre artists here, commercial success takes a back seat to exploring exciting work. I’m proud to be a part of that.” Emily and Ian have to keep several balls in the air while continuing to pursue their dreams.
“Being an actor is a daily exercise in multi-tasking, time management and stubborn perseverance,” she continues. “I try to think of auditioning as my job and booking a show or commercial is the vacation! I am auditioning every week; sometimes rearranging my work schedule last minute; going from an eight-hour work day to rehearsal in the evening; working in the morning then doing two shows on a Saturday. Occasionally, I get to spend time with my husband and my dog!
“Last spring, while I was doing ‘Sense and Sensibility’ at Northlight Theatre, I had one single day off in two months. I admit, it’s nuts sometimes. But then things get slow and I start wishing for the craziness! Ian and I are constantly reminding ourselves to take a mental picture of where we are, then send it to our younger selves.”
And they consider themselves fortunate to share the ups and downs of the world of performing arts.
“We're lucky that our opportunities have come in such a way that we’ve been able to take turns supporting each other both emotionally and financially. When one of us is in a lull, it’s crucial to have a cheerleader,” Emily says. “There’s no way we’d both still be doing this if we didn’t have each other, as well as our wonderful family and their invaluable support.”
Since Ian works exclusively with other students while in his master's program, Emily doesn't audition for shows he is directing. But when he graduates they look forward to collaborating again.
“Working with your spouse can be … tricky,” she explains. “We don't always agree artistically and our individual processes are sometimes different. But we know we can lean on each other and, most importantly, we know we can trust each other. Ian is always my biggest fan, and I am his.”
According to the couple, all but the most established actors in Chicago still audition for their roles. But Emily is finding that as her portfolio grows she is often invited to audition. And while that doesn't guarantee her the part, it does get her in the room.
“The more commercial work I do, the more I get called in regularly, the more spots I book. When I signed with a commercial agent, it opened up a whole new world of bill-paying possibilities for me,” she says. “I work with two agencies now, one that submits me for film/print/commercial and another that submits me for theater. The Associated Bank commercial came about because my agent submitted me to the casting director and they wanted to see me.”
And while their successes are their own, the Franks credit Centre with being their springboard, professionally and personally.
“Neither of us would be the artist we are today without each other. Ian and I met when we were cast opposite each other by Patrick Kagan-Moore my freshman year and we are forever thankful to him,” Emily says. “He read at our wedding and made a marvelous speech at our reception.
“With all due respect, it’s easy to tell which of our peers graduated from conservatory programs and which received rounded liberal arts educations,” she continues. “Technical skill only gets you so far. Centre taught me how to multitask, work hard and set a high bar for myself. There is no way I could survive in this business without those skills. We always tell people that Centre doesn’t teach you what to think, it teaches you how to think. As an artist, no tool could be more valuable.”
The commercial for the bank's Packers Checking account can be seen here.
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked #4 in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.