Acting, Writing, Producing: Renato Biribin ’90 Performs Art Trifecta
Renato Biribin ’90 had a passion for the arts from a young age. But, as a political science major he always thought it would be an extracurricular activity. While pursuing a corporate career in insurance and contemplating law school, Biribin ultimately decided that he wanted to take the risk and pursue a career in the arts. Today, he’s is an actor, writer, and producer in theatre and film in Los Angeles, Calif.
In a Q&A with LVC, Biribin reflects on his undergraduate studies, what led him to his career switch, and advice to prospective students.
Why did you choose LVC?
I was recruited as a runner on the cross country and track & field teams and was given a very competitive financial aid package. I also liked the fact that the school had a small professor/student ratio and that I would receive personal attention. In retrospect, the greatest part of my education at LVC is that almost all the professors I had during my four years were invested in helping me do my best. I became a much better student at LVC. The level of attention I received from my political science professors was invaluable and they pushed me to do my best.
What prompted you to make the career switch?
When I first graduated, I was on a path to a traditional career and emphasis in law, which is what I initially wanted. I worked as an insurance adjuster/investigator while saving money for law school. I was accepted into several law schools but either deferred acceptance or eventually turned down my acceptance. I had been involved in the dramatic arts and my involvement at LVC in those programs further nurtured my passion. In my mid-20s, I hit a crossroad where I could continue to either work in a corporate environment and go to law school or switch my career and pursue the arts. I chose the latter.
Can you describe your career path in terms of your first acting opportunity?
My first opportunity in the creative arts came as a production assistant on a play in New York City [NYC] featuring numerous Broadway actors. I continued to study writing, directing, and acting in NYC and immersed myself into the arts wholeheartedly.
Eventually, I moved to Los Angeles and was fortunate to have several opportunities to “pitch” my screenplays to major Hollywood studios. One of my scripts was a quarter-finalist in the prestigious Nicholls Fellowship Award sponsored by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. I had meetings on every studio lot including Universal, Warner Brothers, Sony, Paramount, and Fox.
It is extremely hard to get meetings for many of the production companies at these studios. However, I did meet with companies run by Academy Award and Emmy winners, such as James Cameron, Barry Levinson, Mike Meadavoy, Danny Devito, and Garry Marshall, among others.
How did LVC prepare you for life after graduation?
LVC gave me the ability to believe I could succeed regardless of whatever I chose to do in life. LVC nurtured my creative abilities, as well as my academic abilities, and I left feeling confident that I could do whatever I wanted because I had a solid, liberal arts foundation and was a well-rounded individual.
What skills from LVC do you use in your job?
I always tell colleagues that as a political science major learning structure and communications helped me when I switched to creative writing. It was immensely valuable to not be afraid to sit in front of a computer or writing desk and just write.
As an actor, it is also essential that I study human behavior, especially in the context of history. I’ve portrayed historical characters in Shakespeare and my research is vital to accurately depict a role. My love for politics, history, and the human psychology were all things I was exposed to at LVC that help me in my current pursuits.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of three events in my career. First, I had the privilege of directing/producing Tony Award nominated actress Christiane Noll in the concert version of the musical Camille with music and lyrics written by Julia Gregory. The piece was deemed a “Chairman’s Selection” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and received rave reviews by audience members.
Second, I wrote and starred in the play Bail Me Out, which was originally scheduled to run for six weeks in Hollywood. Due to popular demand and fantastic reviews, it was extended for another eight weeks. The play garnered accolades from the Huffington Post arts section and I received many kudos as an actor and writer for this work.
Finally, I was fortunate to be an executive producer, producer, writer, and actor in the horror/thriller film Criticsized that was released in 2016. It was a career breakthrough moment in that it is awfully difficult to gain distribution for a movie, but this film received distribution and is available on Amazon, Best Buy, and iTunes, as well as worldwide video. Because of my writing efforts on this film, I joined the Writers Guild Association (WGA) and am currently one of only 9,000 people worldwide to have that distinction.
Though my career path has had its ups and downs and the entertainment field is definitely not a meritocracy, the fact that I’ve been able to act, write, produce, and direct for 20 years now has been a personal accomplishment that fills me with pride. I also teach acting privately, primarily to high school students who are preparing for their arts college auditions. Passing on what I’ve learned is a source of personal pride.