After the big move to California, two alums have made their hard work at Oakland University pay off by landing jobs they’re passionate about.
Phil Metzler, musician
Phil Metzler first got into music when he was in fifth grade by teaching himself a few tunes on a toy Casio keyboard.
“(I) felt a kind of accomplishment that was undeniably rewarding,” Metzler said.
Metzler, who grew up in Armada and graduated from OU in 2001, took up the trumpet in middle school and continued to practice on both instruments.
Metzler, who graduated from OU in 2001, said his parents and friends were supportive and not surprised when he decided to study music composition.
“They encouraged me to pursue whatever made me happy, not necessarily what was going to make me the most money,” Metzler said.
Metzler said he enjoyed the collaborative energy of fellow students and quality of educators in the Department of Music, Theater and Dance.
“I count myself as very lucky to have been given the opportunity to learn in that environment,” Metzler said.
After graduating from OU, Metzler moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career after securing a job there in 2002.
Metzler said a reason he moved was because he was more interested in creating original music.
Today, Metzler plays keyboard in the band Just Off Turner. They’re well known in the city and play in venues like the Viper Room and House of Blues.
Metzler has been with the band since 2005 but according to Metzler, his big break moment came in 2007.
John Mayer blogged one of Just Off Turner’s songs, which opened up doors for the band and brought their music to a brand new national and international audience.
The band has continued to put out new albums, appeared on soundtracks and toured nationally and internationally.
According to Metzler, he would advise others to always have an open mind when going after their goals.
“As long as you see every challenge as an opportunity, you may be pleasantly surprised where you find yourself in a couple of years,” Metzler said.
Kelly Kula, aspiring actress
Kelly Kula, who majored in theatre performance, was inspired to become an actress by the movie “A Step toward Tomorrow.”
“I wanted to create art that would inspire people to invoke change, give them a reprieve from their hectic lives, or simply entertain them,” Kula said.
Kula grew up in Williamsburg, Mich. near Traverse City and graduated from OU in 2004.
After freezing up with nerves in her first high school audition, Kula says she received support and encouragement from the fellow students auditioning.
“Having them support me really made me think ‘Jeez, these are the kind of people I want to surround myself and work with,’” said Kula. “And I have.”
Kula’s parents were supportive in her decision to study theatre performance and attended all the plays Kula was in at OU.
“I learned a lot of practical skills, and I laughed so much that I truly felt a part of a family,” said Kula. “I was eager to learn and they were eager to help.”
After graduating, Kula packed up her stuff and drove across the country to California with her mom.
Kula said she chose to move to the West Coast versus the East Coast because of the larger film and television presence.
Once there, Kula didn’t know where to start but managed to maintain two jobs while going to acting classes once a week.
Kula is currently attending several auditions a week.
“It can be overwhelming,” Kula said in an Oakland University press release, “but you have to have confidence in yourself. There are 10,000 actors trying to do the same thing you are, but you are unique. There is a casting director looking for me.”
Kula advises other students to take the time to really know who you are.
“If you aren’t 100 percent confident and at peace with the person you are, your life isn’t going to be as rich as it can be,” Kula said.