It’s never an easy climb to the top for people in the arts, so the sound of a glass ceiling smashing is particularly exciting when a woman makes her mark in the industry. And that’s exactly what Excelsia’s Associate Lecturer and Production Manager Hailey McQueen has done. From producing her own sold-out shows, to following a career in teaching and mentoring, she’s done it all.

Hailey has been associated with the College since she graduated in 2002, contributing in positions of Administration, Marketing and most recently teaching in the School of Creative and Performing Arts. The wonderfully down to earth artist and producer has no fears in sharing both the highs and lows of the industry, always offering a source of inspiration for aspiring creatives.

Here, she talks about her cornerstone moments, how to find your creative sweet spot and why taking control of her career was the best decision she ever made.

What was has been your experience being a part of the Excelsia community?

The Excelsia Community is a uniquely special one and being a part of it over many years as a student and a lecturer has been a real honour. As a student I felt nurtured, cared for and challenged and as a lecturer well... I feel exactly the same. Excelsia has a strong foundation of empathy, care and the pursuit of excellence. The community cares for all aspects of my development as a person, a teacher, a producer and an artist. It does not profess to be perfect, thank goodness, I wouldn't fit in otherwise.

After graduating, how did your career path evolve?

In ways I didn't plan or imagine but I was equipped. This is the great thing about completing a creative arts degree, you tend to come out with the ability to problem solve and with an excellent work ethic so I think that put me in good stead. My creative career certainly didn't happen as quickly as I wanted it to but slowly it gained momentum as I was able to prove myself in the industry.

You have had such an incredible career already. Can you talk us through some of your key defining moments?

I guess one of the cornerstone moments for me was when I decided to produce my own shows. Up until that point I felt my creative career was in other people's hands and that I had to wait till something came my way. The moment I took action by creating my own career a huge amount of opportunity opened up. I booked more work than ever before. This led to a career defining show, which was my adaptation and direction of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. The show had a sold-out national tour and would never have come to fruition had I not taken the step a decade earlier to start creating my own work.

You are part of the drama academic team at Excelsia. Why did teaching seem like a natural transition for you?

When I graduated I pursued both acting and teaching and this allowed me to A) pay rent and B) pursue creative endeavours. I thought, at first, that teaching would purely fund my creative projects.

I quickly learnt that teaching is an incredibly rewarding and enriching career. I experienced the satisfaction that comes from walking alongside others in their learning and that is priceless. Teaching is one of my greatest joys.

The creative industry can be challenging. What do you wish you had known before learning it the hard way?

Create your own opportunities, find fellow artists with complimentary skills and shared values, who you love creating with and collaborate. In the early days, don't give up, even when it seems impossible, momentum will come.

If you could give other creatives advice about getting started in their career, what would you say?

Stay in your lane. Don't try to fill someone else's shoes. Don't spend time trying to live someone else's life or comparing. You are uniquely placed and gifted to give the world something only you can give. Find out what your 'sweet spot' is, the place where your affinity, your ability and opportunity meet and pursue it whole heartedly.


Excelsia College will be running a virtual Open Day on Saturday 29 August. If you would like to hear more from Hailey about where a Bachelor of Dramatic Art degree at Excelsia can take you and the strand options available, register your interest below. She will be joining us for a live Q&A session with our drama faculty.