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Paige Maney ’11: Following her improv dreams to Second City

It was her very first acting class in Chicago. She’d moved there after grad school with dreams of a comedy career. The instructor began leading the class through an improvisation exercise, and Paige Maney ’11 had one thought:

“I did this at CA.”

She felt instantly relaxed, prepared, ready to achieve her dreams—and since that day, she has. Maney currently works and performs with the renowned comedy organization Second City and performs regularly at the “Mecca of improvisation,” the iO Theater.

“Once I got to Chicago, I felt very confident auditioning for a team, going for things I wanted, and not being afraid,” she says. “A lot of that was because of CA.”

Maney (center, wearing all black) performing at Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theater with Stir Friday Night, a 23-year-old all-Asian ensemble.

How to land a job with Second City

Maney may have had confidence when she arrived in Chicago, but she had no job yet, and she knew only one person in the Windy City: Colorado Academy classmate and friend Stewart Jackson ’11.

Her first summer there Jackson let her crash on his couch and showed her around. With this foundation, she started to form a network.

“A lot of great opportunities you get by meeting people and having connections,” she says.

She auditioned for and made the house improv team at iO and later joined the iO board. In that position, she gained insider knowledge and opportunities. Eventually, she landed a role with Second City Works, teaching improv to business leaders. And she now gets to perform at Second City as well.

“I’m performing with these amazing people who have been around years longer than I have. It is very cool. I don’t take it lightly,” she says. “And getting a check for doing improv is so rare. I feel very lucky.”

Paige Maney at CA Commencement with Upper School Principal Dr. Jon Vogels

What it feels like to make people laugh

Maney remembers auditioning for a theater role in CA Middle School. “Now that is how you audition,” the theater teacher said when she finished. That teacher was Angel Vigil, former Director of Visual and Performing Arts and, as Maney remembers, “beloved by the CA community and a huge proponent of the arts program [at CA] for a long time.”

“I’ll keep doing this,” the young actor thought, with Vigil’s words ringing in her ears. She’s carried that encouragement with her, and now gets to do her favorite thing: stand on stage and make people laugh.

“It’s the best feeling,” she says. “I love the energy you feel from the audience when you make them laugh.

She remembers comedic characters being her favorite roles to play in CA productions, too.

“Those are the characters people cling to. You want to be their friend,” she says. “I like bringing those characters to life.”

So, will we see Maney on SNL soon?

“I’m not there yet,” she says with a laugh.

Maney (on left) with her iO house team Nectar at the DC Improv Festival in 2019

When time management skills help you reach your dreams

In addition to comedy, Maney works full time as a social listening analyst for the media agency OMD USA. Working all day and doing improv at night can be tough. But she says her busy schedule at CA taught her early how to fit in everything she loves.

“I remember having a full academic schedule, AP classes, field hockey practice, and rehearsal,” says the former all-state goalie. “I got to do so many things and follow all of my passions with abandon.”

Maney feels grateful for her time at CA.

“The teachers there helped me find my voice and boosted my confidence to make people laugh,” she says. “I couldn’t be doing all this without them.”

She dreams of one day moving to New York City, where she knows she would be in the company of many fellow CA alumni.

“It was the people at CA that made it for me,” she says. “Everyone—from students to teachers to administrators and parents—works so hard to make it such a wonderful place.”