Q&A: Hocus pocus! One grad’s adventure in the world of magic
published April 19, 2012
It’s true, a York degree can lead you anywhere. We sat down with York grad and magician Mike D’Urzo’s (BA ’07) to bring you a glimpse of what his world is like and how he turned his hobby into a flourishing career.
How did you get into magic? Is it something you always wanted to do?
I always had an interest in magic as a kid. I received a magic kit when I was younger and just kept performing tricks. It was just a hobby until one day back in high school when a group of us went to Canada’s Wonderland and I picked up a deck of trick cards from a magic store there. Something in me clicked that day, and I got serious about it.
I never anticipated that I’d become a magician, but everything started to fall in place. I guess this sparked my love of it and ended up getting my first job working at the Toronto Zoo doing magic.
It was my first summer job. My friend and mentor, Mike Segal (Magic Mike) helped me get it. He was instrumental in terms of getting me jobs in industry. We’re still really good friends and I’m doing a show with him next month [more about that later].
How did your time at YorkU influence and help you down this path?
York was a really interesting time for me in the sense that I was studying communications. It didn’t help me become a magician per se, but my field experience class in my last year led me to an internship with Sony Pictures. They loved the fact that I was doing magic—it helped me really stand out from everyone else applying. So, during that internship I helped promote movies by performing at advanced movie screenings and at film festival parties. I’ve been lucky and fortunate enough to meet huge Hollywood stars including Robin Williams, Sean Penn and Will Ferrell as a result of working with Sony.
Even now, I still work special events for them from time to time. That field experience class opened a door for me and started a relationship that’s still growing.
What are some favourite memories from your days at York?
The highlight would be the internship for sure. It is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. Met a lot of cool people who I still keep in touch with today.
Another awesome memory is of the days when I was president of the magic association, which actually led to my first international tour in China doing shows. I received a phone call randomly one day, and this guy was looking for some magicians and he came across the club by chance. It was right when I was graduating so it was perfect timing and next thing you knew I flew off to China for two months and performed for half a million people. It was truly an amazing experience.
What do your family and friends think about your career?
I don’t think they thought I was going to take magic seriously, but it came to a point where everything was falling into place. I did the tour in China, started getting TV spots and booking larger events. My folks started seeing how well it was going and they’ve been really supportive through it all. All my friends really appreciate it, since it really is so different.
What’s the most amazing thing about what you do?
I just love getting out there to as many people as possible. I love performing. That’s first and foremost. And for me it’s making that connection with the audience and bringing them into my world.
What’s the downside?
Not that it’s a drawback, but it really is a full-time job. When I get out to perform, that’s the fun part. But marketing, booking shows–the business side of show business–takes a lot of work and a full team to make it happen. I enjoy doing the shows the most.
What advice would you give other grads who want to pursue not-so-typical career paths?
In life you’ve got to take risks and just got to go for it. Go for what you’re passionate about and make it happen. If I can make it as a magician, then I think anyone can make it inwhatever they want to be.