He had no way of knowing that breaking his arm as an 8-year-old would determine the course of his career. All Andy Steinhauser ’02 knew was that, even though the fracture had healed, his parents didn’t want him playing soccer or baseball that summer – and he wanted to join some kind of team.
“Swimming seemed good, less impactful. So I joined the swim team, and it stuck,” says Steinhauser, who later served as the captain of the College’s swimming and diving team. “In life, there are just some things that you back into and that just stick with you. You never know where those things will take you.”
Indeed, one could say that it was swimming that took Steinhauser all over the world: Along with his degree in communication, his experience coaching three Charleston-area swim teams qualified him for a job with the Kids Club on a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but I did one session, and then I did another, and then another,” says Steinhauser, who had been working for the Kids Club for two years when his manager suggested he consider moving up to assistant cruise director. “That had never crossed my mind. But that pushed me, and, from that moment on, I set my sights on becoming the assistant cruise director.”
And a few months later, that’s what he became.
“It was crazy – I was so young and it was a big job,” he says. “But you either sink or swim, so I swam!”
He swam so well in fact that, three years later, Norwegian Cruise Line offered him a cruise director position, putting him in charge of six managers, 85 staff members and all the daily plans, programming and communications – not to mention the budget, compliance standards and overall guest experience.
His favorite part was working with the broadcast department, making video content for the at-sea television programs.
“It was all like TV on the ground – there was a ton of variety in what we could do,” says Steinhauser, explaining that one day they might film a travel show in Rome or Florence, the next they might interview the captain and the next they’d do live programming with call-ins. “What was great: Every kind of TV hosting I wanted to do, I could. And that’s when I realized it was my true passion.”
It wasn’t until one of the members of the Blue Man Group – which performs on the Norwegian Epic – approached Steinhauser, however, that he felt particularly encouraged.
“What are you doing? I’ve seen you. You’re good at what you do. Is this where you want to be?” the Blue Man asked Steinhauser, who explained that he’d thought about going to Los Angeles, but he’d hated it when he’d taken a test drive out there on his last break.
“It takes two years to like L.A.!” the Blue Man responded. “You need to go there and give it a real chance. You’re really talented.”
“That was pivotal,” he recalls. “Just like that manager who’d suggested I go for assistant cruise director: It was the out-of-nowhere voice I needed to hear. And that was that. As soon as my contract ended, I headed back to L.A. with a whim, a prayer and a dollar in my pocket. And I thought, ‘Here I am! Discover me!’ And crickets.”
That was in March 2012 – and, fortunately, Steinhauser had saved up a cushion to live on while he looked for work, because it took about a year of odd jobs in hotels and bars before he was really able to find his footing, taking projects as host of festivals and game shows and as a spokesperson/product presenter for brands such as Chevrolet.
Now hosting his own online radio show, The Story with Andy Steinhauser, which airs every week on LA Talk Radio and features his interviews with a variety of people in the entertainment industry, Steinhauser is making more and more connections all the time – and hopes to continue building his network, his reputation, his reach and his brand.
“I’ve built a career all on my own – it’s all self-made – and I’ll keep making my own way,” he says, adding that the value of his college studies isn’t lost on him. “Even if I didn’t realize it at the time – my degree really gave me the foundation I needed. It’s crazy, because every single job I’ve had has really hinged on my communication skills. I’ve made a career out of talking! I owe a big thank-you to Professor Vince Benigni’s public speaking class for getting me started. I had no idea how important it would be in my career.”
Kind of like that broken arm when he was 8: “It’s amazing how it all adds up in the end.”
– Alicia Lutz ’98