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Many were the nights when a limo waited outside as Tony Evans packed up his law school books, grabbed the fat banker’s briefcase that goes with his day job, then beat it out to JFK for the red-eye to Bombay, Jakarta, Helsinki, or somewhere else far away from his lonesome wife and young son. “I’ve never met anyone quite like him,” said Annette Gordon-Reed, one of Evans’ professors at New York Law School, where he has been moonlighting, as it were, from his job as a Citibank vice president. “To do what he does — and to do it so well — is amazing. “There hasn’t been any let-up in what he’s required to do at Citibank,” Gordon-Reed added. “That’s pretty intense. To be able to turn your focus so completely is extraordinary. There aren’t many students like him.” One day recently when he was not dashing off somewhere, Evans showed up for a lunch of filet mignon at a boite near his Wall Street office to talk about his peripatetic schedule — about the best of times, and the worst of times. His days as a hungry actor were definitely the worst. In one 90-day span, he was turned down for juicy parts in two Broadway plays (“Angels in America” and “Six Degrees of Separation”) and a movie (“New Jack City”). Calendar pages turned. Roles changed. Today, Tony Evans, the smartly attired banker, looks forward to the best of times: This June, when he graduates from New York Law School. But the sting of earlier rejection has never quite receded. Evans reflected on the leaner days of a journey that has brought him to the pleasing threshold of corporate law. He acknowledged the usefulness of short-term disappointment, and advice from his grandfather, a Southern Baptist minister in North Carolina. “As you go through life, everybody’s going to have an opinion about what you do and what you are,” Evans recollected of Grandpa’s counsel. “If you do something you know is not right for you, it comes back around to bite you.” Before searching for happiness as a struggling thespian in New York, Evans tried academia. At the University of Louisville, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in fine arts, he taught acting and public speaking. He continued teaching at Clemson University in South Carolina. But always, the Great White Way beckoned. Or so he thought. “I did lots of productions of ‘Othello,’ lots of Shakespeare at the Grove Street Playhouse, and there was ‘Telltale Hearts’ at Primary Stages … ” But an actor must eat, as must his wife and little boy. So Evans became an office temp in 1989. He found his way to Citibank. Like a flea that at last found his dog, Evans swiftly moved from secretarial wages to a manager’s job in mergers and acquisitions, after which he become a big shot in securities processing. “And I was only looking for a survival job,” he said. “Boy, did I overdo it.” In 1995, six years after starting as a temp, he was a 33-year-old vice president, traveling the world to consult with Citibank clients in 43 countries. Still, true happiness eluded him. “I looked up the organizational chart, and it read MBA, MBA/JD, MBA, JD … ” Evans said. “ And there I was, with an MFA from a respected university. Well, it ain’t respected on The Street. “I didn’t need an MBA because I was already a vice president, and learning everything on the job I was likely to learn in study,” said Evans. “So I went into a B. Dalton’s and bought a book on the LSATs. I put it in my briefcase, and read it during a business trip through Asia.” Without telling his wife, Shawn, or anybody at Citibank, he took the LSAT on a Saturday morning. “I left thinking, Well, I gave it a shot,” Evans said. “Then the results came in the office mail. I scored high.” He then secretly applied to Fordham University School of Law, New York Law and Stanford Law School — the latter “for my own ego,” he said. This time, however, he put down his home address for response. Evans was accepted everywhere. NEW YORK LAW “Shawn opens up my letter from Stanford, and she says, ‘You’ve been accepted to what?’ ” he recalled. Mrs. Evans vetoed California. Mr. Evans settled on New York Law because the campus was on a beeline between his office and his downtown apartment. “I really didn’t think he’d do it,” said Mrs. Evans, meaning the grueling prospect of law school by night while a full-time, globe-trotting banker by day — plus the bustle of little Anthony. For her part, Mrs. Evans had interrupted an advertising career to attend to their son in his formative years. But he found the time. And for the first three years, nobody at Citibank suspected Evans of doing what he had to do by night. He did not want anyone believing he was incapable of juggling a daunting schedule that required precise synchronization for so long. “It’s come lately as a great surprise to people that Tony did what he did,” said Evans’ boss, Christian Starck, director of product management for Citibank. “I admire a person who not only pulls more than his own weight at a large job, but is about to finish a very demanding degree program.” His colleagues at Citibank weren’t the only ones kept in the dark about Evans’ industrious schedule. Almost nobody at New York Law School knew of his substantial position at Citibank. “I was stunned when I found out,” said Gordon-Reed, who was Evans’ instructor in property law, and law aspects of American slavery. “He participated in class at a very high level. A law class is an interactive process. Tony was a real catalyst to that, and often a life-saver to me in that regard.” Starck has only one question of Evans: “When in hell does he sleep?” “I got to thinking, maybe he’s an android,” said Mrs. Evans. “Some nights, he was just beat down.” But Starck never saw the sweat. “Tony lives a professional life, and a private life, and he keeps them separate,” said Starck. “He has a job that’s not necessarily enviable. We have more than 300 customers, and there’s always someone with a problem — and that usually winds up on Tony’s desk. “But he never failed to meet a client who needed him,” said Starck, “and he never failed to go after a prospect. He knows how to conduct himself.” Evans admits the past four years have been hectic to say the least. “But there’s nothing heroic or special about it. You just put your head down and do it. Luckily, I’m good at deferring joy.” “Three people in Tony’s class got divorced,” Mrs. Evans said. “I told Tony one time, ‘You know, I can see how that happened.’ “ WHAT NEXT? Evans looks forward to graduating in five months. And when he passes the bar? “I don’t want to spend my remaining years defending somebody whose whole life is about smuggling drugs in his rectum and getting it across the border,” said Evans, rejecting criminal law. “Not that the guy doesn’t need defending … “ Mrs. Evans completed the thought. “He enjoys corporate banking,” she said. “Once he’s a lawyer, he’ll find his way, within the bank.” As to whether Evans will make a good lawyer, Professor Gordon-Reed said, “He’s going to be great … . He has such an active mind. He’s very, very quick.”

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