Some actors break into Hollywood by being born to famous parents or being discovered walking down the street. But many, many actors claw their way into the business after studying Dramatic Arts in college. While a degree isn’t necessary to work in the arts, it’s a great way to learn technique, network with people in the business and get some practical experience. Plus, having a degree in anything opens doors that those with no college experience can’t push through.
Dramatic Art majors love to be in front of people. They love to sing and dance, even if they’re not particularly good at either. They enjoy reading scripts and getting to know new characters. They like researching different time frames, too.
Dramatic Arts majors are very engaging. You could listen to them tell a story all day because they’re very animated and grab your attention. They can become different characters so you really believe that they are evil or sweet or Southern – whatever they’re trying to convey. They also are quick on their feet. Things almost never go exactly as planned on stage, so a Dramatic Arts major needs to be able to react quickly to things like the set falling over or another actor forgetting his line so things can continue on smoothly.
If you’re a bit self-conscious, this major may kill you. Every little thing you do will be scrutinized – how your pronounce words, the way you walk, how long your hair is. If you have a fear of people judging you, you’ll be living your worst nightmare pretty much all the time as professors and peers critique you to help you improve in the Dramatic Arts.
Maybe you just want to be in the movies. Too bad – you’ll spend a lot of your time in Dramatic Arts studying plays. You’ll learn the basics like stage directions and terminology. You’ll also learn a whole bunch of different acting methods. You may have heard of big shot actors who stay in character even off set and insist on being called “King So-and-so” to help them stay focused – well, that’s a type of acting method.
With a degree in Dramatic Arts, you’re better equipped to start searching for all kinds of acting jobs – theater, movie and television. Some Dramatic Arts majors turn to the other side of acting – they get into producing or directing, or even the technical end of things like editing or writing. While there are a lot of out-of-work actors out there, there are plenty of dedicated people who find a way to work in the entertainment industry even if it’s not always on camera.
Get involved in your high school or community theater. You don’t have to be the Welch’s kid or a child star on a situation comedy to get some acting experience before college. If your community performs “The Nutcracker” each holiday season, get busy cracking some nuts.
You can learn from watching others do it all day long, but to really understand the Dramatic Arts you need to get involved. You don’t have to be the lead in the school’s spring musical, but you can help build the sets, run the lights or even manage the chaos backstage to get a better idea of how things really run.