Lots of children grow up being encouraged to go to college so that they can get the proper credentials to succeed in their chosen career. Aspiring actors, however, seem to be in a different situation. Many are encouraged to study something more practical as a “backup plan” should they fail to build an acting career. Others are insistent that they will have a better chance of a successful career if they spend two or four — or more — years honing their craft.
In addition to numerous theater, dramatic arts, and performing arts degree programs in four-year colleges all over the country, there are a few specialized programs that attract the academic actor. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts offers programs in California and New York. It is a two-year program that boosts many successful alumni. The Yale School of Drama and the Actors Studio Drama School offer graduate programs for aspiring actors.
Here are some of the famous actors with degrees in acting or theater:
David Alan Grier
On the other side, many actors chose to study other degree fields before launching their acting career. With degrees in everything from business to math to biology, they still managed to become acclaimed actors.
Here are some famous names that did NOT study acting in college (and some even stayed in school long enough to earn a degree):
Samuel L. Jackson (marine biology)
Olympia Dukakis (physical therapy & polio epidemics)
Teri Hatcher (mathematics & engineering)
Amy Poehler (media & communications)
Michael C. Hall (pre-law)
Dule Hill (business finance)
Dustin Hoffman (pre-med)
Mayim Bialik (Ph.D in neuroscience)
Lisa Kudrow (biology)
Some famous actors never went to college, and others didn’t even finish high school. The only conclusion to be drawn is that talent and opportunity will lead to success, with or without an acting degree.
Riley Hill contributed this guest post. He is an entertainment and arts blogger who has also studied education. He writes about speech, acting, and performance for educational, entertainment, and lifestyle blogs.