Wanting to Major in Theatre, but not having support

Im a college junior who has been doing theatre all his life and used to want to Major in it for college, however my parents never supported it and even said they would disown me if I did. I’ve thought about minoring in it, but it just wouldn’t be the same for me. Double majoring could work, but it would cost more money which wouldn’t be fun. Overall I know I wanna be an actor, but I also don’t wanna loose family relationships. What should I do?

Do you need an acting degree to act?

I would make sure you have some way to support yourself after graduation besides acting. Not saying don’t pursue acting, just saying don’t put all your eggs in the acting basket. At least, this is advice I would give my own child.


Succeeding in the field is tremendously difficult, even with family support. Very dear friends have a daughter who majored in acting and was basically forced out of her program for missing too many required major-related classes to go to auditions. She had a little over one semester left. Her background was several runs in a local dinner theater’s productions and playing some version of “Dead Body #3” in cable docudramas. Her parents were supportive, she has no student debt because of a trust fund. She is now approaching 30, struggling in LA, no manager, no agent, and no college degree to help getting a job paying the bills. She is one of the many, MANY people waiting for their big break.

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Follow your passions but get a degree in something that you could actually make money in. My daughter went 2 years on scholarship for theater /costume design. Went to LA and worked on a short movie and saw people in their 40/50s still trying to “make” it.

Her friends from Northwestern and DePaul for acting are not finding jobs especially now. Many kids we know that went to performing Arts high schools and then major programs are working odd jobs…

Is that what you want? If you have talent then get an agent and go for it. Do acting while in school but get a degree. Then after do auditions etc. Give yourself a timeline to get some jobs. My nephew just came back from LA after trying to make it in film. 6 years is a long time not making it.

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You could do a double major; it shouldn’t cost additional money.

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^^^ this ^^^

A double or dual major is a free option. With careful planning, you will be able to pursue both at the same time without adding additional semesters.

Heyy, I just wanna say thank you for all the advice! I think I will end up going for a double major, just so I can get the training and attempt to make it into the field. I may double that with either poly science or international relations. Or possible history to go into the law field since I do like that as well. Or possibly psychology, Ill look more into it and decide.

Besides focusing on a second major, think about the actual work you might do after graduation. Paralegal? What else? None of those other majors lead clearly to specific jobs. Not saying you shouldn’t major in polisci or psychology, just that your eye needs to be on the plan after graduation, and then, how you will get there, i.e. what you need to do while in college in order to make that plan happen.

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You can major in theater for undergrad, with no double major, and still go to law school or other professional grad schools. You would also have access to jobs outside of theater, as well as related to theater.

Honestly, undergrad has become so directly vocational. You can do what you love and still have many choices for career. Theater majors are good at making presentations and public speaking, and as educators or courtroom lawyers.

Failing that, you can go to a liberal arts college or university with a good drama program but not a BFA program, meaning classes and/or extracurricular theater that will help you train and develop. I would imagine that if you get a BA or BS in something else, and want to act in extracurriculars or in electives, you want to avoid schools with BFA programs because the best roles and opportunities may go to students in the BFA program.

Check out Bennington, where you can have interdisciplinary majors and there is a field work term, and acting is available to everyone, but it is top rated for theater. Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, Drew, Elon, many others.

Maybe you can get someone knowledgeable to speak with your parents.

I just reread The original post and OP is already a college junior. @justintwinkle I am curious as to why you haven’t already declared a major. What classes have you been taking? You are at the point where you should be wrapping things up, not starting a plan.

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Nice catch! I wonder if OP mis typed???

Im actually a junior in HS! Sorry for the confusion.

Having a dream of acting is great, go for it…but that’s not really what college is for. The purpose behind college is to gain marketable skills so you can support yourself. A double major is hard, but could put you at a sizeable advantage for law school admissions if you keep a strong GPA.

Ah got it! My advice then is slightly different, because at this point I wouldn’t expect you to know what you want to do. My vote is to pick the best school you can afford that has a good theater program as wellas other good programs. Sure take theater, major in theater if you want, but also explore other fields, and explore ways you will support yourself if you pursue your acting dream. I agree you can go many places with a theater degree. I have a cousin who went to medical school with a French/Theater double major.

@coolguy40 many would disagree with your idea of the purpose of college. And a double major versus theater major does not increase chances for law school.

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My DD’19 wanted to major in theatre, then before starting college picked a different BS and hoped to double major with the BA theatre major (a lot less credits than the BS/BFA). Because the main major was more credits than some other majors, she was going to have no room for anything other than her required courses. That was with some dual enrollment credit already done in HS. But if your other major is less intensive, it might not be as tight a fit for you.

Freshman year she was super busy with rehearsals and required shop time. Theatre takes a lot of time beyond classroom credits. By the end of the year she decided to drop to a minor. Now she is probably dropping the minor just taking theatre credits she wants and will audition to something if she wants. (Her college will allow that, some may not.)

Point is, you can drop back later but if you want to double major, start planning right away adding up credits and taking only what you need and see how it goes.

have no regrets life is short with many twist

Also ask about this in the Theater major subforum: Theater/Drama Majors - College Confidential Forums - Admission Forum Discussions and Threads

Read posts there and see what other students who want to be majoring in theater have been doing…are you at that level?

Honestly sometimes you have to realize that parents are paying $$$ of money and want to make sure you have a realistic chance at a job when you are done…this is sort of the price you pay for getting your parents to pay for college. So you may want to look at colleges where non-majors can be involved in college plays and where they can take theater classes as electives.

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