USC School of Dramatic Arts


USC School of Dramatic Arts presents The Cider House Rules: Part One at the Bing Theatre 2019. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)

The USC School of Dramatic Arts Mission

With an evolving curriculum and culture, the USC School of Dramatic Arts seeks to train artist-creators who can connect, catalyze and collide the traditional arts of theatre and story-telling; with the digital and entrepreneurial age and evolving social and political conversations. By developing students who can navigate and influence multiple dramatic arts platforms, from the traditional to the cutting edge, the school seeks to be a standard bearer in redefining what it means to train a dramatic artist for the 21st century.

The USC School of Dramatic Arts Scholarship Luncheon on Jan. 31, 2020 at the McClintock Theatre. (Photo by Michael Rueter/Capture Imaging)​

Dean’s Strategic Initiative

The Dean’s Strategic Initiatives Fund has supported a wide range of projects, including special one-time scholarships, facilities enhancements, larger-scale production opportunities, technology upgrades, and special faculty appointments. The USC School of Dramatic Arts is ushering in a new era and embarking on an exceptionally rapid period of growth and expansion. SDA has launched several new initiatives that offer a more contemporary approach to dramatic arts training and position the school as a leader in new media integration and on-camera technique.

USC School of Dramatic Arts Bing Theatre

SDA Scholarships

Now more than ever is it vital to ensure we are providing students with access to scholarship funding as they face challenging unprecedented times. The impact of scholarship support goes far beyond helping a student offset the burden of student debt. It allows us to attract and retain students from around the world so they can come to the USC School of Dramatic Arts and share their talent and creativity. By providing sufficient scholarship assistance, we can enable greater success at SDA, providing backing for deserving students who want to graduate with their degree and give back to society. The support that students receive from you instills a greater sense of belonging and motivation to make it through their artistic journey at SDA.

Alexandra Billings in I’m Still Queer: A TransAmerican Cabaret, a special performance in May, 2019, at the Bing Theatre to support the historic launch of the Alexandra Billings Scholarship (Photos by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

SDA acknowledges that there is much work to be done to dismantle the systems and culture of inequity in order to assure a safe environment of authentic belonging and community for our BIPOC students, faculty and staff.  Theatre practitioners have an established history of contributing to, leading, and staging conversations around progressive social movements and are thus well suited to heed the call of action in offering a vital and creative space through the fusion of performance, dramatic literature, and critical thought to address complex issues of diversity and inclusion.

As we continue with the incredibly important work, certain action items and goals for the School have been established as we endeavor to stand for the principles of inclusivity and equity in our classrooms, on our stages and in the university at large. These actions items include: mandatory EDI training for all faculty and staff; a thorough analysis and re-imagining of the current curriculum; revise recruitment efforts to increase BIPOC students, and BIPOC members of faculty and directors hired for the School’s season of productions; and further develop the School’s mentorship opportunities with a focus on fostering BIPOC connections with our alumni, faculty, staff and Board of Councilors. 

In support of these efforts, The USC School of Dramatic Arts takes pride in establishing an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Fund. The goal of the newly launched EDI fund is to support initiatives that promote equal opportunity of programs and resources, understanding, inclusion, and acceptance within the SDA community. Examples of such support include but are not limited to:

  • Scholarship funds used to attract and recruit talented and deserving students of color
  • Special events, performances, productions, workshops and/or conferences
  • New key Faculty hires
  • Visiting scholars, artists and lecturers

With a donation in support of  SDA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion fund, you will help us to foster a truly inclusive academic and artistic training experience that embraces, understands, and supports every student who arrives at SDA. During these historic times, your support will allow us to implement strategies in creating an inclusive and equitable school climate that will fully prepare all students for the professional artistic world.

Guarded, by Boni B. Alvarez, February 15 - March 8, 2020, Scene Dock Theatre, MFA Year 3 Acting Repertory  (Photo by Craig Schwartz for the USC School of Dramatic Arts)

Social Change

Building on the school’s long-standing minor in “Applied Theatre Arts,” the school’s Institute for Theatre and Social Change (ITSC) enables students to apply their artistic training to non-traditional theatrical settings in the service of the public good. The Institute seeks to meet the needs of our complex culture by rigorously exploring how the practice of community-based theatre, including all platforms of artistic expression, can interrupt dominant power structures to create challenging social and civic dialogues and support the conditions for liberation, healing, and enhanced understanding.

The School of Dramatic Arts Medical Clowning Program teaches the art of medical clowning and integrates the practice into healthcare and community settings.

Career Center and Professional Development 

The USC School of Dramatic Arts has an innovating Career Center, offering management-style services for graduating actors, as well as enhanced opportunities and resources for the school’s graduating playwrights, designers and stage managers. Professional development opportunities provided by the Career Center include our annual Career Series, where the School offers our students and alumni the opportunity to connect with Industry leaders through a series of workshops, presentation and panel discussion; Spotlight@SDA which brings some of the industry’s most influential leaders to discuss their careers and experiences in the entertainment industry and to offer workshops for students and alumni, we’ve welcomed industry leaders such as Sir Ben Kingsley, Danny Strong, Josh Gad, Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston, Lisa Kudrow, and Kevin Kline. Our SDA Career Center has provided almost 500 auditions for main-stream projects to our graduating students since the center’s inception, and has provided job bookings for students and multiple placements with agents and managers.

Broadway producer Kevin McCollum speaks at CareerSeries@SDA, in a discussion moderated by Dan Shaner. (Photos by Larry Ho/Capture Imaging)

Engaging SDA Alumni for Life

During these unprecedented times, the USC School of Dramatic Arts Office of Alumni Relations remains committed to providing an engaging alumni experience that fosters awareness, pride, participation, volunteer involvement, and philanthropy. As you know, there are many ways to connect with each other online through our SDA Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as your personal LinkedIn and social media accounts. In addition, we are working diligently to examine and enhance our alumni community through virtual activities. Please be on the lookout for notifications regarding online gatherings and professional virtual events in the coming weeks.  

SDA Fall Alumni Party 2019 at Legendary Entertainment Studios in Burbank, Ca. (Photo by Michael Rueter/Capture Imaging)
An Evening Celebrating Musical Theatre in April, 2019 at The Ace Hotel in New York City. (Photos by Bruce Gilbert for USC School of Dramatic Arts.)

The Impact of your Support

Our progress this past year is because of your commitment to the school, faculty, and most importantly our students. This continued dedication of our alumni, parents, and friends will be vital in setting the stage for our ongoing success. Your gift of any size makes a lasting impact and is crucial for making the USC School of Dramatic Arts an extraordinary place to learn and thrive.

School of Dramatic Arts Board of Councilor member and actor Blair Underwood speaks with SDA students in our Salon Series moderated by David Warshofsky. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)​