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Jun 07 2017
by Ciara Freeman

10 Celebrities Who Went to School for Acting

By Ciara Freeman - Jun 07 2017
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Any actor knows that one of the most essential aspects of mastering the craft is practice. Most of the major movie stars and television personalities of today have studied and perfected their acting skills professionally, albeit in individualized classes or in structured college environments. Aspiring student actors can learn from the best while furthering their education by studying a drama or arts course at their respective colleges and universities. When timing meets preparation and hard work, success is bound to come! Needless to say, the following 10 celebrities went to school for acting and their efforts truly paid off.

1. Jessica Chastain

Georges Biard via Wikimedia Commons

Jessica, known for her performances in "The Martian," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Help," attended the Juilliard School in New York City, where she received a scholarship funded by the late actor Robin Williams. Being constantly worried about her performance in the program, she described herself as "a wreck of anxiety." Ultimately, she found her niche and graduated from Juilliard with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2003.

2. Zac Efron

Disnology via Flickr Creative Commons

Every millennial's childhood sweetheart, Zac Efron is no stranger to the craft. This "High School Musical" and "17 Again" child actor attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts throughout 2000 and 2001. He was also offered enrollment at the University of Southern California but opted to defer instead.

3. Sandra Bullock

Eva Rinaldi via Flickr Creative Commons

Known for starring in the films "Miss Congeniality," "The Proposal" and "Gravity," Sandra attended East Carolina University in North Carolina where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama. She also performed in multiple theater productions while at ECU.

4. Denzel Washington

Flickr Creative Commons

Triple Golden Globe winner Denzel Washington earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in drama and journalism from Fordham University. He later enrolled at the Lincoln Center campus to study acting full-time, where he performed in Shakespeare's play, "Othello."

5. Oprah Winfrey

canburak via Flickr Creative Commons

The legendary Oprah Winfrey, Chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions and the Oprah Winfrey Network, won an oratory contest at East Nashville High School which secured her a full scholarship to HBCU Tennessee State University. Her drive and passion for her craft propelled her to study three majors — communications, speech and drama.

6. Rachel McAdams

sandrieliribeiro via Flickr Creative Commons

"The Notebook" and "Mean Girls" starlet chose to attend York University in Ontario, Canada after a recommendation from her drama teacher. She graduated with a BFA honors degree in 2001 and also worked with the Toronto-based Necessary Angel Theatre Company.

7. Hugh Jackman

Eva Rinaldi via Flickr Creative Commons

Hugh Jackman, known internationally as the Wolverine, studied at the University of Technology, Sydney and graduated with a BA in communications. In his senior year at the University, he discovered his love for acting and took a drama course which led him to complete a one-year course titled "The Journey" at the Actors' Centre in Sydney.

8. Miranda Cosgrove

Flickr Creative Commons

This "iCarly" and "Drake and Josh" child actress already had a few credits under her belt when she decided to study film at the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts. She decided to take her craft more seriously and understand the ins-and-out of cinematic production.

9. Forest Whitaker

Kirk W via Flickr Creative Commons

Oscar winner Forest Whitaker's undergraduate story is quite unique. He initially attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona on a football scholarship when suddenly a back injury forced him to switch majors to music (vocals). He then briefly changed his major to drama and was later accepted to the Music and Drama Conservatories at the University of Southern California. A high achiever, Forest also earned a scholarship to the Berkeley, California branch of the Drama Studio London.

10. Meryl Streep

Howie_Berlin via Flickr Creative Commons

Three-time Oscar winner and Academy Award nominated actress Mrs. Streep received her BA cum laude from Vassar College in 1969 before applying for an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, where she appeared in over a dozen theater productions annually. She hustled endlessly to receive her MFA from Yale in 1975 and her Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1981. What can't Meryl do?

Although studying acting in school may definitely boost an actor's career, many others have proven successes without stepping foot into a classroom. Play your cards right and you may even end up on the big screen with a completely unrelated computer science degree!

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Ciara Freeman - Loyola Marymount University

Ciara Freeman is a Staff Writer/Campus News Correspondent and sophomore at Loyola Marymount University pursuing a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Journalism. She is a passionate student, world traveler, global citizen and foodie. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, acting and practicing yoga. Follow her on Instagram: @ciarafreeman_!

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