Students gathered to learn about Rashawn Nadine Scott, a Western Washington University theater alum, and her success after graduating in the Performing Arts Building’s DUG theater on May 13.
Scott cultivated a huge presence in the program during her time at Western. Due to her success in the field and as a Western alum, she received an Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Fine and Performing Arts.
During her talk, Scott reflected on her decision to attend Western and how she discovered the theater department.
“When I was at Stadium [High School], I thought for sure that if I came up to Western, I would become a music teacher because it’s a great program for that,” Scott said. “When I came to Western I toured the school once before deciding this was where I wanted to go. On a whim, I walked through the theater department.”
Scott’s professors thought very highly of her in the classroom environment.
“Being in the studio with Rashawn during our Suzuki movement training, she was truly challenged by the work and the look of determination on her face is something I will always remember,” said Rich Brown, professor of acting/movement and chair of theater/dance. “I think she began to build her resilience for a career in the arts in those classes.”
Scott spoke highly of her classes at Western, saying she hit the ground running by taking multiple classes at a time. Sometimes they were even completely opposite acting techniques, and she absolutely loved it.
After graduating, Scott translated those skills into the beginnings of her career.
“I had a lot of great training, but I was figuring out how to bring that into the real world,” Scott said. “I enjoyed being in the Seattle/Tacoma area, but then I got a call about Chicago. Cold weather places are always the best places for theater; we have nothing else to do but to sit inside and tell everyone how we are feeling.”
“It was [my professor], Jim [Lortz], who told me once that all of these tools are crayons; you can be the boring eight pack of primary color or you can be the 64 pack with the sharpener in the back,” said Scott.
Scott explained the benefit of this training in Chicago, expressing that she was fast tracked in certain positions due to her level of ability and professionalism.
“First, she thought hard about prioritizing her specific interests at the time, which was improv, then she moved to the heart of that art form in the country,” Brown said. “Then when her interests developed and she wanted to pursue film and television, she moved to LA. That connection between art form and location is key.”
Levi Collins, a recent WWU theatre graduate, talked about his next steps.
“I have recently been feeling more sure about going to New York, but hearing her talk made me reconsider Chicago again,” said Collins. “She made it sound really incredible and also talked about all the places she got to study at.”
In Chicago, Scott took classes at Improv Olympics and after some time made one of their skeleton teams. She decided instead to see what other companies had to offer and that is when she started the Bob Curry Fellowship with Second City, she said.
“This program was about eight weeks and they wanted you to be a well-rounded Second City performer,” Scott said. “Three weeks in I was offered to be an understudy for the touring company. After I did that for a while they offered me an understudy position in the main show. That’s the big one.”
Scott soon joined the E.T.C. team in the main show and although there were a few setbacks, she explained it was a fantastic opportunity. After some time, she began to feel a pull towards film and television, she said.
“I knew I wanted to move to Los Angeles,” Scott said. “I took a leap. Before I left Chicago for LA, I had one of the biggest auditions I ever had for this HBO show called Southside. It’s on HBO Max right now, and the third season is filming this summer.”
Students observed what worked for Scott when beginning her career.
“The thing that I really took from listening to her speak, was that she was putting herself in the best situations possible,” Collins said. “She made such an effort to be seen.”
Brown highlighted the opportunities Western’s theatre program offers to young artists.
“She mentioned numerous times during her talk to our students the lessons she learned at Western about generating your own work,” Brown said. “Our students leave the program empowered with the skills and knowledge to create their own opportunities, rather than waiting to be hired by established theater companies.”
Sophie Kashman (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front. She is currently a second-year student and majoring in Theatre Performance as well as a pre-major in Journalism with a focus in public relations. Some of her hobbies include, play/songwriting, singing, art, and hiking.
You can reach her at email@example.com or on Instagram @sophie_kashman.