TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It is said that movies will make you famous; television will make you rich, but theatre… well, it will make you good. And today, an alumnus of the Tyler Junior College Theatre Department returned to his roots to talk with students about life in show business.
If you ask the film actor Shea Whigham what first brought him to TJC, you may be surprised to learn that it wasn’t the acting bug.
“I originally came here to actually play tennis," he said, "and that didn’t work out for me, so I segued into the theatre. I always loved acting, and so they accepted me here.”
Whigham has worked on a number of popular films and television shows with big names like Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, but he got his start on the stage here in Tyler at TJC. He said one of his first plays was directed by Dr. David Crawford, a theatre professor at TJC who has been teaching for forty years.
Whigham said his time at TJC was the stepping stone that helped him work towards his goal of moving to New York to become an actor.
Dr. Crawford said that while studying theatre has been helpful to those that want to pursue acting, students have benefited from it in other ways. It has made students more confident, well-rounded individuals.
“They come to us, they learn the art form but then they also learn a lot about themselves, and it’s like self-definition,” said Crawford.
Live theatre is also a very visceral and intimate art form to behold. Both Whigham and current TJC Theatre students praised the magic that unfolds in the theatre. Dustin Thomas, a student at TJC said, “With theatre, you’re not just looking at a screen. You’re experiencing real people in real time, and it’s just a magic that nothing else does.”
“It’s the electricity of being in a space where anything can happen. That’s the beauty of it, and these guys, they run a great program over here," Whigham said.
Shea Whigham is currently working on the new Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix. The film is set to release in theaters October 2019.
To learn more about Shea and his career, you can visit his iMDB page.