Imagine being a professional actress, a professor and an education director all at once. Susan Angelo, adjunct professor in the theatre arts department, is currently actively pursuing all three of these careers.
Her extensive resume includes appearances in television shows like “Criminal Minds” and “Desperate Housewives,” films like “Apollo 11” and “The Truman Show” and plays like “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Hamlet.”
“I’ve always had my hand in some kind of teaching or education as well as being an actor,” Angelo said in a phone interview.
Angelo grew up in a town with a population of about 500 in Birmingham, Ohio. Aside from high school plays, Angelo did not have much opportunity to pursue her acting career until the age of 18 when she went to college.
“I knew I wanted to be an actor when I was a kid, I just never had the opportunity because there just wasn’t anything available where I grew up out in the middle of nowhere,” Angelo said.
Angelo has both a Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Shakespeare & Classical Theatre from George Washington University.
“Coming into Cal Lu I never really knew a lot about Shakespeare and she’s really smart and knows everything you need to know about Shakespeare,” sophomore Annika Dybevik said. Dybevik is currently in Angelo’s Shakespeare class.
After graduating from Cal Arts, Angelo got a job as a waitress and started auditioning for different roles. She was cast in a Shakespeare play and got her equity card right out of college. She then got her Screen Actors Guild about a year later while doing a couple episodes of “Trapper John.”
Angelo has taught at a variety of different schools including New York University, University of California, Los Angeles and currently California Lutheran University.
“I think she’s just a really good person to look up to if you’re trying to make a career out of acting. She has a lot of really good insight and she teaches in a way that helps people understand,” senior Michelle Miller said. Miller was in “Summer and Smoke,” directed by Angelo.
She is also working on the board of directors at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, overseeing the Academy of the Classics and Classroom Enrichment programs.
“I have to be very flexible with everything in my life,” Angelo said.
Due to the travel commitments that come with being an actress, Angelo said she has to remain ready for any opportunity that may present itself.
“I’ve got a callback tomorrow for a commercial that shoots in Venice, Italy. I mean, I’m hoping I get it, but if I get it, it will impact two of my classes and Cal Lu so I’ll have to work around that,” Angelo said.
According to Angelo, the hardest part about being an actress is not getting the opportunity to audition for a role.
“I don’t mind being rejected from something, but it’s really hard when you don’t even get up to bat,” Angelo said.
Angelo said she enjoys working with television and film, but her passion lies in theater.
“Film and television is like a way to pay the rent so that you can do theater, in my opinion,” Angelo said. “One of my favorite roles would be something that I’ve done in theatre, not in film or television because I haven’t had that opportunity to play as great of things in film and television, but in theater I played leading roles for 30 years.”
Angelo has played Lady Macbeth three times, Ophelia three times and recently played Beatrice. According to susanangelo.com, her theatrical roles include an extensive list of over 100 “classic and contemporary plays in regional theatres and festivals throughout the country.”
“It is a joy because she works very individually. She works with each of us to make sure we understand what we’re saying so you feel very special and you actually understand your work,” said Cecilia Lindgren, sophomore student currently in Angelo’s Shakespeare class.
When she gets frustrated with her acting career, Angelo said she remembers that acting is like telling a story that helps share our humanity and allows people to develop empathy for one another.
“They [actors] can see through other people’s eyes and find out what it is like to walk in someone else’s footsteps,” Angelo said. “To me, that’s the power of it because I think if more people did that we would have a nicer society.”
Published February 25th, 2015