The same actress also said: “I don’t know if acting is what I want to do with the rest of my life, it’s just what I’ve, you know, ended up doing when I was little, and I’ve kind of grown up with it.”
Answer: Natalie Portman.
If Portman was one of our college clients, we would have steered her toward pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, based on her hesitance to commit to acting as a lifelong career. And a BA degree Natalie Portman did get, from Harvard University no less.
Even if you’re not already famous like Natalie, you shouldn’t count out a BA degree in the arts.
Prospective art majors–actors, musicians, visual artists, etc.–often think they need either a bachelor of fine arts degree (BFA) or a bachelor of music (BM) in order to succeed in their respective artistic field. That simply isn’t true. There are many, many, different paths to becoming a professional artist.
Don’t get us wrong, we love BFA and BM degrees at ArtsBridge, for their intensity and focused training, and they are the perfect degree for many of our clients and their goals. But we’re also well aware of the benefits of a BA degree. A BA degree program requires a student to take more general education courses outside of the major, resulting in a broader education.
Perhaps your parents are unsure about your eventual career path, and they will feel better if you are studying your art in a liberal arts setting. A BA degree can be a perfect compromise in that case, and as long as find a school where you can still get great training, you’ll still be on track towards a career in the arts.
Natalie Portman majored in psychology, not the arts, but she already had years of training from private coaches on movie sets, and it was clear she wanted to pursue her other interests at that time in her life. After graduation, she returned to acting, and that’s when she won her Oscar for Black Swan.
As Natalie Portman’s former psychology professor said: “It’s all about choice. And she has choices and options. She would be a great psychologist, and she’s a great actor.” He believes Portman may even owe her Oscar to her BA degree: “Her psychology background helped her in formulating the role for [Black Swan] … She’s an actor who uses her academic background.”
There are many other famous actors with BA degrees. Rosamund Pike, who is nominated this year for an Oscar, has a degree in English Literature from Wadham University at Oxford College. Meryl Streep, our favorite to win Best Supporting actress this year, has both a BA and a BFA.
If you’re on the fence about what degree is right for you, get in touch with us.