Alumni and Friends

School of Theater graduate Dale Shields imparts wisdom on students during Black Alumni Reunion

Ohio University School of Theater Alumnus Dale Shields, BFA ’75, MFA ’95, met with current theater students at a lunchbag event held during OHIO’s Black Alumni Reunion weekend Sept. 15-18. Shields received the 2022 Ebony Bobcat Legend Award in recognition of his long and successful career as a performer, educator and director.

Shields’ holds a legendary and award-winning resume as an artist and educator, historian and activist in the arts, with acting credits on “Anyone Can Whistle,” “The Cosby Show,” and “Saturday Night Live.”

Shields recounted past jobs and shows with students and reminded them to “learn the hustle” to make a living from show business.

“New York is tough and it’s different,” he shared with about 50 theater students. “You’ve got to keep your head about you.”

Shields also spoke about his life after graduating from OHIO and emphasized the importance of Bobcats helping other Bobcats.

“At least two people [in this room] are going to help you get a job,” he said.

He suggested students practice networking within the theater business and shared that some of their future connections in the industry will be their classmates. Because of this, he advised students to keep up contacts and remain open and friendly with one another.

Shields spoke about the importance of knowing how to communicate with others in the industry. He learned to communicate by not just acting, but working in costumes, stage managing and more, he said.

“One of the best things you can learn about acting is learning how to listen,” he advised students.

Shields acknowledged how challenging the industry can be at times but reminded students to take care of their mental health and dream so big that no one can talk them out of continuing their practice. He recommended to students that they know how to leave their ego at home and how to work and study hard.

“Every single day, do one thing that’s positive for your career,” he said.

September 28, 2022
Emma Skidmore, BSJ ‘23