Bri McWhorter

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Bri McWhorter, a graduate student participating in the MFA Acting Program at UC Irvine, has recently been given the opportunity to teach graduate communications classes under the supervision of Drama Professor Eli Simon.

The theater has always been a part of Bri’s life, “I have always loved to perform…I think I came into the world ready to take the stage,” she says.  Her passion seeds from childhood, when she performed for the first time at the age of three.  Bri has always felt her best when on stage.  She spent four years with the San Jose Musical Theater and then six years studying at the California Theatre Center in Sunnyvale, CA.

Bri was fortunate to have supportive parents who always encouraged her to follow her dream and, whenever she had doubts about herself, they would step in and set her straight.

After receiving her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkley, Bri applied to the MFA Acting Program at UC Irvine.  It is very hard to be accepted into an MFA Acting program and Bri was elated when she was accepted and, upon starting the program, she fell in love with the supportive environment created by all of her peers, contrary to the typical competitive, every-man-for-himself atmosphere she was so familiar with.

“In addition to the amazing program, I really enjoy the invested professors that have helped me open up as a person,” Bri says.  “The MFA Acting Program has given me the opportunity to work with the best vocal coaches such as Dr. Gary Busby and I’ve been encouraged to express myself through movement with Dr. Annie Loui.”

What has surprised Bri most are all the new things she has gotten to do since entering the program, some of which include training in Aikido, period dancing, sword fighting, contact improvising, and clowning. Although she has always been focused on her career, she truly appreciates the tools she has gained from the classes at UC Irvine that have allowed her to appreciate every moment and each experience to the fullest.

This training has served her well in her performances at UC Irvine, including Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream; Polyxena in Troy; and the upcoming Harper in Angels in America.

Last summer, Bri was performing at the new Swan Shakespeare Festival on campus, when she received an email that Professor Eli Simon, the artistic director of the festival was looking for a teaching assistant (TA) for an undergraduate communications course. Bri ended up teaching for the summer, but was asked later that year if she would be interested in being the TA for a graduate level communications course in the 2012-2013 school year. Since then she has taught two graduate communications courses, open to advanced graduate students from all programs, and has hosted several workshop series to provide graduate students with enhanced public speaking skills.

Public speaking is feared by even the best actors and Bri truly appreciates that the graduate students trust her enough to help them overcome their fear. She has been so thankful for the opportunity to use her acting background to teach people such an important life skill. “I never knew that teaching could be so rewarding,” Bri says.  “I plan to eventually start my own public speaking business, while also maintaining a successful acting career in film, television, and theater.”

Bri also teaches undergraduate acting courses. And if that weren’t enough, she also was the mentor for the first US Performing Arts camp at UCI and the coordinator as well as voice and speech teacher for the Summer Academy in Drama for high school students last summer. Bri has always believed that acting is her soul’s food and cannot imagine a better life than spending her time bringing stories to life.  She lives every day following the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “…to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

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