Student Spotlight: Matt Armstrong
College of DuPage provided the perfect atmosphere for Matt Armstrong to develop his love of theater.
Although he was interested in acting before enrolling at COD, Armstrong had only appeared in one play in high school and wasn't sure it was the career for him.
"It made sense financially, for one thing, to come to COD," he explained. "Even though I was dedicated to the idea of pursuing acting, I wasn't so nuts as to leap into a four-year institution and drop a bunch of cash just to find out I was lousy at it. Luckily, I had a great first teacher in Connie Canaday Howard, who was very encouraging. By the end of my first trimester, I was completely bitten and wasn't turning back."
Armstrong earned his Associate in Arts degree, but before doing so he began working professionally. After leaving College of DuPage, his professional career flourished, and his credits are varied: as part of the cast of the TV shows "Turks" and "American Dreams," recurring roles on "American Horror Story: Assylum" and "Heroes," and guest appearances on such popular shows as "The Mentalist," "CSI: Miami," "Bones" and "Supernatural."
"While I was at COD, I met a lot of people who ended up helping me get started professionally," he said. "I guess I was impatient. Like most actors, my career has been very up and down. I've been lucky enough to work steadily most years, and while some have been leaner than others, that's the nature of this thing. Still, I understand the value of a degree and I'm actually back in school now, trying to complete my degree."
While Armstrong enjoys acting, he'd like to work in an educational setting where he can teach theater courses and be a member of a resident ensemble.
"It's a great way to practice the craft while having a deeper relationship with a community, whether with students or a loyal subscriber base," he said. "I remember doing some student outreach at COD where we visited junior high kids. I still have their letters."
Regardless of his future paths, Armstrong is continually inspired by his experience at College of DuPage.
"I don't know that I realized at the time just how lucky I was at COD," he said. "I loved it there to be sure, and I had amazing mentors like Connie and Craig Berger. But I was spoiled. Four-year universities don't typically do four or five student productions a year. The amount of practical training I received either through performing that many shows or working backstage for Buffalo Theatre Ensemble was huge! Where else do you get that? We had access to, and often worked side by side with, real professionals - real actors and directors and writers. There was so much available to anyone that wanted it. COD helped me and shaped me in ways I still feel today."
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