The School of Dramatic Arts briefly caught up with actor Antoinette Ricchio BA ’20 for a quick Q&A about her involvement with the School.
As Ricchio heads into her final semester as a BA student with an acting emphasis, she finds that her screenwriting minor supplements her major coursework well, providing her the tools to thrive in a hybrid industry. In the last year, she has worked at the Emmys, booked her first professional film, and worked on a Noah Cyrus music video.
SDA: Where are you from?
Ricchio: I am from Chicago, Illinois—born in the city, but spent most of my life in the suburbs.
SDA: Why did you choose to come to USC?
Ricchio: I was blown away by the school, the program and the faculty and staff when I came to the open house during my senior year of high school. Truthfully, I applied to USC without knowing much about it. I had my heart set on New York. It wasn’t until I came to visit that I knew undoubtedly, I wanted to be here.
SDA: What program are you in SDA? Why did you choose that program?
Ricchio: I am in the BA program with an acting emphasis. Originally, I thought I wanted to be in the BFA, but quickly realized my other interests outside of acting made the BA program the best option for me. Being able to choose my courses and schedule has allowed me to simultaneously pursue screenwriting!
SDA: Which show has been the biggest learning experience for you at SDA?
Ricchio: That’s tough because I feel like each show has been so enriching in a different way, but I guess I’d say When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? I think because it was my first mainstage show, it definitely had the biggest learning curve, but aside from that, Angel was such an intricate, delicate character that it really challenged me to dive deep into character work in a way I never had previously. I learned a lot about myself, my process and collaboration through this show. I’m very grateful.
SDA: What is your favorite thing about the faculty at SDA? Has one professor had a profound impact on you?
Ricchio: The faculty at SDA is truly unmatched in their dedication. They tirelessly invest time in us and our futures despite having families and careers of their own, and it’s a reflection of the way they love their jobs and deeply care about their students. It’s hard to single out a professor because my education here has felt like building blocks. I can’t just pick from the top without acknowledging the foundation below.
SDA: What is your role in the admissions department at SDA?
Ricchio: I have been serving as an SDA ambassador since my freshman year, aiding the admissions office in recruiting prospective students. I communicate with them via email and at our various events, ensuring that all their questions are answered and they’re able to make an informed decision about where to attend university (and we hope it’s USC)!
SDA: In that role, how do you represent SDA?
Ricchio: I represent SDA by sharing my positive experiences with prospective students. Attending USC has been the pride of my life, and to speak about the opportunities and growth I’ve had here in hopes that someone else might have the same experience is something I really enjoy and feel lucky to do.
SDA: As such an active member of the SDA community, what impact do you hope to leave after your four years?
Ricchio: Everywhere I go, I try to bring infectious, positive energy with me and I think it goes a long way. I don’t know about impact, but I guess I just hope my classmates remember me as someone they can come to. Even after graduation—as a friend, someone who makes mistakes, someone they can lean on—because this industry can be extremely difficult and very lonely. I also think the TSA mentorship program is an amazing addition to SDA and leaves an encouraging impact on younger students who are trying to find their footing.
SDA: Do you have a minor? If so, why did you choose that minor?
Ricchio: My minor is screenwriting in the cinema school. I always loved writing, and through the classes, I’ve realized I want to write for TV.
SDA: How does that minor build upon your SDA training?
Ricchio: Writing and acting really inform each other—I understand each in a different, better way by practicing the other. They are not separate at all. But more than that, no one in the industry is doing just one thing. Now more than ever, artists are exploring all facets of the industry.
SDA: Are you in any student organizations within the university at large? How have you found your community within them?
Ricchio: My biggest community outside of SDA is USC’s professional cinema fraternity, Delta Kappa Alpha. Not only is this organization filled with caring, wonderful people but it’s a group of amazingly talented artists who have given me most of my professional opportunities in LA. We are first and foremost a family, but we work hard together and make a lot of cool projects.
SDA: How has SDA changed your outlook on theatre?
Ricchio: My outlook on theater and acting has changed so much—it’s kind of crazy to think about all the things I didn’t know when I got here. I didn’t go to a performing arts high school, I just went to an average public school with really dedicated, talented and underpaid theater teachers! It’s not just my outlook; I learned how to act at SDA. I learned about techniques, historical lineages and came to love theater in a new way—a better way—like when you think you love something and then you discover its layers, see it more in-depth and love it even more.
SDA: How has your SDA education informed other creative endeavors?
Ricchio: I think it informs everything I do creatively, whether it’s subconscious or not. The perspective SDA has given me on life and collaboration allows me to bring my artistry and empathy into every project I work on.