Student Q&A: Bryce Stephens BFA '21

Man with hat and mustache

Bryce Stephens in "Barbarians." Photo by Craig Schwartz

The School of Dramatic Arts briefly caught up with actor Bryce Stephens BFA ’21 for a quick Q&A about his involvement with the School.

Besides his full class load and participating in productions with the junior BFA cohort, Stephens acts as an SDA Student Ambassador. Outside of the regular curriculum, he investigates ways to apply newly minted storytelling skills to other mediums.

SDA: Where are you from?
Stephens: Redwood City, CA.

SDA: Why did you choose to come to USC?
Stephens: I did a two-day workshop with professor Mary Joan Negro in the summer of 2016, and was blown away by her work. I decided that I needed to learn more from her, and made it my mission to get into the school.

SDA: What program are you in SDA? Why did you choose that program?
Stephens: I am in the BFA Acting for Stage, Screen, and New Media program, and the biggest appeal for me was the emphasis on-screen acting alongside stage acting. I want to be a film actor, but what I love most about the program is the way that it explores the evolution of stage into screen, and how the two feed into each other.

SDA: You recently performed in the Barbarians by Maxim Gorky. Can you tell us about the rehearsal process?
Stephens: The process was incredible. I was able to focus almost entirely on applying class topics into the production. It was also my first time working with a director from outside of the school, Susan Angelo. The perspectives that she brought in were just as valuable and pertinent as those of my professors.

SDA: What is your favorite thing about your program?
Stephens: My favorite thing is probably my BFA ensemble, as there are only 18 of us and we have come to be a little family of sorts. And professor Mary Joan Negro has been guiding us along the way since freshman year.

SDA: What is your role in the admissions department at SDA?
Stephens: I am an SDA Student Ambassador, but I tend to take on more duties pertaining to prospective students. I am often a point of contact for those specifically interested in the BFA program.

SDA: In that role, how do you represent SDA?
Stephens: I think I specifically represent SDA as a BFA actor, especially since I am in my third year. I tend to work at most of the auditions in early second semester, and many current students remember me from their own audition. I feel like I am sort of a first impression of what other students here on like, and I try my best to be as outgoing, friendly, and welcoming as possible.

SDA: As such an active member of the SDA community, what impact do you hope to leave after your four years?
Stephens: I hope that I leave a lasting mark on the BFA program and how it functions as a family of four years. That is, I work especially hard in integrating us all together as freshmen through seniors. When I leave, I hope that every member of each of the four ensembles feels equal to each of the others.

SDA: How has SDA changed your outlook on theatre?
Stephens: SDA has certainly changed the way I look at theatre, in that I look for theatre everywhere now. It isn’t just the stage or the screen, it’s pure human nature. Storytelling is everywhere, and SDA is teaching me how to find it.

SDA: How has your SDA education informed other creative endeavors: film, music, etc.?
Stephens: One of the exercises Mary Joan teaches in the freshman year is called the Five Act Play, and it serves as the basic foundation for storytelling across all mediums. In my time here, I have managed to apply those concepts to a full-length album, an original short film that I wrote and directed, and currently, a novel. I don’t consider this program to be strictly about acting. It’s about storytelling.