Top stories of 2023

As the year draws to a close, the School of Dramatic Arts reflects on the most transformative moments of 2023. From a generous gift naming our groundbreaking DEI center to a special visit from a Trojan superstar, here is a selection of the most viewed stories of the year.

Will Ferrell and Natsuko Ohama sit on stage chatting with microphones.

Comedy legend Will Ferrell brings wisdom and wit to SDA

Comedy legend and proud Trojan Will Ferrell spoke with Professor Natsuko Ohama about his career, acting advice and why studying acting is a great way to spend your college years.

Rendering of the Sparks Center for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the USC School of Dramatic Arts

Inspiring the next generation with the Sparks Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Rod and Elsie Nakamoto name the School’s Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion after two notable members of the Trojan Family.

Images from the 2023 MFA Acting Film Shootl

USC programs trace Oscars past and work to change Oscars future

The USC School of Dramatic Arts and USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative are working with the Adobe Foundation to measure and support inclusion in entertainment.

Tracy Tutor

For SDA alumna Tracy Tutor of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles fame, the landmark legislation can inspire independence and combat entrenched forms of discrimination.

Alma Martinez

Actress, educator and changemaker Alma Martinez on making and restoring Chicano theatre history.

Emily Roxworthy

The USC School of Dramatic Arts dean has thrived despite some people’s outdated attitudes.

Velina Hasu Houston

The internationally acclaimed playwright is a gender equity and racial equity trailblazer in her work at USC and beyond.

Endesha Ida Mae Holland

Endesha Ida Mae Holland conquered a childhood of extreme poverty, racism and violence to become a Pulitzer-nominated playwright, educator and civil rights activist.

Celebrating SDA's Title IX Trailblazers

Throughout the university’s celebration of the first 50 years of Title IX, we highlighted these SDA Trailblazers who forged their own paths to success both within the university and beyond in their professional pursuits. We acknowledge their courage and tenacity in making SDA, USC, and the world, a more equitable place.


SDA MFA Year 2 students and faculty meet the cast of the Broadway Revivial of "Death of a Salesman."

Start spreading the news

Several MFA students took a “surreal” and “life-changing” trip to New York, enjoying behind-the-scenes access to top Broadway shows and rehearsing in one of the city’s most storied venues.

Alexandra Billings poses with Emily Roxworthy and two others in front of an SDA cardinal and gold banner

SDA celebrates its first tenured transgender faculty member

Star of stage and screen Alexandra Billings made history this year as the first transgender faculty member to earn tenure at the School of Dramatic Arts.


A host of multihyphenate directors, producers and executives discussed strategies for artistic entrepreneurship.

Mental Health

A constellation of insiders discussed psychology and mental health in the arts and entertainment industry.


Producer-artist multihyphenates conducted an interactive workshop for students and alumni on the essentials of producing.

Voice and Voiceover

A celebrated voice coach and a group of professional voice actors dove into techniques and strategy for making a career in voice and voiceover.


Successful writer-actors and a documentarian gathered to discuss how to develop a career in writing.


A two-time Emmy winner and a Sundance Grand Jury finalist shared advice and wisdom on directing.


Six artists at the top of their fields met to discuss the world of design and the costumes, makeup and visual effects that make characters jump off the screen.

SDA's groundbreaking Multihyphenate Masterclass series

In the modern arts and entertainment world, it’s becoming more and more essential to have multiple skill sets and interests. The School of Dramatic Arts’ Multihyphenate Masterclass series invited guest artists who are leaders in their fields to have in-depth discussions on pursuing a multifaceted career in the industry.

Karlie Teruya poses with a prop cow while stage managing Into the Woods on Broadway.

Once upon a time, three Trojans went Into the Woods

Three recent SDA alumni forged a bond after discovering they had all worked as stage managers on Broadway’s critically acclaimed revival of Into the Woods.

SDA alumnus Richard G. Weinberg and USC President Carol Folt pose at the 2023 Fall Alumni Celebration.

2023 Fall Alumni Celebration

The 2023 Fall Alumni Celebration gave members of the Trojan Family a chance to reconnect and honored alum Richard G. Weinberg with the SDA Alumni Service Award.

Photo of the cast of Sunday in the Park with George at the Pasadena Playhouse

Sunday in the park with... USC

SDA actors had the opportunity to act at the iconic Pasadena Playhouse, getting a taste of the life of a professional actor while working around their studies.

Black Art Collective

The Black Art Collective has already organized a dizzying array of educational workshops and productions aimed at centering Black voices and providing opportunities to USC’s Black artists.

Spoiler Alert

When it comes to comedy, being funny isn’t everything. Spoiler Alert brings depth, character and narrative technique to their unique brand of improv.

The Suspenders

The Suspenders brings together funny students from all across campus to perform their unique brand of sketch comedy. And yes, there’s a musical number.

Dorothy's Friends Theatre Company

Dorothy’s Friends Theatre Company has grown from several friends making queer theatre together to a major presence for the USC queer community.

The Aeneid Theatre Company

The Aeneid Theatre Company draws on their namesake as a group of Trojans willing to make greatness against all odds.

Brand New Theatre

Brand New Theatre puts on performances that are 100% written, directed, designed, and produced by students.

Spotlighting independent student productions

A proud tradition and an important part of many students’ experience on campus, independent student productions are theatrical groups that put on performances that are entirely student-selected, student-organized and student-run. This year we’ve spotlighted the work being done by USC students as they continue to make inspiring art and deliver incredible performances. 

From L to R: Hugo Armstrong, Sabina Zúñiga Varela, Lovensky Jean-Baptiste, Jeanne Sakata, and Lisa Reneé Pitts in “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” at Center Theatre Group / Mark Taper Forum March 8 through April 9, 2023.<br />
Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

The Trojan Connection to Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

A new production of Anna Deveare Smith’s landmark play reveals convergences between Los Angeles history and USC.

Headshots of Kyra Obaid, Arjun Bedi and Phong Doozy.

Student Spotlight: SDA Comedy Performance Minors

We caught up with three Comedy Performance minors to better understand how they use SDA classes to follow their dreams and round out their education.