Brian Shaw

From a profile in The Columbia Chronicle, March 30, 2015:

Columbia prides itself on faculty members who work professionally in their field in addition to teaching. Theatre professor Brian Shaw embodies that ideal with an acting career that features both stage and screen credits.

Shaw, a professor in the Theatre Department and a 1986 theatre alumnus, has been at the college for 25 years and is a prominent figure in the city’s acting community.

Having landed a role on the hit TV show “Chicago Fire,” appearing in Steppenwolf Theatre productions and starring in Chicago International Film Festival films, Shaw’s resume reflects his status as a diverse performer.

The Chronicle spoke with Shaw about balancing acting and teaching, his extensive resume and his advice for aspiring actors.

CC: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors who want to find success in the field?

BS: Prepare and then be prepared to play. Do all the work necessary and then be prepared to make adjustments immediately. You have to do the memorization, analyze the text, think about the character, think about what you’re going to wear, make decisions about what’s happening in the scene, prepare your body physically, warm up, all of that disciplinary stuff. Do all of the preparation work and then be prepared to improvise. That’s definitely true on film shoots, that’s true on TV shoots I’ve done, it’s true when I’ve walked into voice-over booths. You have to be prepared to play but to have the ability to release and enjoy yourself. You have to have done the prep work.

CC: Do you prefer performing live or on-screen acting?

BS: No, I don’t have a favorite. They’re different kinds of challenges and it’s a different experience. What I enjoy is being able to shift between different kinds of performance.

CC: Why did you decide to become a teacher in addition to acting?

BS: That’s changed over [the past] 25 years. Initially, I was curious about teaching. I’ve always enjoyed school, so I didn’t purely go into it in order to make a living. Over time, [I’ve realized] it’s a fascinating time for students. It’s really great to watch students come in at 18 years old and leave at 23, 24, 25. The changes they go through as young adults [make it] an extraordinary time [in their lives], so it’s really great to be a part of that. It’s energizing.

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
Actor Moon on a Rainbow Shawl 2006-07 Season