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Meadows Alumna and Paranormal Activity Star Katie Featherston Begins Fund for Graduating SMU Theatre Students

Experienced actress aiding future graduates through use of start-up grant, mentorship

Armando Aguirre | B.A. Creative Advertising, '12

As the end of the year quickly approaches, many seniors find themselves unsure of their future plans. For many, this notion is a scary one, but can be especially unsettling for Meadows students. While other schools at SMU offer active recruiting programs that guarantee students post-graduation work, the future of arts majors is much less certain. Fortunately, Meadows theatre students can find comfort in the fact that others have been where they currently are, and want to help.

Actress Katie Featherston graduated from SMU Meadows in 2005.

Since graduating, Texas native Katie Featherston (B.F.A. ’05 – Theatre) has enjoyed success in Hollywood. Having starred in three films in the Paranormal Activity series, Featherston has made a place for herself in the film industry, and most recently appeared in the ABC drama The River. Featherston hopes to use her experience and resources to help newly graduated theatre students in their real-world endeavors through a new SMU Theatre Alumni Fund.

After moving to Los Angeles following her graduation from SMU, Featherston struggled, and could only daydream about what she would do when she had extra money. "Over time, the idea of starting a fund for recent graduates started to form," she explains. "No one tells you how expensive it is to be an actor."

Graduates also have to learn to negotiate the challenges of applying the skills they’ve been taught in school to the working world. "I contemplated how things would have been different if I had known someone whose brain I could pick," she says. "There is no set way to be successful. It is constant trial and error, and there are lots of things I know now that I wish someone had told me then."

It is for this reason that Katie has decided to put her idea for a theatre fund into place. "The fund isn't just about giving students a financial boost," she explains. "Supported by other Los Angeles-based Meadows grads, it is also an opportunity to connect alumni of all ages. This way, we can provide the newer graduates with access to all the useful information that isn't learned in a classroom."

In addition to the familial component of the fund, Featherston hopes that it will create a network of alumni who are willing to help newer generations through mentoring and future collaborations. “There are so many SMU theatre students doing wonderful things, and there is no reason why we shouldn't all be in contact and sharing our successes," she says.

The new SMU Theatre Alumni Fund plans to provide each recipient with approximately $600 to be used either for initial headshots or several months of acting classes. Based on future contributions to the fund, the number of recipients will vary from year to year. With an ever-expanding network of theatre alumni, Featherston hopes the fund will grow to include greater amounts and contributors.

The goal is for the fund’s recipients – those in the last semester of study – to be chosen by the theatre faculty and to receive their awards at the end of the school year. Those interested in contributing to the Theatre Alumni Fund may contact Ellen Schlachter in the Meadows Department of Development at eschlachte@smu.edu or 214-768-4189.

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