Alumni Spotlight: Brian Baumgartner

Theatre alum and 2024 commencement speaker Brian Baumgartner (B.F.A. '95) honed his skills as a stage actor at Meadows before taking on the film and television industry, which included his role on the hit sitcom "The Office."

Headshot of theatre alum Brian Baumgartner (B.F.A. '95).
Theatre alum Brian Baumgartner (B.F.A. '95) honed his acting skills as a stage actor before taking on the film and television industry.

Brian Baumgartner (B.F.A. ’95) is this week’s featured alum in our new Alumni Spotlight series for the This Week at Meadows e-newsletter. Each week, a different Meadows alum will be highlighted for their accomplishments post-graduation.



Meadows’ alumni often give back to their alma mater in a variety of ways, whether it be as a mentor, as a resource, or even returning as a faculty member. This week, we are thrilled to have theatre alum and actor Brian Baumgartner return to the school as the speaker for the 2024 Commencement Ceremony to bestow his wisdom upon Meadows graduates.


Baumgartner, who is well-known for his role of Kevin Malone on the popular sitcom The Office, will draw from his own educational experience at Meadows to share his personal and professional advice with the Class of 2024 before they head out into the “real” world.


“Meadows made me the person and artist I am today,” he says of his time in the Division of Theatre. “It was a place that focused on training and technique – as opposed to the end result of just ‘finding a job’ – and this took the pressure off me to try and figure things out too quickly.”


This craft-centered focus gave Baumgartner the opportunity to explore his own interests and figure things out on his own terms. It was this freedom that helped shape him into the actor he is today. And though he found widespread fame with his role on The Office, Baumgartner was first and foremost a stage actor.


Following his own graduation, he moved to Minneapolis with other Meadows’ graduates and started a theater company. He worked as a stage actor for years, first working in other local theater houses and eventually larger theater houses all around the country. It wasn’t until a casual trip to Los Angeles that his career began to evolve into the film and television industry. He realized that working in film and television provided the opportunity to impact people on a global scale, and that prospect was not something Baumgartner could give up.


“There is nothing like live performance and the thrill of taking an audience on a journey for a few hours,” he says of the rush performing on stage. “But it is equally thrilling for me to know my work is touching people around the world.”


Baumgartner started his Meadows education with stage presence and good instincts, but further learning how to use his body and voice to create characters has helped him leave his mark on both the stage and screen. In addition to the technical skills acquired during his time in the theater program, he believes the greatest gift that Meadows students have is the gift of opportunity.


“There is the opportunity to find like-minded artists, the opportunity to use stages and equipment to put on performances, the opportunity to have teachers and other students help guide you,” says Baumgartner, who encourages students to work hard and take advantage of their experience. “If you want to work, the opportunity is there.”


It is clear Meadows instilled a work ethic in Baumgartner that encouraged him to go after what he wants in his career and take advantage of every opportunity given to him. From theater and stage acting to film and television, he has continued to professionally evolve over the years. He currently hosts a podcast called “Off the Beat” where he interviews guests about their favorite jobs. Baumgartner himself has held many jobs over the course of his career, but he says his favorite job currently is the one ahead of him.


“This week, my favorite job is coming back to Dallas and talking to some graduates. I’m honored to be given this opportunity.”


Learn more about the Division of Theatre here.