American Academy of Dramatic Arts

Last updated
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
Academy Logo and Emblem.jpg
Type Private conservatory
FounderFranklin Haven Sargent
Endowment Approx $5 Million
President Susan Zech (born 1971) [lower-roman 1]
Academic staff
New York total: 39 [lower-alpha 1]
(31 of 39 part time)
Los Angeles total: 50 [lower-alpha 1]
(41 of 50 part-time)
Administrative staff
New York: 39 [lower-alpha 2]
Los Angeles: 39 [lower-alpha 2]
StudentsNew York: 524 [1]
Los Angeles: 303 [1]
Other students
Summer Intensives
United States
Colors Gold and Black
Affiliations NAICU, MSA
Academy at the former Colony Club building in Manhattan AADA at the Colony Club.jpg
Academy at the former Colony Club building in Manhattan

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) is a private performing arts conservatory with two locations, one in Manhattan and one in Los Angeles. The Academy offers an associate degree in occupational studies and teaches drama and related arts in the areas of theater, film, and television. Students also have the opportunity to audition for the third-year theater company. Students can usually transfer completed credits to another college or university to finish a bachelor's degree if they choose.



The oldest acting school in the English-speaking world, [2] the Academy in New York City was founded in 1884 by Franklin Haven Sargent, a graduate of Harvard University and professor of speech and elocution at his alma mater. [3] Sargent's vision was to establish a school to train actors for the stage. Its first home was the original Lyceum Theatre on what is now Park Avenue South. In 1963, the school moved to its current home, a landmark building designed by the American Renaissance architect Stanford White for the Colony Club. [lower-alpha 3]

In 1974, the Academy opened another campus in Pasadena, California, which made it the only professional actor-training school in both major centers of American entertainment. The Los Angeles campus moved from Pasadena to Hollywood in 2001 in a new building next to the site of the former studios of Charlie Chaplin.


The Academy remains dedicated to training professional actors. It offers a two-year program in which students have to be invited back for the second year. Auditions are held at the end of the second year for the third-year company. [lower-alpha 4] As well as training for the theatre, it now offers courses in film and television, providing a structured, professionally oriented program that stresses self-discovery, self-discipline and individuality. Students who graduate in New York receive an Associate of Occupational Studies degree; students who graduate in Hollywood receive a Certificate of Completion or an Associate of Arts degree in acting. Students from New York and Los Angeles can get a Bachelor of Arts degree from selected universities.

Numerous students of the Academy have gone on to careers in the entertainment industry. Alumni of The Academy have been nominated for 110 Oscars, 317 Emmy's and 94 Tony's.

Notable alumni

Among the notable people who attended the AADA are: [lower-alpha 5]























Notable faculty

Notable faculty include:

Notes and references


  1. Sue Zech (né Susan Elizabeth Zech; born 1971) is the President of the AADA. She is a native of Westlake, Ohio, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Management (1993) from the University of Dayton.


  1. 1 2 Peterson's [College Guide] (2019) (retrieved April 5, 2019)
  2. Nemy, Enid (June 11, 1985). "Oldest Acting School Fetes Its 100th Birthday". The New York Times . Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Alleman, Richard (1988), The Movie Lover's Guide to New York, New York: Harper & Row, ISBN   0060960809 p.165
  5. Ward, Matthew (2015-01-26). "Former Miss Virginia from Suffolk Dies". Suffolk News-Herald . Retrieved 2015-02-14.
  6. "Christina Fontanelli sings 'Christmas in Italy' program." Union City Reporter , November 28, 2010, Page 20
  7. Collins, Bob (2017-02-01). "Gwen Gillen was much more than the Mary Tyler Moore statue". Minnesota Public Radio . Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  8. Themal, Harry F. (née Harry Fred Themal; born 1931). "Raters Prune 'Orange' – True to Hypocritical Oath." The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware). (September 25, 1972): p. 32 (accessible via at ; subscription required).
  9. Harry Prescott Hanaford, Dixie Hines, eds., Who's who in Music and Drama (H. P. Hanaford 1914): 311.
  10. "Donnelly, Miss Dorothy Agnes," Who's Who on the Stage, Walter Lyman Browne (1856–1911) & Emanuel DeRoy Koch (1887–1975), B.W. Dodge & Co. (Benjamin Wales Dodge; 1862–1917) (1908), p. 134
  11. "Williams, Fritz (Frederick Williams)," Who's Who on the Stage, Walter Lyman Browne (1856–1911) & Frederick Arnold Austin (1874–1961), editors and publishers (1906), p. 228


Related Research Articles

George Roy Hill American film director

George Roy Hill was an American film director. He is most noted for directing such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), both starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Jason Robards American actor

Jason Nelson Robards Jr. was an American stage, film and television actor. He was a winner of a Tony Award, two Academy Awards and an Emmy Award, making him one of 24 Triple Crown of Acting winners. He was also a United States Navy decorated combat veteran of World War II.

Yale School of Drama graduate professional school of Yale University located in New Haven, Connecticut

The Yale School of Drama is a graduate professional school of Yale University located in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1924 as the Department of Drama in the School of Fine Arts, the school provides training in every discipline of the theatre: acting, design, directing, dramaturgy and dramatic criticism, playwriting, stage management, technical design and production, and theatre management.

Ben Gazzara American actor

Biagio Anthony Gazzarra, known as Ben Gazzara, was an American film, stage, and television actor and director. His best known films include Anatomy of a Murder (1959), The Bridge at Remagen (1969), Voyage of the Damned (1976), Inchon (1981), Road House (1989), The Big Lebowski (1998), Buffalo '66 (1998), Happiness (1998), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Summer of Sam (1999), Dogville (2003) and Paris, je t'aime (2006). He was a recurring collaborator with John Cassavetes, working with him on Husbands (1970), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Opening Night (1977).

Eric Russell Bentley is a British-born American theater critic, playwright, singer, editor, and translator. In 1998, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the New York Theater Hall of Fame, recognizing his many years of cabaret performances.

Onna White was a Canadian choreographer and dancer, nominated for eight Tony Awards.

Rachel Gurney English actress

Rachel Gurney was an English actress. She began her career in the theatre towards the end of World War II and then expanded into television and film in the 1950s. She remained active, mostly in television and theatre work, into the early 1990s. She was best known for playing the elegant Lady Marjorie Bellamy in the ITV period drama Upstairs, Downstairs.

Robert Douglas (actor) actor, director

Robert Douglas Finlayson, known professionally as Robert Douglas, was an English stage and film actor, a television director and producer.

Tsai Chin (actress) singer

Tsai Chin is a Chinese–English actress, singer, director, teacher and author best known in America for her role as Auntie Lindo in the film The Joy Luck Club.

Anthology series Radio or television series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode

An anthology series is a radio, television, or film series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode, season, segment or short. These usually have a different cast each episode, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.

Two American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medals are awarded each year by the academy for distinguished achievement. The two awards are taken in rotation from these categories:

Philip Handler was an American nutritionist, and biochemist. He was President of the United States National Academy of Sciences for two terms from 1969 to 1981. He was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science.

Anthony Sharp British actor (1915-1984)

Dennis Anthony John Sharp was an English actor, writer and director.

Ernest Lamont Johnson Jr. was an American actor and film director who has appeared in and directed many television shows and movies. He won two Emmy Awards.

David Hugh Jones was an English stage, television and film director.

Basavaraju Venkata Padmanabha Rao, popularly known as Padmanabham, was an Indian film, character actor, comedian, director and producer known for his works predominantly in Telugu cinema. Padmanabham is regarded as one of the finest comic actors of India, noted particularly for his comic expressions, and dialogues during the golden age of Telugu cinema. Padmanabham was essentially a theatre artist, although he also found success in cinema, and has acted in over 400 feature films. He made his film debut in 1945 with Mayalokam. He co-founded a Theatre group with his friend Vallam Narasimha Rao, Rekha and Murali Arts with S. P. Kodandapani as their music director.

Australian Institute of Music - Dramatic Arts

The Australian Institute of Music – Dramatic Arts is a drama school in Sydney. It offers a degree in acting and theatre-making as a department of the Australian Institute of Music (AIM).

Don Richardson was an American actor, director, acting teacher, as well as an author.

Sidney Gross’ was an American artist and painter. His early style was influenced by the Social realism. He also drew on the Surrealist Movement that was just beginning the year he was born. By the time he was twenty, he was painting distinctively urban surrealism, while producing critically admired portraits, something he continued to do during his lifetime.