OSU alumna actress reflects on college career
Friday, September 8, 2023
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Lee Brasuell remembers the first time he saw Kia Dorsey working on a set backstage.
She was smiling.
The interim head of the Oklahoma State University Department of Theatre said he never forgot a student’s smile. Dorsey might have been assisting with the set, but she was studying to be an actress, something she had been planning for her entire life.
“Well, I’ve been a drama queen my whole life,” Dorsey said. “I’m kidding, but any time there were programs, Christmas shows, talent shows or anything that involved getting up on a stage and performing, I never had an issue with that. I liked being in front of people. I always wanted to lead, and I had zero stage fright.”
It might be strange for a student studying acting to be backstage. However, the theatre department requires actors and actresses to perform behind-the-scenes tasks, such as set building and calling cues, in order for them to get a feel for the entire production process.
Dorsey — who has appeared in over a dozen projects, including several Lifetime movies — credits her early success to her time at OSU.
Dorsey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre in 2016. She said this part of the theatre classes made her grateful for all of the crew on the movies she now works on. Whether performing on stage at her childhood church or moving to Los Angeles and acting in film, Dorsey said the cast and crew working together was vital.
“I feel like any time I come across a difficult actor, whether in community theatre, professional theatre, regional theatre, even in TV and film, my brain automatically goes, ‘You need to put yourself in their shoes,’” Dorsey said. “You need to be on a project where you’re the production assistant or the art designer because when you’re being this diva actor, you’re not giving grace to the other people in this world.”
Dorsey said OSU showed her to appreciate theatre's technical side and value the people in those positions.
OSU’s theatre program ended up being a home away from home for the Tulsa native. She said she loved her professors and could talk to them anytime about school and life. Brasuell, one of Dorsey’s favorite professors, said he remembers Dorsey fondly.
“I think she’s always been destined for bigger things,” Brasuell said. “She was doing photoshoots and commercials in Tulsa while she was still in school.”
Brasuell also recalled Dorsey working backstage on another show, where she was grinning from ear to ear because she got to handle a pneumatic nail gun.
Another OSU graduate, Mary Mackin, was a college friend of Dorsey’s. The two have gone to see each other's professional shows and still keep up with each other, despite Mackin living in Florida and Dorsey in California.
“Kia knew exactly what she wanted,” Mackin said. “When we first met, she said she would be in movies. I said yes, and I would do musicals and maybe teach one day. Sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re doing today.
“Kia has always stuck to what she wanted and never let anyone or anything pull her back or get in her way. She was very passionate and very driven. She also cared about the department as a whole.”
To Mackin and Dorsey, OSU has one of the best theatre programs. It has produced many actors, stagehands and more.
“We’re up to over 90 students now,” Brasuell said. “We’re starting to reach out to work with more local performance entities. We’re producing top-notch talent right here in the middle of the United States.”
Dorsey hopes to come back to Stillwater soon and see the next generation of actors and actresses also getting their start by working backstage.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to perform. I want to bring joy to people,” Dorsey said. “I think that’s one really big thing I enjoy is seeing the happiness on people’s faces.”
Story By: Mak Vandruff | email@example.com