With nearly 3 million alumni, SUNY educates some of the most talented individuals in the world. From conducting scientific research to crafting literary masterpieces, SUNY alumni work every day to move society forward and better the quality of life for all New Yorkers and those beyond our borders.
Entertainment reaches us in many mediums, but the television and movie industries are major contributors. Unsurprisingly, our publicly-educated graduates are all over the small and silver screens! From acting programs to production programs, SUNY schools offer a variety of performing arts opportunities. To highlight the extensive impact that SUNY has in this sector, here are 8 actors and actresses to look for next time you head to the movie theater or look up to the television at the gym!
1. Stanley Tucci is an alumnus of SUNY Purchase College’s prestigious Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film where he majored in acting and graduated in 1982. He has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Lovely Bones (2009), and won an Emmy Award for his performance in Winchell. You can see him in the upcoming Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie in which he reprises his role as Caesar Flickerman and the recently-released The Fifth Estate in which he plays James Boswell.
2. Rochelle Aytes is also an alumna of SUNY Purchase, Aytes majored in and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Dance from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory for Dance in 1998. After appearing in past movies such as White Chicks and Madea’s Family Reunion, she is currently starring on the ABC television series Mistresses where she plays April Malloy. She also plays Perri “Pebbles” Reid for the VH1 ‘made for TV’ movie Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story.
3. Mary McDonnell is a graduate of SUNY Fredonia. She received Academy Award nominations for her roles as Stands With A Fist in Dances with Wolves and May-Alice Culhane in Passion Fish. McDonnell is well-known for her performances as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica, the First Lady in Independence Day, and a starring role in Donnie Darko as the title character’s mother. McDonnell is currently starring in Major Crimes as Captain Sharon Raydor.
4. Ving Rhames studied drama at SUNY Purchase, where fellow acting student Stanley Tucci gave him his nickname “Ving”. He is best known for his work in Pulp Fiction, Baby Boy, and the Mission: Impossible film series.
5. John Turturro majored in theatre arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz where his cousin, Aida Turturro, an actress, also attended. He has appeared in more films directed by Spike Lee than any other actor. They first worked together in Do the Right Thing and has since appeared in nine of Lee’s films. He will appear in the film Gods Behaving Badly, with fellow SUNY alumnus Edie Falco, as Hades.
6. Edie Falco attended the acting program at SUNY Purchase with fellow actors Stanley Tucci and Ving Rhames. She is best known for her roles as Diane Whittlesey in the HBO series Oz, as Carmela Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos, and as the titular character of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. Besides her role as Jackie Peyton in Nurse Jackie, Falco can be seen in the upcoming movie Gods Behaving Badly as Artemis.
7. William Fichtner graduated from Farmingdale State College in 1976 with an associate degree in criminal justice and later attended SUNY Brockport to earn a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice. Fichtner credits his Farmingdale State College admissions counselor, Don Harvey, with his decision to study acting. He has appeared in a number of notable film and TV series, including as Butch Cavendish in The Lone Ranger, as Alexander Mahone in Prison Break and William Sharp in Armageddon. He plays Carl Hickman in the NBC television series Crossing Lines. He played John Carlyle in Elysium and you will see him in this summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where he plays The Shredder.
8. Melissa Leo is an Academy Award-winning actress, most notably for her role in The Fighter. Another SUNY Purchase attendee, she has starred in critically acclaimed films such as Frozen River and Mildred Pierce. This year, she has appeared in Olympus Has Fallen as Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan and in Oblivion as Sally. You can catch her in the upcoming animated film Dwegons and in the film The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.
Shaniese Alston was a student assistant in the Office of New Media of the State University of New York for the fall 2013 academic semester while a student at the University at Albany.