Corrie Hayes
Graduate Student, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
Corrie Hayes

Born for the stage

Corrie graduated from Northwestern with majors in theatre and business administration–marketing, as well as a minor in arts administration. After working as a content writer and marketing strategist in Omaha, she moved to Seattle in 2021, where she had a yearlong touring acting contract with Taproot Theatre and also served as its development operations coordinator. Now she continues to do that job remotely while pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting at Northern Illinois University.

Why did you choose Northwestern and decide to major in theatre?
I visited Northwestern’s campus and theatre department my junior year of high school and fell in love with the professors and the way they connected art with faith. I saw, in practice, what it was like to do this art form for and “to the King.” I was impressed by the work they produced and even more touched by the people creating the art.

What are the advantages of also having a business degree?
Majoring in both theatre and business–marketing at Northwestern gave me the best of both worlds. Through all of the opportunities I had in the theatre department, I was affirmed in my love and gift for acting. With the guidance of my professors and their ability to support and point out my talent and skills, I was able to figure out what I was truly passionate about and wanted to do. And it is because of my business degree and education that I was able to pivot when COVID hit and closed theatres. Both my theatre and business majors have served me well in my professional work.

How did Northwestern support your gifts and passion for theatre?
While at NWC, I performed in seven different productions and had opportunities to direct, design costumes, and serve as a stage manager. I attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival three times and was a semi-finalist for the Irene Ryan Acting Competition twice. After my sophomore year, I had an internship at Omaha Performing Arts, and my junior year, I went to London to study classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. I also participated in two Spring Service Partnerships—one to Amsterdam and one to Ireland—and was part of the college’s Drama Ministries Ensemble that toured in Ethiopia my senior year.

In what ways did Northwestern prepare you for your career?
The friends I made, the adventures I had, the personal development I experienced—all of those things prepared me for life after college. It was the many skills I learned in Northwestern’s theatre department that made me an attractive MFA candidate. I received callbacks from 26 different schools and was accepted into 11 different programs. That’s because of the training I received at NWC but also because of the other ways I grew from Northwestern’s impact on my life.

What is next after grad school?
In the last semester of my MFA, my cohort will have a showcase in Chicago in front of different agencies and agents. I’m hoping that launches me into an acting career in Chicago. Eventually I would like to teach acting at the college level. I also could see myself moving up to an artistic director role at a theatre company. This MFA is not only training me to be a better actor, but it’s preparing me to re-enter the professional world. I’m open to whatever that brings me.