Meet Jim Wallace: An actor who is always performing

By Michael Ruther

Jim Wallace says, “I am a senior, no matter how you look at it.” He holds a bachelor’s degree in business technology and is now working towards a bachelor’s in acting at Kennesaw State University. He decided to join the program after Joseph Meeks, dean of the College of the Arts, tutored Jim’s son in piano. He also took into consideration that, at the age of 62, he was allowed to enroll in a state university tuition-free, according to Georgia law.

Jim comes to the stage after a long and circuitous journey. “When I was in high school, I took math and science and did not have room in my curriculum for theatre. When I was a junior in high school, I was in a play. I was in the chorus, and I loved it. I tried to make a career in the army and then I worked for 30 years at IBM. I went to college and I did not go onto a stage again until I arrived at KSU. I did not realize until looking back that everything I did, I tried to turn into a performance.”

Jim’s dedication to his craft is innate. “The only reason to be an actor is because you can’t help yourself—you have to,” he says. “It’s not easy—it’s a difficult thing to do—but I don’t have a choice.” He was one of two actors who recently performed in a short film dealing with racial issues called “Dreams at the End of a Rope,” which is currently in post-production. The educational film is intended for college classrooms. He also studies at a continuing acting school and studio downtown.

After his first experience with college, Jim shifted his focus from “getting a degree to getting an education,” and he found the faculty at KSU to be concordant with this shift. He appreciates that the faculty are committed to their students. Jim also enjoys the group aspects of the stage—how set designers, costume designers, actors and directors all work together to create a production.

Jim was initially surprised at the level of acceptance the younger students had for him in spite of his age. He enjoys interacting with them and likes to play the role of a mentor. According to Karen Robinson, associate professor of theatre and performance studies, Jim is “an amazing student. It’s really wonderful to have a non-traditional student who is so committed to his studies. He’s here because he wants to be here with every fiber of his being. His work is so thoughtful and thorough, and he brings an incredible life experience to everything he does.”

His goal following graduation is to act locally. He is not interested in film acting because he feels that there is less at stake in film. “On stage, you can’t do a retake,” he says. He also feels that there is more of an element of active collaboration in stage acting, as well as a higher degree of social relevance. In addition to acting, Jim enjoys traveling and reading.

 

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