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American Academy of Dramatic Arts

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American Academy of Dramatic Arts
TypePrivate drama school
FounderFranklin Haven Sargent
EndowmentApprox. $5 million
PresidentSusan Zech (born 1971)[i]
Academic staff
New York total: 39[1]
(31 of 39 part time)
Los Angeles total: 50[1]
(41 of 50 part-time)
Administrative staff
New York: 39[2]
Los Angeles: 39[2]
StudentsNew York: 524[3]
Los Angeles: 303[3]
Other students
Summer Intensives
United States
ColorsGold and Black   
AffiliationsNAICU, MSA

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) is a private drama school with two locations, one in New York City 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, which showcases upcoming talent to the school and community. 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,[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

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 Jim Henson Company Lot.


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.[7] 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 Emmys and 94 Tonys.[citation needed]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  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. ^ a b "Faculty Directory". American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 2019. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Executive Leadership & Staff Directory". American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 2019. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Peterson's [College Guide] (2019) (retrieved April 5, 2019)
  4. ^ Nemy, Enid (June 11, 1985). "Oldest Acting School Fetes Its 100th Birthday". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  5. ^ "History and Heritage | the American Academy of Dramatic Arts". Archived from the original on 2021-05-01. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  6. ^ "History and Heritage". American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  7. ^ "The Academy's Approach" Archived 2011-10-26 at the Wayback Machine on the AADA website

External links[edit]