Patricia Clarkson, an award-winning actress and Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’82, has recently established a fund for the university’s rising senior theater students. Recipients are nominated and chosen by theatre professors, with financial necessity and merit being considered in awarding an amount based on the recipient’s needs.
According to May Adrales, director of the Fordham theatrical program, the scholarship has been in the works since May 2023, as Clarkson wanted to give back to her alma mater. Although the particular conditions have not yet been set, theatre students and staff are enthused about the possibility of receiving this honor. Adrales expressed her delight at seeing this chance for pupils materialize.
“Patricia Clarkson is an exemplar of Fordham Theatre education, a consummate actor who radiates with curiosity, vibrancy and pursues her craft with high-voltage energy and determination,” Adrales said.
Adrales expressed her appreciation for the support of a scholarship donor as well as a distinguished alumni. Clarkson, she explained, would outline how the scholarship will be allocated and granted.
“This scholarship will be awarded to a rising senior student who possesses the same fervor and determination in the pursuit of acting as well as demonstrated promise and potential,” she said.
The grant is intended for Fordham theatre students in their final year who, like Clarkson, demonstrate tenacity and a growing desire to pursue a career in theatre. Clarkson is appreciative for the theatre department and the ways it enriched her experience beyond graduation, thanks to the direction and support of her mentors during her time at Fordham.
Clarkson told Fordham News that she might have used “just a little bit of help, a little bit of extra,” such as the chance she has now created for future theatre students.
The scholarship is intended to assist students who are ready to enter the sector after completing their undergraduate studies.
“I feel as if there is a really strong community between the current students, and I’ve seen examples of students receiving job opportunities from many already in the industry.”Zac Zwart, FCLC ’24
Riley Halpern, FCLC ’25 and a student on the performance track in the theatre program, said they look forward to hearing more details about the scholarship.
“It is a scary industry to be entering post-graduation because of the competition and limited opportunity, but having financial security like this is good,” Halpern said. “I most appreciate the generosity of our alumni network.”
Ryann Murphy, FCLC ’25, a theatre student with a double major in performance and playwriting, expressed excitement about the award and sees it as a useful boost to her obsession with college funding and overall financial security.
“My initial thoughts on Patricia Clarkson’s scholarship was that it is great because theatre is not always the most lucrative career path and college in itself can be quite expensive,” she said.
Because financial aid and security differ depending on a student’s situation, obtaining the Patricia Clarkson award may alleviate recipients’ concerns about repaying their debts and loans after graduation.
“It is a scary industry to be entering post-graduation because of the competition and limited opportunity, but having financial security like this is good.”Riley Halpern, FCLC ’25
“I think when students don’t have to worry about the student financial aid office or cost of school, obviously, they do better and there is less to worry about,” Murphy said.
Fordham theatre students expressed their appreciation for the opportunities provided by alumni as well as the connections made between prior graduates and present students. This perspective was shared by Zac Zwart, FCLC ’24, a Fordham theatre student, who believes alumni ties are critical to the success of many students’ education and professional pathways.
“I feel as if there is a really strong community between the current students, and I’ve seen examples of students receiving job opportunities from many already in the industry,” Zwart said.
“This scholarship will be awarded to a rising senior student who possesses the same fervor and determination in the pursuit of acting as well as demonstrated promise and potential.”May Adrales, director of the Fordham theatre program
Clarkson earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the Yale School of Drama after graduating from Fordham in 1982.
Clarkson went on to win two Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2006 for her HBO drama series role as Sarah O’Connor in “Six Feet Under,” and she won a third in 2022 for her performance on British comedy “State of the Union” as Ellen.
Clarkson was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance in “Pieces of April,” in which she played Joy Burns. She received the latter in 2019 for her role as Adora Crellin in HBO’s miniseries “Sharp Objects.”
Clarkson earned a 2015 Tony nomination for her Broadway performance in “The Elephant Man.”
She has also starred in popular films such as “The Green Mile” (1999) as Melinda Moores, “Shutter Island” (2010) as Rachel Solando, “Easy A” (2010) as Rosemary Pendergast, “Friends with Benefits” (2010) as Lorna, and “The Maze Runner” (2014) as Doctor Ava Paige.
Students noted that seeing Fordham alum succeed in the arts and entertainment industry makes them hopeful.
“I think it is great that Fordham alumni are helping current theater students make it in the industry and I hope it continues,” Halpern said.