PULLMAN, Wash. — Cristofer L. Davenport, a 2002 graduate of the theatre program at Washington State University, is packing his bags for the Big Apple and big dreams after winning acceptance to the prestigious master’s program at Actors Studio Drama School in New York City.
According to Davenport, he made the decision to attend graduate school at the urging of his adviser and mentor, WSU faculty member George Caldwell. Caldwell suggested he select five graduate programs. All his choices were in New York. Davenport arranged the interviews and auditions over a four-week period and took the most inexpensive room he could find. During the month, the actor said he lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, took a job as an usher at a theatre, auditioned for a part, fell in love with New York and became convinced he was where God intended him to be. Still, the audition at Actors Studio almost did not happen.
A monologue from “Raisin in the Sun” is what Davenport prepared for auditions, but Actors Studio required a two-person scene. He was ready to skip the audition but his brother and a friend would not allow it. “They talked me in to doing a scene with my brother’s friend who had never acted in anything before,” he said. Davenport auditioned and interviewed the same day, and a month later, received an acceptance letter.
Davenport is a unique success story in many ways. Despite an older brother and sister who received master’s degrees and pushed him towards higher education, he calls himself a “reluctant scholar.” He enrolled in ROTC while in high school in Denver and enlisted in the Army for four years after graduating 1984. After a stint in the military, he worked customer service jobs for financial institutions until he came to a crossroads in 1999. At 32, Davenport decided it was time to follow his dream to become an actor and enrolled in the theatre program at WSU.
As a non-traditional first-year student, he was determined to make up for lost time, taking summer classes to finish a bachelor’s degree in less than four years. While at WSU, Davenport received three nominations for the Kennedy Center-American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Award.
According to school materials, the master’s program at Actors Studio is unique, in part, because of the school’s craft seminars. They provide students access to the studio’s members and colleagues who share craft secrets with students. The seminars, called Inside the Actors Studio, are televised in North America and several other continents.