Spencer Christensen Acts, Teaches, Influences
Where is UMKC taking you?
It took me to New York City. In your third year of the theatre program, they take students to New York to perform a showcase to perform for acting agents.
Why did you choose UMKC?
Because there was a unified audition for people who want to go for an MFA in acting. Thousands of students audition. It’s very competitive. I met the head of the acting department there and an assistant professor at callbacks, and I knew from talking to them that I should be here.
“Be honest. Be authentic. Be unapologetically you.
I think most advice is trouble because people generally react negatively to it. You can only grow and change when you decide to do so for yourself. I know that I want to keep growing and getting better. If I can help people, I will. If I learn something, I teach. But the best kind of advice I get – is the advice that makes me the most angry and confused — that’s when you know you have something.“
What are your lifelong goals?
I want to be a working actor. I started teaching when I was 24 and have always had a natural inclination towards teaching. I’d really like to land in some combination of acting, teaching and directing.
What motto do you live by?
Be honest. Be authentic. Be unapologetically you.
What got you interested in performance?
I started acting in high school. I didn’t have a lot of interactions with people back then. My twin sister and I auditioned for a show. I tried out for Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t plan on getting involved, but then I got cast in the show. It was the first time people took an interest in me besides in Calculus class. Then they found out that I could sing and so I was cast in Little Shop of Horrors. I also had a great mentor. In college, I was focused on communications studies, but I still acted while at the University of Kentucky.
Do you still get performance anxiety?
Anxiety is fear about the future. Depression is worry about the past. An actor must stay in the present.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?
I think most advice is trouble because people generally react negatively to it. You can only grow and change when you decide to do so for yourself. I know that I want to keep growing and getting better. If I can help people, I will. If I learn something, I teach. But the best kind of advice I get – is the advice that makes me the most angry and confused — that’s when you know you have something.
Who do you admire most at UMKC?
I admire community groups on campus. Students who band together to build community and reach out and engage with the environment around them — and not the phone in their hand.
Are you a first generation college student?
I am not. But I have spent the most time in college of anyone in my family with earning two masters degrees. I love campus life. I love the library. I love the fitness center. I love the modern campus and the opportunities that the environment provides. I love learning and honestly, I might get a Ph.D.
What’s your greatest fear?
Oh wow. (pause) Not making a difference.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My imagination runs wild with a question like this. … I hope to be in a community of dedicated professionals who strive to work hard every day to make a difference.
What is one word that best describes you?
Mentor. I think at heart, I want to be seen as one. I want to learn something and then pass it on to those desperate to learn it. I want to influence and teach.