By Olan Field
Drew Hutchinson is a junior in the Gaylord College of Journalism. She changed her major during her freshman year from drama after having received a scholarship from the college. Never planning to become a journalist prior, she changed major on a gut decision based on her fascination to recreate people and to tell stories.
Drew’s fascination grew from the tensions that grew from the 2016 election cycle. Her interests in political science nearly pushed her into a path of law. She is pursuing a journalism career where she covers Washington DC.
Olan Field: What did you want to be when you were younger, did it change often?
Drew Hutchinson: Like me as a child?
DH: Yeah. Well, I always loved acting and musicals. I did everything like that in school. I thought I wanted to be on Broadway and stuff, but no one told me that I was not the best singer out there. So yeah, most of my dreams are for what I wanted to do as a kid mostly revolved around the stage and art and writing. But I did go through like a through a big lawyer phase at one point too. So yeah, you can say for the most part I was definitely like an art motivated child.
OF: In junior high or was it high schools the first time you got involved in your school’s theater program?
DH: Elementary School. I did a bunch of stuff with the little productions and then when I was probably 10 or 11, maybe 12 by then I went to New Mexico and got cast in this traveling children’s theatre company and did a show with them where I played wizard number 3. That was my breakout role!
OF: Did you ever do any plays or musicals outside of your school?
DH: I did not act a lot in my local theater. I was always usually too busy doing stuff at school. We will say I kept it mostly within my school. I definitely did workshops and stuff over the summer. But as far as acting goes, I kept it usually in my high school.
OF: When beginning to looking at colleges and future careers coming out of high school. What was your originally thought process and plan?
DH: I always I knew how much I liked acting and I thought I was, you know getting good at it, but I did not think it was really a sustainable career. So, I never really entertain the idea of actually pursuing it. And so I just told my family I wanted to be a lawyer because that is just kind of because my whole family had always told me growing up that would make a good lawyer. I just kind of ran with that and said well, I will be a lawyer then and my dream was to go to the University of Tulsa and study international business and then go straight to law school and be a lawyer.
OF: Did you have anybody in your life who was a lawyer, close family member or mentor?
DH: No, that is the thing. My papa went to law school for like a week and then he did not like it and he dropped out. So no one in my family was a lawyer, but it seemed like a lot of people in my family had wanted to be lawyers and just never went for it. Maybe those regrets are were projected onto me a little.
OF: Your plan was to apply to Tulsa, did you end up going to Tulsa and pursue that goal?
DH: I applied to Tulsa and I got in and I got the scholarship and I was thrilled. It is still a private school. So, it was very expensive even after the scholarship. I would have had to take out loans had I gone there for sure. Shortly after applying, one of my really good friends from high school who was in the OU drama program visited back from his first semester and just was raving about this program there and saying how amazing it was and how the professors were state-of-the-art and my friend Kate and I were like, well, we have to audition and so we did. It was a very last-minute decision for me.
I gave a solid performance and I wrote Director Orr a letter after performing and thanked him for the opportunity. A week later, I got an acceptance letter and I was one of the 24 people who auditioned and made it. They told us that they only had three spots for women left and my friend Kate got wait-listed and that was a contentious time.
OF: How did you deal with that?
DH: Yeah, I felt very guilty for that. I knew deep down she wanted it far more than I did and it always seems to work out that way. I think in life is there is one person who wants something so bad and then it seems like another person gets it who does not really want it. Told her I was like, “I am so sorry. I did not mean to infringe on this.” I myself was not super sure about it, but I felt like I had to at least try and give (OU Drama) a shot. Two weeks before classes started I got a phone call from Kate and she is screaming and I say, “what’s up,” and she goes “I got in. I emailed every single day asking if a spot opened up yet and the director emailed me back and said ‘you have done everything right.’”
OF: Are you two still friends today?
DH: Yeah, we are we are very close.
OF: When did you begin to question your choice to pursue drama?
DH: Um, well just not being sure about it to begin with and having hesitations about it. That was that was a big thing. When we when my freshman class got in there, it just seems like professors kept echoing the same the same piece of advice and that was, “if you are not 100% sure you want to do this switch your major because it is such a hard thing to undertake.”
I had a lot of personal stuff going on in my life freshman year. I was dating somebody, and we were doing a long-distance relationship. That was very stressful, and I think the relationship definitely turned toxic and it weighed very heavily on me and took up a lot of space in my brain and drained a lot of my energy. Then the classes just kicked my butt. They were hard as it was. You know it, three days a week. You got a classic 8:00 a.m. You know, compared to others that experience now does not seem that bad.
But for freshman year that was a lot. There was a voice and movement class and it was pretty draining to be honest. Part of the class just involved doing stuff like meditation, yoga and then focusing exercises. Like looking people in the eye for 20 minutes straight and weird stuff like that. And then we went straight to her acting classes which were also draining. You know, the course load surprisingly was very heavy and I think that is something people do not know about.
Being in drama school, it is not just you going in there and reading lines off a paper and people tell you how pretty you look. You go in there and you better have read your scripts and you better have marked it up and analyzed it and you better know the Stanislavski technique.
But the turning point for me was probably when my friend outside of the school, who had mutual friends inside of the school, came to me and said you are getting a bad reputation in the school drama. I asked, “why?”. Then she said, “They just say your head is not in the game. You are focused on this boyfriend.” The discussion was over dinner and I said, “well, I am going to leave then.”
OF: Was there anything you liked about drama?
DH: Yeah, there were a lot of things I liked about it. I do not regret my time there. Although, I wish I would have known myself and trusted my instincts a little more but there is a lot of stuff I liked about it. I liked to act I mean obviously I went in there because I like to act. I like being able to do nothing but just focus on acting. I liked my makeup class, even though the professor of that class made remarks about my appearance that were mean. But, I still liked it and I still liked learning how to make my face look like different characters and stuff like that. I liked how closely knit it was and how you know, there are only 20 other people in my class.
OF: What was your first reaction of what else could you do? I have changed my major before and it is like looking off into a canyon, it is scary to face.
DH: It was very scary. The scary part to me was not exactly ‘what will I do,’ it was how am I going to tell my professors that I am quitting because drama is not like other Majors. You cannot just switch, and no one asked questions you. You know? You are in it, you have molded yourself into this school. If you want to leave, you need to let your professors know and I had a scholarship.
I went into her office Judith Pender and I said, “I am leaving.”
She said okay, “what do you want to do now?”
I said, “I have no idea.”
She said, “well think about what drew you to acting in the first place and see if you can find something that satisfies those needs. Why do you love acting?”
My first instinct was, “well I just love the adrenaline of rushing the stage,” but the more I thought about it. That was not really the truth of it, and I figured out why I liked acting. I love to tell stories and I loved to make people understand something that they did not understand before watching me portray something. I like to study characters and I like to I like to try to portray them truthfully.
I told her that and she said, “okay. Well, there is psychology, there is journalism.” Not of these really bonded with me at the moment. But obviously, I am a journalism student now and I completely switched my major on a whim as I was scrolling through OU’s website and just came across the Gaylord College of Journalism and I clicked on it.
I had just gone through a breakup. I had broken up with that with that boyfriend maybe a week before this. I am seeing the college and seeing the page of Gaylord College of Journalism, and for some reason it made me feel really happy. So I was like, “well this has got to be some kind of sign and I am exhausted but I do not want to drop out of school because I am afraid I will never go back.” I yelled into my mom in the kitchen and I said, “Mom I am switching my major to journalism.” She said, “sounds good.”
OF: You mentioned when you were in high school, before even applying to OU, that you thought about becoming a lawyer. Why did you not pursue something like political science?
DH: I did not know anything about degrees that were good for law school. I did not know that political science was usually the fast track to law school or I might have declared that instead because at this point I was still pre-law. That is the first answer.
Second, was something good about acting school. It made me less inhibited and less stuffy because I used to be very, I do not want to stay prudish, but I used to be like very much a control freak. In some ways I still am, but acting school loosened me up and taught me how to like laugh at more things and not take things so seriously. I definitely opened my mind. I no longer had the desire to do something ‘stuffy’. So, I wanted to do something exciting and something different and fun that involved that involves expression and storytelling and adventure.