Philicia Saunders '10, alumna

Philicia Saunders ’10 is attending the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where she is completing a Master of Fine Arts degree. She was awarded a Graduate Opportunity Fellowship to attend.

While at UCLA, she has received various other awards, including the UCLA Fellowship, the Barbara Streisand and Sony Entertainment Scholarship for acting and artistic merit, and the Rebecca Schaeffer Memorial Scholarship in Acting.

During her studies, Saunders has performed in several roles in community theater and at UCLA. She also completed an internship as a pre-production intern in the film "Django Unchained," written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Jamie Fox and Leonardo Dicaprio.

"I applied fror this internship because I wanted to see how a film is produced from the beginning to the end," she says. "This opportunity provided an inside view of how a film is made, which is imperative for any actor starting in the profession."

After graduating from Princeton with a concentration in East Asian studies with an emphasis in Japanese, and a theater arts certificate, she received a scholarship to attend The British American Drama Academy to study classical Shakespeare acting in Oxford, England, in the summer of 2011. The following summer, she received a scholarship to attend The Guthrie Theater for Actors in Training in Minneapolis, where she and 11 other actors selected from around the country were given the opportunity to write and produce a play.

She is a member of UCLA's Graduate Student Association and the Elevate Group, a student-led organization that gives voice to the diverse contributions of multicultural filmmakers, theater practitioners and scholars.

Since the age of seven, Saunders has been acting on stage, eventually earning the distinction of being designated a California Arts Scholar. When it was time to plan for college, Saunders thought that attending a conservatory for theater studies would be the natural choice. A chance visit to a Princeton information session at her high school quickly changed her mind. Saunders realized that Princeton would allow her to pursue not only her love for acting, but her growing interest in studying languages as well.

Saunders pursued her passion for theater and languages in exciting ways. One highlight was spending a semester studying abroad in Kyoto, Japan. “Being in Japan was a great opportunity to live and explore a country I was studying, and to improve my language skills,” Saunders says. “And the opportunity to study with other students from other universities in the U.S. who have the same interests was amazing.”

For her senior thesis, she performed a one-person show in which she acted the roles of 24 characters. She describes this as an “actor's dream” made possible by the support of professors in the theater program. “My professors believed in me and supported my efforts to take on this most challenging role,” she says.

“My involvement with Princeton's Lewis Center for the Arts paved my way to UCLA's M.F.A. program, because like Princeton it offers an interdisciplinary acting curriculum, which is the theater of the future," she says.