Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Alum Talks About Being a ‘Successful Working Actor’ in Hollywood

Behzad Dabu

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alumnus Behzad Dabu ’08, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s Acting Program, is profiled in a Los Angeles Times article headlined “What Does It Mean to Be a Successful Working Actor? Probably Not What You Think,” published May 24, 2023. In a sidebar feature, Dabu recounts his experiences as an actor in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Behzad Dabu

“For Behzad Dabu, success as an actor came when he was able to give up his day job,” the article reports, quoting Dabu as saying: “When I was able to support myself fully and solely on acting, it was massive. It was life-changing.”

Dabu, who now lives in Los Angeles, came to Chicago from his hometown of Syracuse, New York, to study at Columbia College Chicago. He began his career as stage actor in Chicago with some of the city’s top theatre companies, including TimeLine Theatre, whose 2009 production of the British drama The History Boys, in which Dabu was featured, won a Joseph Jefferson Award – Chicago’s top theatre award – for ensemble acting. In 2012, while still based in Chicago – where he cobbled together a living by doing TV commercials while also working as a recruitment counselor in Columbia College’s admissions office – he was featured in the American Theatre Company’s world premiere of Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Disgraced. The show was directed by one of Dabu’s instructors at Columbia College, and when she began staging other productions of the play at regional theatres around the U.S., Dabu was included in the cast. The show’s L.A. run caught the attention of TV industry folks, and – as previously reported in this blog – Dabu ended up with a recurring role on ABC TV’s How to Get Away with Murder. Now he’s a regular on The Chi, the Showtime series created by Dabu’s fellow Columbia College alum Lena Waithe ’06, a graduate of the college’s Cinema and Television Arts program.

“When you can pay for your insurance, your travel, your rent, your food and whatever other expenses you have — even a vacation or two — with just acting income, that’s a huge win,” Dabu says. To read the full article, click here.