Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

In the Spotlight: Molly Collier ’13

Molly Collier photo

Molly Collier ’13 is a thriving actor in New York City. “I actually chose Lycoming in the hopes that the liberal arts education would get me more interested in something other than acting, but no such luck!” The support of her parents, professors, and classmates continued to ignite the passion she had for the theatre. The path hasn’t been easy, but Molly has found her footing along the way to an exciting and rewarding career.

1. It has been a wild and amazing ride for you since graduating from Lycoming College in 2013. Tell us about where you started professionally after walking through the Metzler Gate on graduation day and where you are now. 

The day that I graduated, I got my acceptance to T. Schreiber Studio’s Acting Conservatory in New York City. I went home, did a summer stock production of Les Miserables in New Jersey, then immediately moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan and began studying acting that fall. To be honest, it was really difficult at first. I worked in Times Square handing out coupons in the bitter cold. I worked at the Statue of Liberty taking tickets for hours in the summer heat. I was a caterer at an event where I had to wear an animal mask I could barely see out of and try to serve people. So many more of these jobs, just to be able to live in New York…and pay my acting school tuition…and have days to simply audition!

On my days off, I interned at LAByrinth Theater Company in the West Village, mainly trying to absorb everything I witnessed. I got to sit around tables working on new plays with the most incredible artists. It’s a bit of a blur now, but in the midst of all that learning, I found my footing. I was sitting at a nannying job when I found out I booked my first real paid gig. In hindsight, it wasn’t much money, but I cried for an hour. I was so thrilled!

After that, I began to create my own work. I made a web series called What Am I Doing Here? with my friends about all the side jobs we had endured. We made three episodes and got into a few festivals. I began getting cast in the type of roles I loved playing, both on stage and on screen. I won a few awards for it too, which was a cherry on top of getting to actually work on projects I loved. My passion was always new plays. My biggest dream was to originate a role Off-Broadway. I loved doing table reads because I was absolutely addicted to watching the playwright or screenwriter’s process. That passion led me to eventually become a member of LAByrinth Theater Company and get cast in a new Off-Broadway play called Halfway B*tches Go Straight to Heaven by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. My dream came true! But honestly, I felt like I had come out of the Metzler Gate running and didn’t stop to turn around and look at my progress until the pandemic hit and forced me to!

2. What led you to the decision to become serious about pursuing a career in acting?

I grew up in a town in New Jersey that really supported the arts. The foundation of my love and respect for acting started there, but I owe a lot of my decision to pursue it to Lycoming College. I actually chose Lycoming in the hopes that the liberal arts education would get me more interested in something other than acting, but no such luck! I got to work on a lot of great plays during my time there. Many thanks to my great acting professor, Grechen Wingerter. I'm so grateful for all of her guidance. She has since left Lycoming, but we still keep in touch and have even worked together a couple times since!

I also had classmates with similar interests. We made our own theatre troupe dedicated to reading new plays. We’d take trips to the city to see shows. It became truly my only option career-wise. I was so obsessed with consuming new plays. Plus, my parents never stopped me and said, “why don’t you become a doctor?” or anything like that. I was taught that if I wanted this to be my career, I’d have to work really hard. But to get to act every day? Working hard felt like the easiest thing in the world.

3. How did you navigate your acting career through on screen and on stage, and which did you enjoy more?

That’s a tough question! You could ask me that on any given day and I’d have a different answer. Theatre is my first love, but film is a lot of fun, too. Though they fall under the umbrella of “acting,” they are very different experiences.

Any sort of navigation came from my interests in whatever the project was. I was drawn to productions at certain theatres, so I’d start meeting people who worked on the shows there. I saw a breakdown for a character I liked, so I’d reach out to casting. It really depends! Voiceover was a whole other world as well. I did a voiceover project for Netflix that came to me through a playwright I had done a reading for. There was no way to know that connection could have happened before I agreed to do the reading.

4. As a young adult in this profession, what would you suggest to others who are pursuing something similar?

Say YES to every opportunity thrown your way. A big role. A small role. An usher position so you can see shows for free. A stage directions reader. A reader for auditions (That may be my best tip of all. You get to see that auditions are not as scary as they seem!). Respect and serve each word given to you. Most importantly though, trust your gut. Your instincts are part of what makes you unique. And your authenticity is what makes you a good artist. There are many paths to success, and none look the same. Honor that and know your worth.

5. You have recently become more engaged with Lycoming College. As a young grad, what inspires you most to continue to stay connected with your alma mater?

I know that a career in the arts can seem daunting. I remember feeling like I was looking at a mountain with no idea where to start climbing. If I can help someone who is in the shoes I was in 8+ years ago, I want to.

Learn more about Molly Collier ’13 at https://www.mollycollier.com/.


In the Spotlight recognizes members of our alumni community who are doing great things that have been influenced by their time at Lycoming College. Alumni Spotlight submissions are used at the discretion of the College and may be included in the monthly eNews as space and time permit. To participate, submit an Alumni Spotlight questionnaire.