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Emmy Rossum ’04 Returns to Spence Imparting Wisdom and Advice

Famed actress and Spence alumna Emmy Rossum ’04 encouraged Upper School students to “swim your own race” and “put yourselves out there,” during a visit back to the Red Doors.

In a morning that began with guest speaking in a small Grade 10 theater class, Emmy shared her experience at and beyond Spence while answering questions and participating in acting exercises focusing on intonation and improvisation. In an intimate discussion, Emmy shared memories as well as lessons, adding that “everything you learn here is super helpful no matter what.”

Later that day, a larger group of Upper School students and faculty gathered in the Drawing Room to meet Emmy and hear more: “I owe so much of my life to Spence,” Emmy announced to the audience. Emmy’s Lower School music teacher noticed her perfect intonation when singing and recommended auditioning for The Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus to her mother. “This teacher changed the rest of my life,” Emmy added. She also said she lived in her imagination and even as a child expressed empathy and emotion: “The school encourages individuality and imagination.”

Emmy answered questions about training, prepping for scenes, her favorite productions so far (“Shameless”) and how she chooses her next roles, reiterating the importance of “divorcing yourself from what other people think of you,” especially in such a competitive world.

“I go where fate takes me and for some reason it works,” Emmy said. “I don’t fight it and I keep looking for what excites me.” Emmy takes opportunities that she responds to and “trusts her instincts,” while also ensuring she continues to prove her versatility. This season, she will be directing an episode of “Shameless.”

Emmy also discussed the sisterhood she found at Spence, noting the friends she made in Kindergarten are still her closest friends today. “They are forever loyal and challenge me,” Emmy added.

In other recommendations, Emmy told students they will hear “no” more than they will hear “yes.” However, she shared that she does not “take no as no, but I take it as probably not but maybe.” Emmy said she always tries to “open closed doors” which will “bring you closer to the opportunity that will change your life.” For Emmy, “Shameless” did just that.

Emmy also expressed the significance of teachers who “are amazing and scary, are there to empower and inspire you, and make you great and impart knowledge.” Emmy has “an arsenal of teachers who are my weaponry,” she said, adding, “Learning doesn’t end when you leave school.”
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