Success Story

What’s Next for Rising Star, Harvard Graduate and COM Alumna Heather Gordon?

Alumna Heather Gordon once brightened the College of Marin (COM) theater stage as a gifted young student and now is a hard working actress with extensive professional experience in stage, film, television and print media. She recently played a starring role in the award winning film Seducing Charlie Barker, based on Theresa Rebeck’s play, The Scene. Seducing Charlie Barker opened last year in December and won more than 20 awards in the independent film festival circuit. Gordon, 27, received three awards for best actor.

Beginning with her second grade performance in a Christmas play, Gordon fell in love with acting early on. She continued performing in school plays and community theater productions in Marin. After graduating from San Marin High School in 2002 she enrolled immediately in summer session at COM. Under the careful tutelage of COM’s highly regarded drama instructors, including James Dunn, William Allen Taylor and Carla Zilbersmith among others, Gordon was given the support and the challenges that would help her hone her skills as an accomplished actress.

COM Drama Instructor Carla Zilbersmith, who passed away in 2010 from Lou Gehrig’s disease, played an especially important role in Gordon’s life. “Carla was a great mentor. She took me aside and told me ‘you have to go to New York!’ I was young and she made me believe in myself…she made me believe that I actually could do it, that I could become a professional actor,” said Gordon.

Gordon was a standout in class and on stage. She was the proud recipient of the COM Foundation Robin Williams Acting Scholarship and received several Best Actor awards at COM from 2002-2006 for her performances in various theatrical roles. Like many COM students, Gordon worked full time while taking classes towards completing general education requirements for transfer to a university. Luckily, she found an acting job with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater Program performing in the show Secrets.

When asked why she would recommend COM to prospective students she replied: “I don’t think that you could get the same high quality education in theater anywhere else at such a reasonable price.”

In 2008, Heather was crowned Miss Marin County and placed in the Top 8 at the Miss California competition with the Miss America Organization, where she earned The Scholastic Achievement Scholarship Award that would help fund her college education. After earning enough credits at COM to transfer, Gordon applied to several prestigious universities including Yale, Columbia and Harvard. She was accepted into many of the best programs in the country. One program in particular caught her interest.

In 2006, Ivy league recruiters were in San Francisco looking for talented students to audition for entry into Harvard’s prestigious American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theatre School (A.R.T./MXAT) Institute for Advanced Theater Training Program, a two-year, five-semester graduate training program that includes a three-month residency at the Moscow Art Theater School in Russia. Entry to the program is extremely competitive and only a handful of students are accepted each year. Gordon had her doubts, but her experience at COM and the support of her instructors gave her the confidence that she needed to try.