Nate Gross joined the Wesleyan faculty in August 2017 after serving at Andrew College in Georgia. A teacher, actor and director, he is also a triathlete. His wife, Molly, is an assistant professor of English.
Please tell us about your education.
“I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. It’s an acting conservatory where they do a system of cuts. We started off with 170 in our class the first year and there were only 10 of us left after three years. Luck was definitely part of it, and some of the most successful actors from the Academy were cut, but I had a wonderful experience there. Much hard work, joy and pain. Then I got a bachelor’s in history from California State University at Northridge before heading to the University of Arizona for my master of fine arts. At the U of A, we taught classes and understudied for professional theatre in addition to our classes. There was no time for anything but theatre, although I did find time to meet my wife there . . .”
Tell us about your career.
“So, I teach, act, and direct. I used to do it in California with a theatre company I founded with my wife and some friends, as well as high school and college theatre, and some television and Equity waiver theatre. Equity waiver is a system that allows professional actors who are union members to work in smaller venues. Then my wife and I moved to Georgia, where I ran the theatre department at Andrew College for four years before moving to Owensboro.”
Why did you choose Wesleyan?
“I feel tremendously fortunate to have been able to choose Wesleyan. Theatre faculty positions are tremendously competitive, and I was thrilled to have some good options a year ago. However, it became very clear for several reasons that Wesleyan was the right choice. The theatre program was the smallest of the places I was considering, but with the most potential for growth, which was very attractive to me. My wife and I also really loved the town, and we felt very wanted by the search committee, the dean, and the president. It’s nice to be wanted. After all of that, the factor that really made it a no-brainer was that my wife, Molly Gross, was able to land a full-time faculty position in English. I often say that she’s the best teacher I know, and after a year I think many people realize I was not exaggerating.”
Tell us about your first year at Wesleyan?
“This year I was learning the ropes and establishing my vision for the program. I think we made a lot of progress. I started meeting with the theatre faculty from Brescia and OCTC on a regular basis, and we decided to produce some shows together, at least one per year. This happened in the spring with ‘Grease’ at the RiverPark Center, which was a tremendous success. We had students from all three schools playing key roles, and we sold every seat before opening. We call our joint effort the Owensboro Theatre Alliance, and we have some big ideas for the future. We will still produce our own smaller shows in the fall, but especially for the larger musicals, we can accomplish so much more together.”
Tell us about your family.
“Molly and I have two kids, Anne (9) and Seth (7). We enjoy going on adventures together. We’re about to leave for a big road trip to the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Ocean and Montana. One of the many rewards of teaching is having some time for the family in the summer.”
“I am really into triathlons lately. I recently completed a Half Ironman and have signed up for the Louisville Ironman this October. I really enjoy the training and just completed my longest training bike ride this past weekend – 104 miles.”
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday?
“Exploring Kentucky with my family. We want to do everything.”