College of Arts and Communication

Grace Rusch '20

Grace Rusch

Grace Rusch graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Technology and Design with an emphasis in Costumes, but originally wanted to be onstage as a performance major. She now is working as a Wig Assistant on Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway.

How did you get involved in the world of live theatre?
“I got involved in the world of live theater in sixth grade when I played a bunny in a production of Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood.”

What made you want to pursue this field?
“The Costume Shop Manager at UW-Whitewater, Tracey Lyons, offered me a job in the shop at the end of my freshman year while I was still pursuing a degree in performance. After a semester I had made the decision to change my major to Costume Design, and then later fell into the world of Hair and wigs.”

What was your favorite part about going to UW-Whitewater?
“Having the opportunity to work in the costume shop and at the professional venue on campus, Young Auditorium, as part of the technical staff.”

How did your UW-Whitewater experience prepare you for your career or transform your life?
“Tracey Lyons deserves major credit for not only preparing me for my career post Whitewater, but also for transforming my life. Tracey consistently goes above and beyond as a professor to prepare her students for a post college career and lifestyle. My sophomore year she offered a hair styling independent study for a few of us who were interested, and that truly kick started the beginning of my career in hair.”

You moved out to NYC after college, tell us more about that experience.
“Moving out to NYC after college during a pandemic was definitely an experience, but honestly a surprisingly good time to head out to the city. The city was much less crowded…and they had some great deals on rent. I spent my first year in the city working towards my cosmetology license at Arrojo Cosmetology school. I moved at a time where theater was sadly still shut down, but it gave me an opportunity to continue learning, and to settle into the city and figure out life before starting my career in theater. Moving to New York after spending four years in a small college town is a big adjustment and it definitely takes time to fully settle and be comfortable in such a different environment.”

Who do you draw inspiration from?
“I can’t say that I draw inspiration from any one person specifically. For me inspiration comes from seeing shows, following hair social media pages, Pinterest, my educators, and even my coworkers.“

What are your hobbies outside of theatre?
“This is always a hard question to answer, because my hobbies are often personal sewing projects, or practicing different cuts and styles on a practice mannequin head because I simply just like what I do, and I do it in my free time too! If I’m getting completely out of theater though, I love to read, and spend as much time outside as possible.”

What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
“I guess I would say that my current show , Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway, is my proudest accomplishment to date, but in reality, it’s the bigger picture that I’m prouder of. I moved to New York immediately after graduating with one big picture goal, which was ‘move, license in cosmetology, get a job in theater’ I did all that, and I’m really proud of it.”

You made it to Broadway – did you ever think you’d be where you’re at?
“Yes! But I definitely didn’t think I’d be here this soon, and I am incredibly grateful to be where I am right now. I had a few other gigs before I made it to Broadway, freelance stitching, wardrobe supervising, hairstyling, things like that. I assumed I’d be doing that for at least few more years, with the hope of eventually getting to Broadway, but the opportunity came sooner.”

Where do you see your career going in the next few years?
“I honestly don’t expect the next few years to be too different from right now, I really like my job, and its exactly where I had hoped to be a few years from now, it just happened a few years early! I hope that I can spend the next few years expanding my knowledge in wig construction so I can add it to my list of skills and expand my future job opportunities.”

What would be your ideal job?
“Right now, this is it. I am currently a Wig Assistant, which involves Styling and maintaining wigs, and running a wig track during the run of the show.”

What advice would you give your former self?
“I would tell myself to stop stressing out so much about what’s coming next, if you’re prepared, confident and doing everything you should be doing its going to be fine.”

What advice would you give your future self?
“I’d tell my future self to remember what I told my former self, because it’s hard advice to follow sometimes! I also like to constantly remind myself that though I’m done in school, I will never be done learning. I constantly learn new tricks and techniques in my job. I don’t know everything, and someone will always have something new to teach me, and its okay that I don’t know it all.”

What advice would you give to a potential UW-Whitewater student?
“Don’t close any doors for yourself, especially as a new student! I did not start at UW-Whitewater as a Technical Theatre Major, I didn’t even know it existed until I got there. Changing your major to something you didn’t know anything about until you got to college is completely okay, you’re going to college to learn, they’ll teach it to you.”

Learn more about the Theatre and Dance Programs