Overcoming Fear and Pursuing his Dream of Acting

Jordan Twiss – Overcoming Fear and Pursuing his Dream of Acting

Minneapolis College student Jordan Twiss experienced the exhilaration of performing on stage for the first time when he was cast as the lead in the play Is He Dead? by Mark Twain. The richly entertaining show intermingles elements of burlesque, farce, and social satire.

Jordan Twiss overcame intense fear to even audition for the show, especially during a time when life was throwing him curve balls. Now, he’s the first to say the experience changed his life. Twiss will graduate from Minneapolis College, a place he now calls home, this spring with an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts. He is transferring to the prestigious University of Minnesota B.F.A. Actor Training Program, beginning in the fall of 2024.

People from around the world apply to be part of the University of Minnesota B.F.A. Actor Training Program which combines art and academia to develop the minds, bodies, voices, and spirits of student actors, setting them up for professional success. The audition-based Program starts with students exploring and performing classical texts and then applying their newfound skills to emerging dramatic forms and contemporary literature drawn from the world repertoire. 

Navy Bound

Twiss grew up in St. Paul and always had a hidden interest in theatre arts, naming he was too scared to act. After graduating from Tartan High School, he joined the Navy beginning boot camp in November of 2014 with the intention of earning money so he could obtain a college degree.

Drawing from his interest in storytelling, once in the Navy, Twiss chose the path of communications. He was one of only 24 students in his class at the Fort Mead, MD, Defense Information School to qualify for specialized broadcasting training. He found the training extremely difficult, but highly informative.

In his five years serving in the Navy, Twiss spent time on the USS Harry S. Truman, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.  There he anchored The Truman Show, a Naval news show, receiving the 2017 Russell Egnor Navy Media Award for excellence in Navy public affairs programs. He also had the opportunity to serve as a journalist and producer while in the Navy.

After serving his country for five years, Twiss returned home, finding an apartment near Loring Park, in the back yard of Minneapolis College. Using his GI Bill, Twiss enrolled at the College and pursued an Associate’s degree in Communications, which he thought made sense given his experience. Once at the College, Twiss enrolled in an “Auditioning for the Camera” class to meet his liberal arts requirements. This is when everything began to shift.

Faculty member Brian Grandison, who Twiss said taught him everything he knows about acting and cast him in his first play, retired faculty member Michael Kuhne, student colleague William Fernow, and a long list of other faculty members and castmates surrounded Twiss with encouragement, support, and confidence as he made his way to the stage. 

“Going on stage in Is He Dead? was the first time I was re-engaging in my community after serving in the Navy and following quarantine,” said Twiss, who felt worthy and appreciated in this new community. "The people I've been fortunate enough to perform alongside, are all people I would happily deploy with because of our mutual trust and respect for one another,” said Twiss. “We were always able to lean on each other no matter what obstacle came our way. It is a powerful experience.”

After the close of Is He Dead? Twiss found himself changing his major to Liberal Arts to open more opportunities to continue his education in the theatre. He didn’t believe the Program at the U of M was within reach, but they felt differently. “As I continue my journey of telling stories, I hope I can move people the way The Whale, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, and Women Talking have moved me,” said Twiss. “Those stories cultivate empathy and that’s what I hope to do.”

“God, Guns & Big Daddy”

God, Guns and Big Daddy Cast
God, Guns and Big Daddy Cast

Twiss’ next onstage adventure will be in the role of Big Daddy’s chief political officer in God, Guns & Big Daddy, an original play co-produced by the Minneapolis College and Metro State University’s theatre departments. The show will be performed on the Minneapolis College main stage and run the weekends of March 28 and April 4.  

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