Dorrian Wilson ’19 Is an Emerging StarPublished Monday, April 12th, 2021
Dorrian Wilson, from Baton Rouge to Coppin State
By Beverly Richards
Urban Arts and Theater alumna Dorrian Wilson ’19 was a high school drama teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when one of her students came across a scholarship to Coppin. He auditioned and was set to start in the fall of ‘18. Two months after receiving his award, he changed his mind. “I called Dr. Hyatt and all the people I had been in contact with on his behalf to “mend the bridge” to maintain the relationship just in case another student wanted to go to Coppin in the future,” shared Dorrian. However, she decided to see if Coppin would take her instead. “I flew up to Baltimore the next week, auditioned, and walked away with a scholarship.”
Dorrian became interested in acting while in her 10th grade theatre class. “We watched Bye Bye Birdie. I was so enamored with the singing and dancing, I decided at that moment I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the arts.” Dorrian had a nearly 16-year career in theatre before deciding to finish undergrad at Coppin. The young thespian has also taught theatre intimacy classes at the Actors Studio in Baltimore. “I’m slated to appear at the Signature Theatre in May.” She is currently in graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dorrian is the first Coppin Eagle to receive a Kennedy Center Ryan Scholarship, a national acting scholarship for college students. “I was The Lady in Purple in the show For Colored Girls at Coppin. The Kennedy Center adjudicators saw me and nominated me to compete. I beat 250 people in my region to win.” Aside from the prestigious honor of having won a Kennedy Center Award, this opportunity has afforded Dorrian with connections, opportunities, and “confidence in my talent.”
But acting isn’t Dorrian’s only talent. She is also a gifted costume designer. “Admittedly,” she shared, “I got into costume design by accident. I learned how to sew from my mom when I was younger.” She applied for a production assistant position for a movie. “They looked at my resume. Saw my experience and I got the costume design job instead that day.”
When asked how she tackled the design and implementation of a costume, Dorrian replied, “I approach it by reading and re-reading the script to understand the characters. I meet with the director to understand the overall vision and the set decorators to be sure that the colors and the rooms are cohesive. Then add all those parts plus my vision together.” Dorrian has spent six years costuming and designing. Her creations have been worn by such notable stars as Lady Gaga, Elton John, Madonna, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
This ascending superstar said Coppin taught her numerous indispensable lessons. By mimicking the rigor of professional theatre, her professors primed her for the industry and success. “The most valuable lesson I learned was how to show up as myself in any room I’m in. I’m there for a reason and that my talent and perspective is valuable.”