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UST Drama Graduate Appears in National TV Commercial

Photo: Ben WarnerIn a fiscally uncertain age, earning a degree in drama might frighten some, but Ben Warner said receiving a drama degree at the University of St. Thomas is the best thing he’s ever done for his career.

Since graduating from UST in 2004, Warner has had a varied and eclectic career. Most notably, he filmed a Bollywood movie in India and New York, he has participated in countless local theater productions and is currently appearing in a national TV commercial.

Warner said one of the most advantageous aspects of the UST drama major is the emphasis on courses outside the drama field. He said the knowledge he gained from the core classes often gives him a step up from students who attended more focused drama programs.

“Not only does St. Thomas give you drama training, but the emphasis on philosophy and theology challenges you intellectually,” said Warner. “Coming to St. Thomas strengthened my own personal beliefs which have helped me persevere in my drama profession even at the hardest times. I definitely recommend the Drama Program to others.”

Warner was preceded at UST by his parents, two aunts, two uncles and a great aunt. He said that although he was influenced by his family and his familiarity with the school, his decision to attend UST was based on the quality of the Drama Program.

“I knew I wanted to act when I got out of high school and I looked for schools with high-quality drama departments,” said Warner. “The acting here was really solid, I liked that there was a small number of students and I got real interaction with the professors and students.”

Claire McDonald, chair of the Fine Arts and Drama Department, taught Warner during his time at UST and cast him in several of the University drama productions.
“Ben was good at developing compelling characters,” McDonald said. “He has a wonderful, deep, resonating voice. He was fun-loving, energetic, one of the students who held our group together.”

McDonald concurred with Warner on the benefits of the liberal arts Drama Program offered at UST.

“A liberal arts education is an advantage to actors because everything they study forms them and helps them achieve deeper and more interesting characterizations,” said McDonald. “The small size of our Drama Program makes it strong because students are never able to hide or be on a back burner. Most students not only get the opportunity to perform, but to perform multiple times in a variety of roles.”

For students who are passionate about theater but feel compelled by the bad economy to pursue a different major, McDonald recommends taking a second look at the UST program.

“St. Thomas makes it easy to create joint majors or to add a drama minor,” said McDonald. “Our drama graduates do well because they know how to communicate, they know how to write clearly and interview well which is a tremendous advantage.”

Warner can currently be seen in the Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company production of The Notions of Right and Wrong where he is playing the role of the Referee, and in the Academy TV commercial as the salesman with the phone.

For more information about the Drama Program at UST, visit the webpage at or contact Claire McDonald at or (713)525-3522.

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