How to Write a Personal Statement

The personal statement is often the most elusive material needed for the MFA in Acting application process. For years, you have discovered how to select monologues and songs, format your resume, and even smile for the headshot. So, what exactly does this personal statement need?


Let’s start with what the personal statement is. For all schools, the personal statement is a written way to share your personhood and your artistry. It is also called the Statement of Purpose or even simply Artistic Essay. It communicates a capacity for theater at the higher level by relying on writing skill, but it also offers the chance to share yourself in your own voice.


The guidelines for the personal statement vary between schools, but over 40 of the existing MFA in Acting programs require it for admission. The requirement shows much variation in length, with some programs asking for no more than 300 words and some with no limit. On average, a 1-2 page artistic statement that can be tweaked and mildly edited for each school, much like you do application cover letters, would suffice as good preparation.


More than anything, it is crucial that your personal essay communicate exactly why you wish to attend that particular program. Just like cover letters for job applications, you may be able to approach this portion by having a base level statement that you can add to and edit in order to personalize it to each individual program and its offerings. You may consider tailoring it to the type of curriculum, location, school’s values, and more. You may also want to offer thoughtful discourse on why you are seeking an MFA at this time in your life.


This personal writing sample is intended to speak to your intentions and goals in applying for the MFA in Acting. Its open requirements allow you to offer details about your artistry, lived experience, and even personality. Here, be sure to include your personal mission statement about acting. A few questions to reflect upon:


  • Why do you choose acting as a profession?
  • What types of work excite you?
  • Where does your skillset meet your passions?
  • Why especially are you pursuing it at the graduate level?
  • What about the academic side of theater makes school the right step for you?


For instance, if you especially love Shakespearean texts because you grew up reading poetry with your English teacher grandmother and especially love the detailed task of scanning its rhythms, include it! That anecdote is both personal and relevant. If you avidly read contemporary plays and know authors or actors you resonate with, include them in an analogy to help them understand who you are. You may have come up with a pithy catchphrase like classic with a twist or know that your range lies at the intersection of Rachel McAdams and Stephanie Hsu. These are all helpful ideas to consider including in this statement.

Don’t be afraid to talk about how your lived experience and artistry interweave; after all, who we are and what we have been through are all lenses for our voice and perspective as artists. If there are passions or experiences important to your acting, include them! This can be anything from a passion for environmental science and social justice to a personal anecdote about a particular show or script that resonates with you and why.


When considering the style of language to write your personal statement, it should be professional yet personal, just like a cover letter, interview, or op-ed article. Let your personality shine through in a way that is clear and concise yet full of your personality and values. After all, you will be spending a few years with these people; you want to make sure it is just as much of a match for you as it is for them!

Feel free to write it in your own voice, painting the words with the color of your personality to offer, most importantly, another glimpse at all of who you are. After all, the most unique aspect we bring to our artistry is our own lived experience!


If you’re feeling stuck about where to begin with your personal statement, consider booking a coaching consultation with Theater.Academy today! Our Personal Statement package specifically targets this section of the MFA in Acting application. It covers determining the overall approach and major points of your personal statement, identifying and capitalizing on your strengths and areas for growth, hashing out a vocabulary that’s unique to you and your Artist’s Voice, and getting detailed feedback (up to five drafts), for every step of the writing process. Our package is good for those who have started crafting their Personal Statement, but are not content with it, those unsure on how to make themself shine, and those who aren’t sure how to find your Artist’s Voice and talk brilliantly about theater and yourself as an artist. Book your consultation today and find out more on our MFA Coaching page.

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