Spotlight: Thespian Thoughts



Headshot of Dobies. Credit: Bradford Lum

BY: Kiana Norman ’17

Tyler Dobies, 21, is a graduating senior at  Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. In his early life, Dobies moved around quite a few times, so asking him where he’s from is a complicated question. “I’m from a lot of different places. I’ve moved around every three years or so. . .I Identify with Colorado.” Dobies settled down in Washington to pursue his Bachelor’s degree. He is majoring in Theatre with a concentration in Acting/Directing, and also is pursuing a Music minor.

Dobies is very personable, and seems to get along with everyone. His mane of silky, dark brown hair falls down his back, and is usually pulled into a neat ponytail. When he speaks of his passions, his brown eyes sparkle with excitement as he is more than willing to tell his story. His speaking voice has the essence of melted butter, so it’s very easy to listen to what he has to say.

Originally, Dobies’s plan was not to major in Theatre, “In high school, I was really interested in being a Music major. I wanted to sing, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to sing, but I was leaning towards Opera.” His high school choral teacher was a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, and being the influence she was for him in high school, he decided to follow in her footsteps. The story for many other high school graduates is that upon entering college, they take a few different courses in the subject they intend to major in, but change their minds for a plethora of different reasons. Dobies’s experience was no different, “I got here, and music was just not what I wanted it to be. It’s tricky, because the music program is very good, but for whatever reason it just wasn’t the right fit.”

Dobies is heavily involved with the music program at PLU, though. He is a member of the Choir of the West, who in 2015 received 6th place in a global ranking of Mixed Collegiate Choirs, Interkultur.


Dobies as The Wolf in Into The Woods. Credit: John Froschauer

Why Theatre, though? Shirley Ochoa-Dobies, Tyler’s mother, wasn’t too thrilled in the beginning about him majoring in Theatre, “I am a Filipino mom and traditionally Filipinos like their kids to be in medical or engineering fields. Tyler is a very brilliant young man. . .although he did well in his classes, it wasn’t in his heart.” Ochoa-Dobies doesn’t deny that he has talent, though. In high school, she says, he was involved in a  performance that she videotaped, and would often show it to her coworkers. “He’s very good in musical theatre, and I am very proud of him.” So what actually influenced Dobies to major in Theatre? A trip to the United Kingdom was the beginning of his thespian journey. “I studied away in Oxford, England. . .it was an incredible experience. I went to see Wicked in London, and I feel like it changed my life. I realize how stereotypical that is for an actor to say, but it’s true.” Dobies says that a few detours brought him back to what he originally wanted to be, which was an actor. “Someway, I want to find myself doing some kind of performance because I really think Theatre is about communication.”

This brings up the golden question that all graduating seniors all loathe. This question causes most graduating seniors to cringe in pain, and sometimes even spontaneously combust. That question is…what do you want to do when you graduate? Dobies has a semi-solid answer to that, referring back to his theatre roots, “I really want to do something with Theatre, [but] I’m not sure what.” It is audition season for theatre companies around the Tacoma area, so Dobies has been looking out for those opportunities as of recent. “I will probably need to get a day job,” Dobies says, “part of me wants to be a barista and call it good, because I think you get to make meaning for whatever you do.” Hannah Middlebrook, an admissions counselor at PLU and another strong influence in Dobies’s life, thinks that his transition will be an easy one, though. Middlebrook met Dobies as a senior in high school, and she knew he wouldn’t have any problems with the switch from high school to college. She says that he took every opportunity that was given to him, and he “took the campus by storm. . .[so] his humility, sense of humor, and ability to say yes to adventure, that will take him far in the next chapter.”

sidebarNow, for anyone who has been involved in the arts from an early age (music, dance,
theatre, writing, etc.), the term back-up plan has probably been engraved into their brains by the time they get to college. Anyone who is not involved in the arts has probably heard this term as well, but it takes on a completely different meaning when it comes to the arts. In terms of the arts, a back-up plan is something that you will do because X didn’t work out, or X just wasn’t paying the bills, or X just hasn’t happened yet. Dobies’s mom feels passionately about Dobies having something to fall back on, “They don’t call it struggling actor [or starving artist] for nothing.” What does Tyler think? “I take it with a grain of salt. . .any kind of arts is the most lucrative job, because the system of theatre and art is based on who you know, and who knows you.” Creating a theatrical resumé just takes time. It takes doing different shows around (and not so around) the community and networking, as with any other job. A job in the arts department has a much harder time, though. “The important thing is just to be persistent, sometimes people drop out after a few years . . . generally it takes about 10 years.” Dobies doesn’t have an issue with perseverance, according to his mother, “I have never seen him fail at anything. He’s a natural.”

So what is Dobies’s back-up plan? “The back-up plan long term [would be] academia. I would really like to teach.”

When Dobies isn’t in a practice room in the Mary Baker Russell music building, or rehearsing lines in the Karen Hille Phillips center on PLU’s campus, you might find him buried in a computer somewhere catching up on current events. “I’m a news junkie, I think getting to know what’s going on in the world is important.” Dobies is also into stand-up comedy, saying that some of his favorite comedians are Chelsea Handler and Nikki Glaser. Dobies really likes women comedians, as they tell their stories in different ways than male comedians do. “They can get away with a little bit more than men.”

So what does Dobies think you should know about him? “I really like One Direction, that’s super important.” Dobies, with all other One Direction fans, is still wincing from recent news of their hiatus. Hiatus in quotation marks, if you ask him. “It’s heartbreaking that they are pretty much over…maybe in five or 10 years [they’ll come back] if they can pull it back together.” On the other hand, what does Tyler’s mom think you should know about him? “Did you know? He was the valedictorian at his high school, and he gave an awesome speech. . .[also] he has a black belt in TaeKwonDo that he received at 10-years-old.” There are many more unknown things about Dobies, and his mother could brag forever about him, saying it’s “one of my favorite things to do.” Mom’s are our biggest cheerleaders.

Ideally, five years from now Dobies wants to be acting somewhere, but he says it’s a hard question, “I just don’t know the future.”

“I could honestly see Tyler doing anything and being successful,” Middlebrook says, “He’s definitely an entertainer, so somewhere on stage or in the public eye would not surprise me.” Ochoa-Dobies agrees, saying that he will definitely be in a theatre performing.

Dobies has many more ideas of what he’d like to be doing or where he wants to be in life, including “no debt, a nice living situation. . .realistically five years from now could include that day job.” Dobies, as with other aspiring thespians, knows that it won’t be an easy task to get himself out into the theatre world after he graduates. He isn’t so worried about the process, though. “I’m not here for the fame, I’m here to act.” Dobies has quite a positive look on life, and being grounded in who he is as an actor, and a person, will definitely help him achieve his goals.

Categories: Other

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