Memorable professors: Nick Petron and Jacques Burdick
Advice for current students: “Have a rich and full life outside of acting. It will inform and bring more to your work.”
If you have watched hit television shows like Mad Men, Castle, NCIS: Los Angeles, House M.D., Community, or The West Wing, there is a good chance you have seen alumna and actress Pamela Shaddock ’84 at work.
Shaddock got her start at Adelphi, transferring to the University from Emerson College in Boston her sophomore year. Looking for a B.F.A. program in New York, she was deciding between Adelphi and New York University. “As soon as I came to Adelphi, I knew I wanted the campus experience the University had to offer,” she said.
At Adelphi, she flourished, performing in plays including Getting Out and musicals like Ain’t Misbehavin’. A classmate of Jonathan Larson ’82, Shaddock recalled several Adelphi professors who had a tremendous impact on her, in particular, Nick Petron and Jacques Burdick. “Jacques Burdick made me fall in love with the classics,” she said. “Nick Petron was a working actor at that time. He brought real-life knowledge to the classroom and took students into the city. He was fun.”
Her first job after graduating was with Allan Albert Productions, performing in live shows for Hersheypark and other theme parks. This experience provided her with the unique opportunity to travel to China as part of a creative cultural exchange program, performing and singing classic rock-n-roll and country western songs to a highly receptive audience. “They truly treated us like rock stars,” she said. “It’s where I got my first taste of feeling like a celebrity…it was fun but very surreal.”
Over the course of the decade she spent working as an actress in New York, she attended workshops and panel discussions to continue to educate herself. One highlight of her New York performance career was a role she played in an inner city musical adaptation of The Jungle Book! at Theatreworks on 42nd Street.
The understudy for the only two female cast members, Shaddock learned two days before opening night that one of the actors quit the production. “Because I hadn’t had time on stage or personal rehearsal time with the director or cast, they wanted to do a run through,” she recalled.
Everyone was completely surprised with the full on performance she gave. “What nobody knew was that I had stayed in the wings and marked every move as the actors learned them. While everyone else took lunch, I stayed behind and used the empty stage to run both roles. I stayed up late nights at home learning and perfecting the music and my characters,” she said. “It was an amazing opportunity. My experience at Adelphi prepared me to be ready to step in at any moment.” It was also where she received her Actors Equity card. “The experience, all around, was an incredibly exciting and thrilling one,” she said.
Just months later, she moved to Los Angeles, and said she brought her “New York and Adelphi work ethic” with her. When she first arrived in Los Angeles, she was cast by David E. Kelley for an episode of ABC’s “The Practice.” She also co-starred with Joanna Kerns (best known for her role as Maggie Seaver on Growing Pains) in an ABC Movie of the Week.
Over the course of her time in LA, she has also acted in lead and supporting roles on award-winning stages such as South Coast Repertory, Pasadena’s Boston Court and the Rubicon theatres and has acted in national commercials for insurance companies such as Allstate and United Healthcare, as well as Comcast and McDonalds commercials to name a few.
In film and on television, she has worked alongside actors like John Cusack, Jennifer Connelly, Glenn Close, Sally Fields, Ben Kingsley, and Terry O’Quinn. Most recently, in October 2014, she appeared next to Viola Davis in Shonda Rhimes’ newest hit television show, How To Get Away With Murder.
“I am still mostly at the co-star level, but I’m trusted to work with the best in the business,” she said. Shaddock, who hopes to one day put her Adelphi degree and years of experience and “on the job” training into a series regular role on a TV drama, describes her career thus far as nothing short of stellar.
Working among talented actors in the competitive Hollywood arena, Shaddock has a perspective that differs from many in this business. “To me, acting is all about creating with people…not competing with them. It’s about being supportive, not cutthroat,” she said.
“Just do you—your best you. In the end it’s not about being better than someone else, it’s about being your most compassionate and creative self.”
Published in May 2015