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Western Alumna Lands Big Laughs

Comedian, Betsy Sodaro

The Greatest Preparation Possible

Sometimes it’s the unexpected path that leads to great success. For comedian, writer and performer Betsy Sodaro, that path led her to Western Colorado University. Here she found the fuel to go further in the entertainment industry than she ever imagined through the close bonds she formed with mentors and friends. In the Rocky Mountains, far away from New York or Los Angeles, she said she gained the greatest preparation possible for her chosen career: acceptance and confidence.

Since graduating in 2006, Sodaro has gone on to appear in television shows such as “Superstore” and “Animal Practice”. She’s appeared in well-known movies, and is an animated voice in both movies and TV. Additionally, she writes and produces her own projects, and continues in her love of improv and standup comedy.

“I feel fortunate that I’m doing what I love,” Sodaro said. “Western helped me solidify everything that I was feeling about my path.”

Making People Laugh

Sodaro, who is from Breckenridge in Summit County, Colo., always knew she wanted to make people laugh. Following her high school graduation, she headed east hoping her chosen college would help her make it to the big stage. But after a year, she felt like her school was no longer a fit. She headed back to Colorado where she learned about Western.

Sodaro enrolled in Communication and Theater, and soon met Communication Arts Professor Paul Edwards. He was not only a mentor to her, but also a friend.

“Her sense of humor really made her stand out,” said Edwards. “Not just in making jokes—she has a way of combining a serious look at the world with a humor that is unexpected. That’s why she has thrived in improv.”

Finding Trust, Validation, and Confidence

Through Edward’s coaching and the friendships she made along the way, Sodaro said she found the trust, validation and confidence she needed to pursue a career fraught with rejection and disappointment.

“Paul immediately understood who I was and what I wanted, and we immediately discovered, ‘OK, you’re my professor, but you’re also my friend and we get each other. You get my sense

of humor, and you embrace me for it,” Sodaro said. “Sometimes teachers don’t like doing that.”Alumna, Betsy Sodaro

She said that support led her to her current success.

“I kept thinking, “Yup, I do like this and I think I’m pretty good at it,’” Sodaro continued. “It gave me confidence on stage and off stage.”

Exploring the Entertainment Field

Within two years of graduation, Sodaro found herself in L.A. working side jobs at Target and Sony. Steady employment allowed her to explore the entertainment field in one of the toughest markets in the country. She found a place in the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, an improvisational theatre and training company whose members include actress Amy Poehler. Soon she found herself cast in the NBC series “Animal Practice” as a dog groomer. Since then she’s been on Comedy Central, featured in several movies, is writing her third series pilot and is a voice in Fox’s animated series, “Duncanville.”

And in an industry that “fires you for doing your job,” better known as series cancellation, Sodaro has remained buoyant.

“Luck is such a big part of it,” she said. “Yes, talent. But luck and timing. It’s the littlest things in a silly industry. Fortunately, live comedy is where I can express that creative part and get validation.”

Endurance and Friendship

Sodaro said it takes endurance to last and a lot of friends—similar to the support system she had at Western through friends like Heather Hughes, who recently launched the Gunnison Valley Theatre Festival with her husband Steven Cole Hughes. Sodaro has learned to not take things personally, and she still is elated when she gets a big laugh.

“It’s a high that you keep chasing,” she said.

The best advice Sodaro has for her Western family, especially those just getting started in their academic careers? “Chase the dream and learn to chill.”

 

View Betsy Sodaro’s contributions to the film and television industry.

Learn more about Western’s Theatre program and the Western Theatre Company.

 

 

Author Credit: Chris Rourke

Photo Credit: Courtesy

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