If you were to meet Batuhan Ozturk today, you would see an articulate, poised young man who shines on stage and in person.
It was not always that way, however, for this acting major. Batuhan was 13 years old when his family moved from Adana, a city located along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, to Columbia, Missouri. Even though his mother is an American, and Batuhan had grown up with regular visits to the United States to see his grandmother and aunt, the cultural adjustment was not easy.
On the surface, America appeared to be “new and exciting,” and Batuhan, his brother and his sister were happy to move here. But once Batuhan started school in the seventh grade, he found it “tough to make the cultural transition and hard to make friends.” His new classmates were not always welcoming of him.
“The first time I went to the movies with friends was sometime in the ninth grade,” said Batuhan. “It’s not as bad as it sounds, though.” Ozturk never even thought about college before America. “When I was growing up in Turkey, I wasn’t really focused on school. It was all about being cool and having fun. Then, when I moved here, my life was school. That’s when my grades went up. That part was good.”
Batuhan got his start in acting in a fairly random way. Although his school in Turkey had a few classes in music and visual art, he didn’t take theatre until he got to the United States. “I had to pick my elective classes, so I picked theatre,” Batuhan recalled. “It really clicked for me in drama class, and then I was cast in an all-school musical, and stuck with acting after that.”
Fast-forward to Batuhan trying out for The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt. As he waited in the Auditorium Building hallway for his turn to audition, Batuhan noticed on the walls all the photographs of diverse students. He identified with them and envisioned himself among them. His audition with Assistant Professor Ray Frewen, which Batuhan described as a lot of fun, clinched it. He started as a freshman at the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) in fall 2009.
A year later, Batuhan made his debut performance on the CCPA main stage, in Execution of Justice, the courtroom drama about Dan White, the public official who murdered San Francisco mayor George Moscone and the city supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Batuhan was proud to be chosen for Execution of Justice from among all the graduate and undergraduate theatre students, noting that for a sophomore to be cast in any main stage production is an excellent opportunity.
Describing The Theatre Conservatory, Batuhan said, “I love the program. I love the faculty.” Among his favorite instructors are Sean Kelley, Joel Fink and Blake Hackler. “Every single one has such great qualifications, such hands-on work that they bring to the table. These teachers have been in the business, they’ve done the work, and they know what to teach us to get us ready for our careers.”
Batuhan loves Chicago, Roosevelt’s proximity to the theatre district, and the close connection between the professional theatre community and The Theatre Conservatory. The involvement of practicing directors and actors, including Steve Scott, director of Execution of Justice, allows students to network and get a head start on their acting careers. As Batuhan said, “There’s so much out there. I’m really excited to get out and work.”
All’s well that ends well. Batuhan has found among Roosevelt’s community of individuals the sense of belonging that eluded him when he first arrived in the United States. In turn, the theatre program at Roosevelt University is lucky to have this talented young man.
The photographer asked Batuhan if he knew any monologues. Batuhan casually said "Sure," and offered a mesmerizing performance on the spot. Thank you for this range of shots, Batuhan!
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