Student Spotlight: William "Sandy" Smillie

William "Sandy" Smillie

William "Sandy" Smillie
Major: Theater

 When William "Sandy" Smillie was a boy, he saw his brother on stage at Naperville Central High School and knew that's where he wanted to be.

"He had one line in a production of 'Auntie Mame,' and I'm pretty sure it was the first play I'd ever seen," he said. "Something about it, plus maybe a little bit of older brother idolization, got me interested. I decided that when I was in school, I would audition for a show. That ended up being in sixth grade at Madison Junior High, when I got cast as Peter Pan. Everything has been all downhill since then!"

Although Smillie drifted away from acting as an adult, he decided an acting class would be the best way to "knock the rust off." So he turned to College of DuPage.

"I'd had friends go there and they said it was a great place to start. I was also on a budget and unsure if I really wanted to dive back in with both feet," he said. "COD gave me a great chance to test the waters without breaking the bank. Bryan Burke was my teacher and I had an absolute blast getting on his nerves."

Smillie also became involved with Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, the resident professional theater ensemble at College of DuPage. He was floored when he was asked to become a member.

"BTE is one of the best things that's ever happened to me," he said. "I've learned so very much from everyone in the ensemble and from all of the amazing folks we bring in to work with us. Working with and learning from the other ensemble members directly led to my voiceover career."

He currently is the radio and TV announcer voice for USAA Bank, as well as for an upcoming Cars.com campaign. The current highlight of his career is playing Hadley on the popular NBC series "Chicago Fire," a role that has allowed him to meet and work with the men and women of the Chicago Fire Department. It's an experience he said is "beyond description."

While Smillie has not earned a college degree and calls himself a "20th year freshman," he thanks College of DuPage for reigniting his passion to act.

"College of DuPage gave me the chance to see if what I wanted to do was really what I wanted to do," he said. "I also met people at COD and BTE who are directly responsible for some absolutely critical events in my career. I can genuinely say I would not be where I am to day if it weren't for my decision to go to COD."

More about the Theater program