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College of the Desert Opens the Door to the Roles of a Lifetime for Theater Alumna

From hometown stage to movie theaters worldwide, actress Alison Lohman found her career spotlight at College of the Desert.

Actress Alison Lohman got her start as a performer in musical theater productions with College of the Desert (COD).

Alison never dreamed that these early performances would open the door to starring roles in Hollywood feature films alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger and Nicholas Cage. But that’s exactly what happened for this Palm Springs native who found her future on the stage with COD.

Thanks to College theatre arts faculty members Michelle Gaines, Darlene Romano and Lynda Shaeps, Alison shares that she was able to gain experience and confidence in a nurturing and supportive environment conducive to learning both career and life lessons.

“These incredible COD women changed my life,” she explains.

Armed with her local experience, Alison moved to Los Angeles immediately following graduation and started auditioning. She was successful getting work in commercials right away and soon landed an independent film. Her first starring role in a major feature film came in the 2002 dramatic movie White Oleander where she won critical acclaim, including Oscar buzz. Since then, she’s been working steadily, including starring alongside Ewan McGregor in Big Fish and leading roles in Matchstick Men, Flicka and many more.

“So much of the professional success I’ve experienced I owe to the great start, strong foundation, real-world experience and support I found at the College,” Alison stresses. “There is no substitute for having people believe in you.”

Alison, her director husband and family currently divide their time between New York and Los Angeles. She says right now she’s enjoying focusing on the best role she’s ever had – being mom to her 3-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter.

“I am so grateful to College of the Desert for providing me the opportunity to pursue a career and create a life that was well beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks, COD.”

Everywhere you look in our community, COD and the Foundation have helped change lives for the better through higher education. You’ll find many ways you can change lives and our community for the better here on our site and in our Guide to Giving section. Or, call us at the Foundation, 760-773-2561.