Northwestern Magazine
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Alexandra Budny

The Theater of Life

Alexandra “Dannah” Budny certainly kept herself busy at Northwestern. She earned a double major, held down a part-time job, studied abroad for a year, took numerous theater and film roles and even wrote a play of her own. All of these activities, in one way or another, helped Budny achieve the goal she pursued throughout college: to learn more about the world and the essential human condition.

“One of the wonderful things you can do as an undergraduate is find new interests and follow new threads and then see where you’ve grown based on the decisions you’ve made,” says the San Franciscan Budny, a theater and international studies double major with concentrations in film and Italian. “I love the idea of doing things for a larger purpose. I don’t want to live life for a résumé.”

Budny didn’t allow the requirements of her double major to prevent her from catching a glimpse of the wider world for herself. She spent her junior year studying in an immersion program in Bologna, Italy, where she explored history and culture as well as the craft of film and acting in Italian.

That desire for learning and discovery provided the basis for much of her theater work at Northwestern. Her senior honors thesis, a one-act play titled The Human Animal, inverts the relationship between animals and humans, exploring what would happen if animals were superior and tried to analyze human nature.

Budny plans to continue her artistic training, taking intensive summer courses in film producing and directing at the University of Southern California and advanced theater studies at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She intends to work toward a graduate degree that will integrate her interests in film, theater and international studies.

Above all, she’s keeping an open mind about her future. “Life,” she says, “isn’t about just following a track.”

— Ryan Haggerty (J07)

Photo by Bill Arsenault