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  • Writer's pictureAugust Sorenson

Emmy Winner Robert Gossett ('76) on Acting, Equity, and The Academy

Updated: Mar 11

Robert Gossett ('76) | Alberto E. Rodriguez | Getty Images

If you’ve tuned into a major series in the last few decades, you’ve likely seen Robert Gossett (‘76) onscreen. With consistently impactful, truthful work, Gossett received a nomination for a Daytime Emmy in 2022, followed by a win this year. Endlessly warm and approachable, he spoke with The Actors Society over Zoom, for an exclusive interview.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

I first want to ask about your time at the Academy. Tell me a breakthrough moment and then a philosophy or technique you've kept with you.

I graduated from The Academy in ‘76. That was a really pivotal time for me in terms of my growth as an actor. The Academy was so instrumental. It was an opportunity for us as actors to live daily in a community where it’s only about acting. It’s about the stage. We had makeup, dance, and sword fighting. It was total immersion.

The Academy has had this reputation for a long time, this place where artists–where actors–are trained. That’s something we should continue to strive to do. The seats used to fill up with people from the industry, all joined together to watch what The Academy had to offer. The shows we do should rival equity houses; the talent level should be that high. 

The other good thing about it was that you were surrounded by all these other students who were into the same thing. I would come from the Bronx and go into downtown New York. It was like going into another world where I could realize my creative self and what truth means for me as an actor. We focused on how to be actors trained for the stage.

Theatre is the bread and butter. You’ve worked so much on TV and with some long-running series throughout your career. How do you keep it fresh?

If you're talking about a soap, the writers keep that fresh. And the characters… anything can happen to them. That’s the joy of doing those. I must say, I’m enjoying this run.

I wanted to ask about that. You just won a Daytime Emmy for General Hospital. Congratulations. Have you installed it on the hood of your car yet? 

[Laughs.] I have a welder who’s coming over, of course. 

You know a guy.

Naturally… It’ll look awesome. But for real, it was such an honor. Working on General Hospital…it’s a great place full of wonderful, welcoming, and nurturing people. There’s this patience on set because there’s a learning curve involved with doing soaps.

When you said long-running, I thought of The Closer. That collectively became 13 or 14 years of my time. The character I played, Commander Taylor, was somewhat set in stone in a way that characters on soaps aren’t. They’re much more flexible with how characters can expand there. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up, and my character will be a Martian [laughs]...who knows!

And the other thing about a soap is that you’ll only get one or two takes. It’s “Bam, bam, thank you, moving on.” For The Closer, we might do 22 episodes a year. General Hospital does something like 283. There’s no “let me warm up.” You have to deliver on the first take. It’s like theatre in that way; when the curtain goes up, you better be ready to go.

I wonder what draws you to this work. What about acting has kept you doing it all these years?

I enjoyed it from the moment I started as a teenager. I grew up in music. I played the clarinet and went to a performing arts high school. I was a music major…music was my entire life. I had a high school teacher who allowed me to act. Acting gave me a path; I could do something as an individual, an American, and a citizen. Somehow, I might be able to portray something so that an individual may foster some greater understanding of themselves or a situation. It filled me with a sense of purpose then and still does today.

I came up in the ‘60s and ‘70s when Black consciousness was on the rise, so to speak. Theatre was a big part of that, and the Black theatre gave me a greater sense of purpose and my truth. I came out to Los Angeles with Fences. James Earl Jones was in it. The show closed early, unfortunately. But because of it, I found Michele [Gossett, LA faculty member].

Michele had a multicultural theatre company for many years. It was called Mojo Ensemble Theatre Company, and it had actors–Latino, Asian, gay, straight, Black, and white–but it was just for the actors. Michele put on productions there for almost no money…I don’t know how she did it. These plays would attract Variety and LA Times reviewers and everyone else. It was such an intimate kind of theatre. Sometimes, drunk college kids would come in and be rowdy…they’d be cleaning up beer bottles afterward [laughs].

I knew I had to stay here [in Los Angeles] when I saw a production there. But I didn’t have an apartment, so I stayed in a hotel for a while.

Speaking of a multiracial company…where do you see the arts having an impact as it relates to racial equity?

We learn about ourselves and our community from theatre, books, and films. We live in a very diverse country. Racism is our Achilles’ heel. In stories done truthfully that give something to everybody, these cultures are all in it. I see the arts as the vanguard.

People can learn from your wisdom since you’ve had a successful career. What might you say to other actors as a piece of advice?

To condense it into a short answer: you gotta keep moving. Financial success is never guaranteed. If you love it, keep doing it. People become enamored with money and with fame, but that’s not what this is about. If you decide to take another path–that might be marketing, business, law, or even medicine–there’s nothing wrong with that. Those are great things to aspire to. We have to maintain a certain level of discipline. Before we got on this call, I was reading these pages, learning my lines, and doing the work. That’s what you do. And most importantly, take care of yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Stay open. Be clear. Embrace love as much as you can.

I was watching a few minutes of a movie, a period piece, a few days ago…I love being a part of the “tribe” of actors. And theatre is such a rewarding and beautiful art form.

It’s electric. You all go on this trip together when the curtain ends at eight o’clock. There’s something in the air.

Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to mention? And where might people find out more about you or contact you?

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter…but I have a website. I work with Ensembles Studio Theatre from time to time; I’ll be doing two plays in February. I like to go back there. The stage is my home.

It’s been wonderful chatting with you. I was grateful you took the time to chat with me, and I know our community will enjoy reading about your story. Be well.

I’ll see you, sir. Take care.

You can find out more about Mr. Gossett at


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