Q&A with Peyton Dilweg ’18, Actress & Model
In this interview with the Duke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network (DEMAN), Peyton Dilweg ’18 shares how her undergraduate experiences helped her launch her acting and modeling careers. “My post-Duke takeaways entailed learning to take bold risks and going hard after something—even, and especially, at the risk of failure,” she says.
Major: Psychology / Minor: Theater Studies
What are 2-3 ways your Duke experience helped prepare you for your current career role and/or previous roles?
I really grew as an actor in my theater studies classes, where I learned several different methods of approaching a scene and developing a character. I was allowed (nay—encouraged!) to take risks, and I especially appreciated those professors who did not dole out praise casually, but instead pushed me to achieve a sharper, bolder performance. Additionally, my psychology degree gave me several tools by which to help understand the human psyche better—which, of course, translated well into molding and exploring whatever character I was studying.
How did you make the transition from Duke to your career? What are a few helpful takeaways from your first years out of Duke?
Luckily, I already had a film under my belt that I had auditioned for during my Duke in New York summer. I was in our cozy little NYU student apartments and my roommate helped me film a tape that I sent in to casting. Viola… I got the role and spent 1.5 months shooting in Hawaii that fall. Nuts.
I also signed with a modeling agency during Duke in New York, which I continued to work with after moving to LA (I signed with their LA branch). Duke was accommodating in my career pursuits while I also balanced school. I appreciated my professors allowing me the freedom and flexibility to plants the seeds of my career while also participating fully in the programs that gave me these opportunities in the first place.
My post-Duke takeaways entailed learning to take bold risks and going hard after something—even, and especially, at the risk of failure. I’m continuing to learn to do this, but a certain level of “grit and moxie” (as my dad says) is definitely necessary post-grad.
How did you decide what you wanted to do after Duke? And how did you make transition(s) to different fields?
Acting and modeling felt like the natural progression after being afforded the opportunities Duke helped spawn. I was so passionate about these creative ventures that I didn’t think twice about it. I knew I was going to move to LA, so I did.
What is your favorite thing about working in your profession? Most challenging?
I love waking up and not knowing how my day could pan out. I like the potential of doing what I love on a huge scale if something happens to resonate with consumers and decision-makers—but just as easily comes the potential for failure and stagnancy. The most challenging element for me is finding ways to continually push myself and stay laser-focused on what I hope to achieve and the art I wish to make.
What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would offer to a student interested in your field(s)?
- Craft your own creative work. Make it unique to you (play on your strengths and/or passions) and see if you can build it up into something greater.
- Be personable and connect genuinely with those in your field. Keep them updated on your life and check in with them as well.
- Take a sales course or otherwise invest in building the skill of persuasion and communication. Getting people to care is a huge part of success. Often times, people hire those they know and like above those who are the best for the job.