MFA-TVFT program | Spotlight

Breakout performer wins awards for supporting role

A member of Cal State L.A.’s MFA acting cohort, Gerth rises above her physical challenges

Comments by Nicole Gerth (CSULA MFA student):

Picture of Nicole Gerth. (photo source:

“I chose the CSULA MFA program because I’m passionate about developing my own personal projects as part of a graduate thesis. I have a comedic television show concept, entitled ‘Life Is Short,’ that I’m planning to hone and produce as my thesis. This project will showcase many actors with physical challenges in everyday normal life with some wonderful comedic and ironic characters.

“I think it is vital to today’s artists to be savvy in technology, in order to create a tangible product of the artist’s work. Today’s artists must pave their own way! CSULA MFA program is helping me to do just that.”


The MFA in Television, Film and Theatre at Cal State L.A. seeks to define and promote a new generation of artists who are capable of working across the traditional boundaries of television, film and theatre to combine innovative art practice with leading edge, technical knowledge. Students in the performance/action option will have the opportunity to perform in numerous venues prior to completing their degree. This option will include classes and workshops in performance theory, performance history, theories of acting for the stage, television and film; as well as courses designed to inform students of current industry practices and procedures.

Pictured: (l-r) David Crabtree and Nicole Gerth.
Pictured: (l-r) “Broken Dreams” director David Crabtree and supporting actress Nicole Gerth at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival in New York.

With a fortitude to develop her physical challenges into assets, CSULA graduate student Nicole Gerth is breaking barriers and winning awards for her impressive acting ability.

Despite being born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (a rare bone condition that causes small stature and brittle bones), Gerth has always been determined to pursue her dream of becoming an accomplished actress.

A Glendale News-Press article explained her mission is: “to open people’s eyes that disabled people can play any part too. I don’t think there should be a barrier.”

Gerth—a member of the acting cohort in Cal State L.A.’s Master of Fine Arts in Television, Film and Theatre program—recently garnered the “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” award at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival in New York. She was recognized for playing the character, Julie, in an independent feature film, “Broken Dreams,” directed by David Crabtree.

For her role in “Broken Dreams,” she was also honored with the 2010 “Award of Excellence for A Supporting Role” in The Accolade Film, Television, New Media and Videography Awards competition.

Addressing CSULA Communication Studies Professor Suzanne Regan, Gerth said, “I just wanted to thank you for your enthusiasm, support and interest in my activities as an actress! I am so excited about all these honors and I wanted to be sure to share them with you.”

“Broken Dreams” is described as “a character-driven, coming-of-age story about love, friendship and addiction.” This summer, the critically-acclaimed film has been making rounds with screenings at the Film Festival of Colorado, San Antonio Film Festival in Texas, and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) Foundation National Conference in Oregon.

Gerth, at 3 feet, 8 inches, has endured countless bone fractures throughout her life and she had to relearn to walk on several occasions. At Cal State L.A., she usually treks around campus, from one class to another, via wheelchair.

A Los Angeles native residing in Hollywood, Gerth graduated from CSU Northridge’s theater program and was formerly a student at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. In fall 2008, she traveled to Shanghai, China, to perform in an experimental dance theatre show called “Houdini’s Box.” Her credits include performing in such stage productions as “Murder by Natural Causes,” “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Odd Couple (female version).”

Along with her studies, Gerth is currently acting in a supporting role for another independent film, entitled “Pie Head: A Kinda’ True Story.”

Learn more about Nicole Gerth, her acting credentials, and the CSULA MFA program at the following links: