Grayson Stamps graduated from Richland High School this summer, but he will be continuing his education in Hollywood this fall.
He's been accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy's College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, one of the country's most prestigious acting schools.
His dream, he said, is to one day make his living as an actor in L.A., New York City, London or at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival.
"I'm very happy staying in L.A., but one day I hope to be on a big stage in one of those cities acting professionally," Stamps said. "Acting has been my life since I was young. I can't see myself in any other profession."
The late Richard Burton's father, Philip Burton, founded the AMDA in 1964 in Manhattan, which produced talents such as Tyne Daly, Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli and Paul Sorvino.
More recent alumni from the L.A. and New York campuses include Jason Derlo, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Caissie Levy, Gretchen Mol, Meredith Patterson, Christopher Sieber and Natalie Zea.
Stamps' commitment to get the best training in his chosen field will be a costly one. Tuition to the four-year academy runs about $44,000 a year. Stamps earned a $16,940 scholarship towards his freshman year. He leaves for L.A. in October.
Acceptance into the academy required an audition. Stamps, the son of Rick and Julie Stamps of Richland, presented a two-minute monologue.
"They have strict rules on what your monologues can be," Stamps said. "For example, they don't want you to swear or have inappropriate subject matter."
He's fortunate to have been accepted, because the academy only accepts about 400 new students a year from around the world, he said, especially because few are freshman.
The demands and the commitment are huge, Stamps added.
"They expect you to be there at all times," Stamps said. "If you're even a minute late to class, you can't go to that class that day because you'll be an interruption. They expect maturity from all students."
The scholarship will renew each year as long as he maintains a 3.0 grade-point average.
"Which should be easy, since I'm going be doing what I love," he said with a laugh.
There's also the possibility the scholarship will increase each year if he excels. And he plans to attend the all-year program, which means he could earn his degree in about two and half years.
Stamps credits his training in drama at Richland and with the Academy of Children's Theatre for instilling a passion for acting he didn't know he had. It's a far cry from his childhood plans for medical school in anesthesiology.
"I told my parents about three years ago I was willing to go hungry for a while to follow my dream in a career that is very difficult to break into," he said. "I knew I wouldn't be happy in anesthesiology."
The possibilities of becoming an accomplished actor are what moves him, he said. He is excited to explore the possibilities created through the L.A. school, which motivate him to get up each morning and provide him peace of mind to fall asleep at night, he said.
"Acting is what I want and feel like I need to do," Stamps said.