Don Castro

Don's headshot

Education: BS in Nursing, UNC Charlotte (1998)
BA in Theatre, UNC Charlotte (2000)
MFA in Acting, University of Florida (2003)

Hometown: Born in Manila, Philippines; Grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and Tucson, Arizona

Don Castro fell in love with acting at an early age. When he was in the 6th grade, he saw a mime artist perform at his middle school and was enchanted. “Though I don't think I was interested in the sense that I wanted to do something similar or be a part of the same field,” he said, “It was witnessing magic.” 

He pursued acting and theatre through middle and high school allowing his passion for the art to grow stronger. But his original life plan was to pursue a career as a physical therapist. “My mother is an RN, so she suggested I go to nursing school as an undergraduate, then onwards to a graduate program for physical therapy. During my senior year, I was already preparing to apply for graduate school, accruing hours at a nearby physical therapy clinic, while at the same time, preparing to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.”

Don transferred to UNC Charlotte from the University of Rhode Island after his freshman year so he could be closer to family living in North Carolina at the time and to attend a school in an urban setting, which was something he wanted. “UNC Charlotte had a reputable nursing program and was located in a city, so I applied. I didn't apply to any other school in North Carolina.” 

However, during the final weeks of his final semester of his senior year, he felt that his life was unfolding without his active participation. He said, “I was doing what was being suggested based on what others thought I should be doing. Deep down, I was not happy or engaged with what my life plan was.” While taking a walk around campus, he discovered a poster for a production in, what was at the time, the Dance and Theatre Department. Seeing that production reignited his love for theatre and acting. “Coming from a traditional Filipino family, it was seen merely as a "hobby." But, it was art that I actively engaged with and thrived in. I missed that feeling. I immediately set an appointment with the faculty member (Nefertiti Burton) who directed the play to discuss...what, exactly? I had no idea. But, after our discussion, and a few days to process, I knew what I had to do.” 

He then started taking theatre courses after graduating with his nursing degree. It was here that he learned the crucial foundational elements of acting. He said, “The fundamental aspects of my work, in terms of building a framework of the projects I was embarking on, were first discovered at UNC Charlotte. For instance, learning to call a performance, whether it was a monologue or a choreographed movement, a ‘piece,’ or a ‘work,’ was first introduced to me at UNC Charlotte.” Don also spoke about his time at UNC Charlotte being special as it was where he started finding out who he was as a person and as an actor. 

Currently, Don lives in New York City with a successful acting career. His resume includes diverse roles spanning theatre, film, and television. He has worked with many theater companies in New York City and beyond, including Ensemble Studio Theatre, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Target Margin Theater, San Francisco Playhouse, and Metro Theater Company (St. Louis).

Don Castro in the CBS series Blue Bloods
Don Castro in the CBS dramatic series Blue Bloods in 2017.

Don has dedicated much of his career to developing original characters in new work, including lead roles in the world premieres of You Mean To Do Me Harm (Christopher Chen, Obie winner), Turning the Glass Around (Pia Wilson, Sundance Fellow), and The Tear Drinkers (Mike Iveson). Over the years, he has worked directly with several playwrights whose plays have been included in Steppenwolf Theatre’s Mix list, a new resource of plays curated by Steppenwolf “that assist in the collective effort to move toward a holistic, nuanced, and equitable approach to diversity in the theatre.” 

Films featuring his work have screened at festivals in cities worldwide, such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Cannes' Short Film Corner, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (Seoul, Korea), and Tribeca Film Festival (NYC). Film credits include: The Goldfinch (starring Nicole Kidman), The Wizard of Lies (starring Robert DeNiro), M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, and Bohemibot (Student Academy Award winner), written and directed by Brendan Bellomo.

Don also recently premiered a film entitled “Your Blue Heart,” which he wrote, directed, and starred in. He described this film as a "meditation on memory and the mysterious way it lives inside of us." It premiered on April 27, 2023 at Katra Film Series ("Top 100 best film festivals reviewed'' - Film Freeway, "From the bottom up, an amazing and excellent festival" - NY Times) in New York City. 

In 2019, Don received the College of Arts + Architecture Distinguished Alumni Award in Theatre. His advice for our current students? “You can learn from success and failure in equal measure!“

Learn more at his website.