We must overcome the notion that we must be regular… it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre.
Uta Hagen

About Uta Hagen

Uta Thyra Hagen was a German American actress and drama teacher. Hagen was cast, early on, as Ophelia by the actress-manager Eva Le Gallienne. From there, Hagen went on to play the leading ingenue role of Nina in a Broadway production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. It was 1938; Hagen was just 18.

Primarily noted for stage roles, Hagen won her first Tony Award in 1951 for her performance in Clifford Odets’ The Country Girl. She won again in 1963 for originating the role of the Martha in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. She taught at HB Studio in the West Village. Hagen was an influential acting teacher who taught, among others, Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver, Liza Minnelli, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Lemmon, and Al Pacino. She was a voice coach to Judy Garland.

She also wrote Respect for Acting (1973) and A Challenge for the Actor (1991). She was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981. She received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999. In 2002, she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President George W. Bush at a ceremony held at the White House.


The Working Arts Library Master Class with Uta Hagen

Select Credits

  • You Never Can Tell - Mrs. Clandon, Circle in the Square Theatre
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Martha, Nederlander Theatre

    1963 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play

  • The Country Girl - Georgie Elgin, Lyceum Theatre

    1951 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play

  • A Streetcar Named Desire - Blanche Du Bois, Ethel Barrymore Theatre

    Took over for Jessica Tandy

  • The Seagull - Nina, Shubert Theatre

    Broadway debut