Alumnus, ‘Big Bang Theory’ star named highest-paid actor
From walking Butler Plaza to starring in “The Big Bang Theory,” Jim Parsons, the highest-paid actor in television, has come a long way.
Parsons, a UH alumnus and native Houstonian, has been named the highest-paid TV actor in 2017 by Forbes magazine for the third consecutive year. The actor, who plays genius physicist Sheldon Cooper on the CBS sitcom, earned an estimated $27.5 million this year after earning $25 million in 2016 and $29 million in 2015.
Parsons graduated from the UH’s School of Theatre and Dance in 1996. He credited the University and the city of Houston for his start in acting in an interview with the UH Alumni Association.
“I was very big into school. The University of Houston was huge for me,” Parsons said in an interview with the UH Alumni Association. “While I was at U of H, we had such good facilities. No learning like the doing, and I got a chance to do.”
Though never working with Parsons directly, Director of the UH School of Theatre and Dance Robert Shimko spoke about how the department feels having such a notable alum attain such success.
“I can say that we in the UH School of Theatre and Dance are of course very proud of his accomplishments — not only in television but also in theatre and film,” Shimko said.
Originally from Spring, Parsons got his start in acting at Klein Oak High School, crediting his role in “Noises Off” as an eye-opening experience in terms of learning to be truly honest on stage.
In an interview with Visit Houston, Parsons said receiving his education in Houston influenced him.
“Not only did I grow up (in Houston), but very specifically the career I’m participating in, acting — that’s where I got the majority of my education,” Parsons said. “I was at the University of Houston acting, and I worked with Bridegroom, which was a theatre troupe. I find that there’s no city that I’ve lived in that the overlap (among art genres) is so common.”
Though a successful actor, Parsons did not begin his collegiate career as a theater major. During his early years at UH, Parsons majored in radio and television. In his interview with the UH alumni association, Parsons credits the switch to his first elective, Acting I, and rooming with a theater major.
“The best thing that could have happened to me was I roomed with Greg Stanley, who was my best friend in high school and still is,” Parsons said to the UH Alumni Association. “What was so great was living with Greg … I watched him rehearse, I watched him warm up, I watched him go to auditions, come back from auditions, talk about what he was doing, and it was the last wake-up call I needed.”
In the interview with Visit Houston, Parsons said that since leaving Houston, he missed many things about the city, including the food, the cultural diversity, the art community and the museum district.
“This is one of the most diverse museum districts in the country. It’s a one of a kind interactive experience,” Parsons said. “You can get lost in amazing worlds, and each museum is a totally different experience in itself.”
Parsons said Houston is responsible for shaping him as a person and an actor.
“I consider myself so lucky to have grown up in Houston; it was so beneficial to me as a person in general, but very specifically as an actor,” he said. “And that had a lot to do with the amount of arts that I was surrounded by that informed me and inspired me.”