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Wyatt ’20 Pursuing a Career in Media Arts 

by catherine elvy, staff writer

A Columbia University senior dreams of reflecting his faith while unleashing his passion for acting, storytelling, and triggering laughter. 

In the fall, Nathaniel Wyatt ’20 plans to relocate to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. “I want to communicate the beauty of God through art,” he said. “It’s part of being salt and light.”

At Columbia, Wyatt served on the executive team for Christian Union’s ministry and as editor-in-chief for The Columbia Witness: A Journal of Christian Perspectives (columbiawitness.org). Wyatt also was active in Chowdah, Columbia’s sketch comedy troupe that performs original material from student members. 


Columbia429SmallAfter matriculating into Columbia, Wyatt, a preacher’s kid, was pleasantly surprised to discover vibrant faith and performing arts communities. While the Alabama native experienced culture shock and a case of homesickness after arriving on campus, he also encountered seasons of spiritual growth. 

In the midst of that adjustment, Lumine, Christian Union’s ministry to Columbia undergraduates, provided a “community that I could trust. I’ve loved the diversity of Christian Union,” said Wyatt. “It’s important to have a flowerbed for my spiritual life.” 

Christian Union ministry fellows helped the American Studies major to probe life’s deep questions from a biblical worldview. “I have learned a lot about the Bible,” said Wyatt. The aspiring actor traveled to Israel with a Christian Union team for a memorable tour during summer 2018. 

At Columbia, Wyatt found himself surrounded by intelligent peers, including ones who pressed him to articulate his beliefs. “At a school like Columbia, you have to allow your faith to be challenged,” he said. “You have to take ownership of your faith. My faith has grown. It’s grown because of Christian Union.”

Stan Thomas, Christian Union’s ministry director at Columbia, recalled the ways Wyatt allowed his faith to take center stage. “Nathaniel is a thoughtful, humble servant leader that puts others before his own needs,” he said. “Nathaniel has served as a steady voice providing leadership and spiritual counsel to the ministry in the midst of transition.” 

Thomas also expressed appreciation to Wyatt for his service as an assistant Bible course leader. “He invests in others,” Thomas said. “He has been a vital part of the ministry.”

Wyatt said his spiritual growth was enhanced by the opening of Christian Union’s much-anticipated ministry center near Columbia’s educational and research hub on Manhattan’s Upper Westside. The organization dedicated the multistory building at 529 W. 113th Street in October 2018.

“I was extremely happy when we got the building,” said Wyatt. “That changed everything.”

Meeting space on campus is at a premium, and properties near campus are difficult to secure given Manhattan’s hyper-competitive real estate market. “The ministry center has greatly improved social life,” said Wyatt. “It’s been great to have a place to meet and where the Spirit of God is dominant.”

Like other seniors, Wyatt also mourned the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted upon Columbia’s 2019-20 academic year. 

“I was expecting a send-off, not a funeral,” Wyatt said. “You try to see the end as a new beginning. You try to embrace and look for the fruits that might be coming, even though it all was kind of tumultuous.”

As for post-college pursuits, Wyatt is keen to launch a career based around his passion for artistic collaboration and his growing communications talents that date back to his participation in high school newscasts. “I can translate ideas really well,” said Wyatt. In the fall, he plans to commence the intimidating task of lining up auditions and gig jobs in Hollywood’s entertainment industry.

While in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, Wyatt took advantage of acting and writing opportunities, especially involving comedy, through Chowdah and other outlets. A highlight of his collegiate performing career was his participation in the Cornell Comedy Festival in October.

Wyatt’s acceptance into Chowdah provided opportunities to share his spiritual core with secular peers. “Through that club, there were a number of people I ended up talking to about faith,” he said. 

 Wyatt especially appreciates the ways laughter can relieve stress and lift spirits. Scripture readily attest to the healing and renewal power of unbridled laughter, he said. “Most aspects of life offer comedy,” said Wyatt, who enjoys connecting with audiences via standup comedy.

During his undergraduate studies, Wyatt handled video work on behalf of Christian Union Lumine and the Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging at Columbia, efforts rooted in his burgeoning interest in filmmaking. 

Though Wyatt originally entered Columbia to major in film and media studies, he switched his major to American Studies. “That’s the story of America,” he said. “I wanted a college education that would strengthen my critical thinking and writing skills.” Wyatt hopes to reflect his interest in American history and society through future film endeavors.

As part of his major, the Mobile, Alabama, native took a deep dive into the country’s long standing issues with racial and ethnic injustices. “After growing up as a white kid in the South and seeing certain realities, I want to understand and solve issues of racial inequality and understand the many experiences of American people,” he said. He hopes the background will come into play as he pursues opportunities to be involved with narrative films and documentary productions. “I want to make more sophisticated comments through film,” said Wyatt. 

Regardless of his career trajectory as he exits Columbia’s stage, Wyatt desires to use his passions for thought-provoking storytelling and comedy.  “I want to be an instrument of God in the ways that beauty and the arts are expressed,” he said.