Daniel McCollum, Jr. is attending the highly-ranked University of North Carolina School of the Performing Arts where he is studying film acting in order to become a professional actor.
In high school, Daniel was a main character in the production of Our Town and played the role of King Peter in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with his local community theatre. His theatre performances began in the first grade and by the fourth grade he was participating in the local high school's annual musical. By eighth grade, Daniel was asked to be the second lead male role as the villain in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and began high school as Daddy Warbucks in Annie.
When Daniel was in the 10th grade, it was clear that his affinity for acting was growing, and he moved to a performing arts high school to further cultivate this passion. At the first open house of the year, Daniel's mom was told by the director of the program that Daniel had achieved more in the first month of attending the school than most students do in the four years they attend. Daniel's passion for acting and eagerness to learn more caught the eyes of directors and the school administration.
By the age of 16, Daniel earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was, at the time of earning this rank, was the youngest in his troop to do so. Only 8% of scouts reach the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement ranking in scouting in the Boy Scouts of America.
Daniel’s Father, United States Marine Corps Captain Daniel (Dan) McCollum, died January 9, 2002, during Operation Enduring Freedom six months before he was born. He graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and was then 1 of 2 people from the state of South Carolina chosen to go into the military for aviation. He was an Eagle Scout, a black belt in karate, and wrestled in high school and college. His wife Jenn recalls how playful he was, and says he was an all-American kid, growing up like Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, and living a life full of adventures. For Daniel, having never met the man so many tell him was a hero, he has worked to connect with his father by participating in several of his favorite activities, including scouting, wrestling, and karate.
Like so many children who have lost their parent before they have the opportunity to create memories, Daniel says that when thinking about his father’s sacrifice he is “immediately drawn to thinking about the resulting absence of his life from mine: not being able to play catch in the park, being an only child, not having my dad around to talk about ‘man things’ with, having to settle for stories from others rather than experiencing them first hand, and wishing I knew the man others speak so highly of."
"The loss of my father has been a baseline experience for me. It’s a constant. Dad’s military service and his resultant sacrifice has, upon reflection, shaped me in such a compelling and dramatic way when I think of myself next to my peers. I believe this is seen through a constant, deep respect and gratitude for my country that is ingrained into my very fiber; my personal reality of service and sacrifice has shaped my beliefs and views, actions and values. While I am saddened for not ever getting to personally know the man I call Dad, I am so appreciative of the legacy he left behind in the life he lived while he was alive.”