At Vagabond, we value the importance of community just as much as quality of education. We strive to make every student, teacher, parent, and volunteer who walks through our doors feel supported, appreciated, listened to, and encouraged. Our staff works tirelessly to make sure that is always the case. Meet our magnificent team and learn more about what makes them pack up their knapsack and follow the open road. 


Founder, Artistic Director

Michael McCracken has been in the professional entertainment industry for over 15 years. Before working full time for Vagabond School for the Arts as the administrative director, he was a tv/film, commercial and theatrical talent agent with both Grossman & Jack Talent and Shirley Hamilton Talent here in Chicago. He has also had the pleasure of being a TV commercial session director, actor, improviser, musician and theatrical director.

Places this vagabond has called home: Georgia, North Carolina and Chicago, IL 


Farthest place this vagabond has traveled to: Portugal

EMILY TATE (she/her)

Managing Director

Emily has spent the last decade as a Chicago-based actor and educator appearing on stages all over the city, on television, and in numerous print and commercial campaigns.  Emily is passionate about inspiring and mentoring young artists, helping them discover their own voice through the power of theater and storytelling. A lover of animals, baking, yoga, travel, and books, she is committed to helping artists nurture their passions and live healthy and fulfilling lives. She firmly believes that no matter where you are in your life or career, you should never stop learning.  Vagabond is the place where all her passions unite.


Places this vagabond has called home: Kentucky, London, Milwaukee, WI and Chicago, IL


Farthest place this vagabond has traveled to: New Zealand

BETSY BOWMAN (they/them)

Community Engagement Director & Rental Coordinator

Betsy is an actor and performer who has lived the vagabond life drifting from show to show, day job to day job, in the name of the art they loves. As a result, they began prioritizing community and self-care while embracing acting as a medium to grow empathy. They hold that taking care of the actor's body and soul is just as important as the continued study of the craft - each flourishing when the other is fed. Driven to find that balance in their own life, they fell in love with yoga, meditation, rock climbing, and playing with fire (yes, literally). Betsy firmly believes that we become our best selves when we support each other and is passionate about cultivating Vagabond's vibrant community, one they're grateful to have called their artistic home since first moving to Chicago. 


Places this vagabond has called home: St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL


Farthest place this vagabond has traveled to: Whistler, British Columbia


Marketing Director

Nicolette has spent the last decade juggling a successful corporate marketing career and her acting career -- until she decided to quit corporate and chase her dream. Nicolette is a passionate actor, storyteller, marketer, and true believer in changing whatever it takes to create a life you love (#plottwist.)  She is a strong advocate for continuing education for all actors and performers and is thrilled to have found a professional and artistic home at Vagabond. 

Places this vagabond has called home: Southern California, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, IL

Farthest place this vagabond has traveled to: Cairns, Australia


Youth Education Director

Jarrett King is an actor, writer, and educator based in Chicago, Illinois. He has held a variety of administrative and educational positions with several Chicago organizations, including Auditorium Theater, Hearts to Art, Silk Road Rising, Unsilence, Bravo Performing Arts Academy and American Theater Company, where he oversaw the school residency program American Mosaic. Prior to moving to Chicago, Jarrett was based in Austin, Texas, where he was the Administrative Coordinator for the St. Edward’s University Department of Performing Arts, a Board Member at Salvage Vanguard Theatre, a founding Artistic Director of the arts collective Viceroys, and a founding member of the award-winning improv troupe Sugar, Water, Purple. As a performer, he most recently appeared in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Short Shakes production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and he has over a decade’s worth of credits performing in professional theaters. His film and television credits include Chicago P.D., American Crime, The Lying Game, Homestate and Lumberjack Man.

Places this vagabond has called home: Austin, TX and Chicago, IL 

Farthest place this vagabond has traveled to: Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ontario

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Interested in joining our team for a semester or two?? AWESOME!! We'd LOVE to have you! Vagabond is always looking for curious and eager interns looking to learn more about acting education and the business in general. Send us an inqury and we'll get back to you!

Vagabond School of the Arts
Acting School in Chicago