Multifaceted percussion student refuses to be defined by dwarfism

When Andrew Bambridge received acceptances from both the acting and music programs at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts last year, a rarity for the school, he faced a tough decision.

Bambridge, who was born with achondroplastic dwarfism, felt lucky to have had some acting breaks. In 2015, he played the younger self of Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage in the movie Pixels, also starring Adam Sandler, and later that year appeared in a minor role on the TV sitcom Happyish.

Nevertheless, he knew from experience people with dwarfism have a hard time getting auditions in the professional acting world.

So he chose music. Now a sophomore at Mason Gross, Bambridge, 21, studies music composition and percussion performance, playing everything from the marimba, xylophone and other keyboard mallet instruments to the snare and bass drums in university bands and orchestras.

“The great thing about music is that it’s not about how you look but how the music sounds. Is the melody emotional? Does the piece have meaning?” said Bambridge, who last fall won the school’s concerto competition, an unusual feat for a first-year student.

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Information accurate as of January 2018.