Act Well Your Part

“Act well your part – there all the honor lies.” — Alexander Pope

I have spent most of my life working in the Theatre. I began actively pursuing it in 9th grade when I auditioned for the Theatre Magnet Program at Richardson High School. (Go Eagles!) From that time, I knew that I would major in Theatre in college. While I was studying Theatre at Hendrix College in Conway, AR, I was a Work-Study student in the Theatre Department, specifically working on Props. I thought that as long as I could be working in a theater somewhere in some capacity, I would be happy. I was mistaken.

CATS, circa 2007. My hair was too long and thick for the wig, so they braided it into cat ears.

There are, certainly, several different career choices in Theatre, all of which are integral to the success of a production, and I’ve tried all of them at least once. But the one that has always and will always bring me the most joy is “Actress.” When I was younger, I always wanted to be the lead, the Star of the Show. I wanted everyone to watch me as I dazzled them with my amazing acting skill, and I wanted to bow to their thunderous applause at the end of the show. As I’ve grown and matured, however, I have come to realize that there is so much more to acting than that; the applause at the end is just a perk. The real joy of acting comes in delving into a character’s psyche, and bringing that character to life; knowing that somewhere in the audience is someone who finds truth in the words you say, or the relationships you create on stage; seeing an audience member’s stress fade away as they get completely wrapped up in your story. Even if they’re silent, there is a certain energy that flows in the room between the actors on stage and the audience. That energy is what draws me to the stage, because being on stage and feeling the connection build and grow between the audience and me is what Live Theatre is all about!

There have been many times over the years when I have been passed over for a role that I thought I would be perfect for. In fact, I can immediately recall only five times in which I was cast for the role I wanted. (Well, four and a half. There was one audition in college when I changed my mind part way through about the role I really wanted.) But even when I didn’t get the role I really wanted, I still accepted the role, and did the very best I could. In the words of Alexander Pope, “Act well your part – there all the honor lies.” It’s a friendly reminder when I get cast in the supporting role when I wanted the lead role, or get cast in the Ensemble when I wanted a supporting role, or when I get cast in exactly the role I wanted, and need to remember that it’s not all about me.

Violet, circa 2011. That’s me as “Mabel,” riding the bus.

Immediately after college, I worked as a Stage Management Intern with Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. It was a really good experience, if for no other reason than I learned that I never want to stage-manage ever again. Ever. I have the utmost respect for Stage Managers who enjoy their job and are good at it, because I definitely wasn’t. But it did allow me to observe real-life, professional actors in their element. I got to watch a professional rehearsal process from start to finish, and I even had the opportunity to participate in an acting workshop with the Acting Interns, led by one of the Company’s Equity actors. After AST, I moved back home, and lived with my parents for a year. I did a lot of community theatre, and after about two and a half years, had really built up my resume, and was even doing shows for which I got paid!


Then, I got scared. A lot was happening all at once, and although they were good things, I got very overwhelmed. My wonderful, amazing boyfriend proposed, and we had a wedding to plan (2 years on October 18th, thank you very much!), debt to pay off, and a plan to move to New York City! I needed a full-time job that was going to be steady money. So, I went into teaching. I taught at Thomas Jefferson High School for two years, and I learned a lot about myself and about acting, just by working with these teenagers. Those students will always hold a special place in my heart, but being a teacher meant I couldn’t do outside shows. There simply wasn’t enough time or energy left in me. From December 2013 to July 2016, I did not perform. I did not act. I taught, and I directed. And I was miserable. So I quit.

And Then There Were None, circa 2012. I played Vera Claythorne, which was the first time I played the “ingenue.”

Kendall and I are moving to New York City because that’s where you go if you want to work in Theatre professionally. I’m giving myself two years to live and work in New York, to “make it.” What do I mean by “make it?” I mean that I don’t need a day job, because acting is my job. If I become a Broadway star, Tony Award winner, famous actress of the stage (and screen), great! But really, I just want to perform. I want to feel the energy between myself and the other actors on stage, and the audience.


Acting is my calling. I feel it in my bones. So many people write off their childhood dreams, because they’re not realistic. Regular people don’t do this or that. Well, guess what? I’m a regular person, and I’m going to do it. I’m going to pursue Acting, because it’s not about vindicating Teenager-Emily who didn’t get the lead role even though she was perfect for it. It’s about giving in to the talent and the passion that God gave me, and using it to pursue Him. Using it to spread His love. Using it to glorify Him every day. I can’t write off this dream as a fly-by-night fantasy. If it were some crazy fantasy, I would have given up on it by now. I would have found a more reliable career and STUCK WITH IT. Teaching is more reliable, but I can’t do it for the rest of my life. I can’t sit and watch students do what I want to do with my life. I have to go out there and do it myself. So I will go and audition as much as I can, because the more auditions I give, the more connections I make, the more performances I get to have. Each audition is, in itself, a performance. The casting team on the other side of that table is my audience. And that’s all I need: an audience, for five minutes, to let me show my {character’s} story. Let me do that; give me five minutes, and I will find honor in acting my part well.