Graceland University theatre major Haley Johnson `19 has been active in theatre since her high school sophomore year when she discovered her passion for acting.
Before she found theatre as a creative avenue, Haley described herself as just a routine student. She worked hard and was involved in cheer squad, but there was nothing spectacular that she could really get excited about. There was a piece missing; she needed to find fulfillment.
“I relish in and find appreciation for the performing arts because there are no small roles – not in any aspect, acting or technical. Whether you are cast as the lead or the tiniest ensemble member, you get to be a part of a moment in time that is untouchable.”
When she decided to come to Graceland on the recommendation of her mom, who works for the university, Haley was already knowledgeable of the theatre program offered on the Lamoni campus. She recounts, “The theatre department at Graceland is refreshing. Smaller class sizes offer the ability of a more profound learning experience – the instructors really care and hope for nothing but success for every student; something highly sought after by young actors.”
Haley recently completed a role in Heathers the Musical with the Graceland theatre department – the first musical performed in its black box JR Theatre – and is currently a part of Theatre Devised, a collaborative project created by a performance ensemble originating from improvisational work.
“Theatre Devised is something I’ve always enjoyed involvement in. To have the opportunity to work with a witty ensemble to build a play from the ground up is incredibly rewarding.”
In January, Haley’s dedication and contagious energy paid off when she placed first out of 315 teams from seven states at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) regional conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Now she prepares for competition at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in April held in Washington, D.C. She aims to add the Irene Ryan Acting Fellowship (two awarded annually) to her Irene Ryan Scholarship, which she received from the regional competition. An impressive achievement for this young lady contending with talents of many young actors from over 700 higher learning institutions nationwide who participate in the KCACTF.
Haley shares that Graceland has provided her one-on-one relationships with professors, a tight theatre community and strong connections with alumni – all the perfect recipe for future success. Her next step after college is graduate school in either New York City or Chicago.