Emily Clark '19

 

Name: Emily Clark

Year: Sophomore

Major: Advertising with a minor in Arts and Cultural Management and Musical Theatre

Hometown: South Lyon, Michigan

 

After a long deliberation about where to hold our interview, Emily Clark and I chose to search for a sunny bench outside of Snyder-Phillips hall. Just as we began to circle the area, she glanced at her phone and changed her mind. Instead, we walked upstairs to her dorm so that she could charge her phone.

This wasn’t a scene out of an anti-millennial newspaper. Clark is a director for the Roial Players, a theatre group at Michigan State. She had just finished casting her one act play, “Catch of the Day,” and needed to be ready to call the actors and inform them about rehearsal times.

As I prepared my laptop, Clark plugged in her phone, sat down on her futon, and sang a quick verse of “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” While I struggled to navigate the MSU wifi, she expelled her first bit of wisdom.

“I’m actually really good at Guitar Hero, especially for someone who never owned it,” she said. “I used to be pretty average. I could get like 85% on ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’ on beginner, and then I didn’t play for a long time. But I picked it up one day at Dave & Buster’s and got 70% on expert.”

After typing up Clark’s impressive Guitar Hero memoirs, we got to the heart of the interview. It seemed appropriate to begin with the subject that had brought us inside.

Can you tell me about directing the One Acts? I’m really excited to do them because it’s the first step to being really involved with the Roial Players. I really love the organization, I love the people, and I could see myself being a big part of it and really enjoying it. Directing a One Act leads to bigger things down the road.

So you are planning on going as far with this as you can? What’s the ultimate goal? I think an ultimate goal would be to try a bunch of different aspects of Roial and then figure out where I’m meant to end up from there. Maybe even executive director, who knows?

How much work will you be doing directing the One Act? Our rehearsal schedule is two hours a week on Thursdays. We’ll probably start mid-September, so maybe about six weeks doing two hours a week. Then tech week is really intense. We have seven-hour rehearsals for four days, and then we do the shows. So, lots.

You’ve starred in a One Act before. Does being director bring more responsibilities? The difference between directing and acting makes you responsible for different things. As a director, you’re responsible for being aware of everything that’s happening in the show - the make-up, the sound, the actors, the stage - everything that’s going on and contributing to the final result. So it is definitely taking on a lot of responsibility, but in a different way.

How long have you been involved in musical theatre? My first role in a musical was Luisa in the Sound of Music. My dad produced the show. In his defense, though, I did have a really good audition. At least, so says my dad.

Clark started her theatre career early in high school, first as part of the chorus in “Singing in the Rain.” Her sophomore year, she moved on to a role in “Legally Blonde,” where she initially auditioned as Elle, because “that’s what all the other girls did.” Ultimately, Clark tried again for the role of Paulette and got the part. She cites it as her favorite role so far.

She has also starred in “Shrek the Musical” as Fiona and “Beauty and The Beast” as Belle.

“They were both really fun shows that allowed me to grow as a person and an actress,” she said. “I cannot believe all of the people that knock musicals like ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Shrek,’ just because they’re fun. Sometimes it’s nice to watch a fun musical. Let me live a happy life!”

Clark has now lost the insecurity that prompted her to audition for Elle when she knew that she was a better Paulette. In a discussion about dealing with adversaries, she reached Taylor Swift-levels of shaking off the haters and said, “people are gonna say what they’re gonna say, and you really have no control over it.”

A love for theatre has also led Clark to other positions in Roial. She’s been attending improv practices and hopes to become involved with public relations for the organization. At this point, our conversation began to shift away from Clark’s theatre accomplishments and into another area where she’s had equal levels of success: academics.

Your major used to be pre-med, right? What made you change to advertising? I really reflected hard on my life choices, and I came to the revelation that I really do not like the practical application of science. I am so bad in the lab. If I was really passionate about science, I would have worked over that curb, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to do. I had a friend who wanted to study film, but she was afraid there wouldn’t be money. I told her there were other places she could go with it - marketing, commercials, public relations, and that’s where I got my idea to do theatre management. That’s the track I’m on right now.

Do you think majors and careers in the arts have a stigma against them? ABSOLUTELY. I I feel that high schools especially put so much emphasis on STEM careers, and they don’t make the arts seem important. It leads to kids going to college without knowing what they want to do - kids like me, who go through a year of college and then realize they don’t want to do med school. Society is composed of different types. If we had a society of doctors, sure we’d be healthy, but it wouldn’t be as fun of a society as one with people creating art. So I think it’s important that high schools emphasize the arts.

As our interview neared its close, the topic turned heavy.

On a serious note, what is the best squirrel color: black, red or gray? I don’t have a preferred squirrel color as much as I have preferred squirrel behaviours. I like the really weird ones; I think they’re the best. I also like watching them climb trees. I feel like their claws are too big to be good at climbing, but like, look at them go. They’re flying.

Do you have a special person in your life? Ha! My dog. His name is Higgins. He is the light of my life, my reason for living. I miss him more and more every day. My mom sometimes sends me pictures of him in sweaters; they make my day.