PEMBROKE — Lindsay Pearce, who makes a living as an actress, has had the opportunity to become a member of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke community this past month while staying on campus as part of the actors in residence program.
“Pembroke is actually a lot like home,” she said.
When the new students arrived at the UNCP campus for convocation, the 25-year-old Pearce came also and got the college experience again, she said. Pearce has been living in an apartment on campus since Aug. 13 and will stay there until the one-night-only production of “Romeo and Juliet” at Givens Performing Art Center on Sept. 14. Pearce will play the leading role of Juliet.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in college, so it’s been cool to be back,” Pearce said. “It’s been six years.”
“The theater is stunning. It’s a beautiful theater. You guys are so lucky to have that,” she said about GPAC.
Pearce, a small-town girl herself, said it is nostalgic being in Pembroke, which reminds her of her hometown of Modesto in California. When she first drove into town with another actor from her hometown she was excited.
“We were like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Modesto,’” she said.
“It’s the most times I’ve been to Walmart in my life but it’s cool. It’s great produce,” Pearce said jokingly.
She loves seeing the diversity of the campus and area and how you can meet people who have been here all their lives and next meet someone who’s been there two weeks, Pearce said.
“It’s very transient,” she said. “It’s actually been a really nice change from a really busy city. L.A. and New York is a lot of hustle and bustle. It’s nice to just come in and do the work.”
Pearce, who is currently living in Los Angeles, started performing when she was 7. She worked in children’s theater and then moved on to professional theater. She later went to college, but the opportunity to play in “The Glee Project,” a reality show that served as an audition for the opportunity to be in a seven-episode arc. Pearce didn’t win the competition but still performed in two episodes of “Glee.”
She has since made a variety of appearances in movies and television shows over the years, including “The Wedding Ringer,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Drop Dead Diva.”
“I’ve worked with the coolest people in the world. I’ve worked with amazing, amazing stars,” she said.
At UNCP Pearce is working with and mentoring students in the university’s Theatre Department, young people who would like to follow her path.
Pearce was chosen for the part of Juliet by Jonathan Drahos, associate professor, director of Theatre at UNCP and the director of the production. Drajos contacted Pearce through a website called Backstage and did various auditions with her in Los Angeles.
“I haven’t done Shakespeare in seven years. It’s my love of loves,” Pearce said.
Drahos said Pearce has been a great asset to the show and the students. He said she doesn’t act like the lead but has treated the students as equals.
“She just had the right energy. It takes a high level of talent and ability to speak the language,” Drahos said.
Pearce said trying to make a living as an actress can be tough, especially the grind of audition after audition in attempts to land roles.
“It’s hard not to get jaded in the professional world. When you’re auditioning all the time and get so many no’s and everyone is grinding and hustling and everybody is trying to get that one part, everyone is trying to make their break, it’s really nice to just come back to college where these kids are just busting their butts because they care,” she said.
The students are working hard and asking good questions.
“It’s been really refreshing just working with people that are so ravenous for it. It’s amazing. They’re just genuinely, purely ravenous for it,” Pearce said.
Reach Tomeka Sinclair at 910-416-5865