Where she belongs
Nikki Stone gets chill bumps when she talks about her love of theater.
“It’s in my blood,” she says. “My mother was a theater major when she was in college, before she switched to psychology to become a social worker, but she would always tell me about her experiences with theater. I grew up hearing her stories.”
The sophomore theatre arts major from Griffin also grew up with talents she thought were shared by everyone.
“When I was quite young, I learned that I could sing,” she says. “I thought everybody could sing, so I did it all the time. I also took piano and voice lessons. I loved anything that was arts-related.”
But it was a suggestion from a friend in the seventh grade that led her to her life’s passion.
“I was really good friends with a girl named Whitley Fowler,” Nikki says. “Her dad was the president of the community theater in Griffin. She talked me into trying out – well, she didn’t have to try that hard. I auditioned and got into the ensemble – and I’ve been in love with theater ever since.”
It was that love that ultimately led her to LaGrange College.
When she was a senior in high school, she helped reinstate the school’s thespian group and became its president. Later that year, the club attended a thespian conference – and there she met Professor Kim Barber Knoll, coordinator of LaGrange’s Theatre Arts program.
“She invited us to come to LaGrange to see ‘Sweeney Todd. ’ It was so cool to look up on stage and recognize her as Mrs. Lovett (one of the main characters of the musical),” Nikki says.
At the time, LaGrange College wasn’t even on Nikki’s radar.
“I had my heart set on going to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), but Professor Knoll talked me into auditioning here. I was pretty nervous but she put me at ease, and I calmed down and realized it was going to be OK.”
Nikki says it was the training offered by the theater program that drew her to LaGrange.
“They want us to be professional in performance and in technical theater. That’s really helpful because it gives you experience in something other than performance. You really don’t know if you are going to get an acting job right off the bat, but theaters are always looking for people to do tech work.”
The opportunities offered by LaGrange also made her decision easy.
“Freshmen have the chance to appear in shows their first year, and most schools don’t do that,” she says. “Other programs only let freshmen work on the technical side, but I was looking to get as much experience on stage as possible, and LaGrange offered me that.”
Nikki hopes to attend graduate school to get her master’s in theater.
“I’m looking at schools up north so I’ll be where the action is,” she says. “And I’ll be able to make connections in those urban areas that will help me find jobs.”
But for now, she’s relishing her theater education at LaGrange – and is very grateful for the opportunities she's been given.
“Auditions for ‘Metamorphoses’ that first week of school last year were nerve-wracking,” she says. “But I realized that all the students who were auditioning were just like me – we’re all theater people. I got a call-back, and then I got cast.
“That was a big thing for me,” she says. “Here they were, just handing these roles to me and trusting me with such a big job to do. They had faith in me – and I knew that this was it, this is where I need to be.”