Arizona State University sophomore Grace Rogers has lots of talent.
She is an actor, having served as president of the thespian society at her high school, Scottsdale Preparatory Academy. She sings, having performed “The National Anthem” at Arizona Diamondbacks and National Hockey League games and ASU events. And she is active in philanthropy and community service, having been inspired to volunteer in her community by her mother, who established a nonprofit called The Real Gift Foundation.
Recently, the ASU Alumni Association Medallion Scholarship recipient — who is a music theater and vocal performance major in the School of Music, Dance and Theater and a student in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU — made her professional acting debut in The Phoenix Theater Company’s production of “An American in Paris,” which is running now until March 12.
“'An American in Paris' is my first professional show and it feels like such a mentorship opportunity,” Rogers said. “Everyone there has been on a professional tour and Broadway. ... It is so inspiring to be in a room with all of those people.”
Opening night for “An American in Paris” was Jan. 27. Rogers said her favorite part of the evening was the energy of both the audience and the cast.
“While the energy was amazing, we, as a cast and crew, were very precise and focused,” she said.
Emotion and connecting with audiences are her favorite parts of acting.
“It is really powerful to have your own emotions but to also share those emotions and affect other people’s lives while performing on stage,” she said. “I love to act because of the power that you have to make a real connection with the audience and other people."
Rogers had been acting long before high school productions and booking the The Phoenix Theater Company gig. She began acting in third grade, when she was about 7 or 8 years old. Later, she honed her acting chops as a featured singer and dancer in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” presented by Dream City Theater, and as Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz,” Kim MacAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie” and Florence in “The Odd Couple” in Scottsdale Preparatory Academy theater productions.
“I have continued (to act) ever since and it felt more and more like that’s what I need to do with my life,” she said.
Barbara Streisand is one of Rogers’ biggest theater inspirations. “I grew up watching her movies and listening to her music,” she said. “It’s not just her voice; I love her style and how she is in her movies. She’s always had that same effect on the audience and drawing people into her art.”
Rogers said personal inspiration comes from her mom. “She always pushed me to be my best,” she said. “I was nervous to perform as a kid but she always told me to ‘shine like the star that you are.’”
Rogers decided to attend ASU because of family, familiarity and a first-class music program.
She’s an Arizona native with an affinity for ASU. Both her mother and sister were Sun Devils.
“Plus, ASU has a really great music program, and after interviewing with the teachers, I really liked their processes,” Rogers said.
She joined Barrett Honors College for similar reasons: family and admiration for Barrett’s program. “My sister was a Barrett student,” she said. “I went to an all-honors school growing up since third grade and I always pushed myself and really enjoyed being in a community where everyone feels the same.”
“My favorite part about being a Barrett student is being surrounded not only by students but also teachers pushing to be their best,” Rogers said. “I also enjoy that Barrett is a smaller community within a large community at ASU.”
Rogers has this piece of advice for her fellow Barrett students: “Trust yourself and trust the timing of everything. When something doesn’t work out, another door opens.”
Tickets to see "An American in Paris" are available here.
Story by Barrett Honors College student Alex Marie Solomon
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