She was the President of Shafer Alliance Laboratory Theatre; she mounted a play for a former poet laurette; she went to New York for her Senior Showcase—and she did it all in four years. Mikayla Bartholomew never expected she would be an actress, but at VCUarts this Theatre major came into her own.

In high school, Bartholomew was a versatile athlete. “I played volleyball, field hockey, and soccer,” she says, “and eventually put my long legs to use in track and field.” But after an unfortunate series of injuries, surgeries and hospitalizations, she was unable to play sports. Undeterred, she sought out alternative ways to flex her athletic talents—and was drawn to the stage. While applying to universities, her mother suffered a heart attack at home in Norfolk; wishing to stay close by, she decided to study theatre at VCUarts. “There was no way I could imagine moving far away from home,” she says, “and it became pretty clear, pretty quickly, that I would fall deeply into the craft of acting.”

During her undergraduate years, Bartholomew has used her presence on stage and with SALT as a catalyst for conversation, change and reflection—for herself and others. Her grant-funded undergraduate research project adapted a book of poetry by former Poet Laureate of Kentucky Frank X. Walker into a full-length play. With the author’s blessing, Bartholomew mounted what she called “an interdisciplinary exploration of racial relations and the Black experience in America” that confronted bias, racism, hatred and violence. Says Bartholomew, “I wanted to talk about something that has affected me the whole of my college career.”

After a very successful Senior Showcase in New York—where she and fellow theatre students met with casting directors and participated in workshops and interviews—Bartholomew is looking forward to continuing her Showcase in Los Angeles. Facing various job and internship offers, as well as an MFA program at the Cleveland Playhouse, which only accepts eight students every two years, she is thrilled at what the future holds. “I’m not exactly sure what to expect but I am so down for the adventure that waits.”

Feature image courtesy of VCUarts.


May 8, 2017