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Alum spotlight: CeCi Stephens (BFA ’89)

woman in front of pond or river with trees in background

CeCi Stephens, BFA in Performance, 1989

When CeCi thinks back to her time at VCU, she recalls, “What I learned about myself is that I can’t live paycheck to paycheck. I need security. So what did I do when I graduated? I left everything behind and moved to Germany with my former husband, who was an officer in the Army.”

CeCi as “Queen Kong”

CeCi recalls, “Out of our Freshman class of 75, there were only seven who graduated in performance. Days were long and I was always in rehearsal, but we had the experience of teamwork and given the freedom to create and be supported by our teachers.”

“The Importance of Being Earnest” at VCU

After two years and partially because she was a military wife, CeCi ended up back in DC as a theatre specialist for the Department of the Army. She booked USO shows, directed small local productions and quickly realized “there were no advancement opportunities.”

That led her to the Federal Communications Commission as a communications specialist, eventually working her way up to Associate Secretary. She was with the FCC for 25 years. Her proudest moment was appearing on CSpan-2 during the net neutrality hearings, where she presented to the chair and commissioners. “I’m on TV!”

Then CeCi “went down the alphabet to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission)”, where she’s Branch Chief of the Legal and Operations Branch. She explains her responsibility, “Rules are made in the government and we have to make them effective, and if a case comes out of it, we have to stand by to help. It’s kind of like going from an actor to a stage manager.”

Improv with Last Ham Standing

CeCi still found time for creative leadership. She’s developed a youth and children’s choir program, and she sang in two bands. VCU grad Bob Garman (BFA ’88) got her into Comedy Sportz improv, and she later worked with Gross National Product, a group that specializes in political comedy.  “I was their Monica Lewinsky in a series of shows.”

as Monica Lewinsky

CeCi also teaches voice to about 45 students (a smaller number during these Zoom times). “I work with middle and high school students to help prepare them for college auditions. My students know what I expect and that comes from VCU.” CeCi remembers what Dr. Parker said at his retirement celebration, “ ‘Do the work. Let fame take care of itself.’ This career is the longest-running series of my life. My sense of humor and the ability to think on my feet are a credit to all my mentors at VCU.”

CeCi keeping the kids entertained

CeCi doesn’t expect to return to theatre, explaining, “My life is packed with a full time day job and three children, I’ve lost the ability to learn lines.”

CeCi’s three sons Zach, Will, and Riley
Autism Speaks charity event for her son Will

Department of Theatre Alumni Newsletter October 2021