Thursday, April 28, 2011
“Live Your Dreams!” These words ring true for actress, motivational speaker, writer, producer and SC State graduate, Chantell D. Christopher. After graduating from SC State University in 1990, Christopher embarked on a successful career which has culminated with her most notable performances in plays such as “The Wiz,” “The Good Times are Killing Me,” “The Colored Museum,” and most recently in Tyler Perry’s hit stage plays such as “Madea Goes to Jail” and “Madea’s Class Reunion.” She has also landed credits in major Hollywood films such as “50 First Dates” and “Daddy’s Little Girls.”
Although Christopher’s talent has been seen in many stellar performances, she is ready to give back, and she will do just that on Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 4 p.m. in the Henderson-Davis Theater located on the SC State campus. This year, Christopher will be an added incentive for many to attend SC State University’s 39th annual Henderson-Davis Players Awards Night where she will be the speaker. With the theme, Staging a Renaissance, potential actors and actresses from the University will be awarded for the craft that they are continuing to hone, receiving such prestigious awards as the Thomas E. Poag Award, named after the first African-American in history to receive the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in drama. The Oscarettes will also be presented. SC State University’s version of the Oscars, the Oscarettes will include Best Actor and Best Actress Awards, just to name a few. In addition, an Honorary Award will be presented to former theater director, Frank Mundy, for 32 years of service to the University and to the Henderson-Davis Players.
According to theater director Ursula Robinson, Christopher will engage students by discussing the pros and cons of theater. “Everyone who wants to write a play or act or start their own theater should be here to hear her advice and to make contact,” says Robinson. “She is an example of the good things that come out of SC State. Everyone who wants to be inspired by her story should be here also.”
Christopher’s story started in rural Greenwood, S.C. While in her hometown, Christopher performed in several school and church plays and competed in beauty pageants. Her love of acting and singing soon thrust her into the spotlight, first landing her on the national stage in the Alphas’ National Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant when she placed second in the nation.
After stints in N.Y., Atlanta and La. where she worked as a nanny and a personal assistant, Christopher still continued to persevere. “I always have kept a communication with God through prayer and I let him guide my way,” says Christopher. “Even when it was hard for me to find work in La., I kept talking to God because he knew there was more for me out there.”
This is the drive that students should emulate at SC State University, says Robinson. “Part of our job is to offer the students and the surrounding community artistic opportunities through scholarship, pedagogy and artistic work,” says Robinson. “Ms. Christopher is a shining example of the kind of professional artist that we plan to engage to speak to our students and the community. She is an example of a woman who has followed her dreams and is living a daring life.”
A meet and greet with this year’s Henderson-Davis Players will take place at 4 p.m. with awards beginning at 5 p.m. For more information on the 39th annual Henderson-Davis Players Awards Night, contact Ursula Robinson at (803) 536-7123.