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Sunday June 4th

Stefanie Clinton showcases love of UNC theater

<p>North Carolina junior Stefanie Clinton performs in Pauper Players’ production of “In the Heights” last weekend.&nbsp;Photo Courtesy of Stefanie Clinton.</p>
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North Carolina junior Stefanie Clinton performs in Pauper Players’ production of “In the Heights” last weekend. Photo Courtesy of Stefanie Clinton.

Her love of theater dates back many years ago — middle school, to be exact. Through a youth theater company and a supportive hometown arts community, her passion was born.

“Ever since I first did it, I couldn’t stop,” she said.

When Clinton first arrived on campus, she looked for things to join at FallFest. She settled on Company Carolina, a student-run theater company, and her first gig was as a puppeteer for “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Friends and connections from that show helped her naturally cross over to a theater company more her style — the Pauper Players.

She’s now on the executive board of Pauper Players, helping to manage the publicity, production and business aspects of the company.

Founded in 1989, Pauper Players is the premier student-run theater company on campus, specializing in musical productions. The company puts on two main stage shows a year as well as smaller productions sprinkled throughout, like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Halloween.

Pauper Players strives to not only make an impact on campus, but also in the larger Chapel Hill-Carrboro community as well.

Clinton said she’s found a home away from home in the UNC theater community, where she is allowed to artistically thrive.

During her time here, she’s portrayed aspiring actress Celia in Company Carolina’s “Blown Youth,” Diane in “A Chorus Line” and a member of the ensemble in “Spring Awakening,” among other roles.

“For me, theater is very much my home,” she said. “It’s my refuge after a really rough day or rough week.”

The theater community at UNC has expanded a lot in recent years, Clinton said. People are continuing to push themselves and come up with new ideas.

Junior Marques Wilson has performed with Clinton in addition to serving on the executive board with her.

He said she is extremely hardworking and strives to answer questions about how to make the theater community accessible to more people.

“She has this passion for learning and growing as a person through dramatic arts,” he said.

Within the theater community, Clinton said she is working to break down barriers and stereotypes of Latina women, especially those portrayed in the media.

Her most recent lead role was as Nina, a young Latina woman, in Pauper Players’ “In the Heights,” a musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda about a largely Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City. Nina is a first-generation college student who “made it out.”

Clinton, a Latina woman herself, said this role had been a dream of hers for the past six years.

“It’s the most important work I’ve done,” she said.

The role allowed her to give depth to a Latina character without the stereotypes — and provide a voice for the often overlooked, marginalized Latinx community.

First-year Gage Tarlton works with Clinton on the executive board and watched her latest performance twice. He said she was a scene-stealer.

“She’s magnetic on stage,” he said.

Whether it be “In the Heights” or another project, Tarlton said Clinton dedicates herself to it 100 percent.

An exercise and sports science major by day, Clinton said she eventually wants to attend physical therapy school post-graduation.

However, she still wants to keep theater as an integral part of her life.

“I can’t picture my life without theater in it,” she said.



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