Theatre Student Focuses

Senior Student Takes on Lead Role as Juliet

Meet Chaunice Hendking, Senior, B.A. Communications Radio/TV with Minor in Theatre


For your upcoming lead role this spring as Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet," what do you believe will be your biggest challenge? 

I believe my biggest challenge as Juliet (besides trying not to stumble over the text) is trying to show Juliet in an honest light. She’s bubbly and radiant, but I don’t want to rely on cliché representations of her. My aim is to try to give her a true energy that audience members can relate to. Also, so the audience can understand her not as a character, but as a person. It may just lead folks to reminisce of when they were 14 years old.

What was your favorite memory from "The Skin of Our Teeth" performance in the fall? 

My favorite memory of "The Skin of Our Teeth" was during the second act of our show. My friends had appeared to be in the front row, and I had NO IDEA they were there because they were not sitting there during the first act. GOSH! IT WAS VERY HARD NOT TO BREAK CHARACTER! They were laughing and ad libbing as I was walked by in my red swimsuit costume. It was difficult not to laugh, but I kept my cool! Also, I loved the Martin Luther King video at the end. I was beautiful and has always moved me.

What made you choose to pursue your education at The University of Akron and also to pursue theatre? 

I stumbled upon The University of Akron, and I am sure it was fate. I was already enrolled at Cleveland State University. However, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going back to Cleveland any time soon. It was time for a change and for independence, so I transferred to Akron all on my own!

I became a part of the Theatre Program because I wanted to try it! I always wanted to act, but never knew how. I believe it was Jim who somehow notified me about “The America Play” auditions. But I am forever grateful because from then on, my life has changed for the better. I could cry! 

Out of any cartoon character out there, who do relate to most and why? 

I would be Princess Tiana from Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog.” Woo! I feel this on a spiritual level! We are so much alike! She works hard. I mean, sleep is a privilege! She is very ambitious, has a vision and relentlessly goes after it. I am the exact same way! I work two jobs, school full time, and have rehearsals. Saturdays for me are free-lance work days where I do other acting gigs outside of UA. I’m a busy bee. Sometimes, I pull 36 hour days! I also recently became a DJ at WZIP Radio. I work around the clock and will continue to do so until I accomplish my dream! 






Recipient of The Sharon A. Hollinger Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Theatre Arts

Meet Sander Mills, Freshman B.A. in Theatre Arts

Lysander Mills Headshot

 Where is your hometown and from where did you graduate?

I come from Lancaster, Ohio. I graduated in 2016 from Lancaster High School. I was very active in both community theater and Drama Club. 

How has your overall experience with the UA Theatre program been?

My overall experience at UA and the Theatre program has been superb! Every individual faculty is here to help. They go above and beyond to ensure that you, the student, are completely familiar with what is being taught. I feel as though the professors really care about their students. 

What interested you in coming to the UA for theatre? 

I was most interested in coming to Akron’s theatre program because of the style of shows they do. Little do most people know, the whole idea of “lead-based” shows is starting to see a steady decline. Akron’s theatre type is “ensemble-based” which is starting to make its way to becoming more potent in modern theatre. An ensemble-based theater is where there are large groups of characters to help a story move along as compared to very few characters.

What is your theatre background? 

My first show was my Sophomore year of high school. I had just finished my soccer season with a second-degree separation of my right arm. I politely walked up to the director and said: “I would like to audition for the show.” He scoffed and said I had missed auditions but could still do tech. So I began running a spotlight for my first show and then I actually made it to auditions for the next show, Lucky Stiff, where I landed my first role of Emcee. I later continued to act during high school with characters such as The Big Bad Wolf from Shrek, Hannibal from A Curious Savage, Jason Summers from Done To Death and Patsy from Spamalot.  My most recent production was with Round Town Players where I played the role Featured Dancer.

What projects are you currently working on?  

I am currently working on UA’s current play, The Skin of Our Teeth, which if you’re fortunate to go, you’ll see me quite a bit playing the role of Mr. Fitzpatrick, the Stage Manager. I’m also working with young directors in their directors class as an actor. My next project will be co-directing a show in the Theatre Guild called Scab. 

What are your future aspirations? 

My future hopes are to gain a Master’s Degree. I would like to teach during the day and pursue professional acting during the evening.