At the spry age of 15, Samantha Overton knew she wanted to pursue performing while playing Mother Abbess in a production of The Sound of Music. Though she had been acting since the age of 8, it was not until this performance that her passion for the theatre was ignited. Overton was born and raised in Axton, Virginia, and is currently a student at Averett University. There she is studying musical theatre and is expected to graduate in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Overton has been in many shows during her time at Averett, such as The Odd Couple, The Play That Goes Wrong, and her favorite—The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Overton played the role of Olive Ostrovsky in this production. She shares that “Olive was one of the first roles I really felt connected to. When I performed something just ‘clicked’ for me. I’ve known musical theatre and performing are things I’ve wanted to do since I was 15, but the role of Olive really set that in stone for me. That role will always hold a special place in my heart.”
When preparing for characters like Olive, Overton does character research in the script to see what details she can find about them that can help her portray the character the way the playwright intended. Overton tries to “connect their personalities and scenarios to times when things similar have happened in my life so I can connect that emotion to that action.” By combining these two methods, Overton can make sure she stays true to the character, but also makes them her own. “And through the character you are practicing to portray, you can even learn something new about yourself, too.”
Even those pursuing acting professionally are not immune to stage fright. Overton shares she experiences this phenomenon all the time, but she combats stage fright by “breathing through it and getting the nervous wiggles out. Surrounding myself and talking with my castmates and the crew before the show really helps as well.” The bond formed with cast and crew is very important to Overton. In fact, she claims that getting close to those she is working with throughout the rehearsal process is her absolute favorite part of putting on a show. So much so that it is part of her pre-show routine—ensuring that she spends time to chat and connect with her fellow cast and crew members, even when she is helping backstage and not actually in the show. Making time to do this helps ground her and set the mood for a good show.
For those interested in acting but are worried they may not be good enough, never fear. Overton believes the most important qualities for an actor to have are “kindness, patience, a drive to learn, and good showmanship.” A willingness to learn can go such a long way and supersede any other quality. She reminds aspiring thespians to “keep that passion and drive for learning and performing. It may seem frustrating and discouraging at times, but you can do this. You were made for this!”