A timid, red-headed freshman came to Oral Roberts University four years ago as a musical theatre major, but soon grew intimidated by the thought of pursuing the degree and switched to communications. With a little nudge of fate, she ended up pursuing her dream in acting, playing many roles worthy of a standing ovation on the Howard Auditorium stage.
Alaska-native and senior drama television and film major Kelsey Carroll came to ORU with very little acting experience, but had been in choir her “entire life.” She participated in small church and school productions, but never had the opportunity to audition for professional productions.
“I was always too busy with sports,” Carroll said. “I played basketball, volleyball and soccer.”
After changing her major to communications, Carroll decided to take Fundamentals of Acting, a class taught by Professor Courtneay Sanders just for fun. “God was like telling me ‘try it, just try it,” Carroll said.
In this class she met Shannon Garcia, a freshman in the same situation. Not yet a drama major, she was also intimated, but interested in pursuing acting. Both of these women have since taken the ORU theatre stage by storm.
“I met this really good friend and this coach that inspired me,” Carroll said. “They let me know this was the place I was supposed to be.”
“It was so cool to think about how God placed each other in our lives to encourage each other and motivate each other as actresses,” Garcia said. “If we didn’t have each other, I don’t think we’d be in this major.”
The first role Carroll landed was Meg during her sophomore year in the six-person play “Crimes of the Heart.” This was an ORU main stage play performed at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Carroll has played six major roles in ORU productions as well as several roles with the Playhouse Theatre. This year, Carroll played the major roles of Flo in “Picnic” and Arkadina in Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” She will be playing the lead role of Dolly in ORU’s spring musical “Hello, Dolly!” Carroll said the favorite role she played was the character of Hope in “Urinetown” for the Playhouse Theatre.
“She was the first character I got to be that was the innocent, flighty person,” Carroll said. They’re all fun for different reasons.”
Carroll plans to stay in Tulsa after graduation and continue acting with Playhouse Theatre. She then plans to go to Austin or Dallas to hopefully establish herself in the theatre venues there. Her ultimate goal is to be successful in film and stagework.
“Film is the direction I want to head,” Carroll said. “I would love to be established to where I can do film and then go be in a Broadway show.”
One of Carroll’s dreams would be to play the villain of Ms. Hannigan from “Annie.” “I love playing the villain,” Carroll said. Though her strengths in acting are many, Garcia particularly mentioned her friend’s versatility.
“Kelsey’s strongest attribute is how she can mold herself into each character she plays,” Garcia said. “She accesses a different aspect of herself in every role…with specificity and honesty.”
“This department has really good professors and you get a really good education,” Carroll said. Her talent has not gone unnoticed by these professors.
“Kelsey is incredibly disciplined,” Courtneay Sanders said. “She is one of very few individuals who excel in each genre of play that she is working in. She has a glow about her when she is on stage and a very charismatic presence. Her drive to excel in her craft is sensational.”
Carroll said she knows she will succeed in this field by remaining true to herself.
“You don’t have to try to be someone else. The best actors pull their characters from themselves,” Carroll said. “Be happy in you and you’ll be a better actress or whatever you do in life when you’re confident in yourself.”