SMC Graduates Ready to Take the Stage in NYC
Two Spartanburg Methodist College sophomores, Jacquie Goodman and Cordasha Monroe, are ready to take the performing arts world by storm. The students, both participants in SMC theatre, have been accepted to the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City.
After a rigorous audition and application process, Goodman and Monroe were both invited to study at an institution known for preparing students for Broadway, television and the big screen. They will have the opportunity to pursue a degree in performing arts or train with top-notch faculty in the studio actor’s program. Both women are still making their final decisions about enrollment. However, their acceptance into AMDA is a noteworthy accomplishment.
If they choose to attend AMDA, the women will be in good company. AMDA has trained notable alumni such as Trai Byers, star of the television show “Empire,” and Rizwan Manji, known for his roles in “Wolf of Wall Street,” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Other AMDA alumni are enjoying success on Broadway, including “Hamilton” star Christopher Jackson and Caissie Levy, who has landed roles in “Les Miserables,” “Hair” “and “Wicked.”
Goodman and Monroe now find their careers on a similar trajectory, and looking at their journeys to this point, they also followed a similar path to get here.
Goodman first dipped her toes into the world of theater in high school in her hometown of Irmo, South Carolina. She worked mostly backstage during high-school theater productions until a friend encouraged her to audition for a role – and she got the part. Her recent success is still somewhat of a shock.
“A year ago, if you would have told me that I’d be applying to a college like AMDA, I wouldn’t have believed it,” she said. “I want to experience New York City. It’s a community that supports and appreciates the arts. And AMDA is a school completely dedicated to the arts. Even the dorms have performance spaces inside.”
Goodman is also looking forward to the benefits of working with industry professionals. “All the AMDA faculty are in the performing arts industry. And in this business, it’s all about who you know,” she notes.
Above all else, Goodman sees AMDA as an opportunity to develop her craft. Although she likes all aspects of stage productions, she finds the challenge of tackling a complex acting role especially appealing. Jacquie hopes to follow the tradition of actors such as Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, who are known for mastering complicated and challenging characters. She knows AMDA can provide that kind of training.
Monroe has been in theater groups since middle school, oscillating between acting and stage-managing. She remembers hearing about AMDA while attending high school in Woodruff, South Carolina. However, she never imagined herself actually applying until Jacquie suggested the idea. She agreed to join Goodman at the live audition in North Carolina, and after that, there was no looking back.
“It took a lot of work. We had to prepare a set of monologues and perform them in person. Our director, Neill Hanson, gave me lots of support. He helped me decide which monologues would be the best fit. Then I just had to work hard and spend hours practicing.” Monroe also got advice and support from Sue Onken, an SMC counselor whose son is a local actor.
After nailing the live audition, Monroe is ready to take her persistence and work ethic to Broadway. Her dream is to follow in the tradition of Lin-Manuel Miranda, known for writing and performing the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.” If she has her way, she’ll study every aspect of stage production: writing, directing, acting and even the music.
Most of all, Monroe looks forward to immersing herself in the culture and atmosphere of New York City. “All of my schools have been small, and the productions have been small,” she says. “So it’s nice to have the opportunity to go to a city like New York and study at a school that’s completely focused on performing arts.”
After spending their lives in small towns, both women are ready for the challenges and opportunities that come with New York City. Neill Hance, SMC’s theatre director, believes Goodman and Monroe are well prepared. Hance notes that both women were star students of the SMC theater program.
“They fully immersed themselves in productions and were willing to take charge of any task: stage-managing, acting, costuming, makeup and set design,” he recalls. He believes their ambition and willingness to engage with new challenges will allow them to thrive in the next chapter of their careers.
“We are so proud of them both. I will miss them terribly,” he reflects. Although it is bittersweet to watch these two women exit the SMC stage, they are destined for larger stages and brighter lights.
– Story by Miranda Kozman
Sophomores and 2017 graduates Cordasha Monroe, left, and Jacquie Goodman, right, have been accepted into a prestigious music and drama academy in New York City.