UM theatre major is standing backstage of her dreams

Kennedy Johnson
The Oxford Eagle

Last Sunday in the Meek Auditorium, Erin Patterson took the stage to perform with other cast members in the University of Mississippi’s first play of the season, “Teddy Ferrara.” Her parents drove six hours from Alabama to see the production

IMG_1226“Parents, people of the Oxford community, faculty and staff all come out to support us, and it truly means a lot to us,” said Patterson, a senior theatre major from Daphne, Alabama.

At 10, Patterson decided that she wanted to have a career in entertainment. She began singing at Little Welcome Baptist Church in Mobile at age 5, and later became part of the church choir.

Patterson later left the Baptist Church and joined the nondenominational church Restoration Fellowship Ministries, located about seven minutes away from her old church.

During her freshmen year of high school in Daphne, Patterson began searching for programs outside of church that involved singing and performing. As a sophomore, she told her parents she wanted to become a singer and actress. And during her senior year, she decided to attend the University of Mississippi, so her parents set up a tour for Patterson to observe the theatre program at the university.

“Several people say majoring in theatre arts is such a bad idea,” Patterson said. “People say it is not marketable, and it will not pay anything close to the lifestyle I have adapted to living. I get so many different opinions on how I will not make it because Hollywood, along with the entertainment business is full of chaos and corruption.”

Biloxi native Jamerson Boyd met Patterson the first couple of weeks of college. He was interested in becoming an actor, but said his parents were concerned theatre wasn’t a practical choice.

“Erin is beyond passionate about theatre arts and the turn-out of each piece she is part of,” said Boyd. “She is hard-working, and she is uncommon with her ideas, which is a great thing because she allows others to think outside of the box about ideas.”

Patterson became part of the theatre program at the university early and worked her way up to starring roles in a few plays and special programs.

Tupelo native Ashley Lewis is a junior at the university who believes Patterson will make it big one day. She said she has never seen a person so driven towards their dream.

Lewis said she had doubts about becoming part of theatre because her friends and family did not support her.

“Each member of the theatre program takes their job very seriously,” she said. “I have been part of the stage crew for years now, and the Ole Miss theatre program has come a long way. Erin has helped me through all of my shyness and all of my anxiety before performances.”

12141790_1159591494070266_8970316708895020790_nBefore each play, Patterson said she thinks back to her first performance when she was so nervous the only thing she could hear was water moving around in her stomach from the bottled waters she drank before the show.

“When people ask me why did I choose theatre, I always explain to them that theatre means so much to me,” she said. “When I am on stage with my members of my theatre crew, I do not see or feel a group of people who tried out for a position and got it. I see a family that worked together to form a phenomenal show and performance. With theatre – race, sex, or personalities do not matter. All of those things mix to make a brilliant piece of art.”

After graduating, Patterson hopes to move to Atlanta to pursue a singing career and dreams of becoming a Hollywood star.

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