Tega Cay actress in NoDa play about Sept. 11

Special to the Fort Mill TimesSeptember 28, 2013 

  • Want to see the show? For show times and ticket information, go to www.nccast.com.

— Emily Ussery took a bite of the Big Apple and while she liked it just fine, she’s going to stick with the Carolina variety for now.

The aspiring actress, 23, of Tega Cay has a passion for the arts. After her education in the Carolinas, she decided to try her chances in New York City.

Ussery, who went to Fort Mill High School for two years, but graduated from South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, received a Bachelor of Arts in Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. The aspiring actress then headed to the City that Never Sleeps.

“Ambition would be the one word to describe New York City,” Ussery said. “It’s fast paced and everyone’s there to get something done. I got yelled at once for walking slow.”

The actress said she was used to nature, but public transportation and subways became her everyday life. After getting past the culture shock, she learned the New York way of moving fast, not making eye contact and not talking to strangers.

“I loved the lights,” Ussery said. “Even at 3 a.m. something, like a diner, is open.”

She said there’s always a play to watch and learn from. She auditioned a lot and helped friends. Some of her favorite plays she attended while in New York were “Clybourne Park,” and “Venus in Fur.” Ussery said the acting “world” is actually “a small community.”

Ussery got a part in a play written by a fellow North Carolina School of the Arts alum. She had a vital role in “112 Decimal Levels,” a play about a married couple raising a hearing impaired child.

Her time in New York was limited. Ussery and her boyfriend, Jonathan Majors, also an actor, decided to come back to South Carolina to raise their daughter, Ella Monroe.

Now Ussery is back in the Charlotte area art scene, and ironically, she’s appearing in a play at the Carolina Actor’s Studio in NoDa that has a heavy New York accent. “Recent Tragic Events” is a dark comedy about the day after Sept. 11, 2001.

“The play has a lot of discussion about chance versus fate versus free will,” Ussery said.

“My character is sort of the voice of reason in the wake of this tragic event, reminding other characters that terrifying and devastating things happen that are out of our control, but we do have control over our ability to be there for each other and just do the best we can in life. It is obviously a part with very serious subject matter, but there are a lot of laughs along the way. My hope is that people leave the theater feeling less alone in their humanity, and remembering how we all came together after the attacks.”

When asked if she would ever go back to the Big Apple, Ussery said maybe in five years or so, but opportunities are growing locally and regionally. Ussery said “Sleepy Hollow,” and “Under the Dome,” are filmed in Wilmington, N.C., and “Vampire Diaries,” is filmed in Atlanta.

She pointed out the region has so many different types of natural scenery that any genre can be filmed here. Ussery said considering the beach, mountains and green space – not to mention lower production costs – filmmakers find it increasingly desirable to come here.

“There’s a need for artists to stay down here,” Ussery said. “People are responding to it and want it. North Carolina is second to Los Angeles. This area is versatile.”

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