These former child actors share their journey from the silver screen to Shanley.
When third-year Rachel Covey was in second grade, she spent her days in a New York apartment dancing around with rats, pigeons — and Amy Adams. While she had been acting in commercials for a while, Covey landed the role of Morgan in the 2007 Disney movie-musical classicEnchanted. Performing alongside Adams, Patrick Dempsey, and her idol, Idina Menzel, inspired Covey to try her hand in various areas of the entertainment industry.
“I thought they were joking when they said, ‘We’re gonna come downstairs. It’s gonna be full of birds and rats,’ and then it really was. It was a big fun game of pretend,” Covey says.
While Covey has explored a variety of avenues since Enchanted, at Northwestern she devotes most of her time to writing and is enrolled in the playwriting sequence.
“A lot of my work is informed by being in the room [at a young age] and watching the projects come to life,” Covey says.
Two of Covey’s works have been featured in prominent festivals: “Waiting Room,” a one- woman play, showed at Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s One Act Play Festival, and “Painting Faye Salvez,” a musical featured in the New York Musical Festival.
“All the joy I get from acting is the same joy I get from writing; it’s the joy of telling a story,” Covey says. “I’ll feel the most fulfilled by knowing that I’m telling the stories I want to be telling and they’re accessible to the people they need to be accessible to.”
First-year Eden Strong stepped onto her first professional stage before most students step into their kindergarten classroom. An actress since age three, she has commercial credits from Walmart and KFC, and television roles on Shameless, Boss and Sirens.
Growing up in Chicago, Strong had access to starring in professional theatre. However, the eight-week shows took time out of her education and everyday life.
“It’s one thing to do commercials and TV, where it’s a one-off or you go shoot a commercial for a day,” Strong says. “But you can do a [theatre] show with an eight-month run and still not really get a sustainable amount of money to live your life.”
Strong’s mother and aunt both attended Northwestern, which influenced her decision to apply. Despite being a lifelong actress, Strong remains uncertain about her career path.
“I applied as a theatre major because I’ve never done anything else. But because theatre is such a hard craft and there aren’t that many roles for Black people in theatre, it’s not something I can see myself devoting my entire life to,” Strong says.
By the time second-year Rachel Khutorsky finished seventh grade, she had performed nationwide as Young Fiona in the touring company of “Shrek The Musical.”
“I always tell people seventh grade was my peak,” Khutorsky says. “All of my friends were adults. If they had parties at bars, they would invite us, and we would go. It was such a different lifestyle than any other seventh grader’s.”
Khutorsky has been acting professionally since age ten, appearing in multiple commercials and an episode of 30 Rock. When she traveled with her eighth grade class to Washington, D.C., her classmates shouted when they realized she was in the Delta Airlines in-flight safety video.
Khutorsky’s longest-lasting gigs were as a voiceover artist in commercials, movie trailers and a video game for Lalaloopsy, a line of plastic dolls.
“I recorded over 800 lines for the video game, so any time you would hear, ‘Wow, you passed a level!’ or something like that, it was always me,” Khutorsky says. “I loved doing voiceover work because I’ve always had a unique voice, and I still kind of do.”
As a theatre major and Business Institutions minor at Northwestern, she credits her early experiences with giving her insight on the business side of theatre.
“Unlike a lot of [theatre students] who get to college and now they’re just starting to think about what their professional life will be, I’ve been there, done that,” Khutorsky says.