Passion, hard work drive theater student

GVL / Kate Kaurich 
Sophie Ni

Kate Kaurich

GVL / Kate Kaurich Sophie Ni

Brian Ledtke

Sophie Ni, a senior theater major at Grand Valley State University, has been in almost every theater production that GVSU has put on in the last four years, from the Shakespeare productions to the main stage shows.

Most recently, Ni was one of the leads in “Crimes of the Heart.” Ni credits film as the catalyst that made her want to pursue theater, and loves seeing how actors live in the worlds that have been created.

“I have wanted to act ever since I first saw ‘The Mask’ with Jim Carey as a little girl,” Ni said.

While Ni clearly has a love for the stage, that’s not all she does. As well as performing, Ni is the secretary of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre fraternity, a member of Pseudo Improv She is also in the honors college and is a member of Pseudo Improv, the improvisational troupe on campus.

“I think Sophie could provide other students with a good perspective of balancing the rigors of a production and still maintaining a good GPA,” said Jack Lane, box office manager of the Louis Armstrong Theater.

Ni said it is a euphoric thrill to create a character to live inside.

“I imagine it’s something similar to how Doctor Frankenstein felt when he was bringing life into dead tissue,” Ni said.

She said she believes acting is essentially taking different pieces from our lives that we’ve seen or experienced, slapping it together and then breathing life into all of it.

“To see your own creation take form and impact an audience, whether it be on film or on stage, is simply breathtaking,” Ni said.

Sophomore theater major Taylor Barton said Ni has been a role model and mentor for both herself and other underclassmen in the department.

“She has a spark that drives her, and enables her to take on ideas the rest of us only dream about,” Barton said.

Acting, though, is a tough career choice, and Ni said she would not have been able to do it without the support of her parents.

“Acting is a hard thing for a lot of parents to support their children doing, but my parents have been amazing,” Ni said.

Despite being a tough profession, she said she is pursuing it because acting isn’t one of those professions where you just go through the concrete steps to find a job and then have that job for most of your life.

“Acting is something that will literally integrate every corner and branch of your life, and in many ways that makes you see how huge and amazing your life really is,” Ni said.

Once graduated, she said she plans on moving to Los Angeles in the summer and will also be developing her career in China. She said she hopes to bridge the United States and Chinese film industries together.

For those who look to follow in her footsteps she says her biggest advice is to just follow your intuition and don’t be afraid to make big choices.

“Acting as a career is a huge choice as it is, let that kind of determination and confidence show in your acting,” Ni said.

Ni will be missed here at GVSU once she graduates, especially among those in the theater community.

“Sophie has done an immense amount for GVSU’s theatre department, not only by bringing in her own exceptional talent on stage, but by helping to build the community up for theatre kids in a way that gives a person hope for what could really be at Grand Valley,” Barton said.

Full of optimism and passion, Ni said her love for theater and acting comes down to living life at its fullest.

“With this one chance at life that I get, I want to live through as many stories as I possibly can,” Ni said.

[email protected]