Gianna Schuetz is a rare hybrid. She is studying both theater and accounting to put together a curriculum that will advance her career goal: being the manager of a theater company. Gianna has apprenticed at the famed Williamstown Playhouse, where a summer festival introduces audiences to new plays starring many well-known actors. Most recently, she was the state manager and lighting designer for a department production, and she will also be serving in that role for a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Ghostlight Repertory Theatre, a popular Oxford locale for performances.
When and why did you decide to study your major?
In middle school, I began getting involved in theatre and got bit by the theater bug. I am from Huntsville, Alabama, and there are a large number of very active community theaters there. I was enriched by this environment, but I saw many organizations go bankrupt and have to close their doors. I decided to double major in theater and accountancy. My dream job is to be a director of finance for a theater company.
Do you feel a sense of community in your department?
Yes—100 percent! The Department of Theatre and Film is relatively small and we spend a lot of time together. If you walk into Isom Hall, where the department is, it’s evident how close we are. The lobby is always filled with students eating, running lines, and having fun. The best friends I have made at college are members of the theatre department.
Do you feel that professors have mentored you?
I am on texting basis with a large number of my professors in the department! Michael Barnett, who is the chair of the department, has particularly been a huge mentor of mine. It was Michael who pushed me to try lighting design, which is now one of my biggest passions.
Have you been given out-of-classroom opportunities in your department?
I have been very lucky to have had many opportunities. I am a teaching assistant for Theatre 201, and I am also help hang and set up all the lights for each production. This year, I am actually working on every production in the department! I’ve been a lighting designer and part of the costume crew. This semester I’ll be a stage manager.
What are your extracurricular activities?
I am currently the treasurer for the Associated Student Body, the director of fundraising and events for the Ole Miss Food Bank, the business manager for Ghostlight Repertory Theatre, and a group leader for the Big Event, the largest community service project at UM.
A member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Taylor is the president of the UM film club, Oxford Reels. She has written and produced her own films, including one with some friends for the 48-Hour Film Festival, which challenges students to create a movie within 48 hours.
Why did you decide to study your film?
I’ve always had an interest in film, but it wasn’t until I took the Introduction to Cinema class that I realized I wanted to study film in college.
Why study film at the University of Mississippi?
The Film Production program at the University of Mississippi is very close-knit. The amount of support and guidance you receive from your professors and classmates is out of this world! I felt like I belonged somewhere when I joined the family here!
I’d like to write and direct for a studio in California, New York, or Atlanta!
Have you had an experience at UM that made you feel empowered or gave you a leadership opportunity?
I’ve had great opportunities to hold leadership positions in the student-run film club Oxford Reels! A really empowering feeling for me is writing and producing films that I’m proud of.
Any particular support or encouragement you have received from a professor?
The professors take each student seriously as filmmakers. I’ve given my professors scripts I’ve written and films I’ve made outside of class for feedback. They always take the time to support their students and give detailed feedback very quickly. My professors keep me in the loop for upcoming internships and job opportunities, too.
What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
My go-to meal in Oxford is from Rice and Spice. I get the Rice and Spice Noodles, gluten-free and peanut free, with chicken, and spice level two!
What are you binge watching on Netflix or other platform?
Any time a new season of You comes out, I binge watch that. Right now, I’m watching The Witcher and Criminal Minds.