Shayla Thompson

by Terry Watson | May 7th, 2013
Shayla Johnson

Shayla Johnson (Photo by Still Shots Photography)

She’s a woman that’s big on talent but not on titles. Life itself means a whole lot more to the spunky and extremely gifted southern girl from Hickory, N.C. She holds two degrees, one in Theatre and the other in Elementary Education, but Shayla Thompson’s passion is acting and everything it has to offer. Her love is teaching and as a science teacher and Magnet School coordinator she utilizes her animation and acting skills to assist with keeping her students engaged.

Thompson is the daughter of Laletha and Douglas Thompson and was molded in the church where she was disciplined to perform. Her acting journey began at the Tammy Lunsford School of Dance. She then attended the Hickory Performing Arts Center where she later teamed up with Synil Lee, the lead from the production “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. She showed her the ins and outs of theatre and took Thompson on the road with the show. Touring while in high school taught her a lot as she soaked up the business aspect of theatre as well as performing.

Thompson wrote and directed her own shows to pay for her first two years of college. Her mentor Claudia Teague helped to produce her shows and guide her on her mini touring adventures with a cast of 70 kids.

She chose theatre because that’s what she knew best and figured out how to change lives and make people happy with her entertaining gifts. “I love being able to change lives through theatre. I love creating memorable moments for others,” she says. After seeing The Black Nativity at North Carolina A&T State University as a high school student, she decided that’s where she belonged. “Under the leadership and teaching of Miller Lucky, Frankie Day, and Donna Bradby was life changing. They poured into and showed me what is required to be a well rounded actress, an Aggie Actress,” she emphatically says. Since then she has worked with musical director Ricky Minor on the set of the first annual Bet Music Awards. Another great achievement was getting nominated for a Regional Emmy after starring in promo commercials for TV-64/ WSOC TV in Charlotte. She has also directed and produced several productions in Hickory and Greensboro including Lights out Lights out y2k Soul Sistas, Langston Hughes Black Nativity, The Journey (created & directed) and Journey 2, Fulfilled Prophecy, and The Blood.

In addition to thanking her parents and sister Crystal, she also acknowledges those who have supported and poured into to her life and career. This includes her grandmother Hattie Adams for touring with her as a minor, Bishop Brooks and Pastor Bryan Pierce of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Greensboro, who has provided her with a venue to just share her gifts and talents as the artistic director in the arts and drama department. She also thanks First Lady Edna Brooks, First Lady Debra Pierce, Pastor Deon Clark, Andre Brinson, Pastor Gralin Bryant, Keva Brooks Napper, Diatra Langford, Dominique Wharton and many others.

In the future Thompson says she hopes to own a production company. “My goal is to have a road manager booking shows and scheduling performances that I will be in or directing. I want to be the next Tyler Perry, the next Oprah, the next Steven Spielberg, the next Spike Lee, the next trail blazer, blazing the trail for other African Americans who have a passion for the arts,” she says.

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