Senior acting major and entrepreneurial management minor Lydia Black bravely explores multiple passions.
By Hailey Pruitt | Videography by Jake Ward |
WHY HARDING Lydia Black, a senior from Kilgore, Texas, grew up in theatre and dance. “My older sister and several friends studied theatre at public universities, and after hearing their stories, I decided I wanted this to be a time when I would be challenged but not pushed beyond my boundaries. Harding’s theatre department seemed like it had the best balance of good, quality theatre while telling stories that actually matter and are honoring God, including him in our personal lives.”
INTEGRATION OF PASSIONS Pursuing both theatre and business led Black to recognize a synergy between the fields that has prepared her to start her own coffee shop after graduation, a challenge she is eager to take on. “Learning about how to manage people and problems, creating and presenting a vision to the customer — I had learned all of that hands-on in the theatre department, especially in directing. My understanding of how to be a leader, handle pressured situations and make executive decisions on the spot was what Mr. Robin Miller taught us in directing classes. Working on so many productions taught me that everyone has something unique to contribute, and I should seek out what they’re gifted at and place them where they are most useful for the entire company.”
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HEALING As a young girl, Black believed that she would always be different from the “pretty” girls and would never fit in. She certainly never saw herself entering a pageant, but the director of Miss Central Arkansas saw her perform in “Elf: The Musical” at Harding and invited her to participate in the competition. “The Holy Spirit encouraged me to ask, ‘why not?’ It wasn’t because I didn’t want to or because I didn’t think it would be fun or educational but because I still saw myself as different from those girls, and I didn’t want to face rejection. I grappled with that for a long time and finally decided to try it. All the girls I met were incredible: so intelligent, caring and genuine. I’m still in contact with some of them. They wanted me to challenge myself more. That was a healing experience where God showed me that I could put that anger and bitterness to bed and let go of that shame because these girls are beautiful, and now I know that I’m also beautiful.”
CAMARADERIE “The most special thing about Harding is the community and culture that the students have cultivated. COVID-19 meant that we had to hide away, and I can see that people are still scared to reach out and talk to strangers, but I also see all the people who are intentionally introducing themselves to each other or talking while waiting in line. I think that’s Harding’s strength. That’s what’s going to make a difference in each individual student’s life, especially as we go forward. We grow by making connections with people who are different from us. Harding has something special, but we have to be brave about it.