“I’m addicted [to acting],” said Devan Hawkins. “Nothing makes me more frustrated but nothing makes me happier.”
Hawkins, a senior studying social work at UAA just finished starring in the latest production from the UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, “Playhouse Creatures.”
From an early age, Hawkins had an interest in theatre.
“My mom always tells me that I started acting when I was really young… I don’t have any recollection of it, but apparently I used to write plays and [then] make her rehearse and act in them,” she said. “She says I even used to correct her if she said a wrong line.”
Hawkins first got into theatre and acting in her teenage years through participating in the “Oral Interpretation of Drama” section of her high school’s Speech and Debate program, a category that entailed taking a text and acting it out solo without the use of costuming or props.
“It was just one person in professional clothes who stands in a room and performs a dialogue for 10 or so minutes,” Hawkins said.
From then on, Hawkins caught the acting bug and has been pursuing acting onstage and on screen at every available opportunity. Yet, despite her love for acting, Hawkins decided not to pursue a degree in theatre or the performing arts; instead, she chose to take a more conventional route as a journalism major… only to discover later that journalism wasn’t for her either.
“I took a hard right at psychology,” said Hawkins, who wound up switching her major to social work.
Hawkins first got involved with theatre at UAA by taking Introduction to Theatre with Nova Cunningham, who encouraged her students to audition for the 2016 production of “And Then There Were None,” a murder mystery play put on at UAA.
Hawkins says she wanted to be involved with the theatre community, so she showed up to the audition and got cast in the play.
The friendly nature of the UAA theater community made her feel welcome almost instantly.
“Everyone was so nice, warm and inviting… I really found my place here pretty easily in that regard,” she said.
In “And Then There Were None,” back in 2016, Hawkins’s character only had 22 lines. Since then, she has gone on to star in “Picasso at the Agile” (2017), “Earthquake ’64” (2018), “(Woyzeck)” (2018) with the UAA Theater and Dance Department, as well as “Silver Thaw” with the Anchorage Community Theater in 2017 and numerous other film projects, such as BIZZAY’s “The Human Condition” (2018).
“[Hawkins] is an exceptionally hard worker,” said Skylar McElwee, a senior pursuing a major in theatre with a minor in dance who has worked with Hawkins in multiple productions.
“She does a fantastic job portraying extreme emotions without seeming over the top… In my opinion, she’s probably one of the best actresses currently at UAA,” McElwee said.
Hawkins explained that for stage productions she’s had leading roles in, the time commitment has been grueling. Rehearsal schedules entail rehearsing four days a week Monday through Thursday from 7 – 10 p.m. leading up to opening night, and as opening approaches, the schedule only gets more brutal for the actors.
“[We’ll have] Friday off, but then we’ll have a 12-hour day Saturday from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and be there Sunday for 6 hours,” she said.
But for Hawkins, who finds performing personally rewarding, the commitment and rehearsal schedule is worth it.
“I’m so fueled by the challenging aspect of it and I feel such a need and a drive to perform,” she said. “When I’m on stage or acting it’s an opportunity for me to forget about everything else in my life, and it’s such a good feeling to leave everything on stage.”
Tara Haynes, who just recently was the stage manager for “Playhouse Creatures,” worked closely with Hawkins.
“I got to see just how much time she dedicates to both developing her performance and memorizing her lines,” she said. “She has a remarkable talent and incredible work ethic. Working with her has been one of the highlights of my time here at UAA.”
For Hawkins, new projects are already on the horizon.
“Dasher,” a local short film directed by James and John Kendall that Hawkins starred in this summer, will be premiering as soon as post production work finishes. The film is a comedy that revolves around the plight of two “pet detectives” and their attempts to solve pet related crimes.
Without giving away any spoilers, Hawkins hinted that the detectives “might not be the best at their job.”
When it comes to stage, Hawkins already has a role lined up in Cyrano’s Theatre Company’s production of “The Evil Dead: The Musical,” coming spring of 2019.
“I like staying busy,” Hawkins said.