MUKILTEO — After plenty of hard work, Paige Cox has secured lead roles in both of this year’s school productions.
Cox, 18, is a senior at Kamiak High School and president of the drama club. She has been in theater since fifth grade.
She applied to 10 universities, including a couple of Ivy League schools. She recently had an interview with Harvard University.
She has big goals, but what she studies in college depends on where she ends up enrolling.
Question: How’s senior year going?
Answer: It’s going good, I’m really excited about it because I’m really into the arts department here — theater, choir and the music theater department — so all those types of things, it’s really all been coming together.
I get to be the lead in the winter play and the musical this year, which is really exciting because I’ve really been trying to work hard and work up to that since I was a freshman.
Q: Have you ever gotten a lead role?
A: When I was in middle school, but not since then. The musicals here, they’re a really big deal. My freshman year we won the 5th Avenue Award for best overall show, so they’ve always been popular, but after that they became very popular, and usually auditions have about 80 kids.
The winter play is “She Kills Monsters,” and they casted it in November. (It ended on Jan. 18.)
And then for “Urinetown,” that’s our musical, which is kind of a silly name, but they casted that in December. That will be opening in May.
So right after (“She Kills Monsters”) closes, I start on the rehearsal process for the next show. It’s very busy, but I like it that way.
Q: How’d you get into theater?
A: I went to Cedarhome Elementary School in Stanwood, and the traveling Missoula Children’s Theatre came. It was just the most magical moment, at least in my brain it was, because I was in fifth grade, I was 10.
These two ladies came in and they were like, “We’re going to do ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’” and I just remember being so excited. I just never wanted anything so badly in my entire life, I wanted to be Snow White so bad.
I did end up playing Snow White, and that was really special for me. I think that’s definitely what kick-started it.
I got kind of obsessed with it, that I started commercial acting as well. So I am part of the Tiffany Talent Agency of Seattle. I started doing commercial auditions. That’s probably how I really got into it. Then I moved here and had a lot more performance opportunities.
Q: What are your plans after high school?
A: It depends on where I go to school, because I am auditioning for USC and UCLA’s theater departments in the next couple of weeks. If that doesn’t work out then I will either be majoring in English or communications, and go into script writing. I would just love to work on script writing for Netflix, or just like, for “Stranger Things” or something like that, or “The Good Place.” Just being in a room full of writers, that’s really exciting to me.
Q: Where have you applied so far?
A: Chapman (a private university in California), USC, UCLA, U-Dub, Western, Gonzaga, UC Irvine, Harvard, Columbia and NYU. I got accepted to Chapman and Western so far.
Q: What’s your super dream school?
A: Harvard and USC are my super dream schools, but it’s so tough. Because the program I’m auditioning for at USC only accepts 20 people a year.
Q: How many audition?
A: A ton.It’s their Acting for Stage, Screen and New Media program. That is like my dream program. And they only accept 20 undergrads a year, but they accept more people into their regular drama department as well. But the 20 undergrad (program), that is my super, super dream. I mean 20 people have to get those spots, so you never know.
Q: You also had an interview with Harvard?
A: I did, yeah. I had an interview in Seattle. So that was really great.
My great-grandpa went there and majored in English and was an English professor for many years and just wrote entire collections of books, and was an artist in the community and painted and carved wood. He could play the recorder with his nose and whistle harmony at the same time.
I grew up listening to these stories of him being so clever and intelligent and hard working and kind to his students, and he’s just a really inspiring person. Even though I never really met him, I did when I was really young before he passed away, but I really feel like I identify with him.
So that’s what I wrote one of my Harvard essays about, is following in his footsteps and majoring in English, and becoming a storyteller. That’s a really big reason why I applied to Harvard, because he’s been such an inspiration to me, kind of unknowingly I suppose. Well, maybe he knows, but that was just really special to even get an interview with them.
My interviewer told me last year they chose 28 to 30 people from Washington to go to Harvard, and that was a good year.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
A: I’m really lucky. I have a really awesome family and really awesome friends, and I’m in a lot of really great and accepting activities.
My biggest challenge I suppose is being in a really competitive atmosphere, and really having to work for lead roles and things like that, like having hours and hours of rehearsals a day, and spending so much time on private lessons and just practicing at home. It’s hours and hours a week for sure, it’s a really huge commitment striving to be the best you can possibly be.
I got the lead in the play and the musical, which is so awesome. I think I have really reached what I wanted to accomplish these past four years.