News Column

Lexingtonian lives acting dream in New York City

July 16, 2014

By Jill Doss-Raines, The Dispatch, Lexington, N.C.

July 16--Since 2005, the home-school graduate who is the daughter of Dr. Michael and Debbie Phillips has called New York home. She set out for the Big Apple first as a musical theater student at New York University but decided to jump head-first into the acting world after one year of school.

"I was in a city where I can go to any (acting) class and any audition," said the 27-year-old. "I was just anxious to get out there."

So far, Phillips has been lucky to land enough acting jobs to keep her in New York without having to work mainly "other jobs" as many actors in the city do. She occasionally does odd jobs, such as selling tickets to Broadway plays in Times Square, to make rent and pay other bills in between her acting gigs.

Six months ago, Phillips wrote down her career goals for the next five years, listing "have a lead role in a national touring play."

"I didn't realize I would get that accomplished in five months," she said. "Sometimes it's good to write down your goals that way."

She will play Erma, the comedic sidekick Jersey Girl, in "Anything Goes." Written by Cole Porter, the play is set aboard the ocean liner S.S. American, where nightclub singer/evangelist Reno Sweeney is traveling from New York to England. Her friend, Billy Crocker, has stowed away to be near his love, Hope Harcourt, but the problem is Harcourt is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Joining the love triangle on board the ship are Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, and his sidekick-in-crime, Erma. Sweeney and Martin join forces to help Crocker in his quest to win Harcourt's heart.

Phillips' love for acting was born on the Edward C. Smith Civic Center stage as a member of the Lexington Youth Theatre. Her first and last roles were in "Peter Pan" -- as a support character the initial time and in the lead role in her final production.

"My first real role was in 'The Velveteen Rabbit,' directed by my hero, Evelyn Harris," she said. "She is wonderful. I am sure hundreds of children in Lexington would credit her with getting them started.

"I would love to venture out into the film world, but there is something special about live theater. I hope everyone in Lexington will continue to support LYT. It wasn't just a hobby for me, it was a career choice."

"Anything Goes" has no North Carolina dates on its touring schedule. The closest the production will come to North Carolina is Georgia and Washington, D.C. The cast will begin rehearsals in September.

Phillips is spending her summer taking dance classes and plans to visit her boyfriend's family in Germany. She has a website at

"I have been in New York nine years pounding the pavement and auditioning," she said. 'I have been fortunate enough to work enough. Most actors can't call acting their main gig. You have to hand out flyers and work other odd jobs in between. If I can continue to live in the city and work at what I love to do without working other jobs, I will achieve my dream."

Lifestyles Editor Jill Doss-Raines can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 219 or at


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Source: Dispatch, The (Lexington, NC)

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