Op-Ed – SCGSAH alumnae Nicole Brown Beharie plays a starring role in the country’s top ranked movie, “42.”

Dr. Leo Twiggs
Artist
Board Member, SCGSAH
Board of Trustees Chairman, South Carolina Hall of Fame

The number one movie in the box office showcases the talents of two South Carolina actors. One of whom is a graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH).

SCGSAH alumnae Nicole Brown Beharie graduated from the school’s Drama program in 2003. An AP student at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, Nicole wasn’t initially encouraged to SCGSAH to continue her studies. Her mother had the tenacity to contact me, a board member for the school, to find out more about the program. Thankfully, I was able to give her the information she needed for the application, and Nicole was accepted.

Attending the school afforded Nicole, as it does all students, opportunities not otherwise provided in a traditional school setting. After two years of intense study in academics and Drama, her chosen artistic discipline, she was the first SCGSAH student to be accepted and attend one of the most prestigious performing arts institutions in the world, the Juilliard School for Drama. It felt fortuitous that I was on campus the day she received her acceptance letter. I knew nothing but good things would come from this amazing actress.

And I was right.

She was the first student to receive the prestigious Robin Williams Scholarship by unanimous vote of the Juilliard drama division faculty. Now she is playing a starring role in the country’s top ranked movie, “42.” Handpicked for the role of Jackie Robinson’s wife by Rachel Robinson herself, Nicole shines as she embodies the small-statured but strong companion to the baseball legend.

Nicole’s story is one of many to come from the state-supported public arts high school. The South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities fosters artistically talented South Carolina students, no matter their race, gender or economic station in life. And it fosters growth into amazing things.

So when Nicole gets her first Oscar nomination, be it for “42” or another role, she will have done so with the foundation of a South Carolina public school. A school that historically attains the third highest SAT scores in the state, without selecting its students by academic standards, and has received more than $120 million in scholarship offers since the inaugural graduating class in 2001. A school that succeeds because it provides a life-changing opportunity for every one of the students that attends.

South Carolina is full of students just like Nicole, and it is our job to reach them and let them know of the opportunities provided by this great state. By supporting SCGSAH and arts education, you give a voice to these talented students and help change lives.

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