Beyond the Gates: Laakan McHardy '16

BY HALEY ROBINSON '17 

Laakan McHardy ’16 describes Mount Holyoke as “an inclusive community of forward thinkers and ambitious agents of social change.” McHardy, an international student from Montego Bay, Jamaica, is just that: bold and determined.

Like many Mount Holyoke students, McHardy supplemented her academic courses with an impressive range of extracurricular activities, serving as a member of both MHACASA and APAU for four consecutive years, working as a Peer Diversity Education Facilitator and founding an after-school program called Girls 2 Women, geared toward encouraging girls of color to practice self-expression through the arts. According to McHardy, being involved in organizations like MHACASA and APAU taught her crucial lessons about time management and personal sacrifice, which have greatly contributed to her professional success. “As a double major balancing academics, jobs, rehearsals and maintaining personal sanity, learning the work-life balance and how to take care of yourself in order to do good work has been invaluable,” McHardy noted.

After graduating from Mount Holyoke with a double major in Theatre Arts and Psychology, McHardy joined Actors Theatre of Louisville as an Acting Apprentice. You might recognize her from her illustrious portrayal of the valiant heroine Lysistrata or her captivating performance as the gallant general Macbeth. During her time at Mount Holyoke, McHardy performed regularly in the Mount Holyoke Theatre Department’s main stage productions. She first learned about Actors Theatre of Louisville and their Professional Training Company while she was working as a production assistant at Clubbed Thumb, a New York City-based theatre company, during her Lynk-funded internship in the summer of 2015. The following February, McHardy submitted her audition tape and was later offered the apprenticeship.

The PTC has their own season, which entails devising, writing, rehearsing and performing solo shows, one-act plays and other new work. “Otherwise,” McHardy added, “Acting apprentices support Actors Theatre’s main stage season, either filling non-equity roles [or functioning] as backstage crew for both the main stage and the PTC seasons.” Depending on the season, days can range anywhere from four to sixteen hours. “Essentially, it involves a lot of work, often long days and the constant thrill of creating art and collaborating with talented, generous, dedicated people.”

McHardy had one last sage piece of advice: do an internship. “The Lynk is such a wonderful resource Mount Holyoke has made available and I do think everyone should take full advantage,” she urged. “Do good work, be nice, be enthusiastic, meet people, ask them for advice, maintain those relationships, look into further training, and invest in yourself and your talent.” McHardy assured me that this simple encouragement reaches far beyond the realm of theater; creating lasting connections is the foundation upon which to establish a strong professional network. “Build those relationships, always come with your best work, and I believe opportunities will open up.”

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