Georgia Garrison ’22 loves to perform. Whether she’s dancing with Fusion, a campus hip-hop group, or acting in senior thesis films (three this semester), you can always find Garrison on stage. She also loves helping other people express themselves. At her summer job, Garrison shows nine-year-olds how to channel their energy into acting, and, as the director of WesBurlesque, she helps other students get comfortable with their bodies. During WesCeleb her interview with The Argus, Garrison expressed heartfelt gratitude for the way students show up to one another’s events, but it’s abundantly clear that Garrison herself plays a major role in making performance communities inviting and vibrant.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated as a WesCeleb?
Georgia Garrison: I do a lot of performing on campus and I’m in movies often. I feel like I’m often perceived, even if I’m not perceiving somebody else. That feels celebrity-like, even in a small world.
A: What drew you to your majors?
GG: I am a theater and sociology double major and dance minor. I started dancing as a little kid, and I was kind of shy. Dancing was an easy way to perform because I could do it without saying anything. I went to a performing arts camp for dance, and then I found acting, and that made me less shy. I didn’t want to give up dance, so it’s still in the picture. Sociology—I just like thinking about things and dissecting them.
A: What’s your favorite show you’ve been part of?
GG: In my freshman fall, I was in “The Wolves.” It was an all-female cast, and it’s about a girls’ soccer team. I was the only freshman in the show, and everyone else was an upperclassman, and they took me in like their daughter. It was really sweet, especially at the beginning of freshman year when I didn’t know a single soul on campus. There were all these adult women that were nurturing me. Also, the show itself was really fun.
A: What have you been doing this semester?
GG: I am the director of the Wes Burlesque dance group. Our shows are [Thursday, April 28 through Sunday, May 1]. I’m in a hip hop group, and then I’m also in a play called “Horse Girls,” that goes up the same weekend as Burlesque.
A: How is Burlesque different from other shows on campus?
GG: It really feels like it’s for the people in it, and less about performing. The audience experiences something very personal as well. We go through a process of getting comfortable in our bodies and expressing ourselves. Eventually, we wear less clothes onstage, but it really feels like it’s for us.
I think as an audience member, it’s very different because you’re watching somebody be vulnerable, and it can be very encouraging and inspiring. Definitely very different from most things I do on campus. Most things are less process-oriented and more performance-oriented.
A: How is hip hop going?
GG: It’s fun to see the unique style that is Fusion, compared to the other groups in FXT. Underclassmen are becoming choreographers and honing their style, and there’s lots of people on the team that have very nuanced ways of choreographing.
A: Do sociology, theater, and dance intersect at all?
GG: I think so. I was getting my hair cut a few years ago, and the lady asked what my majors were. I told her, and she was like, “Those sound like they don’t go together at all.” So, to that lady, they do—theater and sociology, especially. For acting, I have to be able to look at people and understand what’s going on in their heads and what factors are contributing to the way they’re behaving.
A: Do you have a favorite class or favorite professor?
GG: I’m obsessed with [Associate Professor of Sociology] Greg Goldberg. I’m in his class right now called “Bad Sex,” which is a lot of fun. He cracks me up. I just want to be his best friend. I don’t think I’m smart enough for him to love me as a student. I think we’d be friends, but I don’t know if that’s an option.
A: Have your interests changed at Wesleyan?
GG: I didn’t show up thinking I’d have time for dance. I thought that in college you had to pick maybe one or two things, if that. I went my first semester without any dance in my life, and I was bored. Also, I don’t work out, so my body was like, “What’s going on?” I was able to make room for dance.
I also didn’t think I wanted to be an actress when I showed up here, but now I definitely do. I’ve gotten lots of words of encouragement from people around me, which has been really nice. After being in a thesis last semester and hearing Film professors giving kind words, I thought, “Oh, well you teach this, so I must be on to something.”
A: What drew you to Wesleyan?
GG: A lot of people from my high school end up here, so it felt like an easy path, an obvious one. It is the only school that I really felt drawn to. I think the creativity and the free-spirit energy drew me here. I also wanted a school that was sort of liberal and artsy, but not totally lacking school spirit and tradition and that sort of feeling, which I feel like you can lose if you’re not like at a rah-rah sports school.
Wes kids are just jaded enough, but not too jaded. We’re comfortable rolling our eyes at a lot of things, making memes about the administration. But then we’re still all down to do Undies in Olin, do traditions, and say “Go Wes,” [while] kind of making fun of Wes at the same time. I think that dichotomy is what I like the most about people here. I feel like there’s some other liberal arts schools where kids are so jaded that they don’t want to have fun at the end of the day, participate, and encourage each other.
I’m also a tour guide, so that helps me process my Wesleyan experience. Every Monday at 1 p.m., I have to present what I’ve been doing here to people.
A: Has anyone ever said anything strange on a tour?
GG: One time someone asked me if they could shoot their BB gun, which was in their bag, if they came here. It was like, “I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if that’s in the student handbook.”
A: Is being a tour guide important to you?
GG: Before I was a tour guide, I would have lots of people visit—family members, friends from high school, or people my mom would connect me to. I would walk them around and convince them to come here, and I was like, “I should just get paid to do that.”
A: Do you know your plans after Wes?
GG: I have to take all the movies I’ve been in, make it into a reel of my acting, and send them out to agents. I’m probably going to move to New York and start auditioning, and I also might want to teach acting to kids. I love kids.
I worked at a summer camp, and I love nine-year-olds. I think they have such robust personalities and don’t quite know where to put it yet. They can act super well if they settle down just for a second, but the ones that can’t settle down are also the best ones at it. I like helping them hone that energy.
A: What type of movies do you want to be in?
GG: I love an A24-style movie, like “Lady Bird” or “The Florida Project.” Big, big movies, but very nuanced and still artistic. “About life” kind of movies.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Anne Kiely can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.