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Amy Newbold

Roosevelt musical theatre alumna co-stars in hit film Divergent

Posted: 03/31/2014
Roosevelt University theatre alumna Amy Newbold is a co-star and the only Chicagoan cast in a principal role in the new futuristic film,  Divergent, which was shot in Chicago and which opened March 21 at theatres throughout the region.

“It’s a crazy opportunity and one that I feel very fortunate to have,” said Newbold, who plays Molly, a tall and very physical bully whose main role in the new hit film is to fight and be an obstacle to the movie’s lead female character Tris, played by Shailene Woodley.

A 2008 graduate of Roosevelt’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre program and a resident of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, Newbold credits a field experience she did as a Roosevelt student with Claire Simon Casting in Chicago in 2008 with initially putting her on the path that would lead to the major movie role – her first.

“The thing I valued most about my Roosevelt education was the opportunity it gave me to get to know people and instructors who are active in the industry,” said Newbold, who became interested in casting – even more than in acting – after taking a class and being mentored by Jane Alderman, Roosevelt’s Theatre Showcase instructor and 35-year director who has cast dozens of films, television shows and theatre productions all over the country.

“It doesn’t hurt to get some experience with a casting company because you have a chance to see up close what is expected of an actor,” said Alderman.

The Roosevelt instructor connected Newbold as a volunteer intern with Claire Simon Casting, which led her to land a job there as a casting associate. After several years on the job, Newbold decided to move on so she could go back to school for nursing. With a passion for travel and outreach to under-resourced populations, her ultimate hope is to produce a documentary show for and about mobilizing the world’s Millennials.  A member of that generation, Newbold is 27 years of age.

Her plan, however, was put on hold when Claire Simon Casting called Newbold to audition for the part of Molly in Divergent.

“The reason I was comfortable enough to audition for the part was that I had years of casting experience,” the Roosevelt alumna said. “If I was to give advice to anyone going into theatre, it would be to get some experience at a casting company. It is hugely important to understanding the process that an actor must go through in order to be cast in a role.”

The Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts has nearly 200 students, many who choose to pursue non-credit field experiences in Chicago’s theatre community, according to Sean Kelley, director of the Theatre Conservatory.
 
“While our students take classes in a single location downtown, they are encouraged to look at the entire city, with its many theatre companies and related businesses as the real learning laboratory,” said Kelley. “We are pleased that Amy was able to do that and are proud of what she’s been able to accomplish with Divergent.
 
For her part, Newbold said she’s not married to the idea in the future of strictly a career in acting, though she’ll take any future parts that come her way.  “My hope is to use this film as a launching pad and as leverage to get into documentary making and producing,” she said.