Shunté Lofton was first captivated by William Shakespeare’s work when watching Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film, Romeo + Juliet. If you ask her, not many in the theater world share her love of this version of the classic tragedy, yet it’s what started her personal journey in theater.
Shakespeare has been a common thread throughout Lofton’s career, during which she has held roles in productions of more than half of Shakespeare’s works, including with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Texas Shakespeare Festival and American Shakespeare Center. Lofton also has performed with the Classical Theatre Company, the Alley Theatre, Main Street Theatre, Peterborough Players, Landing Theatre Company and 4th Wall Theatre Company. She’s even had a few anime voice-acting credits.
1. What drew you to CWRU and the CWRU/CPH MFA in Acting?
I was drawn to Case [Western Reserve] because of the partnership with Cleveland Play House. There are only a few MFA acting programs in the country that are also connected to a regional theatre. I wanted to go somewhere where I could continue to grow in my craft, but I didn’t want to completely remove myself from the professional world; Case [Western Reserve] provided an opportunity for me to stay connected.
2. Why did you decide to pursue acting?
As artists we have the power to change a person’s perspective with something as simple as lighting. A touch of the hand can provoke hours of conversation and I find that absolutely fascinating. Theatre is a tool for thought, escape, compassion and rage. Time is precious; I became an actor because I wanted to fill my days by doing something interesting and that can provide a service to people.
3. Can you tell me about your role in The Tempest?
I play Prospera, the banished duchess of Milan. She lands on a small island with her daughter, Miranda, and learns to live off of the land with the help of some of the beings that live there. One day, the people who exiled her arrive on the same island, and she has to wrestle with her desire for revenge.
4. What do you enjoy most about the role?
I like that Prospera isn’t solely the hero or the villain of this story. I like when characters are messy because that makes them more human.
5. What is one of your favorite roles you’ve ever had?
I got to play Ophelia in Hamlet a few years ago and I loved every minute of it!
6. Outside of acting, what are some of your other interests?
I love playing the bass! And biking! I’ve gotten to explore so much of the city just from the bike paths, it’s so much fun!
7. After completing the MFA program, what are your career goals?
I hope to add more film and television into the mix, and I want to transition into directing and artistic leadership. I want to have my own production company and become a mentor for aspiring artists.
I was the first in my family to pursue a career in theatre. Many people have helped me along the way, but I’ve also had to figure a lot of stuff out by myself. I want to be a resource for other people who have the desire to make a life in the arts.