“My family always prioritized storytelling through the arts,” says Sarah Doolin Roy, who stepped up as executive director of the Young Actors Theatre in 2021. YAT was founded in 1975 by Roy’s aunt, Tina Williams. “I grew up here training in music, dance, and drama as a child, and it sparked my love for the performing arts.”
Roy can trace her history at YAT by walking down the building’s photo-lined halls. Her first show as a student was in “Fiddler on the Roof” as directed by Williams. During that show Roy also remembers that J. Scott Handley, current YAT artistic director, played in the orchestra pit.
Now, they work together as part of a team to produce YAT’s annual theater season as they approach their 50th anniversary. Their final show this summer concludes with the spooky, wacky story of “The Addams Family” on July 22-31.
“We find ourselves full circle and home again, which is also the theme of our season,” says Roy. “It’s the first season back after we took a long hiatus, and our stage was dark here at Young Actors Theatre. It felt like a homecoming for so many of our staff members and students. So we’re finishing it off with a kooky story that represents the same love we share with all our families.”
Roy’s own daughter made her stage debut during YAT’s summer camp programs last month. She considers YAT to be an even larger family and was proud of all the student actors who performed in “The Wizard of Oz,” “Little Women,” and “Frozen Junior.”
Growing up in Tallahassee, Roy split her time between YAT and The Tallahassee Ballet. After graduation she hung up her pointe shoes and turned her focus to international relations and communications. Roy worked in foreign policy for eight years, and later earned her master’s degree in public administration and nonprofit management.
“I love understanding what unites us as humans,” says Roy. “I thought about how the arts can really influence democracy and how strong cultural institutions are democratic pillars.”
Most recently, Roy served as the director of strategic communications for the American Ballet Theater. She had the opportunity to work with Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera House to promote the ballet’s performances.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down New York City, Roy and her family decided to go home to Tallahassee for a few weeks to quarantine. Weeks turned into months, and Roy was given the unique opportunity to return to YAT.
“It’s been incredible, and I am so grateful to serve the mission of this organization,” says Roy. “Our shows have sold out. There’s clearly an appetite for that shared experience of live theater in our community. There’s a willingness to support the next generation of talent here in Tallahassee.”
Roy says the main goal at YAT is to train students not only in the performing arts, but to also provide opportunities for leadership and professional development. Students are paired with YAT professionals in stage management, lighting, costuming, facilities, and more to enhance their experience and give them insights into how the theater industry operates.
Roy lives by the philosophy that there are no small roles, whether it’s in the ensemble, behind the scenes, or in the spotlight. She leads by this example in her everyday work and is grateful for every member of her team.
Click here to learn more about Young Actors Theatre.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the Tallahassee Democrat.