An actor and lighting designer

Emma Boisselle ’13 with a brown jacket is leaning against a blue door of a brick building.

Emma Boisselle ’13

Actor/lighting designer

Academic focus: theater major, chemistry minor

Internship: Underbelly, Edinburgh, Scotland

When people ask me what I do for a living, I say, “I’m an actor whose day job is being a lighting designer.” I chose to work as a lighting designer and theater electrician because it allows me to be creative, and I’d probably go insane with a desk job. By working freelance, I can work my schedule around film shoots, rehearsals, workshops and auditions.

After graduation, there were more opportunities in the southwest region to build my résumé—including being cast as Helena in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” my first year out of college. By being in a smaller market, I’ve been able to build a solid resumé, reel, and get representation—which isn't something that always happens for younger actors so soon out of college. I’m also currently SAG-AFTRA eligible (which means I can join the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union).

I don’t do as much stage acting these days, as my focus has gone to film. I feel privileged to have worked on the shows that I was on the technical side of in the industry. There is nothing like spending a month sitting in a spot booth following the Simba puppet around. It was a full-circle experience for me to work “The Lion King,” as my mentor in college, Lara Dubin, Mount Holyoke’s lighting and sound supervisor, worked that tour—which I actually saw as a kid! 

I’ve also been lucky to have worked in different aspects of the industry. I was the assistant technical director of the historic KiMo Theatre for two years, and I’ve done some small touring. I’ve worked in opera, dance, national music acts and the occasional corporate event. Designing lights for the Annual Southwest Burlesque Showcase has been one of my favorite shows!

Mount Holyoke not only taught me how to have a voice in a male-dominated industry but also how to keep persevering and to take criticism with a grain of salt. A career in the entertainment industry isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

And remember to always be professional, as you never know who you’re going to work with or meet—Elaine Bergeron, the College’s costume shop manager, taught me that.