Michigan State University
Michigan State University
College of Arts and Letters Logo
Department of Theatre
Department of Theatre

Minor in Economics
Specialization in African American and African Studies

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Adia Alli Alum Photo

Meet Adia Alli

Major and degree earned: B.A. in Theatre,
Minor in Economics, Specialization in African American and African Studies
Graduation year: 2014
Current position: Education Associate at Court Theatre & Freelance Actor/Artist
Hometown: Warren, MI
Now living in: Chicago, IL

Why did you choose Michigan State University?

As a high school student, I was fortunate to visit MSU's campus a couple times due to the Michigan Thespian Festival. My high school theater program also had many connections with MSU. I had teachers and friends who had graduated from MSU or were current students there. Knowing that I was going to stay in state, when it came time to decide on a college I knew that I felt super comfortable navigating MSU's vast campus and opportunities. I am a Libra through and through and so I have a difficult time making decisions because I consider a ton of factors and ultimately want to make the best decision for myself. I'm also naturally interested in many things. I actually graduated high school wanting to pursue both theater and environmental studies. (Ha). I knew that I needed to attend a university that would allow me to explore and pursue multiple interests without having the pressure of focusing on one thing. I am a multifaceted artist and MSU was perfect for the type of education I needed.

How did Michigan State University help you prepare for your career?

I am the still the multifaceted artist that I grew to be while attending Michigan State. I gained training in acting, stage management, devising, arts education, and arts administration. Attending MSU gave me the tools to continue to explore and take on various positions when I moved to Chicago. When a moved to the Windy City, I immediately found a job in arts administration and soon started taking on devising, stage management, and acting opportunities. The community here is full of artists that specialize in one or many things and it makes collaboration super exciting. Because of MSU, I'm able to collaborate on a different level because I have a better understanding of the work it takes to do various roles. My work has a stage manager has informed my work as an actor and my work as a director. Attending MSU also helped me with networking! Because I was all over the place, I naturally made a lot of friends in different areas of campus. My first two years at State, I lived in Case Hall because I was adamant about not living near the theatre and only having that connection to campus. My job at OISS also branched me in different areas. I have a lot of friends who graduated from James Madison, were on team sports, were in BSA or ASU, or were international students and scholars. The Department of Theatre and CAL also hosted formal networking opportunities so that my peers and I could practice and hone our "networking" skills and though those events sometimes caused anxiety because of the formality, I found that developing connections by simply being genuine was the key. Lastly, the Department of Theatre has a great relationship with Williamston Theatre in Williamston. They are an equity theatre and allowed myself and my peers to begin the Equity Membership Candidate Program. Having my EMC card before I moved to Chicago put me at a great advantage and allowed me to drop in and be seen at equity auditions.

What was the most memorable experience at Michigan State University?

Oh goodness. Four years of memories...there's so many to consider: -Giving the senior address at graduation!! I was very proud to be a black woman representing CAL and the Department of Theatre. I think people sometimes forgot that the theatre department existed so it was great to remind people that we're there and we're awesome :) -Bonding with my black and other poc friends within and outside the theatre department. Having community and creating spaces for us was comforting and always necessary. I specifically loved meeting up with the other black theatre students in SnyPhi to work monologues and scenes and give each other notes. -SnyPhi in general and how it was the natural convening space near the Aud. Moving tables to fit like 50 theatre students. Small functions and sleepovers in dorm rooms. Movie nights and Scandal Thursdays in the basement. -Seeing so many touring Broadway shows with my friends at Wharton Center including Memphis, Porgy and Bess, and Sister Act. -Taking a Devised course taught by Professor Melissa Thompson. I absolutely loved that class. I'm currently working on a project with Pope.L at the Art Institute of Chicago and many things I learned from Melissa and my peers in that course has helped me to be a great collaborator on this show process. -Izzone! Attending football and basketball games and finally getting into the lower bowl! -Running my first half marathon in East Lansing!

What advice do you have for today’s students?

-Be curious and investigate the things that MSU and the surrounding population has to offer. Try as many things as you'd like. Surprise yourself! Leave room for growth! Figure out things that you do or don't like or are "meh" about. "Meh" is valid. -Find a balance between saying "no" to things you know you don't want to do/aren't passionate about and saying "yes" to things that may scare you, but challenge and push you to a greater self. -Developing a post-grad plan and committing to it can be difficult and exhausting. Leaving the structure and "safety net" of the educational system takes some adjustment, so be easy on yourself. Some people may find immediate jobs and opportunities in their field and others may not. If you're determined to move to your dream city, do it. If you need to stay in your hometown/at your parents' place to save money, do it. If you have to get a part-time job or two or three, do it. No shame. You set your own pace for your own life. -Begin the EMC track. Use your time while in school (or during breaks) to develop skills that can become a side gig. Hobbies or slight interests can make you money, pay some bills, and be artistically fulfilling. It can range from photography, graphic design, to nannying, fitness training, or even helping people with their taxes. -Be vocal. Own your voice. Continue to challenge systems that don't serve you and the greater good. -Be as consistent and reliable as you can be. People will notice. -Trust your gut.

Photos from your time at MSU:

 Legally Blonde (2012)

Legally Blonde at MSU (2012)

Sweet Mercy at MSU (2013)

Sweet Mercy at MSU (2013)

Freshman Showcase ay MSU (2010)

Freshman Showcase Company Photo at MSU (2010)

The Serpent Lady at MSU (2014)

The Serpent Lady at MSU (2014)

Recent Production Photos:

Pope.L: The Escape

Adia Alli as Hannah in "Pope.L: The Escape" at Art Institute of Chicago (Aidan Fitzpatrick photo)

Seeds Web Series

Check out the web series I am in: Seeds


Adia Alli is a Nigerian-born, Michigan-raised multifaceted artist. She began her artistic journey through the Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts, a high school magnet theater program, and later pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Theater, a minor in Economics, and a specialization in African American and African studies at Michigan State University. While at MSU, Adia was a member of the Honors College, acted in and stage managed shows for the Department of Theatre, Summer Circle Theatre, and Williamston Theatre, and completed internships at the Office for International Students and Scholars and Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. Shortly after graduating, Adia moved to Chicago and began working at the League of Chicago Theatres working in marketing and audience and professional development. While in Chicago, Adia has been blessed to work with a plethora of companies and inspiring artists. She has been seen on and off stage as an actor, deviser, stage manager, teaching artist, director, and arts administrator. Some performance credits include: Cardboard Piano* (TimeLine Theatre Company), The Escape (Art Institute of Chicago), No Child (Definition Theatre Company), Curves and Edges (Interrobang Theatre Project), The Doppelgänger (u/s, Steppenwolf Theatre), Insurrection: Holding History (u/s, Stage Left Theatre), Sweet (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre), god is fair (sexy nasty) (Commission Theatre), First (For Youth Inquiry), good friday (u/s, Oracle Productions), The Heart Knows (Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble), and The Bang Bang Project (Zhou B Art Center). Adia also plays Danielle in the new web series "Seeds" (Shatterglass Films) which premiered through Open Television in March 2018. Directing credits include: Can I Hit It? (For Youth Inquiry), The Wolves (Assistant Director, Goodman Theatre), and Forecast (For Youth Inquiry). Stage management credits include: An Evening at the Pekin Theatre (Illinois Humanities), Day of Absence (reading, Court Theatre), Capsized (Piven Theatre Workshop), The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater), Serial Black Face (reading, Definition Theatre Company), The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions), The First Time (reading, Congo Square Theatre Company), and Forte & Friends: A Summer Salon (Piven Theatre Workshop). Adia enjoys developing new skills and recently wrote her first play subduction for Black Lives, Black Words 2017. Adia is a company member of For Youth Inquiry (FYI) Performance Company at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and sits on the Auxiliary Board of Adventure Stage Chicago. She is a teaching artist with Court Theatre based on the campus of the University of Chicago. When not dabbling in the arts, Adia enjoys running/race-training, yoga, reading poetry and black literature, dancing to afrobeats, and eating peanut butter! She is represented by Gray Talent Group in Chicago.


Anything else you might like to add:

Learn more about Court Theatre at www.courttheatre.org!

Court Theatre Logo

Go Green! Go White!


Interested in being featured in the MSU Department of Theatre Alumni Profile Series? Click here!