We sat down with Samantha Wilson, who started with us this season as our Capital Campaign Manager.
How would you describe your job to someone who might not be familiar to the title?
In the simplest terms, my job is to raise money for Virginia Stage Company's special campaign to restore and renovate parts of the Wells Theatre. The focus of the campaign is on the backstage and onstage elements of the Theatre, including updating the fly loft system, the on-stage dimmers, and all of the seats and carpeting. All of these renovations will improve the quality of our work onstage.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I'm originally from central Florida where I attended undergraduate school at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and studied Art History and History. Wanting to pursue a career in museums, I received my master's degree in Museum Studies from George Washington University in Washington D.C. I planned on working in collections management - taking care of objects in museums - but soon realized how few jobs there were when I graduated, so I ended up working in membership and development at an historic house in D.C. and found I loved it. I love developing relationships with people who are just as passionate about the arts as I am!
How did you come to work for Virginia Stage Company?
I am a military spouse - my husband flies helicopters in the Navy - so after working in DC, we got orders to move San Diego. In San Diego, I worked in development at a museum for a year, then accepted a job in fundraising at La Jolla Playhouse and loved the theater environment. When my husband and I got orders by the Navy to move to Norfolk, I was looking to continue my career in both fundraising and theater. By happy coincidence, David (Managing Director) learned I was looking for a job contacted me about the Capital Campaign position and the rest is history!
What impact do you hope to have in your role here?
I hope to promote VSC's role in the community as both a great regional theater with high quality art as well as a catalyst for discourse and learning through the theater's many education and outreach programs. Working with the staff, board and dedicated patrons, I hope to reinforce the fact that VSC, and its home at the Wells Theatre, is a vital part of the Hampton Roads community that must be stewarded for years to come.
Before working at Virginia Stage, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
I would say the most interesting job I've had was working at the National Museum of American History during the summer as an Educational Aid. My job was to facilitate hands-on learning with guests using museum objects on different history education carts. I taught people how to use a cotton gin and a stereoscope; what soldiers would have carried in battle from the Civil War through Vietnam; how people would have washed their clothes before washing machines; and the best part - everyday, we would teach visitors flag etiquette by unfolding a 50 foot American flag in the middle of the museum with the help of about 20-30 visitors, sing the National Anthem, and refold the flag. It was a great opportunity to meet people, educate them, and hear their perspectives.
What places have you lived?
I was born in North Carolina and have lived in central Florida, Washington D.C., San Diego and now Norfolk.
When you started with Virginia Stage, what were you looking forward to the most during Season 40?
I was looking forward to The Bluest Eye because I am a huge reader and I love Toni Morrison, plus I think it is incredibly important to showcase diverse voices like Lydia Diamond (playwright) and Khanisha Foster (director) to foster different perspectives and conversations.
What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?
A month long vacation somewhere exotic! I mean, I’d pay off my student loans first, but that would be the fist thing I’d buy.