Influencer of the Week: Gabriella Headley, The First Academy

Headley is the middle and upper school theater director for the Royals.

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  • | 12:58 p.m. November 11, 2020
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As the middle and upper school theater director for The First Academy, Gabriella Headley has the unique opportunity to both instill and nurture a love for theater in her students. Headley is a TFA alumna, and she loves being back in the same educational environment she once enjoyed. 


What brought you to your school?

I attended The First Academy as a student, and throughout college, I kept thinking about how cool it would be to teach there and give back and pour into students just like my teachers poured into me. When I was entering the workforce after college, I reached out to TFA, and here I am! 

What do you love most about your school?

I love the TFA school culture and how it truly is like a big family. The teachers all truly care for the students, and the students want to be there and want to learn. It’s an environment that is so welcoming and feels like home! 

What is your motivation?

My motivation is challenging and coaching students to reach their full potential to put on quality shows and performances, to have fun, and to honor and glorify Jesus Christ. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The students! They mean the world to me, and there is a special bond that you create when working toward a common goal like putting on a show. 

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

My theater teacher, Suzanne Livesay, is the reason I’m teaching. She gave me so many opportunities to direct and lead as a high-school student. She constantly challenged me to grow and gave me the confidence to pursue musical theater in college. 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

An actress. I was raised in a very artistic and musical home, so I fell in love with theater when I was 8 years old and never found anything else that I was really passionate about. It’s great to now be encouraging the future actors, technicians and directors. It’s so rewarding to see students pursue the arts in college and beyond. 

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

That’s so tricky! I live in the middle- and high-school world, so I would have to say I’m more partial to teenage-level plays I read in school, like “The Glass Menagerie” and “Antigone.” I love stories that leave you feeling and thinking differently than how you did when you started the book. I love telling those kinds of stories on stage, as well. 

If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

Oh goodness, if I could multiply or stop time, that would be amazing! Sometimes I feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to get done all I need to accomplish.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Coldplay, the Lumineers and Sara Bareilles, because they are great storytellers and so beautifully capture human emotion. Their songs make me feel inspired and challenged. 


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