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Spotlight: UI freshman bitten by the acting bug

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | FEBRUARY 11, 2011 7:10 AM

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Elizabeth Hinkler, along with her twin sister Emily, was enlisted in a talent agency at the age of 3 because their parents thought the pair could be the next Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

The plan worked, and the two landed their first role in the 1995 film Losing Isaiah, which starred Halle Berry.

“To know that I was in something like that at such a young age is really amazing,” Hinkler said. “It was really cool to have that experience and for me to know that I was in a movie with Halle Berry.”

After her first big film, acting was put on hold. That is until Hinkler was a freshman in high school and was cast as an 8-year-old boy in the high-school production All My Sons.

“I never really knew that acting could be a profession,” she said. “But I loved it, and I knew that I wanted to something with acting in the course of my life.”

At the University of Iowa, Hinkler is a freshman theater major with an emphasis in acting. She was encouraged by the theater department to audition for the productions this year so she could “get her face out there.”

It worked more than she expected — Hinkler was cast in world-renowned director Martha Clarke’s production of In the Night at the UI. In fact, Clarke was determined to have Hinkler and her twin sister in the production, working alongside graduate students from the university.

“[Elizabeth and Emily] are adorable, spunky, and a visual treat as twins,” Clarke said. “They worked hard, were patient in the process, and a joy to be around.”

Hinkler was ecstatic to have the opportunity to perform in the production with her sister and to work with Clarke.

“I knew about Clarke before I came to college because I learned about her in my dance class,” Hinkler said. “I was so excited about her coming.”

However, since Hinkler was in Clarke’s production, she thought it would be impossible for her to be in anything else that same semester. Her Acting 1 teacher, lecturer Meredith Alexander, had another plan.

Alexander is the director of Tattoo Girl, a Mainstage play presented by the theater department. One day after class, Alexander asked Hinkler if she would be interested in playing the young gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, in the production.

In the play, Hinkler has to perform a beam routine, which for her is a bit odd, because the beam is the reason she quit gymnastics years ago.

“When I started having to do beams in gymnastics, I realized that I was afraid of heights,” Hinkler said. “But now that I’m doing it in Tattoo Girl, I guess you can say I got over my fear.”

Emily Hinkler, who is also a theater major, said she was so excited for her sister that she called their parents to tell them.

“Elizabeth has grown so much as an actress and takes so much delight in theater, she can talk about it all day,” Emily Hinkler said. “She did a wonderful job in Tattoo Girl.”

Being in the two Mainstage productions as a freshman is an amazing experience, and Elizabeth Hinkler is looking forward to where acting will take her in the future.

Her plan is to move back to Chicago with her sister and audition for as many productions as she can. The two hope to start their own theater company someday.

“When you are a character in a production, you are so much a part of who you actually are because it’s an incorporation of everything,” Hinkler said. “As William Shakespeare once said, ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.’”


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