Junior Glynis Gylio per­formed as a pro­fes­sional actress in “Christmas Carol,” “Violet: A Musical,” and even re-enact­ments of “America’s Most Wanted.” Facebook

For junior Glynis Gilio, the stage is like home.

Gilio started acting pro­fes­sionally at age 9 in a pro­duction of “Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. She has since starred in pro­duc­tions like “Violet: A Musical” with Bailiwick Chicago Theater, par­tic­i­pated as an extra in “The Lake House,” and even appeared in re-enact­ments on the tele­vision show “America’s Most Wanted.”

“I started acting when I started breathing,” Gilio said. “My mom was always very encour­aging. It was really some­thing my sister and I really always had a passion for.”

At Hillsdale College, Gilio has been cast in “Almost Maine,” “The Mis­an­thrope,” “The Drowsy Chap­erone,” “Twelfth Night,” and most recently, “Kiss Me, Kate.”

She said her most mem­o­rable pro­duction, however, was “Violet: A Musical.” Cast at age 15, Gilio was involved with the pro­duction for four years, and even per­formed at the Joseph Jef­ferson Award show, which rec­og­nizes theater excel­lence in the Chicago area. What she says she’ll never forget, though, is the casting process.

The show needed a child and adult version of the same char­acter. During her callback, Gilio was told she had already been cast in the role of young Violet; she was just there so they could match the adult actor to her.

“For any actor, that’s a chilling moment,” she said.

Pro­fessor of Theatre George Angell worked with Gilio during “Twelfth Night”  and spoke highly of her.

“She has abil­ities that really only come with expe­rience,” he said. “She is not in the raw-dis­covery stage.”

Although she has done on-screen work, Gilio said she prefers the theater. Theater, she said, is about truth.

“Everyone used to say to me growing up, ‘You must be such a good liar because you’re an actress.’ And that I feel like is the com­plete opposite of what theater is,” she said. “When you come into a theater, you’re going to see some truth about the human expe­rience. When you are cast in a show, you are given a role, and it is your job to show the truth of that role. I think theater is important because in many cases it shows the audience a mirror. It pro­vides a peek at truth.”

For other actors on campus, however, the theater reveals a dif­ferent truth.

Freshman Christa LaVoie found the pro­fes­sional per­forming arts world after a pho­tog­rapher who worked with her sug­gested she find an agent.

“I was kind of hes­itant about it all,” said LaVoie, who joined the pro­fes­sional-per­forming-arts world at age 16. “Faith is really important to me, and I was very cau­tious about pointing things towards myself.”

LaVoie began doing catalog mod­eling and even­tually was cast as Maria Elena Holly in Spokane Valley Summer Theatre’s pro­duction of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”

“They run the rehearsals just like they do in New York,” LaVoie said, “so I got a taste of what it would be like if I had gone to New York.”

LaVoie is a non-denom­i­na­tional Christian, and said it was her faith that influ­enced many of her acting deci­sions. Uncom­fortable with nudity and sexual scenes, LaVoie said she also wanted the ability to choose her outfits and turned down roles she “felt had no sense of redemption in, stories that were dark and com­pletely void of any good.”

As a result, she said, she got a rep­u­tation for having moral bound­aries in the acting world and was nick­named “Pooh Bear.”

“I still miss the adren­aline and thrill of a thousand people being in the audience, but I think this expe­rience really made me grounded in who I am,” she said. “I needed to have a firm line. When you’re acting as so many dif­ferent people, you really need to be con­fident in who you are off-stage.”

LaVoie said she is still open to returning to acting, although she has a passion for middle school and at-risk com­mu­nities.

And although she is minoring in theater, Gilio, too, has decided pur­suing a pro­fes­sional acting career is not a role she would like.

“I have a big passion for the criminal justice system,” said Gilio, who plans to pursue a career as a pros­e­cutor. “I think there’s a lot of cor­ruption in it that I would love to fix. I think it takes a lot to stand in front of a courtroom and argue your case. I think it also takes a lot to stand in front of a thousand people and do whatever you’re doing on stage.”

Both said that acting has given them empathy and better under­standing of people.

“In order to be a good actress, you need to be able to fully put yourself in someone else’s story,” LaVoie said. “It helped me learn about dif­ferent people because I had to be that person. I couldn’t act that person; I had to be that person.”