Alumni Spotlight
Melissa Sparks

By: Belle Grace Wilkinson, PR student intern

Melissa Sparks Headshot

Melissa Sparks received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a concentration in Broadcasting in 2007 from Mississippi State University, and she received her Master of Fine Arts in Stage Management from Columbia University School of the Arts in 2022.

Sparks grew up in Biloxi, Miss., and now resides in New York where she works as a freelance stage manager. She is currently working as a substitute stage manager for “SIX” on Broadway and the national tour of “Company.”

Sparks says that her work is driven by the needs of the creative team, cast and the specifics of each production. 

“There are set duties that each stage manager is responsible for such as paperwork, scheduling and managing the room, but a large part of our job is collaboration and leadership. Each production brings its own challenges because you are always working with different people. Even if you have worked with someone before, the show and situation will be different so you must be able to adapt to where people are at that moment. Everyone has the same end goal: to put on a great show, but the path to how we get there is largely the responsibility of the stage manager.”

Sparks shares advice to undergraduate students in the search for a job.

“Don't give up. Keep connecting with people and it's ok to take a job that's outside the box. Each experience shapes who you are professionally and that only makes for a better leader.”

Favorite communication class you took and why?
Theatre Practicum - I really enjoyed working in the scene and costume shop and learning new skills that became vital for my career in theatre

What are you passionate about?
I love seeing how the work we do as theatre makers brings not only the public together, but how it brings those working behind the curtain together and bonds us as a family. 

What is the most important piece of information you learned from the job application and interview process?
It's not just about who you know, but who they know because a job can come from anyone at any time. Even from people you may have never met.