Opportunities in Marion gave Emma Fitzpatrick the launchpad she needed in her career. Fitzpatrick, now located in Nashville, has traveled around the globe leaving her mark in the film, television, and music industries.
“I felt like growing up the arts were encouraged and valued,” Fitzpatrick says.
Fitzpatrick began school at River Valley and transitioned to Harding High School. With the Singers show choir, she participated in competitions, including one in New York. Fitzpatrick notes her education included a small-town feel, with a good base for building her craft.
Her first time singing on stage was at Trinity Baptist Church. She landed her first spot in a musical at the age of seven with River Valley.
“My mom bribed me to audition for the musical with an early Christmas present,” Fitzpatrick says of her start. “My dad has a beautiful singing voice, naturally. He taught me how to sing harmony. We had an exceptional musical inclination and would sing together at church. They saw a gift in me, and probably thought I didn’t even see it in myself at the time.”
Because she was in Marion, Fitzpatrick had access to many resources.
“Marion is a good place to get an education and dream the dreams of figuring out where you want to go. I was music motivated. I participated in Ms. Popcorn and was able to go to Ms. Ohio. Marion was a good place to grow and play around with those things to see what I liked,” says Fitzpatrick.
Outside of school, Fitzpatrick was able to take voice lessons and perform on the historic Marion Palace Theatre stage.
“It was an awesome stage to grow up on doing community theatre. It felt like there was always something going on,” Fitzpatrick says. “It’s where I cut my teeth, where I learned that I love performing and learned how to navigate the stage.”
After Marion, Fitzpatrick went to Belmont University in Nashville for musical theatre. Right out of college, she sang in shows on Celebrity Cruise lines. After returning from the waters, she went to New York and auditioned for Tokyo Disney. She worked there for a year, then went on to Los Angeles for 10 years.
Fitzpatrick has been in film and television including The Social Network, CSI, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She has incorporated music into some roles. Fitzpatrick also has a band whose music has been featured in film and television.
“It all melded into one beast,” Fitzpatrick says of her career.
Fitzpatrick has advice for anyone in Marion, specifically those interested in pursuing a similar path.
“Study the thing that you love. Allow yourself to have experiences out of Marion. It’s a great safe space to grow and figure out what you want and who you are. What makes a good artist is a broad depth of experience and allowing yourself to see how other people do things,” she notes. “I feel like there was never any other option for me. It was so clear that this is what I love.”
Fitzpatrick found a lot of encouragement in Marion.
“I don’t remember naysaying,” Fitzpatrick says. “I think having a good foundation, feeling supported, and that the arts were important, set me up for a fearlessness in my career. I had expectation instead of hope, just expecting good things to happen. In hindsight, it all hinged on feeling like what I wanted was important enough.”
Fitzpatrick has something to note for those around anyone interested in theater.
“How powerful it is to support young people when they’re showing those interests and showing passion, is life-changing. If I didn’t have people support me, I don’t think I would have had the guts to go out and do these things,” she says.
Fitzpatrick says her biggest cheerleaders were her family, her voice instructor, her show choir director, Ms. Houk, and everyone at Marion’s Palace Theatre.