Theatre student Scarlett Knight follows heart, pursues dream

Lindsay Buchanan, Senior Writer

When Scarlett Knight took an eleventh grade vocational test to find out what career path she should choose, she was less than excited that the results showed her talents lie best in toy-making.

“I was not especially excited about those results, and I did not find any allure in going to work for Hasbro or Mattel,” Knight said.

The areas Knight really had a passion for were singing, drama and science. So she sat down with her high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Mary Hepburn, and had a heart-to-heart about her future career possibilities. Through that conversation, Mrs. Hepburn helped Knight see more appealing uses for the creative talents that the test indicated.

When the guidance counselor suggested making theatre a major or minor in college Knight began to realize for the first time that her love of singing and drama could actually become more than a hobby. Although the allure of music and drama held the most appeal for Knight, her practical side was also contemplating a career in nursing. Nursing won out, but only temporarily.

While in college, Knight married her high school sweetheart, Mark. The couple spent only a short time being typical settled newlyweds before seeking larger adventures. The Knights pursued Scarlett’s love of music and became successful recording artists, performing together coast-to-coast for 15 years.

Mark and Scarlett found ways to incorporate funny dramatic skits into their performances. Knight even managed to perform in several productions at Florence Little Theatre in between tours. All of this and the couple still managed to raise and home school their two children while on the road.

The rising age of their children along with the illness and death of a close family member brought the Knights back to Florence after 15 years on the road. But it didn’t slow them down.

Knight recently returned to Francis Marion to complete her degree in theatre arts and continue to pursue her passion of working in and around theatre. When she attended what was then called Francis Marion College in 1980 the school did not offer a major in theatre. The self-proclaimed theatre-addict has been thrilled to have the opportunity to further her understanding of the art form.

All of these intriguing life experiences are the result of Scarlett’s tireless personality and her intentional choices not to miss out on all of what life has to offer.

“Do what you love,” Knight said when asked if she had any advice for college students who may hope to accomplish as much as she has so far. “If you have a passion for something, God wired you that way for a reason. Don’t be discouraged because it has never been done that way before. There is much more to learn by blazing a path than by following a worn out, mundane trail! It is never too late to embrace your passion. The most fulfilled people I know are not necessarily the richest or most beautiful or well known, but they are the ones who have taken advantage of opportunities that come their way, they follow their heart, but use common sense. They work hard, treat others like they would like to be treated, and surround themselves with folks who love them enough to tell them the truth.”

Knight’s newest pursuit of finishing her degree in theatre arts has the full support of her entire family, and has the added benefit of filling a deep desire to simply be in and around theatre.

“I have no pretentious aspirations upon completing my theatre arts degree, other than using the knowledge I gain to enrich and deepen my unquenchable passion for theatre,” Knight said. “I love acting, I love directing, I love crewing, and I love writing … I just love the whole creative process, and I feel very fortunate to be at a place and time in my life that I am able to pursue what I love.”

Knight, who takes frequent trips to New York City to see Broadway shows, has a slight obsession with the musical “Wicked,” and has been able to see the play many times through the support of her husband and the willingness of many friends who take turns making the trip.

“I do love NYC,” Knight said. “I must see ‘Wicked,’ the musical every time I go. My eyes well up with emotion the moment the orchestra plays the first chord of the overture. Most lovers of theatre have their favorite shows, and for now, ‘Wicked’ is the show that stirs me most passionately.”

Despite her seemingly fearless approach to life, Knight did face some nervousness when making the decision to return to school. Her biggest fear, that fellow classmates may find it uncomfortable to have her in class due to the age difference, was soon relieved as she came to FMU and found an open atmosphere.

“Who wants their mom in their class, right?” Knight asked. “So, I make a conscious effort to take the ‘Momma Hat’ off when I put my book bag on! And honestly, I have not found it to be a problem at all! The students and professors at FMU have been amazing and accepting. Being a somewhat non-traditional student has its challenges, in that I have this whole, huge, busy life outside of my campus life. I have a spouse, kids, dogs, a house to run, church and civic responsibilities … but I love challenges.”

Pursuing challenges has served Knight well as she has worked, and still works, tirelessly towards each new goal in her life, including keeping her family life vital and thriving.

The Knight’s two children, who accompanied them in all of their early adventures, are continuing that tradition now by attending FMU alongside their mother. Joshua and Melody Knight are members of the honors program and both work in the Writing Center.

Knight is a big believer in counting her blessings, and one blessing she is most grateful for is how blessed she has been to have Mark’s support throughout her life.

“Music brought Mark and I together when we were 12 years old,” Knight said. “We were singing together, writing songs and performing as a musical duo long before it ever dawned on me that he would make an amazing husband!”

Through almost 30 years of marriage the Knights have supported each other through all of life’s ups and downs. After recording three albums together with a small record label on the West Coast, singing together professionally for 15 years, facing the illness and death of family members, raising their children, and running a business together that utilizes Scarlett’s nursing background (Mark owns a computer software firm that writes specifically for alcohol, drug and mental health facilities), the couple is practically low-key these days. Well, maybe not.

Knight, who credits her relationship with God for her many blessings, currently holds a position at her local church, Cornerstone Baptist Church, as the Creative Worship Coordinator where she not only helps direct dramatic productions, but also writes the scripts for many of the plays. As if this were not enough, Knight also serves on the board of directors for Florence Little Theatre and has been involved in many capacities with multiple productions, including directing and acting roles. All of this and she still manages to maintain a blog!