Bright Lights

Three years out of Indian River High School, and Dawn Monroe has already managed to work her way onto a nationally syndicated television series. She recently appeared front and center in not one, but two, scenes in an episode of One Tree Hill (on the WB).
“I called my mom and she said, ‘Stop screaming,’” Monroe recalled. “But I said, ‘Mom, I’m on TV — I can’t stop screaming.’”
Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY: Dawn Monroe enjoys a trip back home from Florida.Coastal Point • SAM HARVEY:
Dawn Monroe enjoys a trip back home from Florida.

Okay, she was just an extra — she didn’t have a speaking role, other than providing a bit of chit-chat with the other extras, for background. But Monroe will always be able to invite friends and family over to eat popcorn and reminisce about — with some luck — her first of many stage and screen appearances.

Monroe answered the online casting call for One Tree Hill earlier this year, and the episode aired in May. “Hopefully, I’ll get to do it again in October,” she pointed out.

That she was looking for work in television was one thing — this IR grad is serious about a career as an entertainer, so much so that she’s moved to Florida, to within striking distance of any opportunity that might arise at nearby Universal Studios.

Originally from the Millville area, Monroe said she’d always been a little skeptical about making a future in southeastern Sussex County.

Her mother ran Lewis’ Flower Shop while her grandmother ran the original Lewis’ Flower Shop in Ocean View, and Monroe helped out — but, as she freely admittedly, with a certain lack of enthusiasm. She wanted to get out, to do something different.

For one thing, she’d been training in dance basically since she was old enough to walk, and she was motivated to continue pursuing the possibility of a career as an entertainer.

But, after studying jazz, modern, lyrical, hip-hop, Irish and ballet for 19 years or so, she started to rethink the career path she was following.

Monroe had continued her training after high school, at Frostburg State University in western Maryland. However, while it might have been a change of pace compared to Millville, it was still a small campus “in the middle of nowhere,” as Monroe described it.

After two years, she decided it was time to go exploring, so she moved to Florida and went to work at Walt Disney World.

Okay, she shuttles people around on a golf cart — but between Universal Studios Orlando and Disney-MGM (less than 20 miles away), Monroe’s a lot closer to the action now.

And a healthy advertising industry complements Florida’s popularity as a tourist destination, so the studios are always filming commercials, she pointed out.

So, what’s next? Monroe said she’d be trying out for some of the internal productions — Universal Studios is gearing up for “Halloween Horror Nights” right now, and then there’s a choice of either “Grinchmas” or “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas.”

“If I wanted to stay at Disney and dance my whole life, it would be the perfect place,” Monroe said. And the company offered opportunities for travel, she pointed out, what with Disney destinations all over the world. She said one of the first auditions she’d gone to was for a production at the Tokyo Disney resort.

“But what I really want to do is step out, get an agent to help me find a role or a commercial and get a screen test,” Monroe noted.

She recognized it probably wouldn’t be easy — even the most talented person didn’t always get the job, she pointed out. “They usually have a pretty strict idea in their heads of what they want,” Monroe pointed out. “One day, they’ll be looking for a short girl with blue hair, the next day they’ll need a tall girl…with pink hair.”

She offered a little advice to other young people with aspirations to stardom, who weren’t sure if they could pull it off. “You just have to keep trying,” Monroe advised. “You can’t give up — if you do, your dreams aren’t going anywhere.”

Okay, Monroe hasn’t walked the red carpet herself as of yet — she’s still working what she suggested seemed like her millionth non-acting job. She remained hopeful, though.

“It’ll happen when it happens,” she concluded. “Until you get into entertainment, that’s what you have to do, right?”