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Emily Witham, a senior at NYU currently pursuing a double major in journalism and dramatic literature, is right from the get-go a burst of upbeat energy as she bounds into the Starbucks at Astor’s Place. Sipping on her sweetened passion tango ice tea lemonade, this auburn-haired, blue-eyed 21-year-old from the small town of Maynard, Massachusetts, talks energetically about her life in a refreshingly open manner.

Emily leads the conversation confidently, from her childhood and how it was growing up as the oldest child in a blended family with three younger male half-siblings, to what her life goals are and how she plans to achieve them. With all that is going on in her life, it is a wonder that she has the energy to worry about whether the red lipstick she is wearing has faded. She need not worry; the lipstick is still perfectly applied.

Growing up as a small-town girl with a big city mindset:

It wasn’t great. The small-town vibe meant that everybody knew everything about you. The classmates had been going to school with you since you were five years old. So they knew about that embarrassing thing that you did in the second grade. And they didn’t let you forget it. So that’s why I wanted to get out of the small-town vibe and come to New York City.

“Indecisive” is how she describes herself:

Originally, my plan was to be a drama critic. Actually, originally my plan was to be a doctor. I was studying biology and on the pre-med track but freshman year I was just so miserable that I said, ‘I can’t do this for the rest of my life.’ And so I was undecided for a while.

The path to theater production:

I changed my major to journalism, but I didn’t know what my second major was going to be. And then I’ve always loved theater. So then I asked myself, well if I’m going to be a journalist, why don’t I write about something I really love? So I’d write about theater.

But eventually I decided that I didn’t really want to be a journalist; I wanted to produce theater instead. Drama critics are part of the theater community, but they’re on the outside looking in and I didn’t want that. I wanted to be on the inside.

Bringing the dream to London:

I was upset because all of my friends got to go abroad and I didn’t because of my changing my major so late. I couldn’t fit it in and also graduate in 4 years and take the courses I needed. So I applied to an internship program abroad that was a little cheaper than NYU’s program, and I ended up getting accepted.

I worked at a fringe theater called The Space out on the Isle of Dogs in London. I really enjoyed it; it was different to work in a fringe theater as opposed to working for producers who had Broadway shows.

Indecisive perhaps, yet goal-oriented when she sets her mind to it:

I work for the Atlantic Theater Company, which is an off-Broadway non-profit founded by William H. Macy and David Mamet. It grew out of a class that they were teaching at NYU.

I’m their general management intern right now. So I do things ranging from sitting in on music rehearsals for a new musical to filing away the last of our bills for the last fiscal year. I’ve only been working there about a week, but I’ve already done a variety of jobs.

Grown-up goals:

Eventually, I would like to produce new theatrical work. But I don’t see that happening for 15 to 20 years.

My goal [right now] is to be that somebody that people mention when I’m not around, in a good context. Have you ever had that friend that’s just so cool that you talk about them and say positive things about them even when they’re not there? My goal is to be that friend. But obviously I don’t know if that’s happened or not.

Focused on becoming her better self, not on finding a so-called ‘better half’:

I’m not [in a relationship]. I don’t mind that. It’s not something that’s on my list right now. I work too much to focus on a relationship. I work 18-hour workweeks in addition to taking five courses and trying to keep up with all the homework. And also trying to sleep, eat, and not go crazy.

By DANIELLE STROLIA