Rising freshman and Lipscomb Academy grad Hatty King takes home top honor at 2017 Spotlight Awards

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My passion for theater comes from a love of telling stories. I’ve come to realize that stories are the quickest way to touch people and reach into their lives. Each story can leave someone with a new lesson learned, question to think over or message to inspire.” - Hatty King, rising Lipscomb freshman


From an early age, anyone who knew Hatty King, also knew of her passion to sing, dance and act.

After moving to Nashville from Alabama in 2011, King went on to secure lead roles such as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” Joanna in “Sweeny Todd” and Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” with local theater companies including Act II Players and Circle Players, as well as at Jo March from “Little Women” and Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” at Lipscomb Academy.

On May 13, the Lipscomb Academy grad and rising Lipscomb University freshman, took home “Best Actress,” the top honor at the 2017 Spotlight Awards, a city wide high school musical award ceremony presented by Lipscomb University and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

This honor came with an all-expense paid trip to New York, June 19-27, to participate in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as The Jimmy Awards in honor of legendary Broadway theater owner and producer James M. Nederlander.

“I have participated in the Spotlight Awards, which were formerly known as the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, for the past four years and won ‘Best Female Vocalist’ my sophomore year,” said King. “It had always been a dream to win ‘Best Actress’ my senior year, and with New York on the line, it only made me want it more. I was so honored to win, and I really appreciate how supportive the local theater community and my own personal community has been as a result.”

Beki Baker, chair of Lipscomb’s theater department, says Lipscomb is elated to add King to its freshman class. 

“Dean Mike Fernandez and I will be attending the Jimmy Awards in New York City, where Hatty will be performing with the best high school actors and actresses across the nation,” said Baker. “We consider it an honor to have Hatty joining us as we know she auditioned for many other schools. We do already feel like we know her as she's taken dual-credit dance courses with us a for a few years, and we look forward to the four years to come!”

Kari Smith, adjunct faculty for Lipscomb's Department of Theatre and director of the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, echoed Baker's sentiment saying, "Hatty has an amazing talent and an even sweeter spirit, and we are so excited to add to our community in the Lipscomb Theatre Department. Her performance of 'Astonishing' from 'Little Women' at the Spotlight Awards on the Jackson Hall stage at TPAC was phenomenal, and I think everyone there could see that she is truly deserving of the Best Actress award."  

Although Lipscomb has always felt like home, the road to choosing a university to attend was not an easy one.

“I decided to apply for 16 schools because I had this idea in my head that I needed to get out of Nashville to challenge myself,” said King. “I was wavering between Millikin University, which has a nationally recognized theater program, and Lipscomb, and I eventually committed to go to Millikin.”

“After I made my decision, I still felt unsettled,” King continued. “Getting into this school was exciting, but I knew I needed to be at Lipscomb and continue to cultivate relationships in the Nashville arts community.”

In April 2017, King said she discovered she was selected as one of ten students awarded Lipscomb’s 2017 Trustee Scholarship, a prestigious full-tuition scholarship, and she felt like that was a sign to make the decision to stay in Nashville and attend Lipscomb University.

“I always look for opportunities to grow and at Lipscomb, there are teachers who want to grow me,” said King. “I feel very thankful to be going to a place with people around me that want to see me succeed and who have great local connections in Nashville.”  

Lipscomb University’s George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts is one of the fastest-growing colleges in the university, with undergraduate degrees in cinematic arts, fashion and design, contemporary and classical music, theater and dance, and visual arts. Graduate programs include Master of Arts degrees in film and creative media; Master of Fine Arts degrees in film and creative media with writer and director tracks; and a Master of Fine Arts/Master of Business Administration blended degree. With training from veteran professional artists-in-residence like Steve Taylor, Charlie Peacock and others, the CEA provides a real world experience where students are inspired to create what’s next for the marketplace.

The mission of the college is to be a Christ-centered, innovative, entrepreneurial arts community committed to rigorous artistic training, creative collaboration and professional growth that seeks to train the next generation of believer artists who seek to uplift, challenge and entertain.

During the 2017 Spotlight Awards, which was co-hosted by Miles and Erica Aubrey, a Nashville-based couple with a broad range of Broadway, TV, film and music credits, King performed “Astonishing” from her role as Jo March from “Little Women.”  

Nathan Keffer of Ravenwood High School in Brentwood also took home “Best Actor” award, and will join King at the Jimmy Awards in New York. During the week, the pair will take part in workshops led by prominent Broadway performers as well as rehearse ensemble numbers with the 37 best high school actors and actresses who received these awards in their respective city.

Founded in 2014 by Mike Fernandez, dean of Lipscomb’s George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts, this is the first year Lipscomb has partnered with TPAC to put on the Spotlight Awards, which featured 30 local high schools.

To donate to Lipscomb’s Trustee scholarship or support a student in the arts, contact: jeff.fincher@lipscomb.edu.