• Mackenzie smelling a sunflower.


Alumni Spotlight: Mackenzie Trush, '19

In an ever-shifting landscape, Mackenzie Trush has found ways to apply lessons learned as a Rowan Theatre & Dance major to personal and professional work as she makes her way in today’s world.

“Rowan taught us about becoming well-rounded creators,” she says, noting that while her concentration was in acting, the program “gave us skills that we can adapt to everything we do.”

Trush’s interest in theatre began at a young age. Her parents introduced her to the arts and took her to see shows as a child. She grew up watching people create stories and share them. She was bitten by the acting bug but knew she wanted to be involved in it all.

The Franklinville native participated in theatre while at Delsea Regional High School and pursued it academically at Rowan, where she performed in classics (The Cherry Orchard), contemporary musicals (Carrie) and original devised work (Danse Macabre and In America, That Is To Say No Where).

For Trush, the year-and-a-half since graduating has led her in directions requiring different applications of her academic pursuits: being hired as Patron Services Manager for the College of Performing Arts in addition to venturing into the realm of social media.

Pointing out that, as a student, her courses and experiences involved theatre management as well as work behind-the-scenes and in the box office, she feels prepared for her professional role.

“I learned about theatre being a whole experience, from the moment someone steps in the door until they leave,” she says of the understanding she brings to dealing with audience members.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing down-time and periods without work. Trush looked to her personal “to-do list” for other outlets. A long-held interest in exploring creativity through developing social media content seemed like a good way to go.

Trush has Spondylo-Epi-Meta-Physeal Dysplasia (SEMD), a rare form of dwarfism with less than 100 known cases, and she has long been inspired to advocate for people with disabilities. She’s now found a way to combine that advocacy and her artistic training.

“I’ve always thought social media was a version of performance,” she adds.

Over the summer, she began sharing short videos on TikTok that explore the realities of life for someone with her condition; everything from making tacos to shopping. Trush explains that she approaches it like making theatre, except it can’t be more than one minute long. First, she researched the technology extensively and now develops scripts, rehearses for weeks before filming, plans the costume and make-up and lighting to make her videos more than just random clips. From the first post in July, her work paid off quickly and continues to grow. She has over 300,000 followers and more than 7 million likes for her 116 videos. She’s even been profiled by Yahoo. Trush feels very lucky to have found an outlet in a difficult period for those in the theatre.

“It’s a scary time for artists,” she admits, “but it’s also a time of finding new ways to share your creative work.”