It’s a good thing Walter Lloyd’s high school career has been full of drama.
The East Coweta senior, already a three-sport athlete who maintains a 4.0 GPA, recently was selected for All-State Theatre.
He will perform in the opening production at the Georgia High School Thespian Conference (ThesCon) in February, when thousands of high school actors from throughout the state will descend on Columbus for a weekend of acting, dancing, singing and fellowship.
Not bad for a kid who only started his theatre career two years ago.
Seaweed in STAR’s ‘Hairspray’
Lloyd first took the stage in 2017 as Seaweed in the Superintendent’s Theatre Arts Resource (STAR) summer production of “Hairspray.” Since then, he has appeared as Bert in STAR’s “Mary Poppins” and in multiple shows at East Coweta, where last spring he was Papa Ge in “Once on This Island.”
“I used to want to be a police officer, a marine biologist and an Imagineer,” Lloyd said. “People said, ‘Walter, you want to be so many things.’ As an actor, I get to be all of it. I get to see things from a lot of people’s perspectives, which is really cool.”
Broadway and Disney dreams are standard for young actors, and Lloyd is no exception. He already has been accepted into several universities and plans to pursue a major in theatre, but also to study architectural engineering.
While those appear to be two wildly divergent paths, those who know him have no doubts about his chances of success.
“Walter is the kind of kid you love to work with because he gives 110 percent to everything he does,” said Scott Ondovhchik, who heads the ECHS drama program. “Even though he is talented in many areas, he does not slack off.”
A member of the football, wrestling and track teams, Lloyd said in 2017 that athletics had made it difficult to work drama into his school schedule.
Making the most of his time
These days, he spends an average of 12 hours a day at school and often completes his homework in the wee hours of the morning. But it’s really just a matter of managing his time, he said.
“Homework is hard because I’m always at school for school, then practice and after that, I go to rehearsal on certain days of the week,” Lloyd said. “Sometimes I do homework after that, or in the mornings or during school. It wasn’t always like that, but even when it wasn’t, it still didn’t seem like enough time.”
His focus on academics has paid off – Lloyd carries a 99.825 overall average. Maintaining that level of academic excellence has necessarily meant making some tough choices. For instance, Ondovchik still teases Lloyd about how disappointed he was that the then-junior opted out of “Anything Goes,” East Coweta’s 2018 spring musical.
But Lloyd is unrepentant.
“I would have gotten a B in pre-calculus if I’d done ‘Anything Goes,’” he said. “That would have been like failing to me.”
An affinity for academics
Lloyd said AP physics was his most difficult class – at least until he started AP calculus this year – but that learning about physics changed the way he looks at the world.
“I never thought about all the different forces and calculations that go into engineering a loop on a roller coaster,” he said.
AP French, which he completed last year, was “very fun to learn,” but American and British literature classes have been his favorite academic classes, Lloyd said.
“I have been so busy in school that I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted,” he said. “I had time to read in class.”
Jack Kerouac’s “Into the Wild,” “Beowulf” and The Miller’s Tale and The Pardoner’s Tale from “The Canterbury Tales” were highlights of those classes, Lloyd said. Unsurprisingly, he especially liked reading Shakespeare’s plays aloud in class, even when his classmates weren’t quite as enthusiastic about it.
“I was pretty much the only person reading in character,” said Lloyd, adding that he’d love to play Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” someday.
His mom has encouraged Lloyd and his sister, Gabby – also an athlete with a 4.0 GPA – to pursue the fine arts alongside academics and athletics since they were little. Before the family moved to Coweta County in 2015, Lloyd not only played basketball and baseball but also was involved in music, dance and theatre.
“We did a lot of theatre, but then we stopped for a while when we moved here,” he said. “I didn’t get back into it until ‘Hairspray.’”
Don’t forget about the music
One area Lloyd didn’t take a break from was music. A drum kit is his primary instrument, but he also plays the clarinet and some guitar and piano. He currently is recording an album of mixed-genre songs on recording equipment at his home, taking inspiration from a wide variety of sources.
“I listen to everything you can imagine because I want to broaden my horizons,” he said. “A larger outlook on things makes my music better.”
His broad interests keep him grounded and confident, said head ECHS football coach John Small.
“Walter is very intelligent, works very hard in the classroom, works hard in the weight room and on the team,” Small said. “He’s a guy you can count on for anything. But the thing I’m most proud of him for is that he’s sure of who he is. We need more guys like that.”
That confidence served Lloyd well when he auditioned for All-State alongside hundreds of other hopefuls from throughout the state. He said he is looking forward to connecting with a new audience at ThesCon as he gears up for rehearsals with his fellow All-State thespians.
“It always makes me really happy to know that after all the work we put into something, people are having a good time,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to make people feel something. To be able to do that is really rewarding.”