This summer, Kayla "Davion" Robertson had planned to tour Switzerland and France with the Ball State Jazz Band as well as be part of the ensemble for “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre.

But, those plans changed once the now Ball State graduate received a phone call explaining that she landed a part in the ensemble of the Broadway musical “Waitress,” and is the understudy for a character named Dawn.

“Ever since I knew about theater, my goal was to be on Broadway," Roberston said. "It's amazing that it is happening this soon.”

She first received the call while taking an exam, with her concentration being broken by her phones insistent buzzing. It wasn’t until after that that she realized why she wasn’t being left alone.

Robertson traveled to Los Angeles following commencement, studying filming with five other theater students. Today, she will be flying to New York where she will begin two weeks of rehearsals before beginning her performances.

It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that Robertson became an actress, but after being part of a production of “Memphis,” she began to realize just what performing meant to her.

“Theater changes lives. It moves people in a way that makes them feel important to society, which is honestly what this world is consistently missing,” Robertson said. “People don’t feel understood anymore, they don’t feel important or heard. This is our way of being heard.”

Because performing made her feel “complete,” Robertson decided to change her original plans of majoring in psychology, graduating last Saturday with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. 

While Robertson credits the entire Department of Theatre and Dance at Ball State for helping her become the performer that she is now, she had two mentors who help shape her - Emily Tzucker and Dee Dee Batteast.

“Emily is truly the reason that I am able to speak in my voice and be confident in it as an actor and Dee Dee is the reason I am able to put my acting skills in a language that helps me communicate what I am thinking and feeling to other people,” Robertson said. “They both inspire and motivate me so much to be the best actor possible and to go full force and not be afraid to make a choice.”

Ball State’s program includes training in important aspects of performing such as acting, dance and singing, which requires a dedicated and hardworking student to commit a lot of time. While Tzucker only knew Robertson for two of her four years at Ball State, it was clear that Robertson had all of those traits.

“She is a really talented person and on top of that she works really really hard,” Tzucker said. “You can be as talented as you want, but if you don’t work hard then you don’t get these opportunities; so I’m not surprised, I’m just really delighted. I’m really happy, she deserves it.”

While at Ball State, Robertson was also involved in the Association of Collegiate A Cappella (ACA) and performed as a vocalist for the Ball State Jazz Band. 

Robertson is thrilled to be following her dreams, and continues to aim toward her goal to “inspire and touch as many people as possible.”

Tzucker has confidence in Robertson as she continues on in her career and believes that her confidence, talent, and work ethic are what make her stand out.

“Kayla is one of those people who kind of lights up the room when she comes in, and she does that on stage too," Tzucker said. "She’s really a very vibrant, very strong person and you notice that when she walks into the room, let alone when she walks on the stage.”

Robertson will officially begin her eight-performance a week schedule for "Waitress" on May 30.