Zoe Dean taking stage in New York, Banner Elk

Zoe Dean never considered show business growing up. A product of Union Pines High, Zoe spent much of her youth on the athletic field.

“I grew up playing soccer,” Zoe, who majored in theater performance at Appalachian State, said. “I played until I was 18.”

Although she was heavy into sports, Zoe got a taste of the stage before heading to college.

“I did a little bit of theater in high school,” she said. “After that, I bumped it up.”

At Appalachian State, Zoe appeared in a number of productions, among them “Legally Blonde,” “Sweeney Todd,” “The Seagull,” and “Spring Awakening.”

After completing her undergraduate work, which included a minor in vocal performance, Zoe began thinking about refining her skills even more. Ultimately – after reviewing several options – she committed to the Atlantic Acting School in New York City.

“It just felt right,” she said. “I love learning. It just felt like there was more to be discovered.”

She moved to New York, but COVID had something to say about how she would learn, certainly for a period of time.

“I did my first year remotely, on Zoom,” Zoe said.

The Atlantic Acting School’s program runs 2.5 years. A full-time professional conservatory, it has trained performers for over three decades. 

“It’s mainly just acting,” Zoe said. “It was very, very intense.”

Handling that intensity in New York, famous for its fast-paced lifestyle, traffic jams and canyons of skyscrapers, can complicate the challenge.

Zoe, now living on Long Island, talked about home, Moore County.

“I miss the trees, nature, and the quiet,” she said.

In August, she’ll return to North Carolina, where she’s slated to act in “A Texas Romance” at Ensemble Stage in Banner Elk.

“I’ve worked with that particular theater a lot,” Zoe said.

Before that, she’ll star in “The Trouble With Dead Boyfriends,” directed by Stephen Eckert and Alex Petti. The off-Broadway production opens June 15 at The Players Theatre.

“It’s in New York, in the middle of Greenwich Village,” Zoe said. “I got this audition for a musical. I ended up getting a callback.”

It’s expected a sizable contingent will travel from North Carolina to New York to watch her off-Broadway debut. The group includes perhaps Zoe’s biggest fans, her family.

“They’re beyond supportive,” Zoe, who’s also been in a pair of films, said. “Once they saw me perform, they saw how happy it made me.”

It’s been said entertainment represents a distraction, an escape from daily routines and worries. Zoe wants her time on stage and screen to be more than a diversion.

“I want to get people thinking,” she said. “There’s a lot of noise happening in the world right now, and as an actor, it’s my duty to tell the stories and give voice to the ones that are being silenced.”

To learn more about “The Trouble With Dead Boyfriends,” go to https://deadboyfriendsmusical.com.

For more information on “A Texas Romance,” visit http://www.ensemblestage.com.

Feature photo: Moore County’s own, Zoe Dean. Contributed photo

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Dave Lukow.

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