Marketing and Communication // 01.30.2017
As a child, Megan Cammer always wanted to be in a parade. She loved to perform, and competitive dancing satisfied that urge until she enrolled at Charleston Southern University.
It was during a conversation with CSU theater professor, Thomas Keating, that she realized being on stage while singing and dancing might just check all the boxes, so a major was declared.
After her junior year, though, Cammer was faced with a major, life-changing opportunity. Her audition had caught the eyes of Disney’s casting team in Orlando, Florida.
She was unsure what to do. Her mom wasn’t excited about her leaving school. Her professor, though, provided a different view.
“School will always be here, but the opportunity to work at Disney in your dream job may not be,” Keating remembers telling his talented student.
Cammer was excited but scared, all in the same moment. She promised her mom she’d complete her degree. Privately, she wasn’t at all sure she’d be able to keep that promise.
A move to Orlando forced her to grow up quickly. She was a dancer in almost every show that involved The Magic Kingdom. As time went on, she was more and more unsure if she’d ever return home.
Then things really got crazy. After about 18 months in Orlando, she was chosen for a position as a character actress at the Disney property in Tokyo.
Not only did she have a better job, she’d be moving to Japan. Instead of hanging out with Mickey and Minnie, Megan now would have acting roles in “Little Mermaid,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Frozen.” She knew life had changed when she had to sing “Let It Go” in Japanese.
The North Charleston native also learned to live in a different culture in a giant city. Cammer was born in Trident Hospital, across the street from Charleston Southern. Her world had been pretty small. But while in Japan, it was not unusual for someone to stop and ask for a picture, because they’d never seen someone, in person, with blonde hair and blue eyes.
The job in Tokyo lasted 14 months. What would be next? She started the usual process of sending resumes and auditioning.
Cammer also called Professor Keating. School was scheduled to start in two weeks. What if she came back to finish her degree? Could she get in? Was there room in the theatre department for a student who needed one more semester?
Keating offered some reassuring words and told Cammer it sounded, once again, like it was good timing. Plus, he needed a good strong performer for a fall production he’d be directing.
“Coming home brought me back to earth,” she said. “I grew up a lot in that final semester. I was thankful and grateful and also humbled by the entire experience.”
In addition to taking a full complement of hours, she jumped head first into rehearsals for “She Loves Me.” But everything had changed. None of the theatre students were familiar. The campus had new buildings. The trees were taller, and parking spaces scarcer. Everything seemed different.
Keating was there, though, and thrilled that her talent and tenacity had come home. “Her commitment to excellence onstage certainly rubbed off on others. It challenged them to bring their ‘A’ game.”
Cammer completed her degree in December 2016.
Now what, though? What was she going to do? Some of the same anxieties bubbled to the surface that every grad ponders. She did what she’d done before. Auditions and resumes were once again sent out. In early January, the Disney people reconnected with Cammer. Before she could say Hakuna Matata, she was offered a position with the production company going to Shanghai, China.
Cammer is leaving in March. Shanghai Disneyland will soon debut the first Mandarin version of “The Lion King.” “Coming home re-centered me; I spent so much time focused on the future, I didn’t live in the moment,” she said.
Cammer’s excited and scared, but so much more prepared to tackle this next challenge.
Founded in 1964, Charleston Southern University is a private, four-year liberal arts college. CSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. The university's vision is to be a Christian university nationally recognized for integrating faith in learning, leading and serving.