Retired North Little Rock High School Drama teacher Carol Ann McAdams receives a hug from one of her former students, who also is a native of North Little Rock: Actress Joey Lauren Adams, who has starred in several big screen movies such as “Chasing Amy.” McAdams recently received the 2013 Sundance Film Festival’s Creative Coalition Award for making a difference in the life of Adams, who is now a well- known actress.
Photo courtesy of North Little Rock School District
Teachers can make a powerful influence in the lives of young people. So has been the case of retired North Little Rock Teacher Carol Ann McAdams.
In January, she received the 2013 Sundance Film Festival’s Creative Coalition Award for making a difference in the life of a North Little Rock native Joey Lauren Adams, who is now a well-known actress.
Adams is known for her roles in movies known as Chasing Amy and Mallrats.
The Creative Coalition Award is given to a teacher yearly who made a positive impact on a student’s life.
During the Sundance Film Festival’s award ceremony, Adams appeared as did her former teacher. Adams spoke nothing but praise for McAdams who said she was a great inspiration. During the ceremony, she recalled her early days in acting which was not the original plan of her life.
Adams told the story about how she comes from a long line of Arkansas cheerleaders and during her eighth-grade year she tried out to be selected for a squad.
“I went through the tryouts,” Adams said. “I went down on a Saturday after tryouts where the names were posted.”
Adams said she kept checking the board for the cheerleading candidates who made one of the squads. It never seemed like a possibility that she would be cut because of her family tradition of cheerleaders.
“Am I a Viking?” she said as she looked down the list of girls’ names who made different squads, not seeing her name. “No. Am I a Cowboy? No. Not a Raider? And down the line. Wait. There has been a mistake. There has to be a mistake.”
Finally, she and her mother realized it wasn’t a mistake. She didn’t make a squad. Adams said it took time for the shock to sink in.
“I didn’t make cheerleader,” she said.
At the festival, she made the story sound humorous about her rejection.
“We didn’t know people who were not cheerleaders,” Adams said. “There were people who came to our house and sent food,” Adams said. “My mom was humiliated.”
Adams said she never tried out for cheerleader again.
In high school, she was trying to figure out what type of activity she wanted to be involved in and found McAdams and her drama class.
“She was the first person to say I was talented at anything,” Adams said. “Usually the kids in drama in high school are the kids who are geeky or outsiders. Carol Ann had the ability to make us feel like we were cooler than the cheerleaders, like we were working on something more important.”
Adams added, “Our bodies were instruments. She gave us the tools we needed and made us feel those tools were important.”
Adams said McAdams would take her high school drama teams to competitions throughout the state.
“Everyone felt a sense of purpose when you spent that hour and day in her class,” Adams said.
During the Sundance award ceremony which was held in Park City, Utah, McAdams said she loved teaching drama to high school students.
“The main reason that I do it is for people like Joey,” McAdams said. “Not everybody is going to get a scholarship to go to college. People are talented. They can paint a picture. They can play an instrument. And for a lot of students that is why they go to school.”
The entirety of the comments of Adams and McAdams can be seen on an YouTube video compiled by GoodyAwards which lasts about four and a half minutes long.
The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment industry, each year pays homage to teachers who have had an impact on some of Hollywood’s actors.