PEMBROKE — Up and coming actor Joshua Shipman has starred opposite Tony Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo and Ethan Hawke on the big screen.
Chris Adams, a successful music producer in his own right, has shared the stage with gospel greats Beverly Crawford and Donnie McClurkin.
Before their rise to stardom, the two distinguished UNC Pembroke alumni were mastering their craft and honing their skills in the broadcasting and music programs, respectively. Recently, the pair returned to their alma mater to share words of advice and help students like Tatiana Sims find their purpose.
“I’m at a stage where I’m trying to find my passion,” said Sims, a sophomore art and social work double major. “Coming here tonight made me realize I need to figure out what I am passionate about, and I need to stick with it.”
Shipman and Adams spoke to a roomful of students during a dinner and fireside chat hosted by Assistant Dean of Students Abdul Ghaffar. After his degree in 2013, Shipman landed roles in major feature films and TV shows such as “Harriett,” “The Good Lord Bird and Swagger.” The Hallsboro native is making a name for himself in the independent film industry with lead roles in “Hair, Love & Racism,” “Kingdom Men” and “Christmas Proposal.”
Though his degree is in mass communication, Shipman was equally talented as a theatre student, playing lead roles in several UNCP productions. He credits theatre professor Holden Hansen with his early success.
“Holden saw something in me. He would always encourage me and say, ‘I know you can do it. You really should go for it.’”
UNCP is also where Shipman was introduced to short films. He’d always had a love for theatre, but after getting a taste of film, he gravitated toward it.
“I told myself, ‘This is what I want to do the rest of my life.’ Growing up, I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be on TV. I held on to that dream, so when I came to (UNC) Pembroke, it was like watering that seed.”
Like Shipman, Adams — who goes by CA — knew what he wanted to do at a young age. He began making beats on a Casio keyboard when he was 13. He kept that focus while earning two degrees in music and mass communication, finishing in 2009.
“I was a studio rat when I was a student here,” he said. “I would be in the studio for four to five hours — always learning something new.”
After UNCP, Adams moved to Raleigh. He has toured internationally with gospel singer Travis Greene and produced music for Chandler Moore, K.J. Scriven and Tyler Little — household names in the gospel music industry.
“UNCP is a huge part of my story. I grew a lot while I was here. I learned the value of work ethic and discipline,” Adams said.
Adams’ advice for the student audience — understand your destiny. Read and study your passion. Seek mentorship. He ended his talk with a quote from his former professor George Harrison who said, ‘If you’re not growing, you’re dying.’”
Shipman encouraged the students to zero in on their passion and block everything else out.
“You are going to lose friends. You might even lose family members, but you must have your morals and priorities in order. Be a leader, not a follower.”