STEPHEN HEMELT — Orange native Sophie Braud following her dreams in professional theater

Published 10:40 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

Sophie Braud was finishing her senior year at Little-Cypress Mauriceville High when her longtime dance teacher, Lorna Badon, passed away.

At the time, Braud was focusing on completing high school and preparing for dermatology courses at Louisiana State University.

“Throughout the month after that, I thought, ‘I think I want to dance,’” she remembers. “It was always the dream in the back of my mind, but I didn’t think I could make a career out of it.”

It kept nagging at her for months, then one day in the Spring she missed dance classes on a Monday night and opened up at the dinner table to her mom. She wanted to keep dancing after high school.

However, it was late in the academic year and just about all of the performing arts colleges were set for their enrollment.

That left Oklahoma City University.

“I just think God works in such strange and mysterious ways, because it really is one of the only programs in the country that is a musical theater-based program,” she said. “It is more than just dance, and I didn’t know about that growing up in Orange. I wasn’t really exposed to Broadway, voice lessons or acting.”

She auditioned, attended and graduated from Oklahoma City University.

Along the way, she fell in love with the whole idea of story telling and the different dynamics of musical theater.

It is much more than dancing and acting.

Sophie took an entrepreneurial class to truly understand how to operate as an independent contractor. She learned how to make a website for herself, took classes in business management, learned how to properly file taxes and cultivated accountant contacts who live in New York City and work specifically with theater performers.

She graduated in December 2018 — a semester early — and moved to New York City with two suitcases in total a month later.

She auditioned nonstop, and in March of 2019 found out she booked a national tour.

She was where she belonged.

“New York City truly feels like home,” Sophie said when we had a chance to speak this week. “There is something so special about it. It is its own place. It is indescribable. I have so many contacts in the city. I feel like I know more people in New York City then anywhere else in the world. Every single day I leave my apartment and walk on the street in a city that has about 6 million people, and every single day I run into someone I know.”

She describes the experience as intimate because you rub shoulders with people and ride on trains with so many others.

Everyone walks everywhere.

“To me, New York City is magical,” she said. “I definitely feel the inspiration. It makes my heart smile.”

Now, she is preparing for a quick trip back home to Orange County. Her touring company — Lincoln Center Theater — is presenting “My Fair Lady” at The Lutcher Theater at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Tickets are on sale at lutcher.org or by calling the box office at 409-886-5535.

Sophie is an off stage swing, which means she learns all eight of the female ensemble roles and goes on for any of those at a moment’s notice if one of the performers is unable to do so.

This is a new role for her, and one she had to pull off two weeks ago.

The performance went great then, and she is ready for when the challenge presents itself again.

“The show went on,” she said. “Everything went really well.”

How did she get ready for that moment before taking the stage?

“Take three deep breaths,” she said.

For someone who has been following her dream since high school, belief in herself doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Fans of Sophie Braud can follow her journey on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. She posts often about life in New York City and what goes into being a swing on tour.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader and orangeleader.com. He can be reached at stephen.hemelt@orangeleader.com.