Mirella Reily, Brenau Scholar

Brenau Scholar Mirella Reily

The seed for Mirella “Mel” Reily’s passion for theater was first planted while in middle school, homeschooled in Marietta, Georgia. Her parents, wanting her to have a social outlet, encouraged her to take theater classes at Marble House Arts Center. It presented her new opportunities to make friends and express herself – the first step that launched her on her theater journey.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Reily lived on the West Coast until she was 9 years old. Her father was the first in his Brazilian family to be born in the U.S. Reily often travels to Brazil to visit her grandmother, who still lives there. Her mother, an Austrian native, went to business school and traveled all over Europe in her twenties until moving to L.A., where she met Mirella’s father. They lived there until nine years ago, when the Reilys moved to Georgia for more cost-effective living.

“My parents were incredibly supportive of me pursuing theater,” she says. “They told me to do what I want and to work toward that goal.”

After being homeschooled through middle school, she attended Pebblebrook High School, a 2,000-plus student performing arts school in Mableton, Georgia, which is also home to the Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts. While she already had theater experience, her first foray into technical theater took root in a drama class in which her teacher, Daniel Parker, assigned the students different technical entertainment jobs, such as boom operator, gaffer and camera operator.

“I had never considered working behind the scenes of a film or TV or theater production, but it totally changed my life,” says Reily. “I went home and watched a ton of old movies, and I saw the credits rolling and thought how cool it would be to contribute to a production like that; to see my name in credits.”

The Gainesville Theatre Alliance was a major influential draw for Reily to attend Brenau. She’s already off to a running start with the GTA, having worked as the light board operator for WonderQuest’s production of The Jungle Book this past October.

“To get a job light-designing shows for a big theater company would be my dream. I would love to eat, sleep and breathe that environment,” she says. “I also want to learn how to do sound, carpentry, props and costumes.”

She hopes one day to be a lighting designer on Broadway or at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Her dream shows to work on would be The Lion King or Wicked.

Reily recently joined Alpha Gamma Delta, and has found the sisterhood she never had growing up as an only child. She loves to watch and analyze TV shows and movies, including thrillers and horror movies such as The Shining, and science fiction movies like Galaxy Quest. She also loves to travel, both to visit family and to see new places.

“I am so grateful to be a Brenau Scholar,” Reily says. “There were a lot of people who had to compete for it, and if I hadn’t received it, I probably couldn’t have afforded to come here. I love that it’s a small school after having attended such a huge high school, and I love that I can recognize all the people I have classes with. I’m not just a face in the crowd here.”

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