Vanessa Ballam: Mormon Actress
Vanessa Ballam is a stage actress and singer. She is an Assistant Professor of Acting in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Idaho State University and head of the acting program. She is also the Education Director for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre in Utah. In addition to overseeing the Opera By Children outreach program and the Festival Academy (adult education), as the Education Director she oversaw the inception of a Performing Arts Conservatory for youth as well as a statewide High School Musical Theatre Competition.
Ballam is the daughter of internationally known singer and musician Michael Ballam. She was raised in Logan, Utah, and performed throughout Cache Valley. Although her parents suggested other career paths for her, she chose theatre. She took acting, dance, and voice lessons—her father was her first voice teacher—and went on to study acting at Utah State University. After her second year at Utah State, she won the title of Miss Utah and devoted the year to those responsibilities, including the opportunity to compete in the Miss America pageant (where she received the Bert Parks talent award). She completed both a Bachelor of Art degree and a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Utah State University, then went on to the University of Indiana where she earned her MFA degree. From there, she went on to take a position as a resident artist at The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria. She was a visiting assistant professor of theatre at Utah State University for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Ballam has performed widely with such companies as Theatre Under the Stars, PCPA Theatrefest, The Utah Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare, Anchorage Opera, Music Theatre West, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, and the Old Lyric Repertory Company. Although she teaches primarily acting classes as well as musical theater, voice, and speech classes, she continues to perform. Some of her favorite roles include Eliza in My Fair Lady, Fantine in Les Misérables, Lilli in Kiss Me Kate, Peg in Peg O’ My Heart, Desdemona in Othello, Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical the Musical, Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She belongs to the Actors’ Equity Association.
She and her husband, actor and teacher Stefan Espinosa, are the parents of one son, Sebastian. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.