Born and raised in small-town Louisiana, Latreshia Lilly’s theater career grew from church skits and high school musicals to leading and supporting roles at various theater companies.

From a young age, she had a knack for standing out — with her unique approach to theater and her famous barking.

The summer before 10th grade, Lilly was cast in “101 Dalmatians,” which came to be her most memorable role for her family.

“I just was a random dog, and I had the deepest bark,” she says. Telling her fellow pups there needed to be variety among the high-pitched barks, Lilly let out a deep “woof” on stage. 

“And that is my shining moment with my family because they will never let me live it down, no matter how many roles I play,” she says.

Latreshia Lilly enjoys playing her niche role as a strong female character as well as other roles. Photo by Will Crooks.

As a resident actor going into her third season at Greenville Theatre, Lilly continues to break the norm with her unusual roles. One of her favorite roles at the theater was her portrayal of Clarice Odbody (a.k.a. Clarence Odbody) in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“The role is normally played by an older white man, and I am a younger black woman,” she says. “It was a very special way to get to tell the story.”

Next holiday season, Lilly will once again play the part of an older white man in “A Christmas Carol” as the ghost of Christmas present. “So, maybe that’s who I am,” she says with a laugh.

Although she’s played a variety of roles at Greenville Theatre — a butch British woman, a Cockney charwoman, a Harlem woman, a talking wardrobe, and a 9-year-old, Lilly once fought against her niche role as the strong female character.

“I really love that you can just be more than what people see as your niche.”

Walking into auditions, she was pegged as the mother or pastor’s wife. “They [would] say, ‘That is a strong female character. That’s it,’” Lilly says. “‘She’s not a love interest. She’s not a dancer.’”

While humbly admitting she plays those strong female roles well, Lilly enjoys striving to do more. “In theater, sometimes you want to broaden that spectrum a little bit more,” she says. “You want to be the love interest and the mom and the kid.”

As a resident actor at Greenville Theatre, Lilly plays all types of roles. “I really love that you can just be more than what people see as your niche,” she says.

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