It’s not so much that you wouldn’t recognize Serena. It’s just that when you ask people if they know Serena Ebhardt, you’re likely to get so many different descriptions, you’d think they can’t possibly all be talking about the same woman.
“She’s the petite, blond powerhouse—you know, the triple threat actor, singer, dancer, right? I saw her in War Bonds—that look back at WWII where she goes from Rosie the Riveter to Marlene Dietrich and sings all those great songs.”
“No—she’s the UNC alum (B. A. in Dramatic Art, Paul & Elizabeth Green Scholar), who directed the UNC revival of Paul Green’s Johnny Johnson last year and two plays for the Long Story Shorts next week. She also tackled complex historical themes, directing Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name, and Mike Wiley’s’ Dar He: The Lynching of Emmet Till. And she’s taught at UNC, Peace, St. Mary’s, Sanderson, and Raleigh Charter High Schools.”
“Are you talking about the writer? I know the North Carolina Association of Educators commissioned Serena to write and direct The Wrights of Passage. I read it’s been seen by more than 100,000 students across the country.”
“Oh, you mean the teaching artist. Since 1998, the artistic director of EbzB Productions with her husband, David zum Brunnen? Trained at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Lincoln Center Institute, and the National Center for Creative Aging? They are leading a pilot residency over at Virginia Cross Elementary School this year.”
“Serena…isn’t she the mother of that charming and brilliant child, Carlton?”
Voiceover Artist…Business Coach…Publicist…Theatre Manager…Webmaster…
Yes, they’re all Serena!
From the Artist
Originally from: Raleigh, North Carolina.
Your childhood in a nutshell: It was lovely. My parents facilitated my dreams. At age two, my performer’s personality emerged – I would dance in the living room while commanding everyone to pay attention. At age 6, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes, and I also auditioned for my very first play. By the age of 7, I had my first professional job and began touring.
Most influential teachers: I’ve had so many amazing teachers, both in school and in life. I am particularly thankful to Newell Tarrant, the former artistic director of Raleigh Little Theater; To Rose Schulman, the grand doyenne master acting teacher at Hedgerow Theatre; To friend and mentor Susan Raab who taught me about publicity and marketing; and to my husband David zum Brunnen who teaches me integrity and fidelity.
How did you and David meet: As students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We were cast together in a production of Lysistrata.
Most challenging/gratifying aspects of working with your spouse: The challenge is that I take it for granted that he knows my love is unconditional and that I think he’s very handsome, smart and talented. When working with David, I have often gone straight into the analytical criticism rather than softening it with encouragements. However because we work and live together, our personal and professional lives are integrated and sometimes magnified by each other. I love and trust David. He brings joy and laughter to my intense focus. We have fun onstage and off. The two greatest joys of my life are dancing with him onstage in War Bonds, and raising our son.
On being a parent: Our son is this amazing configuration of all the souls in both families that have gone before him. He is very much his own person with a very strong and unique view of how life should be. It is my privilege to be his parent. We beam with pride over his achievements and talents. I use everything I have to try to prepare him for his journey.
Favorite professional hat [writer, researcher, director, publicist, teaching artist, performer, etc.]: My favorite is Actress/Singer—I love exploring life through another’s viewpoint. I love the attention, the makeup, the costumes, the music, the adrenaline, the warmth of the lights, and the ensemble. I love the feedback from audience members who have found the work meaningful. I love knowing that as an artist I can contribute to the shaping of this world. I have many second favorite hats, I especially like wearing the director and teaching artist hats at the same time.
Currently reading: The Borzoi College Reader Essays. I just finished reading Colette’s Cheri. I perpetually read the Bible, classics, BBC News Online, and any resource that might pertain to work that I’m doing. It’s an eclectic list.
Currently working on or developing: Myself; My son; Long Story Shorts at UNC; ‘69 Seasons, Native and touring performances for EbzB Productions; Arts-In-Education residency for Virginia Cross Elementary via NC Arts Council and Chatham Arts Council. Also, as an ordained minister, I will be officiating a wedding in November.
5 Words that describe me: I dislike this question because I know myself too well and the first words that come to mind do not have positive connotations in our society. I’d prefer you ask others to describe me. Perhaps the one word that best describes me is “human.”
Most people don’t know: Now really? If most people don’t know, it’s because they haven’t asked. Oh alright. Here goes…
- I was originally a Pharmacy major.
- I had to turn down an audition for the original Broadway production of Annie when I was 14.
- I can cook, if I have to.
- I love and could survive on peanut butter.
Three favorite spots in Chatham:
- The view of Jordan Lake from the corner of Beaver Dam Rd. and Pea Ridge Rd.
- The Pittsboro Soda Shop
- My house
Chatham Artists that inspire me:
Ten years from now: I’d like to see evidence that the contributions, investments, and work of my generation has made the universe a better place for our children.