Hayden McLelland to play Ferdinand in ‘The Tempest’

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Hayden McLelland to play Ferdinand in ‘The Tempest’

Photo by Matthew Tamez/ISLAND WAVES. Hayden McLelland, senior Theatre major. 

Photo by Matthew Tamez/ISLAND WAVES. Hayden McLelland, senior Theatre major. 

Photo by Matthew Tamez/ISLAND WAVES. Hayden McLelland, senior Theatre major. 

Photo by Matthew Tamez/ISLAND WAVES. Hayden McLelland, senior Theatre major. 

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Matthew Tamez

Hayden McLelland, a senior Theatre major at TAMU-CC, is playing Ferdinand in the upcoming production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Landing such a challenging role might come as a bit of surprise to those who only knew McLelland in high school, where he was the star on the football field rather than on the stage. 

McLelland grew up in Burkburnett, Texas, right near Wichita Falls. His main focus during high school was playing football. That changed in his  senior year when a director asked McLelland to help represent his high school in the North Texas Drama Auditions.  

“I wasn’t really taking theatre seriously,” said McLelland. “I really fully committed my life to playing college football.” 

However, when he went to the NTD auditons, he met Kelly Russell, Professor of Theatre and Director of the Department of Theatre and Dance.   

Now in his senior year of college here at TAMU-CC, McLelland is loving the time he has spent with the theatre department.  

“We have some of the best shows you can offer in this entire state,” said McLelland. “ … We’ve been mentioned nationally, been featured nationally. 

“A&M Corpus has done a really good job at equipping me for the real world, and everyone who comes through the department gives us tons and tons of opportunities to find what we feel most passionate about.” 

His family, although taken aback at first by his decision to switch from athletics to theatre, have supported the path he has chosen 100 percent. His father is McLellend’s hero.  

“He’s someone that you meet, and you are incredibly intimidated by,” said McLelland. “But then you get to know him and you realize who he is on the inside. I would probably say that he’s just as charismatic, if not more charismatic, than myself.”  

McLelland also credits his mother for his success. 

“Mama bear, 110%,” said McLelland. “… If you ever get the opportunity to be loved by her, you better feel blessed because she loves with all of her heart and soul.”  

McLelland says living in such differing parts of the state as Burkburnett in North Texas and here in South Texas has allowed him to appreciate different cultures. McLelland treasures these differing experiences as valuable given his interest in drama and acting, a profession that revolves around getting into different characters and understanding different perspectives.  

McLelland also takes inspiration from one of his favorite movies, “Pursuit of Happiness.”  

“When things always seem down and life seems like it’s really rough,” said McLelland, “it’s really important to either always find somebody or always be that somebody for who you can depend on, who you can lean on. There’s always a way out. There’s always a way to find happiness. 

“My parents have always done a fantastic job of supporting us (himself and his siblings). … But I would say that I’ve gone through a couple of situations that I really did feel like I was at rock bottom, but because of the family that I do have, I was able to lean on them and find the light on the other side.” 

Thanks to his family, those around him and the theatre department here at TAMU-CC, McLelland is ready to take the next steps in his life, planning to head to Los Angeles, Calif. after he graduates.  

Catch Hayden McLelland in the “The Tempest” at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi from Nov. 13 to 18 at the Warren Theatre.