SUU to Everywhere

Quetta Carpenter ('96)

Quetta Carpenter ('96)
SUU to Head of Acting at UT Austin

Originally published on October 27, 2020.

Even though she did not originally plan to pursue a college degree, Quetta Carpenter’s decision to attend Southern Utah University shaped her entire life, making her a better performer and a better person.

Originally from Scottsdale, Arizona, Quetta attended Horizon High School where she participated in choir and dance. It was Barbara Berrett, an art teacher at Horizon High, who basically forced Quetta to audition for SUU, “which is the only reason I attended college,” she admits.

Despite that initial reluctance, Quetta thrived at SUU and made many great memories through her extracurricular involvement. She served as an SUUSA senator, a Juniper Hall RA, the opinion director of The University Journal, president of the National Panhellenic Council, and was a member Alpha Phi and the College Democrats. Her academic work was rooted in theatre and dance, with coursework also in sociology, English and even biology. She changed her major several times and graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“SUU prepared me for my future by letting me try literally everything I was interested in and making room for my failure in the process,” Quetta recollects. “That’s the best part of SUU: I was allowed to dabble and try things and experiment.”

With plans of acting after leaving SUU, she ultimately decided not to pursue the craft and took on several different jobs like advertising executive, copywriter, communications director, press secretary, journalist and even executive secretary. But after a few years of “odd jobs,” Quetta remembered that she was truly an actor and made it official in 2004 when she went to grad school at Penn State. “I was a bit of a late bloomer,” she explains.

Today, she is an assistant professor and head of acting at the University of Texas in Austin, the flagship of the University of Texas system.

“My job as head of acting includes recruitment, curriculum design, and teaching courses in acting, acting for the camera, movement, and voice-over and narration,” she says. “I also direct the annual actor showcase for our BFA in Acting in LA and direct plays every other year or so.”

Quetta’s professional acting credits include “Chicago Med” (NBC), “American Crime” (ABC), “The Leftovers” (HBO), and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, where she also directed the world premiere of Caesar, her original adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. She directed another world premiere of the Urdu translation of David Auburn’s Tony Award winning play Proof in Karachi, Pakistan.

She has wonderful SUU memories of acting in plays like Arms and the Man and Broadway Bound, participating in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Costume Cavalcade, Peter Breinholt concerts, the spooky tunnel under the Adams Memorial Theatre, the day Cedar City finally got a Taco Bell, and Top Spot’s English chips and vanilla Dr. Pepper, to name just a few.

But most of all, Quetta credits SUU for helping her learn and grow.

“What I learned at SUU was how to make and be accountable for my own decisions for the first time in my life,” she says. “I learned how to work, really work for what I wanted, and I learned how to handle not getting it a lot of the time. Essentially, I grew up.”

During Quetta’s free time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, cooking, and spending time with Eleanor “Baby” Roosevelt, an eight-year-old terrier.