Elon alum scores big with “One Tree Hill”

The popularity of what started as a minor character has led to the first instance of an Elon graduate starring in a full-time, major role on a nationally recognized television show. If you’re a fan of the television show “One Tree Hill,” then you’ve seen Lisa Goldstein ’03.

Lisa Goldstein ’03 stars in the CW drama “One Tree Hill.”

Goldstein plays Millicent Huxtable, the quirky assistant to Brooke (Sophia Bush) whose on-air relationship with Mouth McFadden (Lee Norris) has led to a regular role on the hit TV show. Goldstein couldn’t be happier. The theater veteran is having a ball learning the workings of a television set.

“I had never been on a TV or film set before, so I have really learned the ins and outs of a set,” she said. “I’ve learned so much. I have become more comfortable with breaking down scenes and making good choices for scenes quickly.”

Growing up, Goldstein didn’t dream of becoming an actress. But it was something she grew to love.

“I never really decided I wanted to be an actress,” she said. “It just kind of seemed like the only thing I was truly interested in. I became more serious about acting when I started attending Walnut Hill Summer Theatre School (Natick, Mass.) from when I was 12 to 15.”

When Goldstein came to Elon, her passion for acting grew even stronger. She studied music theatre and performed in “Music Man,” “Comedy of Errors,” “Songs for a New World,” “12 Angry Jurors,” “Closer than Ever,” “Marvin’s Room” and “You Can’t Take it With You,” in which she played Penny, still one of her favorite roles.

Catherine McNeela, a professor of performing arts, worked with Goldstein in class and as a director in performances. She said her experience with Goldstein was always positive.

“We’ve had a lot of students who have been on Broadway, and done regional theater, national tours, international tours – but Lisa is the first continuing character,” McNeela said. “It’s incredibly exciting that we have someone on a major TV show. That positive spirit, the team player, has just followed her in every job, in her education and it has just paid off. People love Lisa Goldstein.”

After graduating, Goldstein launched her career by performing in regional theater, including the Naples Dinner Theatre, the Heritage Repertory Theatre and the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, eventually landing a role in the original cast of “Finding Nemo: The Musical in Disney World.”

“I auditioned at an open call in New York,” she said. “It was an original musical, so it was really exciting to work on a project that no one had ever tackled before. I started as a swing, learning multiple roles, and I ended up playing Nemo.”

In August 2007, she took the phone call of a lifetime. The creators of “One Tree Hill” loved the audition tape she submitted and hired her to play Millicent.

“I had to have one of my best friends listen to the voice mail because I didn’t believe it was real,” Goldstein recalls. “One Tree Hill” on the CW network show is filmed in Wilmington, N.C.

Goldstein credits the fundamentals she learned at Elon with helping her succeed.

“It gave me the very important foundations that a career in the arts needs,” she said. “Whenever I am questioning something or am unsure of what I should be doing with a scene, I always go back to my Elon ‘toolbox’ and find what I need.”

– Bethany Swanson ’09