As a non-binary and mixed-race student, Hannah Roller will tell you that school hasn’t always been easy.
“In a high school and middle school environment, we are all growing up with so many emotions,” the high school senior explains. “One little comment can cause so many thoughts. Kids like to use those insecurities. Getting to know people can be challenging.”
Hannah, who uses the pronouns they/them, has Native American, Caucasian, and Mexican heritage. Hannah says that although they have sometimes struggled with bullying and not always feeling comfortable with their peers, finding a place in the arts community changed their whole perspective.
“Every time I’m on stage, I get this excitement,” Hannah explains. “Everything that didn’t go right with the day, I don’t have to think about that.”
In addition to acting and singing, Hannah also does ballet and tap. They have had lead roles in multiple productions at Loveland High, including playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Wednesday in The Addams Family.
“I’m very passionate about creative outlets for students,” Hannah says. “All of these performing abilities help me when I’m feeling down or stressed. It’s been a great release for me.”
Overcoming Adversity Through Self-Advocacy
That’s not to say Hannah hasn’t faced some adversity in their path to success, including peers who have judged them for their commitment to the arts.
“There’s times when people who are really living in the high school moment right now have made comments about my interests,” Hannah says. “That can kind of sting a bit. This is my choice; why don’t you worry about your own?”
Hannah also recalls being made fun of based on their race, particularly when they would wear their hair in braids or wear indigenous jewelry. It was sometimes challenging to find a way to overlook negativity to focus on what they love.
“I get mistaken for different ethnicities all the time. I really had to take my time to learn to stand up for myself,” Hannah explains. “I realize there’s going to be haters everywhere, but I’m also realizing I can make a difference in the acting community. Being that representation that I wanted as a kid is so impactful.”
Hannah Roller Pursuing Dreams and Inspiring Others
With graduation coming up, Hannah is looking forward to going to school at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. They are hoping to act professionally and do musical theater on Broadway.
“I’m mostly looking forward to having freedom to really get invested in my passions as an artist and become more mature as an actor,” Hannah says. “I have loved high school theater, but I’m ready to move on to bigger things. I’m ready to see more culture.”
Hannah Roller credits their mom, dad and sister for being very supportive throughout their school years. Hannah says their family has given them the courage to create boundaries and surround themselves with good people.
“I look for people who build each other up, not tear each other down … people who make you feel good about yourself,” Hannah says, adding that they wish people would see the value in being kinder toward one another. “I try and look on the bright side, even in bad situations.”
Hannah says they occasionally still feel uncomfortable when they walk into a public situation and find they are the only person of color in the room. It irritates them when they feel people staring. But Hannah also says that facing prejudice has given them perspective on why it’s so important to be our authentic selves.
“Every person is uniquely special in their own way,” Hanna says. “You shouldn’t be afraid of showing that or being loud or crazy or artistic. Know your worth and be confident — even if it takes you time.”
Portrait of a Graduate
Adapts communication style to the audience