HINSDALE – Ele Hagermoser has never shied away from the spotlight.
The 17-year-old Hinsdale Central senior has been acting since age 7, when she was cast in a Zion Lutheran Church production of "Stage Coach." Since then, she's taken center stage in countless plays and musicals, and often spends her summers participating in performance programs throughout the country.
"I love the theater community and the people," Hagermoser said. "The stage is where I met best friends and where I made my best memories. The people that I have worked with are so willing to be who they are and so unique and passionate about what they do. It is inspiring to be surrounded by them."
But Hagermoser is currently the one inspiring fellow actors and actresses.
In her three years at Hinsdale Central, she has been involved in 21 theater productions – doing everything from acting, to assisting in stage design, props, sound and lighting, and most recently directing plays.
The 17-year-old is even credited with pioneering student directing at Hinsdale Central.
After she was not cast in the school's production of "The Laramie Project" during her sophomore year, Hagermoser – determined to still be involved in the show – approached teacher and director Christine Hicks about the possibility of being an assistant director.
"Straight plays at our school never used to have assistant directors," Hagermoser said. "While I was the first to do that, it makes me happier that every play since has used an assistant director. So others who are interested can now try it out for themselves.
"After that, I had the opportunity to direct a freshman production of 'Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.' Bonding with that cast was so amazing and it really felt like I had an impact and was doing something great."
Hagermoser aspires to someday be a professional director, seeking as many opportunities to flex her directorial muscles and expand her knowledge of theater.
On June 25, she directed a student-run production of "Steel Magnolias" at the Oakbrook Terrace Theater. Days later, she packed and departed for the summer-long national Cherubs theatre arts program at Northwestern University, which is offered through the National High School Institute.
Additionally, Hagermoser has taken a leadership role on the Hinsdale Central Drama Advisory Board, helping coordinate the 150-student organization that produces five major theatre productions annually. Come fall, she will even teach introductory drama class at the high school.
"I like keeping busy," Hagermoser said. "Sometimes its a challenge to balance theater, camps and everything else with school, but it's what I love to do, what I'm passionate about."
Her work and dedication have not gone unnoticed.
This spring, she was awarded Hinsdale Central High School’s highest award for leadership in theater, the Christine Hicks Theatre Leadership Award. She was also given the highest honor by the International Thespian Society, the Honor Thespian Rank, bestowed to students who complete more than. 500 hours high school theatre work.
School: Hinsdale Central
Hobbies: Directing, acting and producing plays and musicals
Awards: Christine Hicks Theatre Leadership Award; Honor Thespian Rank
PULL QUOTE: "My father, mother and brother are all really into tennis. But, that never stuck with me. I'm not really motivated to hit things with rackets."