Darlene Doxey Calvin says Woodrow student Danielle Hardie is “kind of like a Charlize Theron.”


          “She had a part in Bye Bye Birdie where she played an old Jewish woman,” Calvin says, adding that many in the audience knew her but didn’t recognize her.


“She was such a brilliant actress and could carry it so well that nobody knew who it was.”


Hardie recently was honored as the first-ever Bircher Hardman Scholarship winner. The honor, named after Marca Lee Bircher and Patty Hardman, who retired as leaders of the school’s drama and choir departments last year, gives Hardie $20,000 over her four years at the University of Southern California .


          This was the first time the scholarship has been awarded and, says Calvin, a longtime volunteer in the school’s drama department and now manager of the scholarship, it was a great success. Around $25,000 was raised, and an anonymous alumni donor agreed to match up to $100,000 over three years.


          “That translates into $50,000,” she says. “And we’ll be able to invest that so we can perpetuate the scholarship.”


Also, Doug Miller, executive director of the Contemporary Theater of Dallas, offered his space as the permanent official home of the scholarship presentation.


          “It was really a community effort — the money came from people who admire what that school has done for the community and who admire the drama program there,” Calvin says.


          Which brings us back to Hardie and the other students nominated for the award: Erin Frisbie, Erin Rieple and Will Schutze.


          The decision between the three, Calvin says, was difficult for the selection committee of Bircher, Hardman, drama alums Andrew Morgan (1987) and Stefanie Bauer Seeburger (1989) and Woodrow parent Carol Hensley.


          Only students who plan to pursue performing arts as a major in college could apply, and Calvin calls all of the applicants “brilliantly talented.”


          But Hardie won, she says, because the committee felt she had the “it” factor.


“She is a brilliant actress, a tremendous musician,” she says. “But there was just something abut her level of energy — it’s one of those qualities that kind of just set her apart.


          “She’s one of the most amazing things the Woodrow stage has ever seen.”


          And Hardie, who has lived in our neighborhood her entire life and attended Lakewood Elementary and J.L. Long Middle School before Woodrow, is as gracious as she is talented.


          “I was surprised,” she says of her win. “I had a lot of really good competitors — all three of them are really good friends, and they’re all equally deserving in my mind.”


          As for hearing her name called out at the ceremony?


“Oh wow,” she says. “I was very honored and very emotional.”


And she was quick to credit her success to the scholarship’s namesakes, Bircher and Hardman.


          “They really were excellent mentors,” she says. “The majority of what I’ve learned has been from them.”


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