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Interview with Shannon Averitt

Averitt, Shannon
Mullins, Kim
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Then and Now; Cultural Identification; Tolerance and Respect
Shannon Averitt gives her account of how her family feels about her chosen college major.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kim Mullins interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
KM (Kim Mullins): Don't be nervous. OK. What's your name?
SA (Shannon Averitt): Shannon Averitt.
KM: And, how old are you?
SA: 19.
KM: And where are you from?
SA: Charlotte, North Carolina.
KM: Where in Charlotte?
SA: West side of Charlotte.
KM: OK. And how was growing up in Charlotte? Did you like it or?
SA: Yeah, I liked it a lot. When, um, I was little, I lived more, near Lake Norman side of Charlotte. If you're not from Charlotte, you're not going to know where that's at, but, um, it was really far away from everybody and behind the airport and stuff like that. And, um, my junior year of high sch, high school, we moved into like the city, the west side of Charlotte, and I went to West Meck, and that was a, um, culture experience, \\ I guess. \\
KM: \\ How, \\ how come?
SA: Because it was more diverse. Like in most schools in Charlotte, if you go on other sides, it's like everybody's just white, but in my school, there was every kind of person you could ever meet. So, I haven't met one person at UNCCharlotte that I didn't meet in my high school. I can compare them to, like black, white, Asian, whatever, grunge, redneck, it doesn't matter. [Laughs]
KM: Do you think that's a good thing that it helped culture you, or--
SA: Yeah, it did because I know people from Charlotte now that went to like, not to slam Providence because I like a lot of those people, but they like have like so many like stereotypes of people because they don't know anybody. But then like, I know people like that and they're people just like anybody else is.
KM: OK. And so is there anything in particular about growing up that you want to share that maybe changed you as a person? Or made you the person that you are? Anything in particular?
SA: Hmm.
KM: Tough question.
SA: Yeah. OK. My dad, um, 'cause I wasn't really like I was a girl, I mean I was a girl. I mean, like my junior year of high school the first dress I ever owned was my junior year prom dress! [Laughter] Like because my dad always treated me like a boy because I was like I was the first girl on my dad's side of the family in like, four generations or something like that. Like my great-grandfather's brothers and da-da-da-da and then my dad had one brother and my two older cousins were both guys. And then there was never like any female blood Averetts until like my oldest cousin had kids. But like, so I was always raised like a tomboy and everything like that and my dad treated me like a guy all the time. And that's like I can totally see my dad in my personality. Like when I lived at home, we did not get along at all for anything in the world; we would fight all the time. I moved out and we get along perfect. Because we're like, now I can say this because I'm older or whatever and I can like deal with it, I'm exactly like my dad.
KM: [Laughs]
SA: But, when I was younger, I would have shot myself before I would have admitted that me and my dad were the exact same!
KM: So you guys get along really well now?
SA: Yeah. Unless I'm like, when I go home for like Christmas break, after being there for like two weeks, it was like I'd never moved out and we get kind of like tense with each other. Basically because we both, um, always think we're right.
KM: I know about that! Now what about your mom? Were you close with her when you were growing up?
SA: I was closer with my dad when I was little, just because I did all the sports and everything like that and, I've always been close to my mom, it was never like I didn't like my mom, but, um, me my mom and I never really fight or anything like that, but now me and my mom are a lot closer. When I started doing like the whole shopping thing, the make-up thing, everything like that, me and my mom got really, really close. And then, like now that I'm in college, like I call her, like all the time and it won't occur that I should talk to my dad, too! But, then like me and my mom will talk all the time and she'll come over here and she'll like have a beer and a cigarette with me and it doesn't matter anymore! [Laughs] Just because, you know, she knows how I am, I guess.
KM: Do you think that's hard for your dad maybe that you're closer with your mom now than you are your dad? Or do you think he kind of understands that's just the way?
SA: Um, it was hard for him at first, I think because, um, like all of a sudden I was like so into softball, so into sports and everything like that and I'm still like, I'm still like that. But it wasn't like Daddy's little wannabe tomboy, thing anymore, you know. Like, I started doing more things with my mom, I started doing this and I started doing that. I think that was kind of hard for him, you know.
KM: Do you think he resents that now or--?
SA: I don't think he resents it, I think he kind of had to suck it up and get it over with, get over it.
KM: [Laughs]
SA: Because like he saw that like, I think he saw that I was like him before I would admit that I was like him. Because he knew that I was going to do what I wanted to do without disrespecting my parents or do anything like that because I was still like not going to run out in a rampage and kind and be like a horrible person, but it was just like my life now and--
KM: And what's your major?
SA: Theater.
KM: Theater? How do they feel about your being a theater major?
SA: Uh, funny. Actually my first semester at Charlotte, I was a pre-business major to go into marketing and advertising, because I did that in high school, too. But I never wanted to do that. I did that because that's what my dad wanted me to do. And because I was really involved in theater and stuff in high school and everything like that. And kind of like coming in to college or whatever, he kind of convinced me that what else am I going to do?
KM: Uh-huh.
SA: If I, he's like, "You're not going to do anything, da-da-da." He wasn't real supportive about it at all. But, um, after my first semester was over with and I had like a real theater class, I knew that's what I still wanted to do.
KM: Really?
SA: And so I changed my major without telling my parents.
KM: Oh gosh!
SA: Then they got the whole schedule thing for the next year with the tuition bill on it and everything like that and my mom was reading it and it said, "Major THEA," and she was like, "What is this?" She knew I was going to do it, but Dad was pretty irate. Then I started paying him half the tuition bill. So--
KM: Really?
SA: Yeah. That was the deal for them to get off my back and let me do what I wanted to do. I pay half of my, everything.
KM: Was that hard for you?
SA: Yeah. Because my whole first year, I didn't work. But then, ha, ha that changed quickly. Well, actually when I went the whole first year, the whole first semester, because I worked at the pool on campus for a year.
KM: Uh-huh.
SA: That was horrible.
KM: Uh-huh.
SA: Because I'm like a lifeguard every summer and this year I had to get a winter job all year. And it's hard to go from having like your whole day to go to classes and do whatever you want to do and space out everything then like having to like drive across town and go to work. Just to be able to have a job, because I'm not a big work fan. That's probably why I'm a theater major so I can kind of, you know, do what plays I want and then move on.
KM: Do you think they've become more ex, do you think they've accepted more what you've decided to do or that's going to take a while? Or if they ever will at all?
SA: Um, my mom has because she knows how important it is to me and everything like that and my dad actually two weeks ago when I went home, I don't even remember why I went home, but I went home for something and he's like, he's still trying to convince me to double major. To have something to fall back on and everything like that. And I'm like, I'm trying to convince him to, you know, if I don't make it and there's a strong possibility I won't, I know that, I'm not stupid, I'm nor going to go to LA and make five million or more than that--
KM: Right. [Laughter]
SA: And do all that, and I mean, if I don't make it, my life's not going to be over or something, like I can't go back to school.
KM: So you'll go back to school if that doesn't work out?
SA: Yeah.
KM: Did you tell parents that?
SA: I think they know. My mom knows. My dad he, I don't know, he doesn't think I'm stupid, but he doesn't he wants better for me, than what he has. He thinks, you know, it's just kind of that whole thing, he wants me to get everything now, because he thinks once you're his age, it's too late. But he realizes it's not like that. He could go and make more his self if he would get off his butt and do it.
KM: What does he do? What does he do for a living?
SA: He's a brick mason, which he builds like buildings.
KM: Oh.
SA: And he's been doing that since he got out of the hospital. He went to college for two weeks and dropped out.
KM: Oh, you're kidding.
SA: Yeah. Like neither, like I'm the first one in my family to go to college on my dad's side.
KM: That must be a really big deal.
SA: Yeah. It is. That's why it's such like a big thing, because my uncle, he went, he went into the military and then came out. I don't know what, he sells like cars or something. [Laughs] And like my cousins like, one of my cousins, he's just like slack; he dropped out of high school his senior year. [Laughter] So, I'm kind of like the hope, I guess.
KM: That's a little bit of pressure, though.
SA: I guess. I don't, I kind of don't think about that though, because I'm like my life is my life, you know? And like my family's a big part of it. I love them all to death, but what they do, doesn't like reflect who I am--
KM: Right.
SA: You know. And stuff like that. I'm kind of going to do what I'm going to do. That's why I stand out in my family. I think that's why they expect so much more of me. It kind of gets tiring and that's what I don't like, you know, I don't like to talk about myself when I go around my family. You know they're all like, "Oh good! Da-da-da-da-da." I'm like--
KM: Do they praise you a lot?
SA: Yeah.
KM: And you don't like that? I love it!
SA: I do, but it gets to a point where like I feel like if I fail, it's just going to be like way too much for everybody. And, I don't know, it's like my grandparents, I'm the youngest one. I'm the only girl, you know, besides my cousin's kids who are like two and three.
KM: Uh-huh.
SA: So nobody knows what they're going to be yet and considering Chris is raising them, that doesn't, you know, say too much for them two little girls. [Laughs]
KM: Whose girls?
SA: My cousin's. [Laughs]
KM: Oh. Oh yeah.
SA: [Laughs] I'm making my family sound really bad, but they're really not that bad!
KM: No! Everybody's family is different. What does your mom do?
SA: She's a, she works in a warehouse now, actually. She used to be a waitress for the longest, longest time. Now she works at US Aid. She does packages like first aid stuff.
KM: Does she like what she does?
SA: Uh, no. [Laughs] No she doesn't at all. She waits tables like one night a week at another job to help put me through and everything like that. So--
KM: What do you do? Where, where are you working now?
SA: Now I'm starting my whole lifeguard thing this summer. I'm opening up like five pools and they're giving me a headache because they all turned green today, so, that's like the most fun job for me. This is the fourth summer I've done it. So now I'm going to run three pools over the summer.
KM: A big responsibility!
SA: Yeah, but I've done it for so long, I'm used to like lifeguard and like everything like that. Last year I managed one pool and the other pools are kind of small and like a few of our sisters are working for me. So that'll--
START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B SA: Work on stage and then go to LA and work in movies to begin with, anyway.
KM: So you wouldn't stay in Charlotte? Your parents will be sad!
SA: They know. I've told them. My dad still doesn't believe me. My mom believes me, because she knows I'll go. But, um, it's not like I'll never come back and visit or anything like that. Like, I mean, if let's say, I make it really big, you know, big, famous person or whatever, I'll live here. And then I'll go and everything like that, when I'm big enough to make my decisions on, when people are sending me scripts by then instead of me having to like audition and stuff.
KM: You have a good attitude about it, though! That's good, though, you need to, I guess.
SA: You can't go into it and be like, "Oh! I'm going to be a big movie star one day!" And everything like that, because the people like that are the ones that are disappointed the most and then like end up nowhere.
KM: Right.
SA: You know, like I know one day I'll have to sit down and decide if I'm where I want to be in life or if I'm not. And if I'm not, I've got to do something about it.
KM: That's a good attitude! Well, I definitely think you're going to do something with it and I want to thank you for talking to us.
SA: No problem!
KM: Bye!