30 Under 30: Jacquelyn Cox, Lighting Designer

RENT, Birmingham-Southern College Theatre, 2012

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Jacquelyn Cox was studying political violence and diplomacy in college when she decided to combine her passion for social-political activism with her love of storytelling. Since then, she has designed Twelfth Night, Rent, Carrie: The Musical, and more, and she has assisted various leading designers, including Howell Binkley, Jeff Croiter, Herrick Goldman, Fiammetta Baldiserri, and Bruno Poet. Presently, Cox is Resident Designer at Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, which evolves the tools, practitioners, and awareness necessary to empower those who struggle to make themselves heard.


Name: Jacquelyn Cox

Age: 27                 

City, State of residence: Brooklyn, NY

Position/title: Lighting Designer

Employer (if not freelance): Self-Employed

Current project(s): Resident Designer at Spectrum Theatre Ensemble, which is a company of theatre artists both neurotypical and on the spectrum that aim to empower those who struggle to make themselves heard.

Most notable achievements: Always waking up on the train right before my stop.  

Carrie: The Musical, Birmingham-Southern College Theatre, 2014

When I started in this industry: 2014

How I got into this industry: While studying Political Violence & Diplomacy in college, I realized that I could combine my passion of social-political activism with my love of storytelling. I was working on two majors that felt opposite in every way. However, when I created my first theatrical design, I realized the collaborative and creative nature of theatre could intersect with statecraft and social engagement. Their union forms evocative and moving theatre that is sometimes as effective as political policy at creating a positive change. I decided to enroll in graduate school at the University of Arkansas for lighting design where I met Howell Binkley at a Master Class. After moving to New York, Mr. Binkley took me on as an assistant on the wonderful show, Come From Away.

Influences: David Best, James Turrell, Stephen Wiltshire, Howell Binkley, Gilbert Hemsley, and J.T. Rogers.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Par cans are worthless.”

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “Be nice to everyone on the way up because you’ll see them all again on the way down.”

My favorite thing about the production industry: There is always a chance to collaborate with different people who bring unique experiences, ideas, and personalities to the table. I am ecstatic to see how theatre can create a positive change in social-political attitudes.  

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: Intentionally placed texture and interacting with the scenic/venue architecture.

Plans for the future: Design for more socio-political plays.

Other interests/side gigs: I am obsessed with traveling and learning about new cultures. I become inordinately exuberant over pork ramen and fried chicken. I am always reading books on diplomacy, public policy, or history. I also love working as an assistant lighting designer as well; every chance is an opportunity to learn.

Twelfth Night, University Theatre, 2015

Awards, honors: To be honest, this tops my list.

Organizations, memberships: USITT, Alumna of Birmingham Southern College and the University of Arkansas, and an Honorary Newfoundlander (Screech & all.)

Other:  @steprovidence & @jacquelynrcox

Website if applicable: www.jacquelynrcox.com

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