Meet Sibel Damar: an actor, comedian, content creator, and proud UNCG Greensboro alumna.
Soon, she will add “alumna of the Viacom CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase” to her resume, joining the likes of Kate McKinnon, Tiffany Haddish, Nico Santos, and more of Hollywood’s funniest.
Damar was one of 15 actors chosen out of over 6,000 auditions for the annual variety comedy show that spotlights up-and-coming performers. The Showcase serves as a launching pad for these performers by giving them the chance to produce, write, and perform their own sketches in front of prominent industry players.
How does Damar feel to be part of the Showcase? Grateful.
“When you work for something for so many years, getting this validation let’s you know that you’re on the right track and that it’s all been worth it.”
One look at Damar’s resume tells you that she’s earned that coveted spot in the Showcase. The Charlotte native has built an impressive resume since graduating from UNCG’s School of Theatre in 2016 and moving to NYC to pursue her dreams – from training at the prestigious Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB) to landing a recurring co-star role on “FBI.” And she credits UNCG and her professors for laying the foundation to get her where she is today.
“UNCG is the place where I really started to find myself in my work,” Damar said. “I can’t thank the faculty enough for giving me such a solid foundation and instilling such a firm belief in myself and a good work ethic, because that has made all the difference in my career.”
But Damar had to adjust when the pandemic ravaged New York City in 2020. The Upright Citizens Brigade, her creative home, shut down. There was no work available. The city that never sleeps went dormant.
“There was not a soul outside. I didn’t have anywhere to go. I was just stuck in my apartment, mourning the loss of performing. I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’”
That’s when she turned to TikTok, the short-form video-focused social media application.
“I decided that I was going to do what I would do on stage and put it on TikTok. I started making videos full-time and using all that I had learned up to this point to produce creative, funny material. And I found that my content was helping people laugh and smile during a really dark time.”
Damar started gaining a following as her videos went viral. Now, over 101,000 followers later, her videos have garnered more than two million likes.
“I think amassing a following like that and having all of those videos on that platform helped me get the exposure that I needed to stand out in my audition for the CBS Showcase. That was really the key that gave me this dream opportunity.”
And that dream opportunity included weeks of writing and pitching her sketch ideas to top executive casting directors at CBS, working with industry creative professionals on scriptwriting, and performing her material on a professional set in a studio lot in Los Angeles, CA.
“I’m so grateful to the CBS creative team for creating a safe and supportive space in which we could showcase our best creative work.”
All this hard work culminates in a virtual, live-streamed event on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9, where viewers, including top industry executives, will watch Damar perform her sketches.
“I get emotional thinking about it because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As an actor and a creator, you don’t know how many times in your life you’re going to get to write something, star in it, and work with a group of incredibly talented individuals to make your vision come to life. That’s like signing a deal with a network and saying, ‘Hey, I have an idea for a show. Here’s my show pitch. And, oh yeah, I also want to be the lead in it.’ This is a very real taste of that, and the whole experience has been overwhelmingly beautiful and incredible.”
Her advice to graduating Spartans looking to break into the entertainment industry?
“The growing and the learning never stops. Keep seeking training and classes while you’re auditioning. Wait for good representation – I wouldn’t be where I am without my amazing manager. And while you’re working, find a community that will allow you to be 100% yourself. Be authentically you show your work however you can, even if that’s by putting videos online. Just keep showcasing what you’re doing, and people will respond to that.”
Register here to watch the Showcase.
Follow Damar on TikTok and Instagram at the handle @sibel_damar.
Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by John Jay, LLC