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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – An actress from the Pittsburgh area is back home, performing on her hometown stage as she makes her national touring debut on her path to Broadway.

At 24 years old, Erica Durham appears destined for stardom. She’s making her national debut in the tour of the musical “The Color Purple,” which is playing in Pittsburgh through Nov. 19.

The graduate of Central Valley High School and Penn State is displaying her acting and singing talents before hometown fans.

“To sort of be here back in Pittsburgh, back on the stage that I started this all at, it’s been very surreal, and I’m grateful and humbled by the entire thing,” Durham said.

Durham plays the role of “Squeak” in the musical adaptation of 1985 movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

It portrays the life of a southern woman who overcomes bigotry and abuse in the early 1900s. The musical has its serious moments, but “Squeak” is a fun-loving role.

“I feel like I bring a lot of myself into this role,” she said. “It’s very much, like I’ve said before, Squeak and I would probably be best friends if she was a real person. She’s just very fun and lovely, and she always likes to joke around and sort of be the center of attention.”

It’s the next step in a singing and acting career that started during her sophomore year of high school. A teacher recognized her talents, and she landed the part of Little Inez in the Pittsburgh CLO’s production of “Hairspray.”

“That experience just sort of changed everything for me,” Durham said, “and I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I want to do this for the rest of my life.’”

Proud parents Jesse and Arelene knew she was special even before then.

“She’s been overflowing with talent,” Arlene said. “She’s finally— it’s all coming to light now. It’s God’s plan.”

“She always had a little bit of an actress in her, always,” Jesse said. “She’s real shy, but she doesn’t mind grabbing a mic and she doesn’t mind singing to a crowd.”

In addition to numerous plays, Durham appeared in her first movie called “A Bread Factory” and her goal is to reach Broadway.

The sky is the limit for a young woman pursuing her passion.

“If I wasn’t doing this, what would I be doing, and would I love it as much?” Durham said. “I still haven’t found something that could say the same thing about that.”

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