College of Arts and Humanities

Acting like a Tiger: Adrian Eppley ’15


The moment you’re working alongside this century’s Captain America and one of the lead actresses in the Barbenheimer cultural phenomenon, you know something is working.

And it certainly is for Adrian Eppley ‘15. This hasn’t happened by chance; everything has been earned. There is no glamorous career origin story for Eppley. More than anything, her journey is marked by courage and work ethic coalescing to pay dividends, now on television.

It began when she enrolled at Clemson University to become a nurse. Eppley couldn’t shake her love for acting and dove headfirst into the performing arts culture in the Brooks Center.

“I went to Clemson thinking I was going to do nursing and I took one theater class my first semester to see if the bug was still there,” she says. “I took the class and said, ‘Yep, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I just know it.’”

Tiger ties

Clemson was the only school the Charlotte native considered because she grew up a Tiger. Her father, Mike Eppley, was dubbed Clemson’s own Bo Jackson by legendary sports information director Tim Bourret in a 1990 game program.

Adrian and Mike Eppley are pictured wearing Clemson football "Eppley" jerseys at a home game inside Memorial Stadium at night.
Adrian Eppley, right, and her father, Mike, are pictured at a home football game in Memorial Stadium more than a decade ago. Mike Eppley was a dual-sport athlete for the Tigers in the 1980s.

Eppley was a backup quarterback on the 1981 national championship football team and the only Division I athlete to start in football and basketball during the 1982-83 academic year, according to Bourret. He was one of two to do the same in 1983-84 year and is in the Clemson Hall of Fame, which he was inducted in the first year he was eligible.

School was a whirlwind for his daughter, as Adrian spent most of her time in rehearsals and the remainder with her Zeta Tau Alpha sisters. Eppley quips that she was “half sorority girl, half theater nerd.”

“I couldn’t even make it to chapter because I was always in rehearsal,” she jokes. “I was always late to a party.”

It was convenient that classes and rehearsals were so centralized at the Brooks Center. Perhaps a little too convenient, as Eppley estimates she racked up around $5,000 in parking tickets.

“I think if there were a record at Clemson, I would have it,” she says.

Eppley loved her time in school. She left with a strong foundation and was exposed to different acting techniques. She still uses Associate Professor Kerrie Seymour’s vocal warmup is still used before any audition or performance. Eppley says she is a better communicator and has a greater appreciation for the other roles that bring a production to life.

Taking the leap

Before she graduated, Eppley was set on moving to Los Angeles to begin her acting career. Conversations at a theatre conference her class attended senior year led her to stay on the East Coast and give New York a shot. With that, she moved to the Big Apple at 21.

“I did it so blindly that I wasn’t scared at all,” she says of the leap. “I met a girl on Facebook, and she was my roommate – thank God she was normal – and I later found someone on Craigslist. We’re still friends.”

She bartended to support herself as she pursued her dream. Hillstone on Park Avenue customers said her accent sounded like Miley Cyrus.

Adrian Eppley crosses her arms and looks out to the audience during a production of "Eurydice" in the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts.
Eppley starred in a production of “Eurydice” in the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts as a Clemson University student.

It’s impossible to book work in New York without an agent, so Eppley began applying to be in commercials on her own. Her first gig? Starring in a KIND Bar commercial, a memory her family looks back on blissfully.

“I booked it and it paid small. But myself and my parents, we were just so ecstatic,” Eppley says. “It’s funny because we were reflecting on that moment over Thanksgiving. It was a huge deal because I self-submitted for it and showed up to a place where I didn’t know anyone. Now, you fast forward, and I just worked with Emily Blunt and Chris Evans.”

As confidence built, there was a sense that it was time to leave New York. Eppley hadn’t felt well and wanted to move south to be near family. It was prescient because she moved to Atlanta in 2019, months before COVID-19 changed the world.

“That was when I learned to always listen to my gut because then the pandemic happened,” she says. “I moved to Atlanta and got my feet wet. In New York, I learned how to hustle; my work ethic will never be the same because of that city.”

She now cherishes proximity to family and trees. It’s a delicacy to simply drive to the grocery store. Dropping restaurant work for a full-time marketing job helped her survive the 2023 Hollywood strikes.

Eppley was grateful for the job stability and continued voiceover work for companies like Volkswagen. She’ll never take an audition for granted after the pandemic and work strikes. The time was an opportune reminder to prioritize what mattered in her life.

“I’ve missed weddings because of jobs that I couldn’t risk being exposed to COVID or shooting schedules,” Eppley says. “The strike taught me I love acting and will be doing it for the rest of my life, but I have things in life that matter just as much. It was a perspective shift.”

On the horizon

Her resume includes roles in two Lifetime movies (Who is Killing the Cheerleaders and Just What the Doctor Ordered), credit as an acting double for Michelle Monaghan in Netflix’s Echoes and a recurring role in Delilah on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Clemson supporters can also find Eppley in the 2023 release of The Hill on Netflix, which stars Dennis Quaid. Families with children who watch Nickelodeon and are sports-intrigued may also like her role in Fantasy Football.

Eppley’s most recent work, which is also her most high-profile, happened in 2023 when she had lines in Netflix’s Pain Hustlers. That stars Chris Evans, Emily Blunt and Catherine O’Hara and director David Yates, who directed the final four movies in the Harry Potter series. Yates enjoys the occasional improv, something Eppley dipped into once to cause Blunt and Evans to break out in laughter.

“I will cherish that for the rest of my life,” she says.

On the heels of that, Eppley can sense career momentum building. The Clemson Family is certainly rooting for her.

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