Mara Eva Cline got her start in Buford High School’s musical theater program as a third grader when she was cast in a spring production. 

“My sister was a junior and was involved with the program, and they were performing ‘Shrek The Musical,’” the Class of 2023 Buford High School graduate says. “Mrs. Kimberly Staples, the high school director, needed a little villager and asked if I would like to be a part of the show.”

As a fifth grader, Mara Eva played a young first-class passenger in “Titanic.” In sixth grade, she played the role of Jane Banks in the high school’s performance of “Mary Poppins.” 

“This was huge,” Mara Eva says. “I think this is probably when I realized theater would be a big part of my future. I was given the script to memorize and realized I was on the stage just as much as Mary Poppins!”

Mara Eva would go on to perform a number of roles at Buford Middle School and Buford High School and receive region- and state-level recognition — she played Margo Crawford in “Bright Star,” which won the Georgia High School Association’s One Act Play Championship in spring 2021. 

“When we performed ‘Bright Star’ for One Act Region, I was shocked when I won best actress for a supporting role,” Mara Eva says. “I think this is when I thought in my mind that maybe this is something I could actually do as a career.” 

Mara Eva’s theater accolades also include being named best actress her junior year for the GHSA One Act Play Championship for her role as Jo March in “Little Women.” 

“Jo was also one of my favorite characters to play,” she says. “We both have very similar traits as we are determined, focused on our dreams, and independent. This was such an honor to bring this award home to our high school.”

Mara Eva Cline, right, performs as Elle Woods in the Buford High School production of “Legally Blonde.” Photo by Lily McGregor Photography.

Mara Eva’s favorite high school memory is playing the role of Elle Woods in the musical “Legally Blonde” her senior year.  

“Elle has always been one of my dream roles so being able to play that part was a dream come true,” she says. “I remember being a little girl singing the ‘Legally Blonde’ soundtrack in the car with my sister.”

The musical, which is based on the novel and the 2001 film both of the same name, follows a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend.

Mara Eva says she shares similar characteristics with Elle Woods. 

“We are passionate, determined, energetic, and outgoing.  We also love dogs, dressing up, and anything pink,” she says. “Playing her role felt like I was just being myself onstage and definitely served as a highlight from my high school years!” 

Mara Eva says musical theater and chorus — she has received numerous choral music recognitions, including being named the GHSA state Literary winner for girls solo for 2021-2022 and the state winner for girls trio for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 — were the most influential activities during her time at Buford. 

“Through these programs in the performing arts, I took on many tasks that took a lot of hard work and time,” she says. “ From playing lead roles and supporting roles, to being the girls soloist and soprano in girls trio, and performing as a group ensemble with chorus, I learned how crucial it is to have time management and to stay organized. I also realized how important it is to serve as both a leader and a team player. … Overall, I gained numerous skills to help lead to the success of my future career in the performance field and also in everyday life.”

Mara Eva Cline is crowned Miss Buford. Photo submitted by Mara Eva Cline.

As a student at Buford, Mara Eva was named Miss Freshman Buford, Miss Sophomore Buford and Miss Junior Buford before securing the title of Miss Buford her senior year. She currently holds the title of Miss Atlanta’s Outstanding Teen. 

As a Buford High School graduate, Mara Eva hopes to be remembered for giving back to the local community and as someone who was dedicated in achieving their goals. 

“I want my legacy to be someone who was truly authentic, kind, and courageous,” she says. “Someone who was passionate about taking action to benefit their community by giving back. Someone who was dedicated to what they believed in and worked hard to achieve their goals. Someone who left behind a better place that I was able to help create, and to inspire people to want to be better.”

Mara Eva’s community service work includes delivering homemade baked goods monthly to a number of places, including the North Gwinnett Co-op, several fire stations and to her elderly neighbors. She has also volunteered working with adults with special needs and participated in fundraisers for the Melanoma Research Alliance, for which she is an ambassador, among other community service work. She is also the founder of the Buddies, Not Bullies program and has written a children’s book, “Whack a Mole Before It’s Too Late,” which is being published on Amazon. 

Mara Eva plans to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater from the University of Alabama. She also hopes to travel to New York City to audition for a Broadway show. 

Mara Eva is the daughter of Donna and Robert Cline of Braselton. Her sister, Emma Grace Cline, 27, graduated from Buford in 2017 and went on to graduate from Auburn University. She resides in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter, Tilly. 

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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