Gini Larson lives her passions as an actor and an educator


During the work week, Gini Larson is busy providing management support as a curriculum assistant for the pre-clerkship program at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Outside of work, she can be found doing something else she is passionate about – acting.

The retired teacher found a second career with the college, doing something she loves – supporting students’ education. Now, instead of teaching students in their K-12 journey, she supports medical students’ learning, and whether teaching in the classroom or supporting medical students’ education, one thing that hasn’t changed for Larson is making theater a part of her life. She’s been acting since high school and took that love with her into college where she minored in theater.

When she came to Lansing more than 30 years ago to teach, she also brought her training in theater and talent in acting to the Lansing area where she has worked in several productions. As part of the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing, she received the 2023 Barney Award for Lead Actress – Play, for her portrayal of M’Lynn Eatenton in “Steel Magnolias.”

“It’s exciting,” Larson said as she talked about the show. “I worked really hard to get the part and worked hard on the part – and was grateful to be part of it (the play).”

Larson said earning the award was exciting and it validated the work she put into the play. “Theater is my artistic release,” she explained. “It’s one of those things that if you are a painter, you have to paint; a singer, you have to sing; I act. It’s very rewarding and fulfilling.”

The production was one of the most well-done productions she’s been a part of in her career and the all-woman production team, along with the actors and director were amazing, Larson said, adding the part is among the top 10 of the characters she’s played through the years. She was excited to share the show with her fellow thespians and her family and friends, inviting them all to come see it – something she doesn’t always do, but she had a feeling about Steel Magnolias.

“I knew it was going to be crowd pleasing and high quality,” she said. “It sold out every night.”

As she looks ahead, Larson is excited for her role as mayor in the upcoming production of “The Minutes,” a production she will be doing with the Peppermint Creek Theatre.

“Everybody needs to have a passion. Some people find a job that fulfills everything they need – creatively, intellectually, professionally and socially,” she said, but others find that fulfillment in other ways. “You need something to make you feel unique, creative and appreciated; it’s an important facet to life.”

And, if she were to give any advice, it would be that it’s never too late to find out what your passion is. Many people join theater at various times in their life – even after doing other things – whether acting, directing or working backstage with lighting, sound effects and other parts of the production, Larson explained.