WPU Alumnus Finds Success as Professional Actor

Jan 6, 2022

Melvin Gray Jr. ’16 was determined to be a doctor. In high school, he had taken medical preparatory courses. At William Peace University (WPU), he diligently studied biology. He was set up perfectly for medical school — then his plans were suddenly cast in a different direction.

Gray is now a professional actor and performer who has been part of Broadway-caliber productions.

Gray’s career plans started to shift his freshman year at WPU when he auditioned for the campus Glee club. He had never sung in front of a crowd, but he wanted to try something new. When the audition results came back, he got in.

“No one knew little Melvin could sing,” he explained. “It was a shock to people that I had a voice.”

Peers in the club encouraged Gray that he had a talented voice and should continue to perform. Gray decided to audition for the musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” in the fall of his sophomore year. 

Gray landed a role in the musical and immersed himself in a new environment. “I wasn’t used to theatre culture; I was just a biology major that could sing and kind of dance,” he said. “It took courage for me to step into this new element.”

He remembers he was a bundle of nerves before the first performance. However, the cast’s support boosted his confidence to go on stage. While singing and looking out at the audience, he had a moment of realization. He loved what he was doing. He loved providing audiences with the opportunity to be immersed in a show. 

“I found I fell in love with theatre and wondered ‘Can I make this a thing? Can I make this my career?’” he said. “It makes me so happy.”

After that, Gray switched his major to theatre with a minor in Psychology. He kept auditioning to be on stage. At WPU, he was in a total of nine plays and musicals. One of his proudest accomplishments was in his senior musical “American Idiot.” Gray landed the lead, a role that traditionally plays guitar while singing. Gray had no previous experience playing the instrument but was determined to learn it. He took lessons daily and successfully sang and strung during the performances.

Gray started his involvement in professional theatre his senior year. After graduation, Gray had the opportunity to be part of Broadway-caliber shows at theaters like North Carolina Theatre, Broadway Series South, and Kennedy Theatre. Gray has even been part of an exclusive six-person Broadway workshop in New York City. He has also been a part of several short films based in the Triangle area. 

Gray explained that being a professional actor takes thick skin. 

“It’s a tough gig to make it in. It comes down to networking and people skills at the end of the day,” Gray said. “You have to find the courage to push through the no’s and find success.”

Currently, Gray is part of the musical “Sister Act” at North Carolina Theatre. The production, scheduled to run February 8-13, 2022, will be postponed until October 11-16, 2022.

“If you love the movie, you’ll love this musical just as much,” Gray said. “It’s even funnier on a live stage.”

To buy tickets, visit nctheatre.com/shows/sister-act. To give to WPU’s theatre program, visit peace.edu/give.

Give Courageously to Peace

Thanks to the generosity of William Peace University supporters, current and future WPU students have access to the resources needed to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn passion into purpose.
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
a student uses a laptop on a green bench at William Peace University

Give Now

Support future Pacer success. 


Become a Corporate Partner

Find out how your organization can collaborate with Peace.


Whether you’re hoping to attend WPU or hosting an event, you’re welcome to visit WPU! 

Wedding at WPU
Phantom in downtown Raleigh

Conferences and Events

Host your conference, event, or wedding at WPU.

Location and Directions

Get directions, our address, a campus map, and hotel discount information.


Learn about WPU and all it has to offer so you can guide your students to the best fit for their next step. 

Admissions Info

Meet and connect with our Admissions team.

Schedule a Visit

Learn about our processes and schedule a visit.


Our success as an institution has always been rooted in the strength of our community. As an integral part of that community, we invite alumni to stay informed and connected. 

Alumni outside at WPU
Roses float in the campus fountain after an alumni event.
Building at WPU

Get Involved

Stay connected to Peace.


Contribute to the success of future Pacers.

General Info

Read about alumni benefits.


Families are an integral part of a student’s path to WPU. Find answers to your questions here. 

Two WPU students work together on a project during class

Student Success: Why Choose WPU?

Learn about the value of an education at WPU.

Billing and Due Dates

Questions about your student’s enrollment or billing? Start here.

Current Students

Already a Pacer? Here’s your quick path to information, links, and other useful stuff.

Group of students talking
Students high-fiving each other

Current Students

Missing something? Can’t find a link? Start here.

Current Parents and Families

Is your student a Pacer? Here’s where to get information and contacts.

Future Students

Welcome to William Peace University! We offer programs for both traditional undergraduate students and online/hybrid classes through our School of Professional Studies. Find your path to WPU here.

Three WPU students walk through a brick archway on campus.
Three students discuss their work during class.
Older gentleman at a computer

First Time in College

Your WPU education will help you build practical skills for your future.

Transfer Students

Transfer up to 90 credit hours from any institution. 

Working Professionals

Enhance your existing career.

A WPU student works on a video game in the new esports and gaming lab on campus.
Woman in army green typing at computer
Two female international students


If you previously attended WPU and are ready to return, start here. 


Learn more about how to apply the GI bill.

International Students

Find out how to attend WPU.


WPU has a long history as one of the city’s oldest universities. Find out more about our institution in the heart of downtown Raleigh. 

2023 Student Showcase
Staff Pumpkin Painting


Through 160 years, William Peace University has evolved to meet the changing needs of the students we serve.


William Peace University is a small, private institution located in downtown Raleigh, NC.

Work at WPU

Join our team and see why William Peace University was voted one of the Triangle’s Best Places to Work!

DEI Staff
Design Rendering of WPU

Contact Us

Contact the University

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Learn about DEI at WPU.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Learn about WPU core tenets. 

Student Life

Whether you want to know more about on-campus events or see our residence halls, get a sense of what life is like as a student at WPU.

WPU Student on bouncy slide
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
WPU Safety Officer

Clubs, Activities and Events

Discover what’s fun at WPU.

Housing & Dining

When people say that WPU “feels like home,” we think that’s the ultimate compliment.

Safety & Security

The Office of Public Safety is committed to providing a community-friendly approach to enhancing campus safety for students, faculty and staff.

Dining room at Peace
A WPU student sits with his friends while eating at Belk dining hall.
Health and wellness at WPU


Cheer on your Pacers at their next home game.

Student Support Services

Find out how the WPU team supports the whole you.

Health and Wellness

Learn about physical and mental health services available to students.


WPU offers a mix of more than 30 degree programs and additional minors. Our courses are four credit hours each, and every course features immersive learning experiences.

A student in WPU's online School of Professional Studies works on her homework.
2023 Internship Showcase

Immersive Learning

Find out about WPU’s unique approach to learning.

Center for Student Success

Peer tutoring, a first-year success program, and an internship program are just part of why Pacers succeed. 


Start here to find out how to apply, visit, and learn more about WPU.

Before you apply:

Admissions team
students walking on campus
A student reviews scholarship and payment information in the financial aid office.

Connect with an Admission Couneslor

They’ll be your guide through the process.

Visit Campus

Get a feel for campus life.

Understand Costs

Find out about Financial aid and other options to pay for college.