Sumter's Next Generation, presented by CCTC: Carlos Waters, Sumter High grad and CCTC student takes leading role in the limitless possibilities of art


Sumter's Next Generation is a series celebrating Sumter's Generation Z and their accomplishments in and out of the classroom.

At just 19 years old, Carlos Waters is making waves in Sumter's theater scene.

Through his directorial debut in July with "Name of Play: The Play with No Limitations," his thrill for the stage embodies the innovative spirit of his generation.

Waters' theatrical journey started as a starry-eyed, shy 8-year-old, fascinated by the acting in the 1989 American historical war drama "Glory." His newfound interest led his parents to sign him up for youth acting classes at Sumter Little Theatre before he would further his education in the field in Sumter High School's theater program. Over the years, he evolved into a confident performer. His resume showcases his versatility and determination as an actor, with emotionally charged lead roles like Omari in "Pipeline" alongside humorous undertakings as Sir Robin in "Spamalot" and Jack for "Into the Woods."

Though he is always eager to step into the shoes of another character, a defining moment in Waters' journey was debuting his original production. Comprised of eight distinct scenes, "Name of Play" embodies his belief in the limitless potential of theater. From intense, intricate fights with a human-sized cockroach to the infectious singing of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and time-traveling with the help of a mysterious spell book, the surprises and the talent found no ceiling.

"The goal of the play is to show that with theater, there is no stop to it," Waters said. "You can be whatever you want to be, be whoever you want to be."

The original production's cast featured other Gen-Zers - some veterans to the stage, some newcomers - who share Waters' same drive and fearlessness when it comes to artistic innovation. His "don't knock it until you try it" life motto encouraged his novice castmates to consider becoming regulars on the theater stage.

Waters now studies at Central Carolina Technical College and plans to transfer to the College of Charleston to major in theater. His years spent basking in the fluorescent stage lights, starring alongside his parents and friends and earning a spot on the marquee at the local theater where he got his start, had a profound impact on his theater education and overall outlook on life.

"Theater has so many opportunities to not only help you artistically, but through life skills and things of that nature," he said. "Acting has helped me with personal stuff, personal skills, talking and confidence. I think that with theater, it's more than just a stage."

From his early years on the art scene, Waters has seen the community's increased openness to art and revels with anticipation on the creative possibilities for the future. As he continues to push boundaries and carve his own path of innovation, his hope is for the next generation of artists to take advantage of their own creative abilities.

"Take every opportunity. Say yes to experience those things, to step outside of the box and to not only learn but to take that risk because opportunities open new doors and make new connections with new people and new things," Waters expressed. "Art is just - it's everywhere, and it grants you opportunities for not only new experiences but for things that can help you in the long run; you have scholarships, you have grants; it's endless."

Do you know an exceptional Gen-Zer whose achievements, talents or community contributions deserve recognition? Share their story with us at!