Perhaps unsurprisingly, Leigha Horton has found being a pirate a lot more fun than being a passenger on the Titanic.
"We can be a little bawdy, and we can be lazy. We have a load of information to convey, but we can do it while we're sprawled across three barrels."
It's all in day's work for Horton, who puts in 24 hours a week at the Science Museum of Minnesota performing as a costumed interpreter at exhibits such as "Real Pirates" and in live science demonstrations and short plays staged in the museum's galleries. She also helps to develop materials such as books and videos for a national nanotechnology education project.
"It's awesome," she says. "I freaking love it."
It's the latest step in a career that's centered on theater, an interest Horton says she developed in college when she realized "I don't want to be an occupational therapist. I want to be a princess and an astronaut and a president and everything in between."
Horton's job at the Science Museum came after she was hired in 2009 to play one of the passengers on the doomed Titanic. She had been working full time as a stage actress (she's a Fringe Festival regular) and doing voiceover work, and was able to expand her role at the Science Museum while keeping the flexibility she needed to continue pursuing other acting jobs.
"My days are so wild," says Horton. "In any given week, I could be doing a script workshop at the Playwrights' Center, a play with a local company and a voiceover gig that comes up at the last minute."
Horton isn't the only Science Museum employee pursuing a creative career. "My colleagues are amazing people: musicians, visual artists and some of the best improvisers in the Twin Cities." What's the draw of museum work? "I think it has to do with education," she says. "Truly creative people are always curious, and when you work in a museum like this, there are always questions to ask."
- Age: 33
- Job titles: Actress, presenter, voiceover artist, adult programs developer
- Employer: Science Museum of Minnesota and theater and film companies
- Hire date: 2009. Education: B.A. in theater, St. Catherine University