Ninti Chance has always had a passion for theater and acting, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that she discovered another line of work that brought her the same kind of joy and excitement.
The Mercer University alumna graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in theater and a minor in chemistry. An Atlanta resident who’s about to move to Seattle, she pursues both of her professional interests as a software engineer for Google and an actress.
Here are five things to know about Chance:
1. Mercer was an ‘academic dream’ for her.
“We spend most of our young lives being students, and I loved doing homework and studying,” she said. “That was my favorite thing about Mercer. I didn’t socialize a lot, but I loved my classes and my teachers. Academically, Mercer was a dream. It was really fun getting to know myself at Mercer.”
Chance, who grew up in Macon, lived off campus while in college and drove an olive green, retro-style bike 20 minutes to get to class every day. She said traveling through the beautiful campus was always a peaceful experience for her.
She started out on the pre-med track but switched to majoring in theater and minoring in chemistry, which allowed her to explore other interests through courses like digital photography, animation, trumpet and voice.
2. She found a new passion in coding.
Fresh out of college, Chance moved to Atlanta and became a brand ambassador for GMR Marketing while also pursuing acting opportunities. She joined an acting studio and got involved with Atlanta theater companies.
While her marketing work was fun, it wasn’t academically fulfilling, and she found herself itching to study again. She started thinking about software engineering as a potential career, and before long, she was learning coding for fun.
“It was artistic expression. I started seeing coding in everything I did,” she said. “I thought I didn’t have the capabilities to be an engineer. I never considered math and engineering as my strong suit. My brain started wrapping around the idea that it’s not as inaccessible as I thought.
“There was this thing drawing me to coding. That was so much fun and so fulfilling to me.”
3. Hard work and dedication landed her at Google.
Chance completed a three-month immersive coding course, spending eight hours in class each day and dedicating her nights and weekends to studying. That led to her first coding job as an app developer for Home Depot. Six months later, a recruiter for Google reached out to her, saying she’d be a great fit for the company, and sent Chance a list of coding skills that Google required.
“When I got off the phone with my Google recruiter, it sparked a desire in me that I thought I only had for acting. Working at Google for me was like being on Broadway, a completely intangible dream,” she said.
She spent the next two years studying and expanding her skillset while also gaining experience at Home Depot. By summer 2020, Chance was working her way through interview rounds at Facebook and Google. She received offers from both but accepted the one from Google, where she started as a software engineer for the Google Cloud platform in November.
“I’ve learned so much here. Google is just as amazing as you would imagine it would be,” Chance said. “The people in the Google Cloud organization are the most emotionally mature and supportive people I’ve ever met in technology.”
She plans to continue honing her coding skills and perhaps one day transfer to a Google Cloud team in New York, Toronto or Los Angeles, so she can split her time evenly between engineering and acting.
4. She loves creating art through acting.
Chance’s favorite things about acting are the energy of the crowd during theater performances and the collaboration involved.
“Working with people who all desperately want to create art is such a beautiful bonding experience, and I cannot wait to have that experience again,” she said. “The way we collaborate, we know we all want the show to thrive.”
In addition to doing theater production work, Chance has had acting roles in “Independence” for Mercer’s Back Door Theatre, “Avenue Q” for Theatre Macon, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” for an Atlanta theater company, and some short films. She has done voice-acting work on several projects for the Antoons YouTube channel, as well as dubbing for a Japanese McDonald’s commercial.
Chance has also written a children’s musical, and she and a coworker are currently writing a webseries that they hope to film at the end of next year.
She is getting her name and voice out to the acting community through her YouTube and TikTok channels. On TikTok, she has nearly 16,000 followers and hopes to reach 50,000 by the end of the summer. Her most popular video has a half million views.
She hopes to secure agents for voice acting as well as commercials, TV and theater work, with the ultimate goals of performing for a professional theater company and working on a regular TV series.
5. She has a heart for mentorship and service.
Chance loves supporting others in their dreams and helping them improve their skills. She led a beginner voice actor panel for Dragon Con, served as a teaching artist for the True Colors Theatre Company after-school program in Atlanta, and worked with Macon-Bibb County Parks and Recreation to start an after-school theater program for L.H. Williams Elementary.
She hopes to get back into teaching children about acting or coding soon and one day create her own after-school program in an area with Title I schools.
“I love how enthusiastic they are, and I want to help them actualize their dreams, especially impoverished children,” she said.
In her first coding job, Chance felt alone and marginalized as the only woman of color on her team. She found support in a women’s coder group in Atlanta and through mentorship by a coworker. Now, she pays that forward by being there for others who are breaking into the field.
“I want to continue mentoring marginalized people who are new to the coding/tech world. I try to answer as many people as I can and help them through the interview process or anything they need while switching careers. I love speaking at events to help encourage people like me to get into STEM,” she said.