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Useful Notes / North Carolina

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The Tarheel State

"I suppose more than anything, it's the way of life in this part of the country that influences my writing. In Eastern North Carolina, with the exception of Wilmington, most people live in small towns."

One of the original Thirteen Colonies, the State of North Carolina supplied one-third of the soldiers and much of the industrial resources during the period of the Confederacy, and still has a strong industrial base. Geographically, North Carolina includes many types of terrain across its 560-mile (901-km) width—from beaches, coastal plains, and swamps in the east, through the rolling hills of the Piedmont and the Uwharrie Mountains in the center, to the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in the west. It borders 4 states: Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and its fellow namesake, South Carolina.

Some of the rural parts conform to Deep South or Appalachia stereotypes, but its largest city, Charlotte, is the second largest banking center in the United States. North Carolina also has the Research Triangle (the Raleigh-Durham area), home of one of the largest university research centers in the world and an important center of the bio-tech industry. Research Triangle is not to be confused with the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point) which is 90 miles to the west and known for manufacturing furniture and textiles. The state public university system is one of the best in the nation, and its private schools include Duke University and Wake Forest University. The impact has been felt in politics: long considered a lock for the Republicans (and before that, a lock for the Democrats) in presidential elections, North Carolina has become the quintessential battleground state in the Old South since the late 2000s having barely just voted Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, and going with Donald Trump by very slim margins in 2016 and 2020 respectively. As a result, North Carolina has come to symbolize the 'New South'. The state does more often than not tend to lean towards Republicans. While Democrats hold the governorship, Republicans have most of the other statewide offices, including both U.S. Senate seats, and control both houses of the legislature.


North Carolina can also claim that its citizens were the first to proclaim independence from Great Britain, as two counties did so in 1775. (The dates are on the state flag.) Possibly most widely known for being the state that the Wright Brothers took their historic flight from Kitty Hawk (it's on their license plate and state quarter, in case you forget). North Carolina residents are also known as 'Tarheels',note  which is where the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill takes its team name (Tar Heels) from. Speaking of which, the vitriol of the Duke–UNC basketball rivalry can never be understated; at least one weatherman in the area has been known to describe a blue sky as being a shade precisely between Duke blue and Carolina blue, and one U.S. Representative who is a diehard Carolina fan remarked in 2012, "I have said very publicly that if Duke was playing against the Taliban, then I'd have to pull for the Taliban."note 


Wilmington, arguably North Carolina's most prominent coastal city, is the home of the largest film and television production studio outside of California, the EUE/Screen Gems facilitynote note  (though it's not 'East Coast Hollywood' just yet), which produced Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Muppets from Space, and The Crow.note  Wilmington is also notable outside entertainment as the hometown of Michael Jordan.note In recent years, Winston-Salem has also become a popular site for filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, thanks to being home to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and its School of Film. Colonial-era capital city New Bern is considered to be the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola, though the company only seems to care about that when marketing the beverage to this particular state. Asheville, nestled in a river valley in the middle of the Appalachians, has gained a reputation in recent years as a New Age mecca, and is also a major center for Appalachian folk art.

The state is an odd mix of very rural and very urban areas, enough that a metropolitan city could be found right next to an Everytown, America-esque small town.

The state is also known for its divisive politics, being considered a purple state, being subject to a lot of Gerrymandering, and being ridiculed by other states for it.

Works set in North Carolina

Notable Tarheels (or North Carolinians, if they went to Duke)

  • Ryan Adams is originally from Jacksonville, NC. It shows in his accent.
  • Karl Anderson (Asheville)
  • Tessa Blanchard (Charlotte)
  • Ben Browder was born in Memphis, but raised in Charlotte.
  • George Clinton was born in Kannapolis (outside Charlotte), though he made his career in New Jersey and Washington, D.C..
  • Stephen Curry, though born in Ohio, was raised mainly in Charlotte, and attended nearby Davidson College.
  • Charlotte Flair (Charlotte, of course)
  • Ric Flair (Charlotte, though he was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised by a Twin Cities family who adopted him as an infant)
  • Ben Folds (Winston-Salem)
  • Zach Galifianakis was born and raised in Wilkesboro and maintains a farm in nearby Sparta. His uncle Nick Galifianakis is a former Congressman who represented the Durham area; the latter's Senate campaign against Jesse Helm inspired elements of his film The Campaign.
  • Andy Griffith was born and raised in Mount Airy, graduated from UNC, and lived in Goldsboro before starting his entertainment career. He died at the home he kept on the Outer Banks.
  • As noted above, though Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, his family moved to Wilmington when he was a toddler, and he lived there until becoming a Tar Heel (as in UNC).
  • Jeff Hardy (Cameron)
  • Matt Hardy (Cameron)
  • Gregory Helms (Smithfield)
  • Junkyard Dog (Wadesboro)
  • Ron Killings (Charlotte)
  • Vince McMahon (born in Pinehurst)
  • Shannon Moore (Cameron)
  • The Revival/FTR (Scott Dawson/Dax Hardwood is from Whiteville, while Dash Wilder/Cash Wheeler is from Asheville)
  • Siblings David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris were born in Upstate New York but grew up in 1950s-1960s Raleigh. Their father Lou worked for IBM as an engineer in the early days of the Research Triangle, earning the Sedaris family front-row tickets to the transformation of the area from Old South to New South. This transition, and the Sedaris siblings' uncertain place in it (as children of an "ethnic" Greek-American father and a "Yankee" Anglo New Yorker mother, and raised in the "foreign" Greek Orthodox Church to boot) shows up quite a bit in David's stories.
  • Richie Steamboat (Charlotte)
  • Braun Strowman (Sherrills Ford)
  • AJ Styles (born in Jacksonville)
  • Tatanka (Pembroke)
  • Briana Venskus (Wilmington)