As with most things in my childhood, I began theater because it was something my big brother was doing. The first full-length production I was in was “Annie.” I played the youngest orphan, a tough Brooklynite named Molly. The line was, “Me and mama was riding on the ferryboat.” And for some reason or another, I always said it with a thick southern drawl. Needless to say, the acting bug bit me hard and I’ve been obsessed with creating characters ever since.
Cut to 11 years later, and I’m still learning a ton about what it means to perform and entertain. The thing about acting is: there is not just one thing about acting. It encompasses everything you’ve ever learned, seen, experienced, heard, memorized, cried over, yelled at, experimented with, and tried to get rid of — hence, my obsession with the craft. When I am performing well, I feel a total high. Every part of my body is aware and present, and nothing around me can deter me from the task at hand — whatever that task may be. Since I was very young, I’ve been asked if this is something that I plan to do as my “real job” when I “grow up.” The simple answer is: I don’t think I could ever do anything else.
I battled with it for a while. After an unsuccessful stint at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in the Atlantic Acting Conservatory, I wanted nothing to do with theater or performing. New York was too much, too soon for an 18-year-old girl with no filter and a penchant for experimentation. The program was rigid and expensive. After my first year, I returned to South Florida and set my sights on visual arts and art history. Although I found some success as a visual artist, the work was too solitary and didn’t allow me to fully express everything I needed to say. I started auditioning again and got a gig as a children’s theater performer at the Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables. After about six months, I left the work to refocus on my training. It’s been eight weeks since I started at NSU, and everything about my technique has already improved tenfold.
I grew up on stage, working in school productions and community theaters. And I’ve done it all — from washing people’s pantyhose to playing a leading lady track. It’s not just that this is what I was meant to do; it’s what I have to do. When I look into my future, all I see is work on top of more work, sprinkled with a dash of work. It’s nerve- racking and terrifying to want something this badly, especially when it is one of the most competitive markets with the least benefits. The concept of job security doesn’t exist in this business.
The transitory nature of pop culture taste, combined with the paradoxical predictability of Hollywood agents and Broadway producers, makes it one of the hardest businesses to break into and stay in. It’s an artificial world, filled with negativity, jealousy and self-doubt. But when you get the part and you go on stage, and the lights come up, you’re free. And nothing that you will ever experience can compare to that freedom, that high. So you deal with the hardships. And you manage your talent, your intelligence, and your time — all for the chance to say something as simple as, “Me and mama was riding on the ferry boat,” to a room filled with people night after night after night.