I started my journey as in actor in elementary school. I was forced to act in a play titled Tikki Tikki Tembo, which is about an Australian bird that falls down a well. I’m not kidding. My part was none other than an American Olympic Athlete who had queries about what life was like “down under”. The (clearly written in by the teacher) role had one line which I spoke into a microphone that I shared with another student, who didn’t show up the performance. After I said my line, I sat down on the cafeteria stage steps, and watched as the others in my class performed. All in all, it wasn’t the best experience of my life.
Since my astounding debut, my career as an actor has (hopefully) gone up.
I didn’t get back on stage until my first year of high school, where I took a theatre class. I was convinced to audition for the school’s one act play showcase. I was cast in a mediocre show about a house that was kind of haunted. While it wasn’t very good, I had learned that I loved acting. Being on stage had given me an immense feeling of joy and excitement that I hadn’t ever felt before. Ever since then, I felt like performing.
During my previous semester at college, I began to have issues with my relationship with acting. Part of me had decided that I wasn’t good enough and couldn’t possibly continue to do this for the rest of my life without some kind of supplement.
As I learned to become more critical of the acting of others, I found that I had become increasingly critical of myself. Whenever I wasn’t completely satisfied with a performance, it became more and more frustrating. I couldn’t figure out who I was on stage, or how to access certain parts of myself, or what I was doing half of the time. What is my type? Do I have a type? Why am I not being cast?
All these fun questions and more began to flood my brain.
As doubts about my talent continued to flood in, I began to move my attention and focus on my film studies; creating student films and the like. I had decided that I wanted a new medium to explore and spend my creative energy, since acting was causing me more stress than fun.
Eventually, I sat down with one of my acting professors, and confessed to him that I thought I wanted to give up acting, as I had stopped enjoying it and came to the conclusion that my skills had plateaued.
He simply told me that if I really wanted to act, I wouldn’t really have a choice. Something would compel me to continue to do it. While that seemed like unhelpful advice, it really was true. The next day in an acting class, taught by that very professor, I had a lesson on allowing myself to have fun. At that moment, it all really clicked for me. I got caught up in being critical so much, that I was no longer allowing myself to actually enjoy it.
I left class with a big, dumb smile on my face.
Coincidentally, the same week of that lesson, I auditioned for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was cast as Bottom, an actor who is completely in love with his craft. Bottom is confident even when he’s not so great onstage, and playing the part reassured me that acting is what I truly enjoyed. This past week, I finished the show and could not have asked for a better experience.
So, I guess what I think now is that art is something to be enjoyed, not just by the audience, but by the artists themselves. If you ever doubt yourself, don’t forget to have fun with what you are doing. And don’t feel restricted to one medium, because after all, during my depressive stint I found a new love for filmmaking, something which I am continuing to explore.
Be good to yourself, and never sell yourself short.