My third grade teacher always had us do these poetry readings in front of the class. I loved doing them- and I guess that love shined through in my readings because one day my teacher complimented me on them. The words will forever echo in my memories: "you should be an actor!" Whether she actually meant it or was just giving a big-eyed kid a bit of hope, it did not matter; I was hooked. My best childhood memories were the imaginative adventures I embarked on in my backyard and acting seemed to be a promise that I could continue those into adulthood- but I did not think I could actually be an actor. I was a shy kid who did not think he was special or unique in any way. Fear held me back from being more than just a person among the masses. I was not myself- but I did not know that yet.
It was not until high school that I gained the courage to step on to the stage. Everything changed when I started acting: I became more confident in myself; I learned how to express myself and be unique; I felt like I mattered in this world. It was my high school director and teacher that really made me fall in love with acting. In our school, we had a competitive play that went up against other schools in the state of Massachusetts. She had us at rehearsal from right after school until 9 every day in the weeks leading up to our competition. Every minute of rehearsal we would rigorously work to perfect our work. It was stressful and frustrating and exhausting and I loved every second of it. We developed deep bonds as a cast and crew, ones that I will never forget. I realized that acting was about connecting to people. This is when I fell in love with watching the beauty of theatre slowly come to life through the hard work of me and my peers. This is where I fell in love with the late nights spent practicing over and over because I am still not satisfied with these few lines. This is where I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life diving deep into and exploring as many characters as I can get my hands on.
Ironically, through learning to be someone else, I have learned so much about myself. The most intriguing aspects of acting are the lessons you take from each and every character. You learn different perspectives, cultures, and values that you never would have experienced through the restricting lens of your own life. There is a strong bond between actor and character; you mold the character, form him, love every nook and cranny of him. Your job as an actor is to reconfigure your own spirit and being. If you can do that and make the audience believe it, then you will have shaken them. And that is the point- to move others, to make them sting, make them feel something that they did not expect to feel, maybe have never felt before. The most rewarding aspect of it all is knowing that, because of you, the people left the theatre differently from when they entered.
Some believe that performers give up their life for the people. I do not completely agree with that. We are selfish. One is lying if they say they do not perform at least somewhat for the intoxicating feeling of being present on stage. But I do believe in art. I believe that art has the power to incite change. Theatre takes reality- the beautiful and the ugly- and puts it under a spotlight, forcing us to look at ourselves straight in the eye. I chose acting because I wanted to be in the business of revealing truth. The truth is powerful and the truth can cause societies to shift. What I always wanted in life was a purpose; a reason to wake up in the morning. I wanted to leave this world knowing that I did something meaningful. I wanted to know that I created beauty, made strong and deep connections with other human beings, took risks, changed lives (if, at the very least, slightly), and left the world a little bit better than when I joined it. Most of all, I wanted to find a home, a place where I belong. I could not fathom a life without it. For all these reasons and more, I do not regret even a little, dedicating my life to acting.