You’re about to enjoy the fascinatingly unique story of how I went from living sheltered in the suburbs of the Midwest to moving cross-country to California in pursuit of my destiny to act.
My brother is to blame for the catalytic moment that started it all: he's Seymour, in his middle-school performance of Little Shop of Horrors, professing his love for Audrey. I’m eight-years old, watching from somewhere deep in the audience. As he's falling in love with Audrey, I'm falling in love with the singing and dancing and the shenanigans on stage.
While it would be years before I’d follow in my brother’s footsteps and play Seymour in a professional production of my own, there were no obstacles capable of shooting down the rocket I’d launched to stardom. A successful elementary and middle-school career easing on down the road and fiddling on the roof in one production after another, made it clear that I was on my way to stardom. When suddenly my rocket propelling me there was intercepted by a dictatorial high school drama teacher who repeatedly told me I’d be more successful in the audience than on stage. With a bruised heart, I took his advice and pursued a literature degree.
Performing became a hobby. Within weeks of arriving at college, however, I found myself donning Frank N. Furter’s heels and finding Pippin’s corner of the sky. My theatre professors boosted my confidence, helped me see my artistic potential.
Graduation came and so did the grind of Chicago theatre, which I endured for the next seven years. Pounding the pavement in search of my big break, all I ended up with were blisters. With only sporadic acting jobs, reality set in: my dreams of Hollywood and Broadway were clearly never going to come to pass.
I allowed despair to settle in as I settled into a job answering phones at a call center. Soon after starting the gig, I realized no office job on Earth could bring me the happiness of my childhood dreams. So I uprooted myself from my mundane life and moved - to a city, a state, a time zone - I’d never before visited.
Pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts in San Francisco opened new doors that had heretofore been locked. In the three years I lived in the City by the Bay, my creativity flourished. I found far more work than I had back in the midwest. I made the jump from stage to screen. I signed with a talent agency, and became eligible for the actors’ unions. Opportunities overwhelmed me, confirming my decision to move was the right one.
Finally, that misdirected rocket carrying my dreams of stardom was back on track. It carried more than the dream of my youth. It carried my newfound purpose as an actor - to bring joy to others - in the same way it brought to me, watching my brother perform on stage all those years ago. Inspiring one person to launch their own rocket to acting stardom would make me proud.
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