“Is that lucrative?”
“Well, the Fox News anchors said that actors have the biggest unemployment rate, so why go to school for this? They say being an anesthesiologist pays well!”
Well, Great Aunt Lola/my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Sher/over-achieving mother of my over-achieving peer/ others, sometimes it isn’t always something you can put into words. For a long time, I could never explain my immense passion, and connections and transfer of energy that occurs on stage. I’ve even written this essay three times now; it felt like no words could truly explain it. I could never explain why I wanted to devote my life to this art form.
Finally, in the early hours of November 9th, 2016, as I sat in a dark room, lit only by a small candle and accompanied by the haunting pitches of Bon Iver, mourning the desolation of love in our country with the recent election, I was able to put my drive into words. Through every trial and tribulation of my life, whether it be the ongoing battle of my mother’s breast cancer or the cancellation of my 8th grade visual bible, Smash, one thing has emerged from my mind. Life is all about connection and life is short. I must spread my love while I am here; I must create positive empathetic connection to those around me. As I thought about the millions of people whose lives could be put on the line in these next four years, including my own, I began to feel a fire rise within me. Everyone has different grieving periods; mine happened to be a surprisingly short five hours. Although even to this moment I haven’t fully grasped the implications of a Trump presidency, I knew that I wanted to fight. I want to help make positive social change. I want to spread my love.
I now understood that my art is my voice. I have always believed in the power of the human experience. On the stage, I have a place where I can explore the human spirit through connections of characters. As an actor, I not only have the power to hold a mirror up to society and have it reflect on it’s own triumphs and flaws, but I’m also able to personally reflect on humanity, thus growing as an artist and as a human being through my discoveries. When I played Macbeth, I was able to show how power corrupts (much to my Bernie-liberal heart’s satisfaction). When I played Javert in Les Miserables, I was able to contemplate the constant struggle between morality and the law, and question the existence of a universal truth. When I played Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, I was able to promote body image positivity and radical self-love. Through my art, my voice is heard and I have hope that I can help to shape our society to be based on empathetic connection instead of hatred. Some may stand on picket lines, some may sit on the floor of Congress, but I dress up as someone else and embody them for two hours on a Friday night.
Here ye, here ye, hear my battle cry: I will spread my love, I will not be silenced, my art will not be silenced, my voice will not be silenced.