There were a handful of things I believed I wanted to be when I grew up. For a while, I thought I might be an artist. Then I thought, hmm, maybe a teaching or doctoring animals is my calling. The shortest-lived idea I had was a vocal artist—and for those of you who have watched my YouTube videos, you know why. Before realizing, “Ooh! I’m an author. Okay.”, I stumbled through thinking I was a poet, a dramaturg, director, theater teacher, and an actress.
I’d had a little experience on the stage when I was a grade-schooler. The Fainting Girl and Raggedy Anne Three count, right? Okay, so the Raggedy Anne role had no lines, just a choreographed tap dance, and the Fainting Girl said, “Oh, no!” three times. But when I got to high school, I landed my first big role.
My home school group’s drama club was auditioning for The Diary of Anne Frank. I auditioned for and was awarded the role of Peter Van Daan. Hey, they were short on boys, and I didn’t wear dresses or skirts back then. Having short hair, studying male mannerisms, and dressing the part, I fooled a few people, which was fun. That was my sophomore year.
During my junior year I tried out for a boy role in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Sadly, and to no one’s surprise, I didn’t get a part. I asked to be a student director instead. Then my senior year came, and I got the part of Annie Sullivan in the play The Miracle Worker. I thought for sure at this point that I was meant to do something with theatre, so I took a few courses at my local community college. I assisted my former director in a production of Fiddler on the Roof and taught a small theatre class. Community theatre was the next thing on my horizon.
My first community theatre production was as an understudy to the Cockney servant Jeanne Poole in The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The director and regular actress were really nice and let me go on one night. I was also the stage manager (all I really did was cue the lights and blow a whistle, lol.)
In my second production, I was Megan in 45 Seconds From Broadway by Neil Simon, and that is when I started realizing that I am not acting material. But that didn’t stop me from acting in You Can’t Take It With You as Rheba (opposite someone who is a distant cousin.) And then…
Ten years ago this month, I was in my last play: Scapino!, a comedy by Jeff Dunlop and Jim Dale. I had no lines but that which I made up—in fake Italian. It was a fun experience with a great group of actors, and I’m still Facebook friends with a few of them. I still didn’t know what I was meant to do with my life, though, with theatre ruled out.
It should have been kind of obvious to me, don’t you think? I mean, I’d been making up stories since I was a child, and writing them down since I was twelve. Now that I’m a bit older than twelve—wink—I have a better perspective.
I won’t call those years of thinking I was meant for show biz wasted. I took the experiences I had, the people I met, the times we had…all of them amalgamate. They’ve made me more creative, more hardworking, more ambitious, and more fun-loving.
What about you? Did you grow up to be what you thought you would be?
Keep your nose in a book,
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