Labeling yourself doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As long as you’re proactive about it, not accepting what people try to plaster on you, doing the daily work of knowing yourself and honoring it, there’s really no harm. It can be downright helpful on your life journey. And there’s a part of myself that I can’t deny anymore, that I absolutely MUST acknowledge and celebrate:
I’M A HUGE FUCKIN' THEATER KID!!!
Here I am, about to be 40 years old later this year, and I didn’t know this about myself until recently. It’s been the disconnect between what you think something looks like, and how you define yourself outside of it.
I was really little when “Fame” (the TV show) was on, but I still remember how I felt when I watched the show. Exhilaration. Fascination. Desire.
To me, this is what I always thought of when I heard the term “theater kid”. I wanted to fly like this, with form and grace and discipline, in this kind of environment. Just fully immersed and drenched in practice and leaping and combinations and vocal drills and dramatic performance.
Unfortunately, like most people my age, I wasn’t raised to believe that I could receive exactly what I ask for. I’ve spent most of my life with the unconscious belief that I have to settle for what’s immediately available to me, and work for no more. What I wanted was Girl Scouts and ballet classes after school. What I settled for was school plays and cheer squad and choir and dance team in junior high and high school. And that’s not a bad thing! It’s the foundation of performance discipline that I stand on to this very moment.
In college, I settled for a couple of modern dance classes while I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in conceptual photography and animation. No regrets! But deep down inside I did want more.
After college came performance art - weird shit all over Los Angeles with my body, for and with fellow artists. Performance in two conceptual operas. Runway modeling and music videos and commercials and a role in a hilarious, raunchy play called “Carol’s Christmas”. Improv and Meisner and Viewpoints and Suzuki Method and the beginnings of a bona-fide music career as an indie singer/songwriter. And all of it merely adjacent to what I truly wanted the whole time: the experience of being a focused, working, professional theatre artist and actress.
It’s what I was built for.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pursuing TV and film and commercials and modeling opportunities hardcore, but the stage really is where it’s at for me, and I’ve got to figure out how to embrace it and not neglect it the way I have been the past 20 years.
A friend told me last winter “You have theater in your body.” She clocked me! And I was puzzled! Why was I? I’m waking up to the fact that just because I’m older and I’ve done almost everything EXCEPT theater doesn’t make me any less of a theater kid. And I shared this long-ass journey of self-discovery with you because I know I’m not that unique.
You might be like me.
There’s what we want to reach for, and then there’s what we think we can get, so we reach for what’s closer to us because what we really want seems so out of reach. I look back over my career as a performer and actress and model, and while I don't regret a single decision I've made, I do wish that my resume weren't so scattered all over the place. While I appreciate each experience I've had, I do wish I would have reached for more focus. I've got to have some grace for my former self though: it's really difficult to exist as a Black woman off jump, and pursuing a career in the performing arts is even more difficult, especially when existing white supremacist power structures are at a loss for how to define you.
I'm choosing a different path from now on, and it both excites and scares me. I'm going to start referring to myself as a theater kid (my tropical Libra sun and Pieces rising are having a fit right now). I feel like embracing the term has already helped me to focus on my true professional desires, whether it gets me working on the stage or the screen. The power of naming yourself is not to be underestimated. In naming yourself, you come home to yourself while simultaneously telling the world who you are. You come out, like a debutante.
Can you relate? To having walked a path for so long, the truth of it just out of reach but staring you in the face? You're not alone; I'm here with you. Let's be scared together. Let's live in our truths together.
Label yourself, and show it to the world.
|I'm a one-woman circus and the world's most passionate Grace Jones stan. Everything about your planet confounds me, except cats. Book me: hritalent.com|