I Want to Do THAT: Pinpointing the Moment I Wanted to Become a Professional #Actor

me with big glasses and a pointy hat playing one of the witches in Macbeth

I had two surgeries to correct my crooked right leg when I was 13. The summer I turned 14 in 1998, I had the second surgery. Also that summer, I saw Live at Lincoln Center for the first time. They performed Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  At that point, I had a lot of time on my hands because I was still recovering from the operation. I remember flipping through the channels, and stopping on PBS because it was a theatrical performance, and I was intrigued. I had never seen Twelfth Night before.

I had been reading Shakespeare since the age of 11. Something about his language, and the way the story unfolded struck a chord with me. I remember it all began with a “No Fear Shakespeare” type edition of Macbeth. I had done a scene from it as one of the witches when I was around 10 years old for an acting class (see above photo.) From that point on, I was hooked not only on acting, but with Shakespeare. I instinctively picked up on the iambic pentameter and the themes in his work.

It really wasn’t until I watched Twelfth Night, that I realized I wanted to do THAT. I wanted to be an actor with every fiber of my being. I wanted to act on that stage, with those people. I wanted to learn from them. I was glued to the television, and soaked up every word and action. To this day, I vividly remember it. I loved every aspect of it–the acting, the costumes, the set, and the music. Fun fact: Jeanine Tesori, the composer of this year’s Tony-winning musical, Fun Home, wrote original music for Lincoln Center’s production of Twelfth Night.

As an actor, it’s a good feeling to be able to pinpoint when I became aware of the fact that acting was a career. I had recognized both Helen Hunt and Paul Rudd from previous projects and realized that they not only did film and television, but theater as well. I realized that they had careers, that acting itself was a career. Now, nearly 18 years later, I have a career too. It’s slowly coming along, but it’s happening sure enough. Lincoln Center remains one of my dream theaters to this day. I hope to be able to get the chance to perform there one day.

More importantly, I hope to one day inspire another young kid watching from their living room or in a theater. Dreams are attainable.

I See Myself: The Power of Theater and Working on “Richard III” #Shakespeare #Actor #DisabilityAwareness

Oftentimes when we watch television, a film, or go to the theater, we are made to think. We see representations of various characters, and more than likely, we can see parts of ourselves in them. When you are a differently-abled actor, those opportunities to view an actual portrayal of yourself are few and far between. It goes far beyond the portrayal of a disability. As a differently-abled actor (I have a mild form of cerebral palsy), seeing someone who is like me, not just making their best attempt to portray me, has always been something I long for. All of my life, I’ve wanted to see myself. I wanted to know that there were other little girls out there with crooked legs and weak limbs, crutches, and wheelchairs. I wanted to see myself. Apparently, when I was around six or so, I had remarked to my mother that my physical therapist was “like me” (due to having cerebral palsy herself) which made me happy.

As an actor, I want to give back. Theater lends itself to this because we as performers are in the same physical space as our audience. We breathe the same air as our audience, and they go through experiencing the story and its emotions alongside us as actors. We also have the opportunity to show people themselves. As Hamlet says, we “Hold the mirror up to Nature.” Up until recently, the mirror has been foggy. It hasn’t been able to reflect those who don’t see themselves. Slowly, we are making our way through that fog. Deaf West’s successful, landmark production of Spring Awakening has recently been brought to Broadway (along with the first actor to appear on Broadway who uses a wheelchair in real life–Ali Stroker).

Now, I find myself as an actor in another ground-breaking production with a differently-abled cast in William Shakespeare’s Richard III. Traditionally, Richard has been portrayed as a hunchback, and everyone else around him is “normal.” However, in this production, Richard is unaffected by any physical affliction. It’s those around him who have different-ablities (disabilities of some form) and are the normal ones. We take center stage as a differently-abled cast, and in turn, are able to show those little kids who might be asking themselves, “Will I ever get to see myself?” that the answer is a loud and proud “YES!!”

This production, this cast, and this director have contributed to one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a performer and a human being. I am so grateful that we will be able to show our audience that theater can be a powerful tool that is therapeutic, all-inclusive, and amazing.

For more information on Nicu’s Spoon Theater’s production of Richard III, please visit www.spoontheater.org. The show is at the Secret Theater from September 29th-October 11th.

Directed by Stephanie Barton-Farcas 


*Appearing courtesy of the Actors Equity Association