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

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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.

#GimmeShelter: @VanessaHudgens Shows Us Her Acting Chops. #VanessaHudgens #Surprises #Gigi #GigionBroadway

Yesterday, I watched a movie called Gimme Shelter on Netflix. I didn’t realize that Vanessa Hudgens was actually in the movie until I started it, and even then, I questioned whether or not it was her. Now, my only references to her work other than the High School Musical franchise, was Sucker Punch. That being said, I didn’t really have any high expectations. I’d heard of the movie briefly before, but didn’t get a chance to catch it when it was in theaters. That being said, Netflix is a wonderful invention. Based on a true story, Hudgens plays Agnes “Apple” Bailey, a pregnant runaway teen. The film co-stars Rosario Dawson as her drug-addled mother, Brendan Fraser as her well-to-do biological father, James Earl Jones as a compassionate priest, and character-actress, Ann Dowd as Kathy, the woman who runs a shelter for homeless, young mothers.

The role of Apple is a far cry from Hudgens’ current project as the title character in Gigi on Broadway. Her portrayal is riveting, raw and honest. She gave the role everything her talents could provide, had the dialect down, and was vanity-free.  She really shines and seems to leave the Disney star behind with this role. In a key scene in the hospital, Hudgens spars with James Earl Jones and holds her own against the industry veteran. That scene itself pretty much sealed the deal for me, giving me a new found respect for an actress who has often been simply labeled a teen star. Although the film could sometimes have the feeling of a Lifetime movie or even reminiscent of Precious, it is well executed and performances elevate it to a level that makes it worth a watch. It’s currently on Netflix and I am glad I stumbled upon a gripping tale with amazing performances.