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Choose Your Talent

For those that have known me a long time, this might be a not-so-secret secret: when I first began pursuing acting, I struggled. A lot. I was terrified for my first high school auditions, mumbled my name, and felt like crying before I'd even finished my monologue. I went home swearing to my mom I'd never do theatre again, even though I loved it and had been successful at it as a grade schooler.

Fast forward to a year later, and I was auditioning again with confidence and getting callbacks and roles. By my senior year, I got a 2nd lead in the musical and was co-directing 75 of my high school peers in a show, receiving scholarships to colleges for acting, and planned to major in theatre.

So what changed?

My talent. And it's all thanks to a teacher.

Some people think talent is something you have or you don't -- you're either born with it or doomed to live without it. It took me a bit of life experience, but I can now wholeheartedly say I disagree.

Perhaps Bob Ross put it best when he said, "Talent is a pursued interest. Anything you're willing to practice, you can do."

I loved theatre. I was drawn to it. And I had to humble myself, as a 15 year old, to practice the craft and not expect to be the automatic star or the best in the room. I had to humble myself over and over, in different rehearsal rooms and theatres, and I am still humbling myself. But it got easier, because I got better.

My high school theatre teacher and director, Terry Fox, used to explain it something like this: some people can play piano by ear. Some can't, but practice daily. When both perform the same song with the same sheet music in front of them, you'd be hard pressed to tell who came to it naturally. The results can be--and often--are the same. This is why he had a strict no-cut policy. This is why, despite my terrible first audition, I still was in the show. I still got the experience, got to be in the room and watch him direct more people seasoned or natural actors, and grew.

And this is why every actor who registers for an Ensemble Children's Theatre production or camp is cast and guaranteed lines in the show.

So for those who have a love of theatre, who dream of being onstage, but aren't there yet in their talent journey: don't give up. Put in the work. Learn by watching, learn by listening, and learn by doing. Believe in yourself. Choose your talent, and cultivate it.

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