I began acting while serving as a second Lieutenant in the Air Force at the ripe age of 22. Ok, so I was a little late to the game, but I finally found a time and location to realize the fantasy that had danced in her head for years. Panama City, Florida was the first place where I felt the stage under my feet, the lights hit my face, and the beautiful cacophony of live theatre. It was the first place where my mind felt honed, the knees that once trembled now calmed and blood coursed with such ferocity yet my heart felt at home.
Panama City introduced theatre to me. Honolulu, Hawaii was my bootcamp of training. The little island tenaciously pursues their theatre and live entertainment very seriously. I explored a multitude of acting facets from song and dance to Shakespearian parodies. I performed for over 600 people on opening night of South Pacific at the Richardson Army Community theatre in Hawaii. My largest crowd to date and my first lead in a musical. To say I was petrified was a colossal understatement. After all, I had already fallen down the winding staircase in a dress rehearsal while singing, realizing a fear that resided in my inner consciousness. I received my first and to this date most negative review. There is something about seeing critiques in a public medium that stings a bit more. At that point in time, I desired to rise above after a month of my pity party. I auditioned for the US Air Force’s Top in Blue and made it to the final 60 for a 30-person cast which included the technical crew. I persevered through the losses and took time to watch, learn and emulate those that I respected in the regional acting world I traipsed through. In addition to classes and lessons, I studied what made those people so engaging, how they achieved such subtext, how they won the heart of the audience, how they made you care for even the most vile or obtuse characters, and how they became who they portrayed. It was a gift to train in Hawaii. I was a full-time officer, the war had just engulfed our country post 9-11, and between night shifts in an underground intelligence cell for the Pacific Rim I studied the art of performing and story-telling.
Ohio was next on this girl’s dance card. Ooh Oh-hi-oh! I remember as I left the allure of Honolulu a General told me, “enjoy the armpit of America.” I found Ohio a bit more charming than previously disclosed. I hopped between Dayton and Cincinnati to Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and New York. I began expanding my horizons from theatre at a stationary facility to performance on an 80-year-old Showboat. Independent films found their way into my repertoire and I explored time with various agencies and auditioning venues opening a furtive imagination of mine onto bountiful experiences. Three years flew by and my adventures had me working my way back down south returning home to Texas.
I stopped and stayed in San Antonio for about 8 years. I learned the ins and outs of running a theatre from the ground up. I remember donating $500 to keep the lights on in the theatre for the weekend of a performance hoping and praying to make it back; we succeeded in spades. I plunged into that theatre and organization believing in its vision to my very core. I met dynamic people, performed in a variety of marvelous and ability stretching capacities, even worked for a talent agency assisting in casting. I tapped into a component of my being that was enraptured by the exploration and donation of my life and existence to the evolution of characters, once one-dimensional on a page, into pulsating beings. I remember feelings of transcending and energy shooting through my fingertips as I devoted myself fully to the character created with such grand tutelage of a variety of skilled directors. I performed in a dinner theatre where I had to skate and sing…no small feat. I hadn’t skated in a decade and to do it on a stage, while singing, with people dining below was quite a marvel, “what if I rolled off the stage?” Sir/Madam your fifth course is one of the show members as she rolls by trying to regain some sense of grace. Fortunately, that fear was not realized.
I ventured to the East Coast for about 5 months living in Massachusetts and commuting into New York. There was intrigue, hope, hunger, disappointment and revelations to be had. I decided I needed to settle down for a bit and pursue something more stable. Never giving up the part of me that gave me light, but realizing I was not the renaissance woman willing to “starve for art.” I returned to Texas to pursue my second degree with completion 20 years after my first degree. I became a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s in Nursing and chose to specialize in Women’s Health.
Acting, performing, the feel of the stage under my feet, or the frame of a camera encompassing a slice of life still enrapture me like none other…even 21 years later.