When I was in high school, I was VERY much an actress. Not just in the sense that I could fake a stomach ache to get out of tests (which I was quite skilled at, btw), but I was an actual actress. I was paid to act professionally and had some amazing roles back when I was a kid. I was in a few tv movies as small roles, cast in a WB pilot tv show (which never made it, obviously), several dinner theatre productions, yadayadayada.
So, naturally, in high school I wanted to take the theatre class that was offered. It was a pretty good class. We did fun shows, The Miracle Worker, Fame, Joseph…Dreamcoat, Steel Magnolias, etc.
When I was a sophomore, I got a really bad case of mono. I was unable to perform in a show and was out of school for the better part of a month. As I healed, the theatre class was supposed to be having an improv performance–which was supposedly half of our grade. Now, apparently with mono…the lymphnodes around your organs can swell and if you’re bumped, these organs can rupture. I don’t know how common this is, but both my parents are in the medical field and tend to know what they’re talking about. They fought tooth and nail with my theatre teacher that I shouldn’t be performing while still at risk for rupturing an organ. Even if the chances were small, it still wasn’t worth the risk. And I had a doctor’s note.
But my teacher was adamant. If I didn’t perform, I would fail. Or at least get a ‘C’. ME???? GET A C???? Are you kidding me? I NEVER got a C. I cried when I got a B+….so a C was out of the question. You know what would happen if I got a C in the cIass? It would drag my GPA for the year down. I’d end up not being able to bounce back, failing out of high school, never going to college and end up dying a homeless person with an AVERAGE GPA. Because that’s the way my mind works…one little problem evolves into THEENDOFTHEWORLDASWEKNOWIT.
That just could not happen. I dragged my sorry-looking, tired ass out of bed and performed that improv show.
I remember being kind of loopy on stage. I was on meds and so, so tired. I laughed at other people’s improv and overall was just kind of out of it. I think I got a C for the show…which combined with my A, averaged a B or the class for the year. I was so pissed that it brought down my entire GPA.
Moral of the story, after this whole mess, my parents refused to let me be a part of my school’s drama program after sophomore year. I was still performing professionally and locally, but no longer through the school. And my parents made it very clear to the principle the danger that my teacher put me in by forcing me to perform.
For the entire summer before going into my junior year, I was so angry with my parents. Theatre was my life. Theatre was where my friends were. I didn’t know my identity if it didn’t involve performance. And on top of that, I had to find ANOTHER extra-curricular activity to fill its place. What did I end up choosing?
Photography. It’s funny how things turn out. Without getting mono, being forced to perform, then being banished from theatre class (by my parents), I would have never discovered my love for this art form. I never would have known I had a knack for it. I never would have been in that class the day a representative from Savannah College of Art and Design came to give a speech. I never would have gone to that college, gotten a scholarship, met Sean or found that I had a passion for something other than theatre.
Maybe I never would have become a photographer, in general. And that’s a scary, scary thought.
So….thanks mom and dad. For being such hard asses and making me explore something creative outside of my comfort zone. It would have been very easy to have stayed in a class where the teacher’s took advantage of the students and didn’t show proper appreciation. But you pushed me to do more. To be better. And I owe my livelihood and income to it.