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Full Circle

Well, well, well. Look at what six years did to me. Last month marked my first acting opportunity outside college with a beautiful organization called the British Players. I was excited, and this company still has a special place in my heart. There were plenty of memories with the British Players in the Music Hall production: "Who's Your Lady Friend?" Pheasant Pluckers ("I'm not the pheasant plucker; I'm the pheasant plucker's wife, and when we get together, it's a pheasant plucking life!" [try saying that in a sentence without replacing plucking with a word we all know too well!]) Walker's shortbread and Scotch eggs ate in between sets. Loch Lomand. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Knees Up, Mother Brown (oh, my! What a rotten song!) sang eight times and kicked up our heels to a raucous audience. It was quite the experience! Who knew that six years down the road, I get the opportunity to do something I never expected to do in such a short period? Like getting to perform in New York City? At the Lincoln Center? WOW!!!!!!!! I'd call that incredible, wouldn't you? Look at what six years of a professional acting career led to, starting from here:

To here?

And is it even getting to perform at a place like this?

My head is still swimming with many memories of the three-and-a-half-week trip to NYC to rehearse and perform on one of NYC's most prestigious stages. There's plenty to unpack after my working vacation, as it were, but if there's one thing I want to share that stands out the most, it's how hard work, humility, persistence, and hope play a big part in this career. Sometimes, just focusing on the next step is enough. Even if that next step is focusing on submitting an authentic performance on a self-tape or in-person audition. Even if that next step is finessing your resume to show off the best representation of who you are. Even if that next step shows up in every rehearsal from start to finish. Even if it's shining brightly at every performance you are in, whether that's a total theatrical production or staged reading (in-person or virtual). I never believed I'd get to perform at the Lincoln Center in year six of my career. I thought I would never get to NYC until at least 10-15 years into my career. I will say it loud and proud: Hard work and persistence DO pay off, along with the constant belief and hope in the future of your dreams. It's incredible to see where your life takes you when you keep at it and believe in yourself and how life falls into place. I guess the one thing I needed reminding of on a constant repetition is that the opportunities that don't work out may be good because they lead you to the ones meant for your growth and well-being. Even if that opportunity is to humble you or teach you a life lesson, there's a reason why life falls into place the way it does, and the options meant for you will come to you. Don't keep knocking at the locked door that may not open for you anymore. Either look for the windows or build yourself a door you want to open for those opportunities you desire. In this case, I never expected this blessing to come at all. I thought it was too good to be true. From getting the offer to having housing in NYC for the duration of my stay, I truly believed it was all going to be taken from me. But all God's timing, blessings, and divine providence, along with my hard work and dedication, made it all possible. It did happen. I learned, grew, and thrived in NYC. And it was an experience I will never forget. Of course, there were some important lessons I had to learn while being in the Big Apple. First of all, it's a LOUD city! Honking horns, music blasting every which way, multiple languages are spoken on every corner, and yes, even block parties lasting until 6:30 am in the two neighborhoods I resided in for much of June. Earplugs and white noise machines were my best friends during my stay (along with maintaining my dignity while I lost some sleep for a brief period). It's also costly, even without inflation happening right now. Clothes, groceries, takeout, Broadway tickets, souvenirs, shoes, you name it! Thank goodness for Target when I needed to go shopping for food. And because of the cost of things going up, I had to be very strict on what meals I cooked and what takeout items to buy when I did have money. Because of this, many homeless individuals live in the city, with the vast majority struggling emotionally and mentally. And they appear on just about every corner of the town, no matter where you live. But I appreciated some remarkable things about being in NYC, starting with the subway. Yes, it's dirty and can be pretty sketchy at certain times. But it's also highly reliable and can get you where you want to be without any problems. DC metro, take note of what I'm about to tell you. There is a set fare for each ride on the subway and bus, and there are no price hikes or increases because of distance or rush hour. Alerts or travel updates get announced to the passengers, so they know what to expect. The NYC subway is much better than the DC metro. Fight me. I also appreciated how walkable the city is. Even if the subway cuts your time in half (or thereabouts), NYC is still walkable, and there's plenty to see wherever you are. Fifth Avenue. The Theatre District. The Flatiron Building. Chinatown. SoHo. Harlem. Hamilton Heights. Washington Heights. Central Park. There's plenty to look at, and there is always something new to see. Did I mention the food is much better in NYC, particularly the pizza, ramen, and Chinese food? I hope to live in NYC someday, primarily because I dream of being on Broadway. I could move up there next summer or fall, but given how the price of rent skyrocketed from $500-$1000 and how much I can learn in the DC theatre scene right now, I'm holding off on this transition for at least a few years. But maybe the right opportunity aligning with the universe's timing may make it happen sooner. Who knows? After being there for a month, I'm no longer in a hurry to move up permanently, but it doesn't mean I'm giving up on that dream altogether. NYC is always there, waiting for me when I call it home. But let's get back to the matter of this week's post: It's appropriately titled Full Circle. And this particular performance in NYC is a full-circle moment for me from six years ago for several reasons. In both cases, I was on the cusp of starting a new chapter in my life with my acting career. In 2016, it was my first theatrical production outside of college in over five years. On June 24, this was my same first in-person theatrical production outside of the virtual theatre in over two years. Did I mention this was year six of my career, and I was already stepping up my game with landing professional opportunities (also paid!)? In both cases, I was rehearsing and performing in a new area I had never experienced before. In 2016, I rehearsed in Glen Echo, MD, and served in Kensington, MD. Two places I had never visited before. Throughout last month, I was living, rehearsing, and performing in NYC. While I visited the Big Apple on day trips, I never fully experienced life as a New Yorker daily, and it was quite the adventure! In both cases, I performed during essential times of the year. In 2016, I was amidst a turbulent election year that didn't end well come November. However, it resulted in many protests and unavoidable problems needing fixing immediately. In June of this year, the show performed on the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and it was in the midst of Pride Month in NYC. This controversial ruling also resulted in many protests and unavoidable problems that need addressing now. In both cases, I was part of an ensemble cast. In 2016, I sang "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" along with being a part of the chorus, aptly called the Edwardians. In June, I was in an ensemble of six actors while playing the supporting role of Grandmother. I also had my moment to shine with an impactful monologue near the end of the play. But do you want to know how this is an actual full-circle moment for me? In both cases, I was incandescently happy and cried tears of joy. Both experiences are ingrained in my mind forever, and I will cherish the memories and lessons throughout my lifetime. (What an incredible experience performing in NYC at the Lincoln Center! I'm sure those reading this may have had similar experiences to mine, but these are my observations and reflections on a whirlwind of an adventure from June. But like my previous posts, it goes without saying that we need to be kinder to each other. And that includes no disrespectful or offensive comments to others or me. If you fail to follow this simple rule, I will block you.)

I wish I could offer more reflections and observations about this unforgettable time in NYC, but I'm honestly still on cloud nine and riding on a high that I don't think will go away any time soon. But I will say this: I'm walking a little bit taller because of how my resume looks, especially with the words "Lincoln Center" at the top of the list next to my acting credit and show title. However, I'm still putting in the work and effort to give it my all in this career because even the credits don't define your individual but your work ethic, how you treat others, and how you love yourself. Those qualities matter much to your resume's awards, critical reception, money, and credits. Your character's offstage presence in terms of how you treat others matters as much as the character you portray onstage because kindness and humility make a big difference. No matter where you've performed thus far, whether it's a big theatre house or a small auditorium, never forget to be humble and kind. And who knows? You may end up at the Lincoln Center as I did. And you've got me in your corner when you get to where you want to be.

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