What a year it has been. Here's a quick recap: I performed in 1 show, directed 1 show, understudied 1 show, choreographed 1 show, assistant directed 2 shows, assistant choreographed 1 show, crewed 2 shows, participated on Pom & Spirit Squad, began 2 of my own freelancing businesses (with actual clientele!), joined a movement troupe, completed the Sophomore Jury process, found my perfect little (!!!), participated in OCY NYC, and... Oh, I completed my sophomore year of college in a rigorous performance training program.
Homegirl is tired.
And thankful. Sophomore year has proven to be just as full of stumbles, challenges, and frustrations as I expected at the beginning of the year. My mental, emotional, and physical capacity has been stretched to new limits--and I am so thankful for that.
In the midst of diagnoses, all-nighters, and more breakdowns than I'd care to admit, sophomore year also brought so many wonderful things in my life. This school year marked my transition into the BFA Acting program at TheatreOCU. Making the leap from music to theatre was daunting, but I am relieved to say that it is the best decision I have made since arriving at college. Within the School of Theatre, I have found a family in my BFA class (s/o to BFAzolis), supportive mentors, and countless opportunities to bloom and grow. This year I was afforded the opportunity to work professionally off-campus, joining the Equity Membership Candidacy program and earning 17 points towards my Equity card. With the support and encouragement of my peers, I dove into the world of directing and fell in love with the artistic leadership side of the theatre industry. This discovery has opened my eyes to a greater purpose to my artistry which I cannot wait to pursue after graduating from college in just 2 short years. Most importantly, I experienced "Yup. The game plan is still on. I totally do want to do this for the rest of my life" moments which snuck up on me when I expected them least and simply took my breath away.
I am so blessed to be studying exactly what I want to do while surrounded my people that I love dearly. It is surreal to believe that I am halfway through with my bachelor's degree; I cannot comprehend how much I have learned and grown in the past 2 years. I am not the woman I was when I came to OCU and I celebrate that. I cannot wait to see how much I continue to change in the next 2 years. For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to the potential of change and letting go of the fear that held me back previously (cue: self growth).
Below I have collected excerpts from my Sophomore Jury paper, which is an integral part of the jury process for BFA Acting sophomores. A reflection of my academic and personal growth over the past 2 years, this paper and the faculty talkback which followed mark my favorite academic experience to date.
With the conclusion of sophomore year, I am letting go of a challenging season of investment and growth and looking forward to the pitfalls and triumphs to come next year. What's up next? I have returned to my hometown, Meridian, Mississippi, to complete an Educational Internship with the Meridian Symphony Association and cheer on my baby sister as she graduates from high school (?!?!). Then, I will head across the pond to study advanced Shakespeare in London, England, and perform in/assistant direct the world premiere of Shakesfoolery at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
Something I have clung to and will carry into the future--"Remember, you once dreamed of being where you are right now." It's so so so easy to overlook the mountains we overcome, mistaking them for molehills. Dreams are coming true left and right, and I feel lucky to be on this crazy journey.
Stay sunny, friends.
Excerpts from my sophomore jury paper:
"I can’t help but be amazed at how differently my life looks in comparison to how I imagined it being two years ago. And while two years may seem like nothing, it is precisely 1/10th of my life thus far; maybe it’s not so crazy after all that, in the past two years, I have undergone a complete one-eighty as a human, as a woman, as an artist, as an activist, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend...
...I cannot tell you why on Earth I was compelled to attend OCU, but for some reason (despite the fact that I had never toured campus before) I felt called to move to OKC with the intention of re-auditioning for a BM in Music Theatre. As I look back now, I can see with complete clarity that this was an act of God leading me to what I never knew I wanted: TheatreOCU’s BFA Acting program. My freshman year in the School of Music was the equivalent of a cocky kid wading into the deep end of the swimming pool for the first time—terrifying, humbling, and eye-opening all at the same time...
...In an act of God, I was paired with newly-hired Professor Christine Albright-Tufts for my Acting I class and I truly cannot imagine my life without her mentorship, creativity, and example to help shape me... As I progressed into Chris’s Acting II class, she began to encourage me to consider pursuing the BFA program. Her guidance, combined with my discovery that I want to be a creative theatrical artist, not a robotic musician, led to me knock down Emily Wilkinson’s door and declare my desire to transfer into the School of Theatre. I continue to be so thankful to Lance for taking a leap of faith, trusting me with a coveted spot, and welcoming me into the BFA Acting program with open arms. If my freshman year taught me anything, it is that it is not only okay to ask for what you want--it is essential. I began to take ownership of my power over each and every decision I made, and this drive allowed me to book three summer stock shows over took me all over Texas over the summer. I returned to OCU in the fall feeling mature, independent, a little more experienced, and prepared to take on sophomore year.
I was blessed to return to friends who had shown me the power of a positive attitude. I took off running, joining the Equity Membership Candidacy program and the CityRep family simultaneously in their production of The Music Man in Concert. I was enrolled in classes such as Acting III and Vocal Prod I that pushed me to grow each and every session. I quickly became aware of habits of mine... However, I thrive on constructive criticism and I found myself actively working on improving these patterns and reaching out for help when I didn’t understand my next steps forward. I think this advocacy for myself comes from my discovery of my own power, and I believe doing so has enhanced my craft exponentially.
This year I have also had the opportunity to leap into a completely new realm of theatre: directing. As my mother is a director and I have strong leadership and creative instincts, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I explored the other side of the creative process. If you have not picked up on this already, I am a bit of a perfectionist (shocker, right?). However, I learned very quickly that failure is okay—actually, it's great—and in the process of creating Good Kids with Out of the Box I gained so much insight about myself, artistic leadership, and ensemble. While I likely made many mistakes, I am so proud of the result and the response that we received from the audience and from our community partners at the YWCA of Oklahoma City.
This experience confirmed my suspicion that I have the potential to be a great director one day, and I also made a huge discovery about myself: I believe my purpose on this earth is to change the world through creating theatre which evokes social action. This mission is one that, I hope, will determine the trajectory of my career as I graduate in just two years (what?!) and embark on an uncharted journey called adulthood. I have continued to cultivate this interest through assistant directing professional productions in Oklahoma City, including Twelfth Night at Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and the regional-professional premiere of TheCurious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with CityRep. The insight and relationships that I have gained through these experiences are invaluable to me, and I am excited for the potential that the next two years hold...
...This year has been the most challenging of my entire life. I have been thrown some pretty severe doses of reality that sent me spiraling. I have grown up quite a bit, frankly because I had no other choice. I have learned that love is often not true, that adults truly don’t have things figured out as much as they’d like for us to believe, and that everything is temporary...
...I am redefining the woman I am and who I want to become as I put these broken pieces back together, and it is frustrating to accept that I don’t know where each piece goes. And maybe I won’t for a long time. But here’s what I do know: 1. I am strong. 2. I am kind. 3. I am an artist, and I have every opportunity to succeed, and 4. In some way, shape, or form, I will leave this world just a little better than I found it. Whether it be through my art, or the children I bring into this world, or the students I may teach one day, I will make a difference. There is a reason I am here. On Earth. In America. On this campus. In this major. I just need to keep moving forward, working hard, and leading with integrity. Onwards and upwards."