Got cancer? Start acting classes! Or at least that's what I ended up doing.
So just last month, I finished up my second year of acting classes at South Coast Repertory (in Costa Mesa, Calif.) and it hit me that where I am now as an actor is most certainly not where I started. Yes, this may sound cliché, but stick with me here.
When I started taking classes, I was this young adult with cancer who had been moping around one Tuesday night watching Glee when I witnessed a great piece of acting by one Max Adler. This thought -- "I want to learn how to do that" -- hit me out of the blue. Max did his job as far as conveying what his character was going through without saying a word on screen -- and it definitely left an impression on me. All of a sudden I had this desire to take an acting class, something I never had even thought about doing until that moment. I had a horrible time in my high school's musical my junior year with the drama teacher who had decided I was horrible before the first read-through and who had taken away my two lines without telling me why. I pretty much thought that would be my first and last "acting" experience.
Anyway, back to the "I want to learn how to do that" moment. Around this same time, I'd decided to form a "bucket list," which I'm sure any and all cancer patients do at some point. I'd been struggling with what to add to the list other the usuals -- "go here," "eat this," "go skydiving," etc. -- so I guess this moment of revelation was God's way of telling me, "You wanted something unique to do. You got it. Now go do it."
I spent the next couple of weeks mulling it over. I just had to accept that this thought was not going to go away and that I needed to jump on it. I found my way onto Google to search for a local adult acting class. The first place that popped up was South Coast Repertory. One visit to their website, and some encouragement from a family member to break out of my pretty stale woe-is-me routine, and I was signed up for Acting I, beginning January, 2011.
Now flash forward two years later, and I'm this guy who's somehow not only taken most of the courses offered at South Coast Repertory, but also quite a few classes in Hollywood, and done some extra work. I've got to say that I've enjoyed every minute of it, and I look forward to keep enjoying it.
Personally, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, other than the motivation for starting the classes, cancer hasn't played an active part at all in my enjoyment of learning how to be an actor. I don't feel like there is this giant clock over my head telling me I only have so much time to pursue this. Instead I'm just enjoying being in the moment, seeing where that takes me next.
It's amazing that even when you feel like your life has stalled, something will come along and get it going again. Sure, I still have two tumors sharing space with my brain in my skull. That's not going away anytime soon, but if anything, I glad I choose not the tumors stop me from living my life to its fullest. I'm grateful that I was at the right place at the right time for all this to come together and more importantly, that I took that first step to get to where I am today. It's made me a happier person and a better person, with all the people I've encountered along the way.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some auditions to attend. My teacher won't let me back in classes til I've got a few plays under my belt. Bring them on. Also, my father is grateful that acting has kept me so busy that I haven't gotten around to skydiving. Yet.