I have literally been anxious in anticipation of writing this next story for you guys… Yesterday I had the greatest, most confusing, most exhausting, and most inspiring moment of my life thus far. I hit a new milestone in my development as an actor, and with that triumph comes the next level of challenges and the next era of growth.
SO, there is a song in the musical called When The Sun Goes Down, and it is the song I sing at the end that basically has to do with my character and the main female character Nina’s relationship and the uncertainty of our future. All actors and singers who care about what they’re doing know that in order to really feel and understand the reality of your actions, the notes and words have to be memorized to the point that you don’t have to think about them any more. I’m there with that song… now, yesterday in rehearsal our director Michael Balderrama came up to me after singing the song and started to further explain to me where the song fit in the whole of the In The Heights story. For some reason, I was more focused than I even usually am and I wasn’t even really registering what he was saying because I knew exactly what he wanted from me without the necessity of the words. I knew what he wanted, because I knew what I wanted. I wanted the song to mean more to me than anything I’d ever done before and I think when Baldy (Michael) said to me, “think of it as you don’t know whether she will have another breath after the song is over.”, I realized that the only way the song could be performed how I wanted it was to stop singing it for me. I love the song, but that’s not what I should love while I’m singing it… Now, this is something I’ve been learning while studying the “craft” of acting. The best acting comes when you’re so involved in the scene or situation that you realize that relationship is the most important thing over everything else. I knew this… but I will say right now, I had not ever 100% felt that while performing until yesterday. I’ve skimmed the surfaces of it, I felt some wild emotions in Ragtime back in college and I’ve been feeling great in some of my scene work at Clay Banks Studio in LA, but this was completely uncharted territory.
I was so focused that Virginia, the girl who plays Nina, even told me she noticed I was acting differently before we went on to sing and that she was kind of uneasy about it. I looked at her as we walked on for the song and I forgot everything existed, my body was raging with energy, I could feel my pulse in my finger tips, something exploded inside of me that has literally never happened in me, not only on a stage but in my entire life… I wish I could have had my temperature taken, because I felt so warm I thought I was going to melt. I didn’t even realize I was singing, the notes were crashing out of me like a tidal wave, I could hear my mind manifesting the emotion that my mouth just happened to be singing. Virginia didn’t exist; she was an amalgamation of every human being I’ve ever cared about in my short 24 year life… As we walked off stage after the song ended, an earthquake shook me. I was in pain, I felt sick, and I couldn’t stand. I walked around the corner and crouched on the floor out of exhaustion. I don’t cry often, I’m just not the crying type, but every time I’ve ever cried, there was a reason for it… I was crying for no reason, I was crying because it was my body’s only feasible response to such an emotional spike… The coolest part of the entiiiire story is that it was just a light tech, so no one but that electrical people were paying any real attention; I had this life shattering moment and Virginia was the only person I shared it with. She told me as I managed to collect myself that she actually felt the surge of energy from me and that it shook her too and she was scared the entire time because she had no idea what was going to happen. And then to cheer me up she said, “What the hell are you tryin to do, win a Tony??”, to which my response was, “duh!!!”, lol… but THAT in my opinion, is the soul of acting… an audience is only there to have someone to share the art with, but the reality of acting and performing cannot be confined in the parameters of a timed performance, it is throbbing in the atoms around us every second and the people who are phenomenal actors just so happen to know how to grab those atoms when an audience or camera is present, and can do it repeatedly.
It took me the rest of the day to recover from that experience yesterday. I could barely speak, and I was more vulnerable (and I don’t EVER use that word, so this just reiterates the magnitude of the experience) than I probably have ever been. But we have since performed that song twice more, and I love that I’ve been able to access that space each time. Since it is no longer uncharted and unexpected, I have been able to bounce back quicker from the emotion shift, but it is still ridiculously exhausting. This just shows me that I’ve found a new level and have developed a new preparation that yields desired results. It proves to me that as long as I continue on this journey, I can one day be one of those phenomenal actors that can shift those “in the zone” atoms every time I perform and be recognized for being such a person. I love what I’m doing, and especially after this, know that this is what I want to do with my life regardless of the challenges to come.
On a less heavy note… my phone got run over by a car today, so I need to get up early and go over to the AT&T store… don’t ask, I’m an idiot and don’t deny it… ask my mom, me and cell phones don’t tend to have long relationships, but at least this phone lasted a year and three months.
Good night, and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and keep rollin!!! I hope anyone who reads this is having a wonderful day, and if not I hope that the energy of my excitement can be shared with you to make you feel better for even just a few minutes!