When I was four I wanted to be a ballerina. My parents had a beautiful mirror that depicted two ballet dancers in mid pose. The male was supporting the female who was standing ‘en point’ with one leg out of sight behind her. They were in relief in the middle of this large ornate, silver mirror. I was memorized by the hidden leg.
When I was nine I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals and I wanted to help them, care for them. But there is another side to the job that is necessary and it involves pain and death. Nope.
Airline Pilot: nice uniform, nasty passengers Professional Dancer: two left feet
Then I walked the boards of a school Christmas play. I had one line: “Pearls of great price to him we adorn, is the worship of each lowly one.” I wore my Mother’s terry cloth bathrobe and a towel over my head. I was hooked. I was also 11 years old.
Scoot forward several years. In High School I was in several plays that won awards. I got to perform on a professional stage, with the High School, several times. I enrolled in a University with a well-respected theatre department. And I continued to shine. Learning lines was easy, blocking (movements on stage) was almost instinctive. This was my element. This was also within a controlled environment. Graduation is one hell of a wake up call.
I went on auditions and got several jobs. Walk on and bit parts. I was there to react to the ‘real’ actors. I did meet a very few: Martin Short, John Candy. Most of the time was spent far away from the principles and waiting and waiting and waiting and . . . You get the picture.
I was never good at selling myself – problem one. I did not meet the criteria for the current fashionable young female actor: blond, pert, skinny and um, not bright. I was a real red-head, not skinny and intelligent (although I learn to play dumb quite well).
But a girl’s got to eat and I craved independence. I got a real job. And then I discovered I had Multiple Sclerosis. Perspectives change.
There was an adjustment period to my new reality but also new beginnings. My Mother told me I was in charge and the choice was mine: give in and spend a life wallowing in my self-pity or live. Find a life or make one. And I did!
I am not where I thought I wanted to be. I’m somewhere better.