First Impressions – A Rant

acting

Last night I did something that scared me. I went to an acting studio, got given a theme and had just under 2 hours to write a monologue, which I then performed. The writers in residence advised us to go with our gut and get out whatever needed to come out before editing, and apparently what I needed to get out was a rant:

First impressions are funny things. According to scientific research, we form a first impression in seconds, but it can take hours, days and even years to undo a negative first impression, whether accurate or not. And then there are complications, like your current mood, thoughts at the time, who that person reminds you of; I once felt physically revolted at the sight of a complete stranger just because they had the same approximate face shape and hairstyle as my abusive ex. And this was from seeing them at a distance, let alone interacting with them!

Maybe that person was working on a cure for cancer or helping to resettle asylum seekers. What if they were a nobel prize winner or the kindest, most devoted parent? What a jerk I am, to recoil because of a passing resemblance to a man I once knew. In an instant I had already unconsciously decided that I wanted nothing more than to get away from this stranger, with the full potential of the very best of humanity within them…of course, they might also have been a dick, in which case I wouldn’t have felt so bad.

But aren’t they funny, first impressions? Quite often they’re bang on, too. I have close friends now whom I instantly adored the second I met them. I’ve felt unnerved at the presence of a stranger only to find out later that, true to my spidey senses tingling, they’re a total arsehole. But it’s the in-betweeners that are difficult. You know, those people who are quite alright and even commendable on the surface, but have something a bit off about them, like a banana that looks only very slightly green, but when you bite into it the floury taste of betrayal soils your tastebuds. So too these people can often confuse our first impression radar and later prove to be disappointingly starchy and flavourless.

And then there’s the fact that human beings by nature are always growing and changing, and those poor sods who give you a bad first impression and then change for the better have to spend all their time overcoming your own instantly internalised false bias. So many beautiful humans are overlooked in this way, especially if they don’t automatically fit the cookie cutter of social ideals perpetuated by the media and society in general. In fact, could I just say that when it comes to judging people our society is absolute shit. And I mean the worst kind of stinking, festering, slightly liquid shit. Not the dried up fairly odourless shit that isn’t too complicated to clean up.

Take me, for instance. I’m non-binary and every single day I am compelled to combat peoples’ incorrect first (and second and third) impressions of me due to their own engrained bullshit. And even though I know my own identity- and this is technically independent of any external validation – it still fucking hurts when people treat me like a fragile little girl because that is what they have decided I am based on my size, my shape, my voice…it especially hurts because to our society there is no other option: you’re either a boy or a girl and to be anything else in-between, to want anything other that what the gender they have assigned you should want is declared to be mental illness. So, I have to make the decision whether to fight that assumption and adapt myself to exist and be ‘read’ the way I want and need to be read, or not to bother and try to simply brush it all off and survive, because it is so much harder to challenge the system than to suppress who you are. Having said that, I’m a stubborn little human and I am prepared to fight for my happiness.

Funnily enough, despite the inevitable suffering and hardship, I am actually finding that when I’m true to myself and my identity, people can usually see that and it even affects their impression of me, to the point of sometimes overriding that programmed crap I was ranting about just now. So, at the end of the day, yes first impressions are funny things, but being absolutely and authentically true to who you are tends to mean things will work out okay.

 

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It Might Take Me A Thousand Years…

acting, doctor who, Music

I’ve been thinking about dreams lately and the power of goals. With the beginning of a new year comes a sense of refreshing and a clean slate. Of course, in reality every second is a clean slate, but it does help to have an exact date to put another year behind me.

You may know my particular dream goal by now, but I’ll reiterate:

I want to play a female Doctor in the BBC Doctor Who series, possibly the first ever if I’m clever about it.

I was expecting a chorus of negativity and disbelief when I first swallowed my fears and began telling the world what my dream was, but the result was quite surprising. People were encouraging. The most common response I receive is “that’s a fantastic goal, you’d make a great female Doctor!” In fact, people tend to believe passionately in my dream more than I do!

And the great thing about now having my crazy ambitions in the open and actively following them, is that I feel so at peace with myself. The challenges are still challenges, but they feel more like opportunities to step closer to my dream and strengthen my resolve, whereas before there was that uncomfortable burning feeling in my gut that I wasn’t being true to my deepest passion and putting myself through hell regardless.

Now, I know precisely how ambitious a goal this is. For one thing, I’ve read the mass of uproar against the possibility of a female Doctor. People were furious that there was even, most recently, a female regeneration of a previously male Time Lord, leaving the possibility for the shows title character to do the same. I’m also only too aware that, living in Australia, it is far more difficult for me to infiltrate the UK television industry and the BBC. But that won’t stop me. I’m in this for the long haul, and the beginning of every new year is another chance for me to look back and see how far I’ve come, regardless of whether I’m shaking hands with Steven Moffat or not.

Speaking of years, here’s another cello loop pedal cover I’ve been playing with:

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri

 

An Exciting New Chapter

acting, Uncategorized

I have returned safely from Los Angeles and am currently adjusting back to my Aussie life. It feels like the last month was spent on another planet or in a dream, but I have taken the experience back with me; everything has changed. For instance, the day after I arrived, I had a Skype audition with the Director of the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts (NYCDA). It felt very strange to be holding an ipad steady with one hand whilst delivering a monologue to the tiny inset camera, but it was certainly worth the effort as I was offered a scholarship to study there next year!

 

Killer 1

A photo of me performing one of my monologues at WCOPA

I had researched various acting courses in Australia and resigned myself to the fact that they were simply too expensive and I didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of them; I was confident I could learn the craft in other ways such as classes and community theatre. That is, until I discovered NYCDA. I devoured the course book, asked the staff representative questions and listened intently to my friend as she described her experience of the summer course she attended recently. Everything I heard struck a chord within me, it just felt so right.

 Although I initially wasn’t offered a scholarship at the competition as some of the other actors were, I persisted and asked the staff what I needed to do in order to study with them. The answer: call us, and they were so impressed I actually followed through in calling that they arranged a Skype audition. And the rest is history.

So, what now? The rest of this year will be spent job hunting, applying for grants/sponsorship, fundraising (click here to help me), wedding planning, completing paperwork and training in acting as much as I can. It isn’t going to be easy, but that only makes it more interesting, right? Sure, my future husband and I might end up completely broke and homeless in a foreign country, but that’s better than not being true to my heart. And I’m certain that, somehow, we will afford this. Just you wait.