Last year, when we learned we were moving to Michigan, our youngest (who was 13 at the time) had just been cast in two theater productions with two theater companies. One was a role in The Secret Garden, which she worked really hard for, and the other was in a play that she was really excited about. We homeschooled so it wasn’t going to be too difficult to juggle the heavy rehearsal schedules. She had been consistently in theater, drama or some small film work since the spring of 2009 and so she was ready for the challenge of two parts.
Gen was devastated equally, to leave both parts. We moved quickly, so there was no way around it. She was heart-broken. And while we were VERY familiar with the way the theater “circuit” for youth worked in Idaho, here it’s completely different. We took time to adjust, which came with struggles. We decided, as a family, that since she would be going to a high school, she would need to take the rest of the year off from pursuing any acting because we knew that with high school would come a whole new set of challenges.
We made it through the first semester mostly unscathed and there is a local youth production that she showed interest in wanting to audition for. While we were discussing this, with her, and the restraints on her schedule should she be cast, the following conversation ensued…
G- here’s the thing though, as much as I love the theater, when I’m 18, I don’t want to be a stage actor. I’m going straight into movies.
M- blink blink.
G- and so I’m not really stressing out over whether I get roles or not because they won’t get me to my goals.
M- right, well, here’s the thing Gen. While I hear what you are saying, if you were to look at a lot of film stars, many of them also do stage work and most of them will have done a lot of stage work to start out with, when they were young.
G- right, but here’s the thing though, I want to act in film.
M- so you’ve said.
G- and you won’t let me go to New York now and do that.
M- well, in all fairness, New York isn’t exactly where you would go to break into film. You would go to Hollywood.
G- well, who are all of the actors in New York than? (said with so much snark)
M- stage actors, Gen.
G- blink, blink.
M- blink, blink, blink.
G- So, can I go to California and audition.
M- um, no.
G- I’ll go when I’m 18.
M- ok, then go when you are 18. In the meantime, I encourage you to pursue the things you love to do and work hard on your education. If you love to act, then do that. If you love to skip, then do that. If you love to pick your nose and eat it, then I guess do that too, but please not in front of other people.
M- seriously, the world looks different at fourteen than it does at 18. and I’m sure it’s confusing when you see people your age or younger in movies and on tv and you think “i could do that” or “that could be me”, but it’s not that simple.
G- but you don’t know that.
M- yes, Gen, I do. There is a vast amount of things that I do NOT know, but of this I am certain. Please, please trust me.
G- Can I audition for this musical anyway, even though I have no future in stage acting because I’m going to go to California and be a big movie star?
Man! It’s a crazy hard line to realize your kids are ridiculously naive and that their “dreams” aren’t just sweet little “dreams” anymore, but that they actually believe this is what will happen. Especially when the Hollywood we know (assuming she ever even MADE it to that point without completely losing herself in the “you aren’t pretty enoughs”, “you aren’t thin enoughs”, “you aren’t _______ enoughs” before ever being hired.) has people dying at a sadly common rate of drug overdoses… When she was 8 she wanted to play Elphaba on stage one day and I thought that was a beautiful and sweet dream… But now that she wants to be in an industry I freelance for, and both loathe and love.
I am not ready…