Thursday, September 22, 2011

16. Yes, Juilliard, Yes

As you may have been able to deduce from the title of this blog post… I will be applying to Juilliard this year for an MFA in Acting. Yaaaay!!!!

If you have been following our dauntless hero… a.k.a. me… you will recall that the possibility of applying to Juilliard was first mentioned back on September 12. Since then, I have spent some quality time exploring the Juilliard Drama website and reading/soaking-up everything I can about their program. 

Also, read a fantastic interview with James Houghton, the Director of the Drama Division. His philosophy is incredibly inspiring. He has a vision based in training actors as individuals, giving-back to the community and a sense of social/cultural responsibility of artists. Clearly, they have a great leader at the helm. 

This week I also attended a tour, lead by Kathy Hood, Administrative Director for Juilliard Drama.  Kathy has an innately generous and loving spirit. She is welcoming and kind to all visitors. She answered every question with the greatest care and respect, making us all feel a part of the Juilliard family, even just for a couple of hours. 

The facilities are beautiful at Lincoln Center and located right in the beating-heart of New York City (my favorite place on earth). As a part of the tour, it was such a gift to get to hear two of the current 4th year students speak about their experience in the program (Michael Curran-Dorsano & Virginia Veale).

I also know personally a few alumni of Juilliard Drama, one of which, I believe, is one of the greatest theatre artists I have ever known and was one of the people that inspired me to want to attend Solano College’s Actor Training Program (now, unfortunately, closed) when I was 18 years old. I am referring to the one-and-only Daniel Talbott, who is a genuinely good human being as well as an incredibly talented actor, writer, director, and will certainly be successful at any other endeavor he may try his hand at. Anyway, I’m a fan. His journey in forging his own path has inspired me to do the same.

So Juilliard definitely has an appeal to me for all of the many reasons mentioned above. However, the clincher… the MAIN reason that I cannot pass up the opportunity to apply at Juilliard is as follows...

“There is a strong ethos of community service at The Juilliard School. Along with students in the Dance and Music divisions, actors and playwrights regularly use their art to reach out to underserved communities, as teachers and performers in New York City and in such places as New Orleans, South Florida, South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, and India. Through twice monthly community meetings with activists, politicians, and artists and a four-year course of study called Point of View, students are encouraged to understand the social, historical, and artistic context of their work. In the same way they practice making informed and imaginative choices for the stage, the actors and writers begin to make informed and imaginative choices about their lives as artists and citizens.”

Acting is a service job. And I want to learn how to be the most skilled artist that I can be, so that I can SERVE in the best way possible.

Acting skills can be honed anywhere, but at Juilliard, not only will I be taught and be able to practice the skills I will need to do great work as a professional actor… I will also be surrounded by a nurturing community of artist’s that have a commitment to the social/political/cultural responsibility of artists actually written into their charter.

The difficulty of letting go of fear or ego or preconceived ideas of what an actor “should” be simply falls away when I know I am performing in service of the greater good. What better reason to fearlessly bare your soul and express your point of view, than to help inspire others to do so as well… and learn together, growing in love for one another and feeling the freedom and comfort of a shared connection between human beings.

When I pass away from this earth, I want to die happy knowing that I have been all used up. That I gave everything I had to give. That there was no part of me that I held back. I cannot possibly think of a better way to give everything, than as an artist as citizen.


“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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