Curtain. Places in Three...Two...One...

May 31, 2012
By Vanessa Holman BRONZE, West Orange, New Jersey
Vanessa Holman BRONZE, West Orange, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The lights came up and I rose out from the three-foot cardboard castle behind which I
was crouching in secrecy. Light and airy music played from the sound system, a soundtrack that
perfectly complemented me, a princess. I beckoned a prince with my song and he stood at the
foot of my castle, begging me to let down my golden hair. To my dismay, my stepmother found
out and locked me away forever.

It was then that I caught the proverbial bug.

Fast-forward a year and I was teaching apathetic performing arts students in Manhattan.
My ingrate students became the object of my fury after my husband’s passing. Things came to a
head when my most defiant student labeled me a bigot before hurling his desk at me. After a
turbulent semester, I slowly came to realize the error of my ways.

A year later I was homeless on the streets of New York, begging passersby for any
money they could spare. When winter came, I slept huddled with my friends in the corner of an
alleyway, trying unsuccessfully not to let the cold wind and snow pierce our worn skin.
Desperately addicted to heroin and dying of AIDS, life seemed hopeless.

It started with a dream, a vague longing to be recognized, bright and glitzy on the cover
of Seventeen magazine, my name in lights. Then, that tiny dream grew. At some point, I guess,
all kids experience this pull, the magnetism of Hollywood glamour, but few actually stick around
long enough to learn what lies beneath the glossy surface. As for me, in the pursuit of mass
stardom, I fell upon something better and infinitely more profound than fame. I discovered a new
home, a parallel universe, the world of acting.

The beauty of acting is that everything is possible and creativity is key. I can practice
endless dance numbers with A as my partner but when suddenly switched to B, I adapt. When
acting, I can be and do anything. I can croon, I can cackle, I can lie down and howl, I can speak
in tongues to mythical creatures, I can speak with rapture to a lover beside me. Although not a
parent, I can show the pain of losing a child as well as the pleasure of being reunited with one. I
can grow old and grow young all in the matter of two hours’ time and at the end still be
seventeen years old. Yet after spending hours being this foreign omniscient creature, I still
manage the exuberance, the work, the reality of being me. While acting, I can be anything at all
in the world that I want to be, and yet always remain comfortable in my skin.

Acting is stepping out of the real, living, breathing and entering a pulse pounding parallel
world, distinct, insulated, getting lost, never wanting to go back, then getting to go back.

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