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Buried in the Wings
Shaky, sweaty, moist hands in my pockets as I wait in the wings. My legs are vibrating and my arms are getting heavier by the minute. How do I control this feeling? Thinking about my first line but nothing is entering my mind. Terrified of messing up and looking like a complete fool in front of many people expecting a good show, I try to focus. Listening and waiting to hear that cue line that starts the most frightening yet most exciting, amazing experience of my life.
I was always that little boy that said he didn’t know. That had no clue, no idea. The famous question: “What do you want to be when you get older?” I simply didn’t know. All the other children at least had an idea of what they wanted to be: fire fighter, lawyer, basketball player. But me, still, no clue.
I played sports as a kid. All through elementary school I played basketball, football, baseball, however I never saw any of those as a career choice. To be honest, I don’t even think I was old enough to comprehend what “getting older” really was. I only thought it was getting taller, growing hair in weird places, and getting zits. A kid shouldn’t be focused on what they are going to do with their life, not any normal ones anyway.
As I got older my career choice rattled in my brain, filled my mind, and over took my thoughts. I was beginning to think I was one of those “not normal” kids. I started to think that my characteristics and personality was what would help me pick out what I wanted to be. I thought mine would help me be something good. I’m smart, outgoing, funny, open, honest, determined, competitive, and caring. As I asked others, that idea zoomed out the window. Some wanted to be things that didn’t even match their personality. So I began to ask some more.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would ask curiously.
Some would reply, “musician, scientist, famous baseball player, doctor.” However, these answers would not make sense with the people whom stated them.
Confused and upset I would exclaim impatiently, “But why? That doesn’t match you? It makes no sense to me! Freak!” I strived for answers and I became obsessed with the idea.
I realized what it was when every single person that I asked remarked, “Because it’s what I love to do and I’m very interested in it.”
It wasn’t characteristics that made people realize what they wanted; it was their interests. The idea hit me like a speeding bullet and knocked me on my butt. On my tailbone I saw that the first step was over and all I had to do now was figure out what I liked to do. Although, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. A flashback hit me from the side because it was as if I was lost and, again, I had absolutely no clue. Dang! Deja-vu is a frightening beast.
I joined extra-curricular activities at my elementary school, Homer Davis. I figured I’d make my sixth grade year count and join the school play of The King and I. I didn’t have a huge part but I rocked it. I didn’t expect to do so well on my first performance. I got a medium role as the Karlahome which was the king’s right-hand-man. I didn’t have too many lines but the attitude and the emotion of that character was portrayed very well. It was a very moody, open, and loud role, and it was absolutely perfect for me. I actually ended up doing better than the main character himself, the King, which was played by JJ Juarez, a kid that had no life and was expected to know all his lines cause he had nothing better do to with his boring life. I remembered all my lines, plus his. Everyone after the performance told me that I showed him up and that I should have gotten the role of the King. So I figured I did pretty good for my first production ever, though I never expected it to get me in the highest drama class in seventh grade at the Flowing Wells Junior High. So I went along with it but school was still my main focus, not drama. I put off my obsession for the time being just to have fun in junior high. Production by production I never got crazy big leads but I was surprisingly okay with it because I only saw acting as a fun activity. You know, to me it was just acting. So that year I did many productions such as Bugsy Malone, Soldier, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Opera. it was a good year. So I decided to do one more year then focus on my career in high school.
Eighth grade year went a little different. I was still in Theatre Productions and our first production that year was Cut. I got a pretty good part and I enjoyed it a grip because for the first time I wasn’t off in the wings the entire time. However, I never thought that good feeling would foreshadow something greater in the future.
Then the spring musical came up and it was Guys and Dolls. There was a part that I just couldn’t stop eyeballing; the lead. It was the part of Nathan Detroit. This part was interesting to me because it was a funny role. He had many responsibilities including having that main girl but wanting to have fun with crap games. Caught in between those two things he made the script funny. I was a little intimidated because I never went out for a lead but I figured I’d go for it considering it was my last year of drama. So I went for it and you better believe I rocked my audition and I came out on top. I got it! I was so excited yet I was so shocked and confused that I had to ask my drama teacher, Mr. Snook, what made him pick me. I went in during lunch one day and asked curiously, “What made you want to give me that big part?”
“Your talent, your determination, and your focus,” he said happily.
As I went through the script I realized I had so many lines and slowly looked up at him and said, “This is a lot of lines I’m going to have to remember.”
He made a face and laughed at me and quietly said, “It’s because I know you can handle it. Omar, you’re a funny kid and this role is funny. You can do it and I know you’re going to make this a great performance and I know you’ll get those lines and get that emotion to connect with the character.”
“Thank you Mr. Snook!” I yelled, as I ran out of his office.
As I looked back, he yelled back, “No problem, Nathan Detroit!”
I was excited and determined to make my last production my best, so I immediately started rehearsing. Months of rehearsals went by: memorizing, blocking, studying, connecting, dancing, and singing. It was a long process. Then came April, and it was time to tighten everything up and time to polish the performance.
The night of the performance had appeared out of nowhere! It was as if I fell asleep, I woke up, and BAM! There it was. For some reason I was way more nervous than usual. As they announced the beginning I stood in the wings shaking and filled with fear. I peeked out into the audience and realized I had the entire first row to myself, It took the first row to seat my family. I guess that’s what you get when you have a big Mexican family. I began to breathe heavily and calm myself down as the opening song began.
As I waited in the wings for my cue I began to shake again, my thoughts flew out of my head, and I began to regret that Chinese food I had eaten earlier that day. My head got light and my shoulders weighed more and more as I took another breathe. My knees began to weaken and my palms got extremely sweaty. All of a sudden my cue came up and before I could think my legs took off and next thing I knew I was walking on stage. Now it was all memory, everything I worked for, everything I rehearsed was being put to the test. As I opened my mouth, my first line came out smoothly. As the scene carried out I began to feel more comfortable on stage. I felt that confidence and that passion coming out of me through Nathan Detroit. I was connecting with the character, but more importantly I was connecting more with the audience. After that first scene I stopped shaking, I was thinking clearly, and my palms were sweat-free. I walked into the wing with a huge smile from ear to ear and being even more excited that it had only just begun and I had the entire rest of the performance to shine. I was still somewhat nervous for my song but the process wasn’t as intense this time. I had one main song to overcome and it was great because throughout the whole song it said my character’s name about 20 times. It was all about me, so I came out and hit that first note and blew the audience away! After that it was so simple. That was “my” stage! It was where I felt comfortable, where I connected, and where I felt enlightenment. The rest of the show was amazing. It was such a great feeling. I memorized all my lines and my blocking and most of all my dance moves were pretty killer. It went song by song, scene by scene, and applause after applause. It was time for curtain call. All the smaller roles went out first and bowed as the audience applauded . Then it was my turn and as the audience saw me take that first step toward center stage to bow they roared! That walk, that walk to center stage, was one of the best feelings on earth. All those hands making effort to clap for Nathan Detroit, but most importantly, me. They were clapping for me. As I bowed, people were in their seats but as I came up I saw the whole first row standing and also others in the back. It was all for me. That stage was all mine for a split second.
At that moment I had found what I had been searching for. That was it. All those other kids were right. Acting was what I loved to do. Acting was what I wanted to do with my life. And I knew I had talent, that audience wasn’t just standing for my cute face, it was my talent on stage. I knew that was my passion because that feeling over took my body but not in the way before; it was a good feeling. I decided not to ditch the “hobby” and to make it my main goal in high school.
I attended Flowing Wells High School and joined into the drama department. I was immediately put in intermediate and I skipped beginning. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a beast! That’s when I realized that acting wasn’t only what I wanted to do but also that I can make it very far. From then on I’ve been in drama. The year after intermediate I made it into Children’s Theatre Company. And now as a junior I am in Musical Theatre Company. After all that obsessing and searching, the time came when I could answer that question without thinking twice about it.
“What do you want to be when you get older?”
An actor. I want to act because I love it and it interests me. Wow! I finally got it. My obsession was over. Acting is what I want to do with my life. And I’m determined to use those characteristics to help me achieve my dream of being an actor and I am most definitely determined to make it to that big screen and be known as Omar Ruiz, the actor. Yup, I am going to be a movie theatre, Netflix, and a Blockbuster hit!