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ARTS adventure big step in performance journey

Story: JJ Miller, Staff Writer

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A dream come true. Seems impossible, but in my life I have come to know there are exceptions to the definition. Give anything your best and impossible becomes a little less menacing each time a wall is thrown in front of the road to reaching your goals.
Driving home on a summer day in 2014, I was listening to the radio.
“Calling out to all aspiring actors, dancers, models, and singers in the Lansing Area. Are you America’s next rising star? Then call 1.800.STAR.102 to sign up for an audition today.”
After hearing the word actor, my hand flew to the volume dial to turn up the radio. I memorized the number and messaged my mother with the information. Later she informed me she had signed me up. She also told me I needed to prepare a headshot and resume and monologue for the audition.
I chose a small excerpt from the play “Letters,” themed on men writing back home from the trenches during WWI. I spent the next few days preparing that monologue and worked up a ridiculous Southern accent to put into the character.
On the day of the audition, I dressed up in the best casual formal clothes I had. When we arrived at the Best Western hotel in Lansing I was definitely starting to feel nervous. There were many people there from all over the mid-Michigan area.
Each of us had to sign in and then we received a number. We met in a conference room and were told we would be performing in front of everyone who was there. The fact I was in a room with complete strangers as well as my lack of experience when it came to auditioning, did little to ease my flaring nerves. We were also told that only a select number of people would be chosen from that session.
After a few others performed, it was finally my turn to show what I had prepared. I told them my name. I could almost hear my voice, as my nerves were starting to make everything I did internalized. I said the name of my monologue. Looked at Kim Myers, the woman behind the chair, and brought something I had made familiar to myself to a room full of strangers. When I was done everything came back into focus.
Kim put her hands together on the table, looked up at me, smiled and said, “I like you.” Those of us who auditioned were to go home and wait for a possible email letting us know if we had been called back. Imagine my surprise when the email came in that day.
“Dream Big,” said Kim Myers to a room full of talented Mid-Michigan area residents, and so I did. A whole week early, taken off of school before winter break.n I have ever done something like this in terms of winter vacation, but on top of that I was also going to Florida. The Applause Rising Talent Showcase on Dec. 14 was the first time I had ever been on an aeroplane. I was a little worried, but I braved the giant flying piece of metal through the sky.
As part of the program, workshops were held in Lansing where I was able to work on my material. Then it was finally time to show our stuff on the big stage.
At the ARTS I chose to attend seminars led by various speakers on different aspects of being an actor. There were some pretty big agencies represented at the ARTS, jokes were made that Kim brought the LA and New York acting industries under one roof. Where Hollywood meets Broadway.
Apart from meeting face to face with real casting directors and agents, I also had the enriching chance to make friends with many of the other people who attended. People in attendance came from Australia and New Zealand, as well as other countries outside of America. There were also groups from within the US, and I still keep in contact with a few of the people I met.
Getting a chance to perform on that stage was a completely new experience. I had four performances, three of which I felt prepared for. However I was terrified of doing improv. I spent at least an hour in my hotel room looking for random objects or brand names to either make a jingle, monologue, or advertising commercial out of.
When it came to the actual improv performance, I didn’t think I would have as much fun performing as I did watching the other people come up with things on the spot. The real challenge was presented when I finally had to perform the improv. I had to come up with a mini monologue that was titled “Does my chin look funny?” and a jingle for “No caffeine, no flavor coffee.” I could hear people who were watching my performance laugh. I made it comical.
If there is one thing that has stayed with me from the ARTS is that each actor has their own traits to bring to any character they take on, and playing to those traits when looking for roles will help with the success of an actor’s career. I also was able to meet Abbie Cobb who co-starred in the movie “Moms’ Night Out.” She started her career as an actress after her second time at the ARTS. She spoke about how important it was as an actor to be prepared for people to turn you down at auditions, but to keep trying with your head held high. The acting industry is always changing and looking for new things. Just because certain places aren’t looking for what you have currently does not mean that they won’t be looking for that kind of thing in the future.
Going to the ARTS has also given me access to a network of agents. I have been keeping them up to date with the activities I have been participating in to further my acting career.JJ-Arts-THIS-ONE
As my week came to a close, I knew I would do whatever it takes to go back to the ARTS as many times as I can in my lifetime. Hopefully, at some point I will be one of the keynote speakers talking about my story, my climb, to being a star.
So for those of you who are wondering if the ARTS is worth it: All I can say, is that it is an experience. Everyone who goes to the ARTS for their passion whether it be modeling, singing, acting, dancing or a combination of any if not all of those choices will find an enriching family friendly environment to learn from and possibly become discovered. Not everyone who goes to the ARTS will get discovered, and sometimes it may just take a while.
I took a chance and put my trust into a stranger. Kim Myers opened a door for me, and I stepped through it. A step in my journey, to taking the spotlight.

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ARTS adventure big step in performance journey