Growing up on Maui made being a professional performer very difficult. I went to public school in northern Nevada. The public schools ranked in the top 5% nationally at the time and we wouldn’t have to deal with my pale skin as a problem for me socially in Hawaii. However, when we weren’t in school, we were back here. There was one other kid, Kimo, who did the same thing. Public school in Nevada, fly home to O’ahu. But I got to go home to Maui.
During my youth, I trained. I trained hard. I performed where I could in order to add credits to my resume, and I trained. I danced vigorously, I sang at home all the time, I performed in every local talent show, and I took as many different classes as I could take, while keeping my grades up. My senior year, I was active in my career (class, shows, rehearsals, auditions) 40 hours a week, while going to public school fulltime without a tutor. This prepared me so that I could leave my country towns so that I could compete with the talent from the cities.
For those of you that live in rural areas, you have to do the same thing. You might not have world recognized teachers, or the best performing arts education. So go experience and do as much as possible. If you can go to conventions, go. If you can take a class from someone new, go. If you can perform in a show, take it. Build your resume.
This life will prepare you for:
- the ability to travel to the work
- the discipline to keep training
- the discipline to be strong enough during rejection
- the confidence in yourself
- the flexibility to take direction
- the thirst to continue learning
- the endurance to travel to location and perform
After high school, I moved to New York. Because of my busy schedule during school, I was bored with the 18 college credits. So I became the soloist for a small dance company, started my own dance organization, taught in the public school, assisted choreographed productions, guest performed at Opera competitions, auditioned for musicals and dance companies, took workshops, and flew across the country as a guest artist. I was already used to flying to conventions, teachers, and classes. When you live in the middle of nowhere, you have to condition yourself to flying. This is a great skill.
Thank you, Maui, for helping me fly away, and always welcoming me home.