The Love For Storytelling:
From the time I was a child I have been enchanted by the magic of stories, in particular the world of stage plays, films and books. When I was four years old, my Mum and Grandma took me to my first live theatre performance. It was The Wizard Of Oz at The Regent Theatre in Melbourne. I remember looking up at the grand ceiling, gazing at the glittering chandelier and the painted angels with golden wings. It was one of the most opulent buildings I had ever visited. I remember thinking when the music began and Glinda floated down in her pink bubble, that I had jumped into one of my bedtime stories.
Watching the play was magic to my four-year-old mind. I even asked my Mum this question after the show had finished: “How do I become Glinda?”
So, it wasn’t long before she enrolled me in drama classes. My love for storytelling and creating characters flourished further and I began to develop a passion for the performing arts. For me, there was nothing like reading the black and white words on a script and watching it explode off the page months later in production. I knew very early on that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: Create magic.
Chasing The Dream:
In Australia, there are three well known leading universities that specialise in the world of Performing Arts: Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (“WAAPA”), National Institute of Dramatic Art (“NIDA”) and Victorian College of the Arts (“VCA”). These schools are extensive in artistic training and preparing students to become the best version of themselves. I remember wanting more than anything to study at one of these prestigious schools where idols of mine like Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Debicki and Dacre Montgomery had honed their craft. So, after leaving high school and working full time for several years, I decided to pursue my acting ambition and audition for a chance to study at one of these leading universities.
When the audition monologues were released, I read through every single piece to make sure I picked the right one. There were only twenty spots in each program and the universities received over 100,000 applicants each year. I had to stand out.
My first two auditions with VCA and NIDA were unsuccessful. For my last audition with WAAPA, I felt an overwhelming sense of pressure like never before – pressure that I had unintentionally put on myself because, out of all three universities, WAAPA was the one I wanted most.
To say my audition with them was the most stressful and unenjoyable experiences of 2018 would be an understatement. I remember thinking even before I auditioned:
What if I don’t get in? Will I have to wait and waste another year until I can audition again? Would my family and friends think I wasn’t good enough? Would not getting in confirm my own fear that I wasn’t good enough?
When I didn’t get into WAAPA the first and second time round, I gave myself the benefit of the doubt even though my confidence took a punch. ‘No one ever gets in on the first round,’ students often said. But for me, the worst part was not knowing why I didn’t get a call back as I didn’t know why I wasn’t getting in. It wasn’t until later that I would come to realise just how incredibly random these auditions were and that a certain percentage of getting in was based on luck.
Over the next two years, waiting for my third year to audition again with WAAPA, I began to hone in on my other talents and passions, such as writing and content creation. I started writing blog posts for The Mentorship and began working on my own manuscript. I felt that fire again that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Creating stories and sharing my work online helped validate that I was a good writer too. I also dabbled in a few community theatre productions but found myself not enjoying performing as much as I had in my youth. It was from this experience that made me question everything.
For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be an actress and I wanted to learn how to act at WAAPA, however, when the applications opened, I felt daunted and disheartened by the whole process as suddenly, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to pursue acting as a career. I decided to give it one more shot though. Third time’s a charm as they say!
Again, I was rejected and though I was disappointed, there was a tiny part of me that was relieved. As I walked home, I remember feeling bittersweet. Not being accepted into WAAPA didn’t mean that I wasn’t worthy of becoming a successful actress nor did it mean that I wasn’t worthy of a place in their program. It just wasn’t the right fit.
I had to let that glorified dream of studying acting at WAAPA wink out to allow new paths to bloom. It wasn’t that I was giving up on my dream of acting but rather, coming to terms with the idea that I’d measured myself worthy of a dream based on the success of being accepted into WAAPA. I had held onto this idea for a long time that to accomplish anything in acting, I had to study at the best of the best.
Sometimes with our dreams and passions, we begin to map out a path that leads us to success. Sometimes we chase the dream but lose sight of the path because we keep hitting the same roadblocks. For me, following the same route of auditioning at these prestigious schools was my roadblock. Every time I was rejected, I believed I had failed my dream, but I hadn’t. I’d just inadvertently taken the same path three years in a row.
Two years later, I applied to study at RMIT for a Bachelor of Arts tailored to Creative Writing. The spots in this course were limited like the acting program at WAAPA and the application process was intensive. However, I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all by the process. I enjoyed writing the three pieces that got me into my course and to me, this spoke volumes that this avenue of study was meant to be.
In hindsight, it’s easy to say this now, knowing that my pathway is not to study an intensive drama course, but at the time, I struggled to see what was holding me back. Everyone’s path will be different and if I could give you any advice going forward, it would be to analyse potential roadblocks and ideas that you may be pushing on yourself. You can study anything anywhere. Just because you don’t get into the best of the best, doesn’t mean your dreams have expired.