Take A Risk

Take A Risk

Kendel Ponchock, Messenger Reporter

I didn’t know what was ahead of me when I started high school.  I had no idea what I wanted out of life; what was my purpose? Entering my freshman year, I was a competitive cheerleader on a national championship team. I devoted all my time and effort to the sport because it was all I had ever known. Years of practice, gymnastics, and stunt lessons…go to school, go to practice, and repeat. I was in a never-ending cycle of something that was comfortable but no longer fulfilling. For quite a while I had felt trapped inside myself and isolated; cheerleading was no longer my passion. I needed something else.  My mother heard about auditions at my school for its first musical theatre production.  “You should audition!” she encouraged me. I quickly dismissed her idea, but it wouldn’t disappear completely; the thought intrigued me daily until I could no longer let the opportunity pass. Silently and excitedly, I prepared for the audition that would change the course of my entire life.

Since that day three years ago when the cast list was posted with my little name on it, until now as I sit writing this, I consider theatre my home.  I found I could express myself in ways I had never been able to. I found people who shared the same thoughts and beliefs about the world as I did, people who wanted to be different, who weren’t afraid to try things and go against the grain. I found a group who saw life through the same lens as myself. I was feeling understood for the first time. This was who I wanted to be.  I always felt like I had to change who I really was to fit in with the cheerleaders, but as my life in art flourished, it gave me the ability to be my complete self. This community of open-arms gave me a safe place to try, fail, try again, and discover who I was.  In everyday life, it became an outlet to observe the pure humanity around me, complete with all its habits and fears. Through this, I learned more about myself as an actor and person.  Never in my life had something clicked so naturally for me as being on-stage did. It is now my senior year, and I cannot believe I have had a starring role in every school production since.  I’ve become a leader in the theatre department and that in itself is the best role I have played yet.  

I’m not a complete person without the theatre.  It holds such a tremendous place in my life and my heart… and that is why I plan to pursue it as a career.  I wouldn’t be satisfied keeping theatre in my life as only a hobby;  it’s so much more than that. The best career advice I have ever received was spoken by my grandfather, and it is this: as long as you wake up every day excited to do what you love, you will succeed.  This statement has been my guiding light throughout the journey of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I was terrified to make the decision to pursue a career in the arts, but after taking the plunge, I could not be more happy or excited.  

Theatre has shaped me into the person I am today, a person I am proud to be.  I am more confident and sure of myself than I ever imagined possible, I have an open mind that is always curious to learn, and an ever growing heart that is constantly expanding to make room for more art. I look forward to the future with theatre.  I look forward to the many life lessons and the incredible artists I will form friendships with along the way. I will forever be grateful for the impact theatre has made on my life.