Tag Archives: college

As Fate Would Have It

11 Jan

August 2002: NY, NY. It’s my first week living in NYC. I’m nervous, excited, scared, anxious and a million other things, as I gear up for my first year of college.

I’m standing in line to retrieve my student ID, along with twenty or thirty other anxious freshmen. The hot, humid air has us all a little impatient and bored as we look around, flip through our new text books or fiddle with our phones. I’m lost in my own thoughts, absorbing my new surroundings until…

I feel a tap on my shoulder as a friendly young man asks, “So, you’re from California?”

I turn to reply, “Yes. How did you know?”

“Your license,” he says pointing to my California driver’s license I have already in hand, ready to go so as to not waste any time when my turn arrives.

“Oh,” I say, a little embarrassed, but regain my composure. “Are you also from California?”

“Yeah, actually, I am. I’m from southern California.”

“Me too!” I say, excitedly, to find someone to relate to, however superficial the relation. You cling to these little morsels of commonality when alone and new in a big city like New York. In fact, this man had a comforting familiarity to him. Maybe it was just a SoCal thing? “What part?” I continue.

“The valley.”

“Me too!” I say again, with increased enthusiasm.

“Where in the valley did you grow up?” he asks.

“Sherman Oaks,” I answer, the sense of familiarity growing stronger.

“Me too!” the friendly young man says with equal gusto as my previous exclamations.

“Where did you go to school?” I ask.


Then it hits me. “Me too.”

This strangely familiar, friendly looking young man was Marc Smollin, aka Seymour Krelboyne from the first theatrical production I ever saw in my life: Little Shop of Horrors. I had never met him, only seen him on stage. First in Little Shop and then in all the high school plays following until he graduated. There he was, in real life, standing in front of me, waiting in line to get his student ID as a freshman of Tisch graduate school, a program that accepts only 18 students each year.

“Are you Marc,” I ask, “Marc Smollin?”

“Yes,” he says, surprised and maybe even a little creeped out, who knows.

“I saw you in Little Shop of Horrors when I was in the third grade. You’re the reason I’m here. I’m majoring in Acting…”

We proceed to talk about the Buckley years, how he’s enrolled in Tisch’s grad school acting program, how I’m starting at Atlantic Theater Company and other small talk.

As I walked away, with new student ID in hand, I couldn’t help but think that that moment was fate. It was a sign, that I was following the right dream.

During those days or weeks I feel down, discouraged, overwhelmed by this profession I think back to that moment to get through the rough patch. However silly it may be, holding onto those 5 minutes and other little “signs” are great reminders and reinforcers of why I am going after this dream.

And guess what? Even he didn’t give up on his dreams– looks like his performing will never stop. And, look, I’m not the only one referring back to this little ‘ol high school production: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/25/local/me-knittery25.

Oh, and Marc, if you’re out there reading this, I apologize for seeming like a stalker. But you marked a significant moment of my life, little did you know…

Going After the Dream

6 Jan

I’m going to tailer this post to acting, since that’s what I’m here for. But really this applies to any of you who discovered your passion and yet are scared shitless to go after it. Especially passions like Acting, Directing, Writing, Comedy, Singing, etc. Whether you’re afraid of failure, or of success, going after what you really want can be frightening.

I’ve been in somewhat of a denial of my dream since the moment I realized it. My mother always instilled in me that the arts were hobbies not careers. Appropriate jobs were Lawyer, Doctor or Architect. For the first portion of my life, I entertained the thought of architecture because it still felt creative to me. I’d draw mock housing plans, elaborate floorplans for imaginary lofts, etc. But then I got bored and realized that’s not at all what I wanted to do. Then the first part of high school I thought psychologist. I loved listening to and giving advice to my girlfriends. And psychology involved science and I felt that would be acceptable to my mother and to society as a “legitimate” career (whatever that means). I soon became disinterested in that as well.

All throughout this time there was this pesky feeling deep inside my heart that said to not give up on acting. And at this point, I hadn’t even tried it! A childhood friend and neighbor (incidentally, now a successful writer and theater director!) had taken a local summer theatre camp, which she really loved. I gathered the courage to ask my parents if I could participate in that theater program the summer before my Sophomore year of high school. They said yes and just like that, I enrolled in Theatricum Botanicum‘s High School Intensive Shakespeare Seminar.

Theatricum’s magical outdoor stage, nestled deep in the heart of Topanga Canyon (LA’s hippie haven), was the first stage I ever performed on. It was doing the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet. After the show I even had one of the parents tell me it was the best rendition of Romeo & Juliet they had ever seen! I don’t know about that, but I was flattered and I was hooked.

My experience at this camp not only made me fall in love with Shakespeare, it solidified my passion for acting. There was no doubt in my mind that I belonged on stage. The feeling I felt that very first time I performed, live, in front of an audience, was unlike anything I had ever felt in my entire life. I was on a natural high I could not describe.

But that was over TEN years ago! So, why so long? FEAR.

Even after this enlightening experience on stage, I did this “Yes” “No” “Yes” “No” dance with acting. When college rolled around, I got the courage and made up my mind to major in theater. Dream school- Tisch at NYU. (“Yes”) But after a year there, for various reasons, I left and returned home to LA to rethink my college goals. I switched from a BFA in Theater to a BA in English Lit. Perhaps a smart decision, but also possibly moving further away from my original goal. (“No“) When I attended UC Berkeley, I did a lot of plays and student films, resolving that as soon as I obtained my diploma I would return to LA for acting once and for all. (“Yes”) But years went by and I remained in the Bay Area. (“No”) It took a while, but I finally made the move home and thus my journey continues… (“Yes!!!”)