Inspired by Heroine Training by Miss Xandra Bee, I’m here to dispense six bits of wisdom and advice to young actresses out there, with some references to past shows and productions I’ve worked on.
(All these lessons apply to boys too… but we all can use a good dose of girl power!) 🙂
Be a leader.
Take new, inexperienced, or younger actors under your wing. Listen to them, give them advice, and share your experiences with them. Like Tzeitel from Fiddler on the Roof, you’re like a big sister. Step up to the plate and be a leader. Know what you have to do, and do it.
Stand up for yourself.
Nobody else is going to do the work for you. You have to believe in yourself, your abilities and your dreams. Like Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, don’t let anyone treat you badly or make you feel small.
Make new friends AND keep the old.
Theatre is a team effort. Make friends with your cast and crewmates. They will become a second family to you. Annie Warbucks always knew she could depend on her friends from the orphanage to help her out when times were tough. Your friends will be there for you in good times and bad. Keep them close; they’re better than gold!
Push yourself to take risks and get outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to look silly onstage. The more you commit to the character, the better you will look onstage. Jessica Maples from Curse of the Cobra’s Kiss wasn’t afraid to pick up a dead cobra, and you shouldn’t be either (literally and metaphorically).
Trust in yourself… and anything is possible.
The White Queen from Through the Looking Glass wasn’t afraid to express her pain from a wound she hadn’t yet received, and even though Alice thought things were impossible, the White Queen knew that if you just trust in your heart, that anything is possible. You can do the thing!
Above all… be brave.
I’ll leave you with the lyrics from Tiger Lily’s solo from “What Makes the Brave Man Brave.” Tiger Lily embodies what it means to be a strong and brave young woman.
Tiger Lily: “I know you helped save me.”
Wendy: “Why do boys take the credit for everything?”
There are some boys like that, true.
All too proud of what they do.
Taking credit wherever they can.
But if glory they don’t share, don’t be silent and stare.
Tell ’em quick, tell ’em true of the noble things in you.
Not just boys are fighters. Not just boys are strong.
Got to keep inside your heart this ancient native song:
“No one can make you feel small unless you agree to feel small.”
What makes the brave girl brave? What makes the brave girl brave?
Native girls know many boys have pride so big it burst!
Just remind him what he did, a girl no doubt did first!
Photo Credits: Malcolm Miller, Bryan Nelson, Vicki Cocco
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