Growing up, I was addicted to Grease, the movie. It was an event for the family whenever it was on television. I would sing and dance throughout the living room to my parents’ amusement. I could barely speak English, but there I was singing along to the phonetic sounds of “Greez Lining!” The next pop culture phenomenon that would enchant my imagination: Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I always moved, danced, and sang to the music video like nobody was watching. So in my bilingual, American child mind, this meant I should be an actor.
Acting in high school
In high school, I was in two one-act play productions that we took to UIL competition. My sophomore year (I think?), I was the father (Mr. Hardcastle?) in She Stoops to Conquer. It was a period piece set in the turn of the century (I believe). We studied the costuming, the customs of the times, the accents, the language, the business of each character… all this before internet was available.
I won a Best Actor Award at the competition. This was “the” sign for me. I needed to pursue acting.
The next year, we performed a one-act version of A Shayna Meidel, a dramatic play about a Polish Jewish family whose lives are affected by the Holocaust. We didn’t do as much research on this one for some reason. My accent was off, and the themes and premise of this work was very dramatic and tense.
I won an Honorable Mention at the competition this year.
Acting class at the university
Actually, after high school, I started life at the university as a drama major. But being an actor required me to bare my soul in acting class. I didn’t feel ready at the time, so I switched majors. I went to film production; my bilingual, American mind figured that working BEHIND the camera would not be as “naked” as being IN FRONT of the camera.
I have neglected acting as a profession. However, it is something that I’m “looking into” again. In my ripe old age of 30+, I started taking acting classes while living in Florida. ‘To my heart’s content, my delighted acting coach/instructor, Pam Wiley, insisted that I NEEDED to get out there auditioning and acting. “It’s not common to see men on the acting stage,” she said. “Good men. And, Luis, you have that talent in you.” (Well, maybe that was just Florida.)
Another sign? Or a damned slap to the face!? Why don’t I just shut up and do it!? Shut up and act!
Image source: promotional photo with fellow acting ingenue Alicia Miller from Brackenridge High School’s La Retama yearbook.