Taking the Leap

Last fall I read a conversation between two of my favorite playwrights, Suzan Lori-Parks and the recently deceased August Wilson, in American Theatre magazine. On taking risks, Wilson said, “You have to believe that you could dive off a cliff and that you’ll be okay, that you’ll sprout wings and fly, otherwise you’ll never dive off the cliff.”

Looks like this girl is about to do some cliff-diving. Some scary, scary cliff-diving.

This December, I begin rehearsals at The Children’s Theatre Company for Tale of a West Texas Marsupial Girl, and with the start of rehearsals brings the end of my five-year career at the Walker Art Center. It also brings the end of the comforts (steady income, health insurance) upon which I have come to depend. Okay, depend heavily. Starting in December, I will be making my living as an actor. Please excuse me while I repeat that, for my own sake: I will be making my living as an actor.

I find this concept equally thrilling and terrifying.

In early July when I turned 28, a dear friend sat me down and paced the room while lecturing me for a solid hour about how, in regard to performing, this is going to be The Year of Leigha. That means no more fucking around. No more cutting corners. No more procrastinating. No more waiting for things to fall in my lap. I have been inspired on the short-term in the past, but nothing like this. This friend knows me deeply, and he cared enough to point out and shoot down my bullshit excuses and my laziness. He helped me navigate my way out of complacency, out of inaction.

Two weeks after my birthday we went and saw the touring Broadway version of Wicked – and it only deepened my resolve. As fully expected, some of the performers could sing circles around me; but surprisingly, some of them couldn’t. For the first time, I realized that doing what they were doing on that stage wasn’t just a pipe dream. I’ve worked long and hard to develop the chops that I have (and I fully comprehend that I have plenty more work to do now and throughout my life); it’s high time I start giving those chops the respect they deserve. I will be making my living as an actor.

Move-over Dog, make way Boar, and mind the gap John Miller-Stephany; July 3, 2006 through July 3, 2007 is The Year of Leigha. It’s time.