“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” —Misty Copeland
This week my parents came out to visit me from London and see my work in Detroit ’67. I played Chelle, a single mother trying everything she can to keep her son Julius in school and keep her family and home afloat and safe during a very turbulent time (not too unfamiliar to the times we are still living in, with police brutality and race in America.) By the end of the play, Chelle by the end of the play forgives her brother and comes to terms with their inherent differences, while also mourning the loss of a dear love and friend, Sly. It was very special for me to have my parents see this play, and I am so proud of the cast and crew on this project. We all poured so much dedication and hard work into it, and it has felt like a dream come true finally finishing it!
The play also made me think a lot about how much easier college life would have been had I always had my parents around or at least living in the same country. But it also made me reflect on how far I’ve come and how much wiser and stronger I am because I’ve grown into myself and my independence so far from home—with a little help and guidance here and there, however! I feel ready to take on the world.
Certainly I grew up with a big family so my support system was always around me. Therefore, as you can imagine coming to Juilliard and being an international student hasn’t always been easy. I can call home, of course it’s not really the same, is it? Although I do find/prefer Skype and FaceTime Video which has often kept my homesickness at bay. I also have three best friends from London and we try and Skype every two weeks—sometimes failing but always trying to keep each other accountable! In fact, we have a “pound jar” so if someone forgets or misses a video call then they have to put a pound in the jar. Subsequently, the next time we meet that person will buy the other three a drink or two! I also have some close friends in and outside of my class who I hold dear. I try to see them outside of the Juilliard sphere as much as I can. In fact, my good friend Anya in my class took me to Hot Yoga for the first time this year and I loved it. Doing things in and around the city and fueling yourself with things outside of your craft can be a huge factor in giving yourself the support and nourishment you need as a human being. With crazy schedules and deadlines at Juilliard, it can be very difficult to put yourself first and make time for friends and family, but I believe it is instrumental in fully becoming the healthy and well developed artists we all want to be in order to serve. Family and friends fuel us and they give us courage that sometimes is good for us to be reminded of. It is important that we remember where we come from and how far it’s gotten us.
CONSISTENCY Keep up with a consistent dialogue with friends and family or at least organize/dedicate Sunday nights to calling your best friends!
HONESTY Be honest with where you are and the support you need.
THERAPY Therapy comes in all different shapes and sizes. For some this might look like treating oneself to a massage or going shopping. But the school also literally has therapists available for all students as well.
Hope this was helpful.