My name is Mia Wilson I am a bonafide theatre nerd. This may not be shocking to the readers that know me, but to those who don’t, that’s most of what you need to know about me.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved performing. However, it wasn’t until I saw my first Broadway show (Wicked) that I realized that theatre was something you could do, that you could get up on stage and touch the lives of hundreds of complete strangers in a way that is too powerful to describe.
After seeing Wicked and a couple more shows on Broadway, I decided to audition for a theatre summer camp at my school. We did Godspell Jr., and it was the most magical experience. It was my first time in a show, and I remembered singing, dancing, and acting on that stage. I remember making people laugh when I made a funny face. I remember my first curtain call and feeling as if I really were on Broadway.
After that show, I began to do every production I could at my school. In middle school, I was in the ensemble of Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr., I played Chef Louie in The Little Mermaid Jr., Razoul in Aladdin Jr., and the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland Jr. I only did one show a year, but my passion for the art grew exponentially with these four shows.
High School came around, and I was given a solo when we did Godspell again. I was so honored and grateful to have been given anything as a freshman. I got to sing a rock song and dress up like it was the nineties. It was a blast.
Sophomore year, however, my passion for theatre began to fade. I tried to get into shows at places other than my school and ultimately failed. I remember getting two rejections within the same hour. I was crushed and began to doubt my abilities and how much I really wanted to do theatre, even though it had been my one true love for so many years. I eventually came back around to loving it once I had gotten into more shows. In fact, it was shortly after this dark period that I was in two of my favorite shows I have ever done, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 and Cinderella.
I wish I could tell you that all of my insecurities were cured after being in these two shows, I really do. Granted, I did learn to handle rejection better, and my love of theatre was strengthened by not giving up at the first sign of trouble. However, I often find myself doubting my abilities as a singer, dancer, and actor much like I did when I was a sophomore. Especially with college auditions and my senior musical coming up, my anxiety level is higher than ever.
Some days I want to throw in the towel. After all, doing theatre as a job is a hard life that is a gamble at best and often doesn’t pay well. After all, there are hundreds of people who are probably more talented than me and have definitely been taking singing and ballet lessons since they came out of the womb. After all…. After all….. after all…… it’s a seemingly endless cycle of self-doubt.
It’s days like that, when my anxiety level rises to dangerous heights and all I want to do is crawl in bed and never step foot in a theatre again, when I have to remind myself to take a step back and evaluate things. I have to remind myself that I am in control of how much I train, prepare, audition, etc. So, I go and take a voice lesson or a dance class. I remind myself that I have made a family in the theatre community that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have met so many people that I love doing theatre and I don’t know what I would do without them, crazy as they may be sometimes. I remind myself that I was accepted into a theatre camp in New York City and that I was also accepted into Theatre Memphis’ production of Newsies (which will run August 24 – September 16 😉 )
Above all, I remind myself that theatre was my first real love. I look at how far I’ve come from when I saw my first Broadway show and when I took my first bow on a stage and I think of that little girl who was swept off her feet by this art. In a way, she’s still there inside me. She’s why I persevere through the tough times and self-doubt because I owe it to her to at least try to make a living out of this. If I don’t, I don’t know what my purpose would be. So I’ll audition. I’ll make it through the anxiety of waiting for a call from a director. I’ll move up to New York and work my ass off to pay rent. Maybe I won’t make it. But maybe I will. Maybe I’ll be on Broadway or be cast in a national tour. It’s a gamble, but if I can touch just one life the way mine was touched, I know that all the blood, sweat, and tears I’ll put into theatre will be more than worth it.