The Little Red-Headed Girl
“Just remember that when Charlie Brown was singing to ‘that cute little red headed girl’ it was you! You will be on stage very soon. Love from your friend, Charlie Brown.” These lines hang on a slightly crumpled note card on my bedroom wall, displayed prominently high among various cards, poems, drawings, articles, and pictures. Each time my gaze is drawn to the card, I’m brought back to being five years old and awestruck by those bright stage lights. Every rehearsal of my church’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, I went over to the church and sat in the front row of chairs, scrutinizing the performers at work with my small legs swinging in time with the music and body bent forward in fascination. As the adult actors sang and danced on stage, breathing life and love and humor into the story of a little boy who just wanted to belong and find a home of his own, they unknowingly lead a little girl to find a home of her own.
From that point forward, I engaged in a whirlwind romance with the performing arts. I participated in school plays and community theatre throughout my childhood, weaving my way through elementary and middle school with a world of color and infinite stories behind me as my escape. Instead of having birthday parties or going to see movies, I worked to save up money in order to go see Broadway shows in San Francisco. Instead of writing short stories or poems like my peers, I wrote short plays and monologues. I reveled in the power of presence, the intoxicating effect of sharing different perceptions of the world with others.
Now, as a National Honor Thespian of the International Thespian Society in my second year of Play Productions—the highly selective and accomplished ROP acting class at my high school—I can see how theatre has helped me to grow immensely as an actor, as a student, and most importantly, as a person. It has enabled me to see the individual perceptions we each have of the world and the overlaps between them, as well as create connections between many different areas of life. As such, this fascination with perception has caused my interests to branch out far beyond the arts, from loving neurology and environmental science, to devouring any and all types of literature, to exploring different cultures and religions. I have developed many different outlooks on life as a result, each one that much more developed, valuable, and essential to who I am as a person; and yet, I can’t help but see myself as an actor on stage, leading another little girl or boy with legs swinging in the front row to find his or her home.