I want to tell a story. At the curtain call for a sold-out performance of Ode to Agatha, a show I wrote and directed in 2017, I presented awards created by my company to individuals involved with the production. One of these is the Diamond Mask Award for Excellence in Performance. It’s awarded by audiences who vote for their favorite performances and is designed to recognize the huge talent in our valley.
One of my actresses was a clear winner. She put so much heart and work into her role, actually her first major role onstage. She charmed the crowd and was much loved by her cast and director. She totally earned it and was totally surprised when she won.
Afterwards, she told me that someone she loved told her she “couldn’t act” just before she began Ode to Agatha.
I hear this story a lot, and it never fails to break my heart. Her loved one wasn’t the only critic. I heard some too from “well-meaning” colleagues who warned me about casting her because of a speech issue she’s had all her life. As a result, most directors in town often relegated her to the background and ignored her. I didn’t listen. I cast her anyway. And audiences loved her.
A frequent attendee of those prior shows told me after Ode to Agatha: “Seriously, where has she been all this time? She blew me away! She was fabulous!” I wanted to say “In the background where people like to place her.” As I said before, I hear these stories all the time. I’ve had actors who are blind, deaf, need supports to walk, and so on. I still cast them. Because they are wonderful to work with and give it their all.
So what is the moral of this story? Throughout your life, there will be people who do not believe in you. They may be strangers, loved ones, or even the little critic that lives in our heads. But someone will believe in you, will let you shine like the stars you are. It may be tomorrow. It may be in a couple years. But it will happen.
Above anything else, I believe in all of you.