If you asked Emily at age 2 what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would tell you…”FAMOUS.”
If you asked Emily at age 4 what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would tell you…”I want to be famous. And be in movies.”
If you asked Emily at age 6 what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would tell you…”I want to be famous. And be in movies. And have my own TV show.”
If you asked Emily at age 8 what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would tell you…”I want to be famous. And be in movies. And have my own TV show. And sing on Broadway.”
If you ask her now, at almost 10, she will tell you….”I WILL be on that stage. Just you wait…”
So, it has been clear to me, from very early on, that this child has dreams. BIG ONES.
Sometimes I wish I could call Justin Bieber’s mom for a little advice, because, well, obviously she is doing something right. I, however, am not. When Emily was in first grade, I put her in her school’s after-hours drama program. Basically, how this works is simple. I shell out $250+ for Emily to be in a play (To date: Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Mamma Mia, Willy Wonka and now Grease.) She stays after school each Tuesday for an hour-and-a-half. She learns some simple dances and some songs. A few weeks in they have auditions and then they get a part. I get that it’s not a professional production. They do perform the plays on a local theater stage and they do over-charge for tickets and at the end of the day they put on a good, entertaining, and fun show:
(From The Sound of Music. Emily (in second grade) is the nun in the middle)
(From Willy Wonka. Emily (in fourth grade) is, well, the girl.)
Emily has always had decent-ish roles. She has never had a BIG part, per se. But, you guys, when she found out they were doing Grease, she was all DUDE, I HAVE GOT THIS IN THE BAG. She knew the movie inside and out and backwards and forwards. She nailed her audition, she said. And even the play’s director seemed to be pleased and when I said, “It’s time for a leading role, Alex,” he answered with, “she has proven that she is ready.”
So we thought it was her time to be Rizzo. Or even Marty.
Jan has exactly 28 lines and exactly one song solo…you know what it is, right? Her solo? It’s that brusha brusha brusha song. I know. To say the least, Emily was both devastated and heartbroken. She was so convinced that this was her time. She has accepted and owned her small roles until now…knowing that the big roles were coming.
When I picked her up from practice, she barely made it home before the tears began. Before she turned to me and said, for the very first time, MAYBE I AM NOT AS GOOD AS I THINK I AM. MAYBE I WON’T BE FAMOUS.
And then I was both devastated and heartbroken.
Because this little girl has more talent in her little body that I could ever hope for. She can sing, she can dance, she can act. She really can. Sure, she could use some voice training and some guidance to be better. She IS only 9. But, you guys, if you knew her, you would know. If you’ve seen her take every playdate she has ever had and turned into a full-fledged musical production, you would know. If you’ve seen her command that stage and get standing ovations, you would know. If you’ve ever watched her dance hip hop at Vibe, you would know.
You know. I know. She knows. SHE KNOWS, which was why I was so surprised that she was doubting herself, even for just that short moment. She came around fairly quickly and decided that she is going to be the best Jan to ever be and even though she doesn’t have ANY song solos, she has 28 lines that she is going to master and she is going to rock the bobby socks off of a director who clearly doesn’t see her talent and her potential, of a director who doesn’t even HELP her to be better, of a director that has a reputation for playing favorites, of a director who will get to direct my daughter in her very last play. Because we are done with him.
I don’t want her to EVER doubt herself again. It was in that moment that I made a promise to her that I never really thought I’d make.
“Emily, if this is your dream, I am going to help you make it a reality.”
I just wish I knew how to do that.