In 2016, I underwent challenges that tried and tested my confidence. Changes started to occur at work that made me begin to question what I really wanted out of my career, and I was in a relationship that just always felt a bit off.
By the time 2016 was finally coming to a close, I decided that 2017 would be a Year of Change. And a Year of Change it was.
The year blessed me with some wonderful memories and presented me with a moment that would determine how my career and life would unfold from that point forward.
“The Diary of Anne Frank”
To start 2017 on an encouraging note, I was given the chance to perform in a space that I have always adored.
One of the oldest venues in Augusta, the Imperial Theatre exudes sophistication and majesty from the moment you behold it from Broad Street to the second you settle in your cushioned seat. Its rich history pulses through every seat, every light, and radiates from the sensational stage. It truly is a splendor.
The performance was a school outreach presentation of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and I portrayed Miep Gies.
Though Miep helped keep the secret of the Franks’ hiding spot, she never considered herself a hero. She was simply a woman doing what she felt was right. I wanted to honor her memory and to do the part properly, so I read entries from her website and from books and watched interviews with her to get a better sense of who she was and of her world.
Helping to share the very real stories of the play’s characters to hundreds of students, personifying Miep, will always be one of the greatest honors of my life.
To finally stand on that glorious stage and face towards the towering auditorium I’ve sat in numerous times since I was little will be a moment I will never forget.
More theatrical milestones
A few blocks from the Imperial sits another theatre I’ve always had my eye on – Le Chat Noir. The residing theatre company is known for its thought-provoking shows and hosts an annual short play festival. In 2017, I finally was able to audition for the festival, and much to my delight, I was cast. In a vast contrast to my previous role, I played a teenager in an original play with a musically centric storyline.
Being a newcomer is always a gamble, but I immediately felt accepted. Everyone I encountered throughout the run was welcoming, easy to talk to, and laid back. The experience deepened my appreciation for the theatre company and its contribution to my hometown’s arts scene.
Later in the spring, I tried my luck at another play audition. I knew there was a strong chance I wouldn’t get the part, but I took the chance anyways. Three for three, right?
Well, turns out my first instinct was spot on. I wasn’t the right fit for the director’s vision for the play and, therefore, didn’t get the part. I was disappointed, yes, but I wasn’t down for long.
Around that time, I was approached as being one of the actors in a dinner theater production with a company I’ve worked with in the past.
The play spoofs a handful of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies and is written for a smaller cast. Three of the four actors played multiple parts; I played a wide-eyed sister searching for her brother and a sultry spy. Both times I had to wear a blond wig. Never thought that would happen.
The show itself is presented in an unconventional way. We didn’t act on a stage with light changes, set pieces, and a distinct removal from the audience. The dining hall was our stage, as we roamed and interacted directly with the guests.
In fact, some of the guests got to be characters. You can imagine how I nervous I was about that at first as you never knew how people would read their lines or if they would even remember when it was their time to perform. But, in the end, each showing was successful, enjoyable, and unique. Definitely an invigorating, thrilling experience.
The big career leap
After those exhilarating months on stage concluded, I knew I had to face the insistent question that loomed over me: Is this all I want for my life?
At this time, I was a newspaper reporter at the same place that hired me a month after I graduated college. Throughout my five years at the paper, I saw coworkers come and go and worked under several different managers. But I never really had a solid reason to leave until this past year.
During this past year, my drive and passion for my job started to fade. Fewer and fewer stories excited me. I needed a change.
Not just a change in my career but in my setting. When I moved away for college, I never intended to return to Augusta. Before college, I had only lived in the Augusta area.
However, my post-college plans didn’t unravel as I anticipated, and I ended up back in Augusta for another five years.
During the summer, I was promoted at the newspaper. I was hesitant about taking the new position but ultimately decided to. However, my desire for a change never subsided.
So, at the beginning of September, I turned in my letter of resignation, and at the beginning of October, I packed up my desk, said my goodbyes, and left a place that will always hold value for me.
2017 was packed with other fantastic moments and some not so wonderful.
2017 was the year a boy shattered my heart, and my family lost its beloved family dog, the hurt of which still lingers.
But, it was also the year I saw “Rent” and my dear college friend Natalie in Memphis; the year that my mom went to NYC for the first time (it was my 2nd trip); the year I saw “Anastasia” on Broadway and an Off Broadway production of “Avenue Q;” and the year I met two my favorite actors – Zachary Levi and John Cusack.
Now in the early hours of 2018, I am back home. I’m not employed or in a new setting, but I have been and am constantly working towards it.
So, I guess 2018 will be the sequel to My Year of Change.
To 2018, whatever you got in store for me – bring it, because I won’t stop until all my goals are accomplished.
This time next year, I will be 28 and sitting on my bed in my new apartment in a new city on holiday break from my new job.
So, I raise my glass and say, “Cheers to the new year, and let the sequel begin.”