I Paid The Price For

Performed Live at Pour One Out April 2011

I had been skating along in high school, just making good enough grades until I found a music therapy program at New York University. I was interested in music therapy because I played the cello and I worked with special needs students in a class called “Theater Communications” in high school. We used theater to teach special needs students communication skills they could use in their everyday life. 

I was just trying to merge my interests. I honestly had no passion to go to college and had no idea what I wanted to study until I was pointed in the direction of music therapy and found a program at NYU. 

It was then the skies opened up for me. I knew then and there I would go to NYU no matter what it took. I quickly realized that the music therapy program was a grad program but it didn’t matter, I had already forgotten about music therapy and was fully zoned in on NYU as MY school.

Then there was the issue of price. NYU at this time in 2009 was the most expensive college in the United States. 

Luckily for me I was watching the NBA in the mid 90s and I saw a man named Michael Jordan defy the laws of physics with hang time. I didn’t know at the time what hang time was but at three years old I pointed at the tv and said “I want to be on TV like him”. It was soon after my parents got me an agent. 

I booked my first casting call and was in a Blue Cross Blue Shield commercial and became a member of the Screen Actors Guild before I was four years old. It was non stop commercials and modeling and voiceover work and I loved it. I loved going on auditions and being on set surrounded by adults. It just felt right. They always say “you know when you know”.

I was in toy catalogues, billboards, Eggo radio spots, NCAA commercials and right around my fifth birthday I was cast in a commercial with my inspiration– Michael Jordan. It was an AMC bowling commercial where children taught Michael Jordan how to bowl. I didn’t realize it then but I realize now that I had manifested that meeting with my inspiration. I had been telling people basically since I could talk that I was going to be on tv like Michael Jordan but I don’t think anyone could have guessed that I would eventually be on TV with Michael Jordan. The power of positive self talk propelled me to that audition and through the callback process and finally to set that day to meet MJ. 

It was a magical day I’ll never forget, whenever I get down on myself I remember the power I harnessed at such a young age and I know I can accomplish anything.

I realize that it seems like it was all sunshine and rainbows and though I maintain that I loved my experience as a child performer I did miss out on what my friends and family experienced as a normal childhood. 

I still did my homework and played soccer and took cello lessons but while my friends were hanging out after school I was in the car on my way to an audition or a set. 

It was a lot of early mornings and late nights learning lines and sitting in makeup chairs but I was living my dream. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I know it sounds silly but from age three to thirteen I was dedicated to my craft. 

It was the same dedication I had to get on TV like Michael Jordan that I used to get into NYU. I began to take school more seriously and signed up for AP classes and more extracurriculars. By this time I wasn’t acting anymore but I had saved all the money I had made while acting and modeling and I finally knew where it would go.I had finally had time to concentrate on my new goal of getting into NYU. 

I wrote my NYU admissions essay about my experience in my Theater Communications class and my connection with one of my classmates. Together we learned about how to convey our emotions to an audience and how to communicate person to person. The skills I had learned as a child actor helped me get into NYU even though I was not applying to the Tisch School of  The Arts to study acting because my skills as a communicator helped me write my essay in one viewing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m serious. I sat down on a Sunday and put on Breakfast at Tiffany’s and just wrote my admissions essay about my relationship with my classmate and how we bonded over all things Disney. 

I also had to write a limerick and  describe how I would spend the day with a famous New Yorker of my choosing. I chose Vogue Editor and Chief Anna Wintour and described our day eating Wendy’s chicken nuggets dipped in a chocolate frosty. As I was applying everything fell into place. It was just like when I was a child actor. Experiences come to you when you’re ready for them and I was so ready to live and learn in New York City.

I went to New York to visit NYU and a few other schools and as soon as my mom and I got off the subway to go to NYU’s Washington Square “Campus” I didn’t even need to look at a map to tell me how to get there. It was like the wind was guiding me home. I turned left at Cooper Union and walked down Broadway until I saw the huge purple flags flapping in the fall breeze and I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Tears sprung to my eyes and I was immediately sure this was my destiny. 

Looking back I wish I still had the confidence I had as a very small child. To be able to tell people my dreams and then to will them to exist. I did will my acceptance into New York University into existence when I was seventeen, I applied early admission and was accepted on December 9th 2009.

I’ll never forget that day and the feeling I had when I knew for the second time in my life that I had willed something to happen. So many people, from friends’ parents to school counselors told me it couldn’t be done. NYU was a hard school to get into but once I get something into my head I make it happen. 

I literally paid the price to go to NYU and live and learn in New York City at the age 18 with my childhood but I don’t regret it one bit. Once and a while in therapy my former life as a child actor will come up and I’ll feel sorry for myself and the childhood I missed out on but I know that without those experiences I never would have been able to get into or pay for NYU. I made up for my lost childhood with having an amazing four years running around New York City living my best life. 

I got to do internships in the fashion industry and work on political campaigns for politicians I really believed in. Not to mention all the fun I had going to clubs and bars in Manhattan while my friends from high school went to keggers. I was really living life to the fullest, just like I had as a child. 

Sometimes paying the price is actually a good thing. Literally and figuratively I paid the price for a world class education and experience that I consider priceless with a working childhood that I wouldn’t trade for a regular childhood ever. 

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