“Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.” ~ Alan Rickman

If you get the chance, take an acting class! What does acting have to do with living a rich life? A lot…

When I was in my 20’s I took acting lessons at our local civic theater. I was very fortunate to be taught by Jim Schildmeyer who had been involved with the theater most of his life and had experience as a writer, actor, director and producer! He taught me stage presence, how to project my voice, how to overcome my fear of performing in front of an audience (“Make your butterflies fly in formation,” he said), how to memorize lines, how to read (it’s always slower than you think it should be, nerves makes you talk fast), how to emote, how to work with a team, how to improvise, how to lead… ALL of these lessons have served me well, personally and professionally, throughout the years.

I was also blessed to be in the class with a veteran actress Jean Rosen who was in her 70’s and was very sick though most of us couldn’t even tell. She never missed rehearsals. On the night of the class play (Steel Magnolias – I played the feisty character, Weezer who was originally played by Shirley MacLaine), I remember going backstage between acts and seeing her lying flat on her back across the couch, arms pinned to her side, eyes closed “To keep the room from spinning,” she said. When her time to go on stage came, right on cue, she stood up, gave me a motherly smile and said, “The show must go on.” She sashayed on stage like the diva she was. It was a sight to see. I have never forgotten her or the valuable lesson I learned that night… When people are counting on you, you show up and give 100%, no matter what.

After the show, Jean needed a ride home, which I was honored to provide. She went home to an empty house. It was the theater where she felt loved, where she belonged. You can’t pay for those lessons!

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