‘Doing community theater, I always know there are people who I can go back to. With them, it’s OK to be too much.’
“I’ve been on a stage since I was 3 years old. I was never the most talented person in the room, but I was always the one who worked the hardest. I realized how much I wanted to be on a stage because you couldn’t take me off. And I think that has a lot to do with being an only child.
“My parents lost their first baby, and they hoped and prayed, and then I showed up. So, I was always showered with attention because, by their definition, I wasn’t supposed to be here. I think that made me want to be in the center of things all the time. And as my personality developed, I was always told that I was too much, that I needed to calm down and was too intense. But one thing that it did lead to was in fourth grade, when we did our first real full-length play at school.
“It was Cinderella. And I wanted to be Cinderella … because what 8-year-old doesn’t want to be the ingenue? But my drama teacher, who I love dearly, had me play one of the stepsisters. That’s when I kind of discovered that being too much was the thing that was going to get me different parts, because not everybody could do that.
And there I was in my wheelchair with my friend pushing me across the stage!
“As time went on, I did children’s theater at the JCC. Even though I wasn’t Jewish, they welcomed everybody. I found friends there when I was bullied at school. Middle school sucks for everybody, but through my whole high school experience, I was bullied.
“The summer before my senior year, I played Rizzo in ‘Grease.’ I kept my Pink Ladies jacket because I just never wanted it to end. And I know everyone makes fun of ‘Grease,’ but it’s still one of my favorite shows because of what embodying Rizzo gave me. There was no feeling like it.
“In 2015, I broke my leg in two places and have metal rods and screws in my left leg. Everyone said, ‘It’s all right if you skip the show this summer.’ And I said, ‘No, I am gonna make it work.’ And there I was in my wheelchair with my friend pushing me across the stage!
“We figured out a way for me to be in the show because I didn’t want to not be part of it. Doing community theater, I always know there are people who I can go back to. With them, it’s OK to be too much. I credit them with giving me the power to be more of myself.”