2006-2007 Juilliard Statement

I didn't want to become an actress. In fact, I've spent the past five years talking myself out of it. But, despite myself, here I am, applying to the Juilliard because I can't keep myself out of a theatre. This all seems odd though, because for most of my life, my primary goal was to become an Egyptologist. Egypt had been my passion since before I could read, and I worked my ass off in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at my high school in hopes of getting into the university with the best Egyptology department in the country. An IB student's life is intense; I woke up most days around three in the morning in order to finish my homework.
However, I didn't hate the time commitment-I loved it! If I could have had my way, I'd have studied every moment of the day, which would have easily driven me insane. So, I found something to do that I enjoyed and that kept me from studying constantly-Theatre.

Theatre was like taking the analytical ideas from my literature classes to the next level; you needed to know the symbols, archetypes, themes, and so on, but then you had to make them apparent and truly meaningful to an audience. On stage, I found a way to release something inside of myself that I had never before encountered. Through my art, I felt a connection to the persons in the audience: I was able to use my intellect in a way that could be shared directly with them.

But I was the smart kid who was going to pursue a life in academia. How could I ignore my intellectual potential? How could I turn down an opportunity to attend one of the most rigorous academic programs for undergraduates in the entire country?! I couldn't. I went to the University of Chicago where I excelled in my classes. Yet, by the beginning of second year, I found myself spending all my time in play rehearsals and none of my time doing my Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphics homework.

It was then that I finally realized how much I love acting, and more importantly, how much I love connecting to people through performance. I remember my priest quoting Mother Teresa once, saying that, "In the West there is loneliness, which I call the leprosy of the West. In many ways it is worse than our poor in Calcutta." Being an Egyptologist wouldn't help anyone but myself, but as an actress, I could counteract this sort of sickness. Theatre helps remind audience members that they are connected to each other, to the actors, and to the playwright through their shared experiences. One can explore the history of ideas through the words of playwrights in an intensely intriguing and personal way. This is what I want my art to accomplish. I want to touch people, change people, and interact with people honestly. So here I am, soon to graduate from the U of C, ready to do something that's important, something that I love.

2007-2008 Juilliard Statement

I take the train everyday, and when I look at the people seated around me everyone seems to be lost in their own universe. People read, look at the floor, listen to their iPods, or look out the window. They do not interact with the people next to them, across from them, or a few seats down from them... And everyone seems so isolated and disconnected. Despite this fact, I try to make eye contact with at least one person whenever I travel; that moment of connection is always magical, because it makes both of us feel more alive. I want to have more of these moments. Music, theatre, and other art forms are ideal worlds where we are not just encouraged, but forced to wake up and connect with the humanity of the art. The Lovin' Spoonful sang, “And it's magic when the music is groovy. It makes you feel happy like an old time movie.” Art fulfills our basic desire to see and experience other human beings.

The first time I remember looking and feeling like the people I watch on the train was in middle school. I dealt with this feeling by escaping into the magical worlds of Harry Potter, the Golden Compass, and King Arthur. I love magic. The appeal of magic lies in the idea that it is concealed in everything around you, but you can only use it by tapping into something bigger than yourself. On stage, actors get to open a door into magical worlds where people can connect to everything and everyone, and this is exactly the sort of world that I wanted to live in when I was reading fantasy novels. When you read a book, watch a play, or listen to your favorite song, the magic lies in the human spirit amplified within the art. We connect to the human quality in art; it makes us feel more human ourselves, and less alone.

Through my art, I aspire to connect with people in such a way that both of our lives will change as a result. When I get on stage, my goal is to share an explosion of life with people; I want to share the joy of being with an audience. However, if I want to make meaningful connections with playgoers, I need to learn how to exist in the moment, to use my instincts, to do actions without thinking, to use my body and voice, to live before an audience, and to make everything important. I want to study at Juilliard so that I can develop into a better actress—an actress who can profoundly connect with an audience.

Meekah and Glee

This is a short story I wrote. It's based on a fairy tale told within the novel, Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier.

Meekah and Glee
by Janice

This is the story of a man and a mermaid. However before we begin our tale, you must understand where mermaids come from. The first mermaid was a normal human girl who was not at all afraid of her capacity for joy, for when she saw the ocean for the first time, she let the joy and love she felt for the water permeate and transform every molecule of her body until she became a mermaid. One cannot deny that mermaids have a terrible reputation of being mischievous and have been blamed for the downfall of more than one fine sailor, but mermaids are merely a race of uninhibited humans who let their joyful feelings guide and shape them.

Now our story begins, not with the mermaid, but with a man named Meekah. Meekah was born in a small fishing village on the northern shore. The heart of his town was in it's trade. Every person born there came from a long line of folk who had always lived, fished, and died in that very village. However, young Meekah felt like an outcast among his people because he was a bad fisherman, and what's worse, he did not care that he was a bad fisherman. Folks were only too keen to keep Meekah off their ships, for the superstitious crews worried that his lack of devotion and respect to the fishing trade would hurt their ventures. And so Meekah found himself spending a lot of his time sitting on the rocky shore, dreaming of far off lands where people wouldn't treat him like he was something different and abnormal. To forget his loneliness, Meekah, would play on his flute to his only friend the sea, and the songs he played were full of fine sorrow, beauty, and truth.

Now the story turns to a mermaid who, despite her young age, had already swam every ocean on the Earth, and had found much joy in the sights and sounds she had encountered. This mermaid, like most of her kind, was a bit of a drifter: the allure of the unexplored and myriad possible joys of the world drove her to constantly keep moving. Because she never remained in one place for very long, the young mermaid was forever saying goodbye to the many people and creatures she met. As a consequence of the constant goodbyes, every once in a while the mermaid felt sad because she did not have a real best friend: someone she could go to when she was upset or in trouble, someone with whom she could journey and explore. However, this hurt always subsided the moment she decided to seek out the next new adventure, the next new source of joy, and so she was always off on a new path before the pain of her loneliness could completely hit her.

One day, as the mermaid passed by Meekah's village, she heard young Meekah playing his usual sad song to the sea. Upon listening to Meekah's song, the mermaid was overwhelmed by the beauty of the soul who created it, and inspired by that beauty she began to dance, and sing, and finally jumped out of the water so that she could be nearer to this beautiful person. When Meekah saw the mermaid, he was taken aback, for he had never seen someone who radiated with such happiness like this young mermaid, and so the mermaid inspired Meekah to play most magnificent song he would every create. And as Meekah played, his mermaid danced like she had never danced before. Instead of her normal wild outbursts of random movement, she danced slowly and deliberately, she danced not for just for herself and her own joy, she danced for Meekah and his song. When the song was through, the young lovers came together in an expression of complete sweetness and love. In that moment, the mermaid recognized her north star, a person full of enough spirit to center and guide her way, and Meekah recognized his heart song, the one of the sea who inspired his ability to create. He named her Glee, for that's what he felt when he was with her.

Meekah and Glee went back to the village, but the people of the town were distrustful of the seemingly slippery Glee, for she skipped, floated, and twirled whenever she moved through the village. Glee could not help but express the happiness she felt for Meekah in every movement of her body. Many of the town warned Meekah that he shouldn't get too attached to his Glee for sooner or later she would again hear the call of the sea and disappear as suddenly as she had arrived. Meekah's love for Glee and her wellbeing told him not to take her away from the ocean that she adored, but his fear of her abandonment convinced Meekah to take Glee inland—far away from the water that would undoubtedly tempt her away.

Glee willingly followed her star and lived happily with Meekah for many years. Glee finally had found someone with whom she could share her joy, someone who could help her when she was in trouble. Likewise, Meekah found a person full of joy who could inspire him through her love and acceptance. After a time, Meekah began to feel guilty for taking Glee so far from her home, and though Glee was happy to be with Meekah, he could see how much she missed the ocean that had been such a big part of her life. However as Meekah considered letting Glee go home, he could not shake his fear the Glee would leave forever if she were reunited with the ocean. It was then that Meekah realized that being separated from Glee would never tarnish the joyful time they'd spent together, nor would it affect how much they would always love each other. So Meekah decided to guide Glee back to the sea.

Upon seeing the ocean, Glee became overwhelmed with joy and she instantly transformed back into her mermaid self. She dived and jumped and sang and danced, but seeing the ocean did not solely wet her appetite for more new adventures and unexperienced joys. For the first time in Glee's life, seeing the ocean also made her to want to share every joy she'd ever experienced, or would ever experience, with another person—Meekah. It was then that Glee realized that she could only share her joy with Meekah by giving up some of her freedom to stay with him. And so Glee, overwhelmed by the prospect of sharing countless joys with Meekah, transformed back into a human. However while Glee was making this realization, Meekah was allowing himself to be truly overwhelmed by the joy he had seen Glee experience when she returned to the ocean, and as he did so, he felt every molecule in his own body become overwhelmed and transformed by the joy it felt in seeing the happiness of his one true love. And so as Glee transformed back into a human, Meekah transformed into a mermaid.

For the rest of their days, Meekah guided Glee to continue to share her joy with others, while Glee continued to inspire Meekah to follow his joy, and not his fear. Meekah, like all men and women, had always been a mermaid, for all people have the same capacity to experience joy. But to find his mermaid self, he had to recognize, give in, and follow his Glee. Similarly, Glee had always been a human, for all people have the same capacity to experience the deep and lasting joys you can only obtain from building real relationships with others. But to do this she had to recognize, give in, and hold on to her Meekah.