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.