Family lore says I was smiling when I came out of my mother’s womb. I doubt that to be the case, but in all the photos of me as a young child, the commonality is my smile. Ear to ear. And why not? I got to travel around the world with my mother, who was the artistic director of an acclaimed dance company in Taiwan.
For months at a time, I found myself plunged into environments and cultures completely alien to me. Perhaps because my mother and I were treated a bit like royalty, and taken care of by the festival organizers who brought us over, I experienced not one moment of fear. The way people looked and acted, the smells and scents and sights were all so intoxicating. It was hard returning home.
My mother’s love of the arts extended well beyond dance. As a result, from the time I was six, I found myself watching stories and characters unfold on international stages of the world, just a few feet from my eyes. I was mesmerized. Even more so, when on several occasions while my mother mingled with friends, I would spot an actor exiting the stage door, looking and walking and acting nothing like the character they were playing.
Despite my rapture, acting wasn’t what I pursued in college in Taiwan. It was, no surprise, dance. But the few acting classes I took ignited a spark in my belly that awakened my imagination. That spark impelled me to fly to a continent and a city with a golden gate bridge, to Academy of Art University, where I enrolled in the BFA acting program. As I had hoped, my creativity and imagination crackled and burnt with an intensity as I found myself taking on theatrical and film roles that challenged me in ways I never imagined.
Along the way, I was privileged to discover that what actors on stage and film did to me when I was young – introduce me to characters and stories unlike my own – I was now able to do for others. I derive great joy in knowing that for a few moments I am able to play a part in giving an audience a respite from their own lives.
I'm going to be honest with you, I know that the path I’m taking will likely not be smooth and gilded. But I also know that there isn’t one cell in my body that fears failing or falling. Like my Combat coach is fond of saying, It’s not about the falling, it’s all about the landing.
And for some reason, when I imagine how I will land in the future, I always see myself with a smile on my face.