2016 Essay Competition - View all entries

As Long As You Do Not Stop

Melysa Hierro - Bronx, NY, United States

Confucius once said "It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop." This quote adds fuel to the campfire that keeps the flames of my goals rising up to find the career that's suitable for me. Back in middle school, I practically wanted to be everything: be a therapist, a teacher, a singer, a dancer, an author, an actress, you name it. Now it's my senior year in high school and I have a strong feeling in my gut about what I want to study in college. But there are similarities that I thought about which influenced me in choosing theater as one of my main majors.

When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers wanted to have us perform a musical, The Music Man at Lehman College. I was given the old farm wife, married to the grumpy husband, which had one-two lines. During the months of rehearsal, I enjoyed it.Then, I realized: theater allows you to use the inner calling that I had deep within me since the beginning of my timeline. Letting my voice out like a mighty lion roaring to his people, until the end of the performance, I felt so proud of myself. The feeling of everyone clapping from being entertained, and seeing children performing such a tough musical, made me feel good. Oh yeah. I most definitely want to continue this when I graduate.

During my three years in high school, I participated in a theater after school program: Epic Shakespeare Remix youth development program at three NYC Public High Schools in Lower Manhattan, Harlem, and the Bronx, that culminates with students performing alongside professional theatre artists in fully produced Shakespeare productions. The whole purpose of this program is for students to fully debate the social and political questions of the play, decode the meaning of Shakespeare's text, and weave their own writing into the fabric of the script. It allows us to think outside the box, weave out our creativity to write pages of drama and strong scenes to send the message to the audience. Throughout the process, we spend weeks of rehearsing when casting is done, and go to National Black Theater at 125th street in Harlem. Because I was mentored by professional directors, actors and stage management, students can begin to grasp the sense of what career is right for them.

In 2014, I got the role as a student Annabelle in Coroiolanus, Fix. I had a few lines, and a beast of a monologue. As I stood in the center of the black box theater, I felt my heart racing. Like a jaguar chasing down it's prey. My inner voice taking control, I was on fire. When I sat back down, I felt so proud of myself. I felt like a descendant of the old 'Melysa', feeling more confident in myself. After walking home that night, I made my decision. I'm going to studying on theater in college. The feeling in my gut, the happiness and interest that I have in theater continues to grow. To this day, I am still apart of Remix, now as Stage Manager in Richard III.

Theater became part of me. It has opened many doors to me, and encouraged me to study playwriting and directing. It also opens even more doors for me, academically. Epic Theater Ensemble is not only a company to allow high schoolers to try writing their own versions of old plays, but it also helps juniors and seniors look for the college of their dreams; it makes us take the driver's seat, control our own lives at this point because we're going to have to do that once we get that high school diploma. Once that happens, you're on your own. And that is something I can't wait for. I couldn't thank my director enough for shining this opportunity for me when I was a freshman, and giving me the chance to be part of the Remix in sophomore year. Now that I am a senior, I can't wait to graduate and take theater classes and expand my interests more in the next four years. The driver's seat is very warm, but it's slowly getting cold, waiting for the next person to take the wheel.