Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stuck in Second Gear: When the Big Break Just Isn't Happening

Three months ago, something that was supposed to be life-changing happened. December 9th was a day I had marked on my calendar since June last year, and I was so ecstatic when it finally arrived. I purchased a new dress, straightened my hair, and even dreamed about this day.

Why? Because it was the day of my Next to Normal audition. I was auditioning for the role of the teenage daughter, Natalie; it was a role I have dreamed of since I started performing, and now it was my chance to finally play her, a girl whom I can relate to better than most of the girls who auditioned.

By reading the title, I know that it's pretty clear to you that I didn't get in to the show. In fact, I never even got a callback. I felt several emotions at first-- surprise, confusion, sadness, anger, and disappointment. I was surprised that I didn't get in; I nailed my audition piece, received lots of applause, and 'good jobs' from other performers. I got to hear the other performers, and while many were very good, some weren't that amazing, and many performers didn't even follow directions (who doesn't bring sheet music to a musical audition, really?). So why did I not get the callback? It seemed clear at the time that I would, but I didn't.

Then, I felt confusion. What did I do wrong? Did they hear my mistakes? Do I not have enough shows on my resume? Did they not like my song choice? Did I just not look the part?

This led to sadness. I worked for six months to get a role that they cut me off from on the very first day. I wrote character studies to ensure I understood the character. I took vocal lessons. I listened to the entire cast recording (which wasn't very hard, but...). I went through all of this crap just to be noticed, and they had already decided they didn't want me in the production after one minute.

The strongest feeling was anger, especially because I felt (and still feel) that the auditions were not taken seriously nor fairly. If you forget to bring sheet music to an audition, that's your fault. There is no excuse to not bring music of some sort with you-- it is common sense among any performer. So, how come a girl who didn't come prepared at all received a callback, but someone who rehearsed for six months wasn't given the time of day? How come a woman who exceeded her time limit got a callback, but a girl who followed every direction was overlooked? How come every girl who was called back was a short white girl? It didn't seem fair. It seemed like any and every thing that could have gone against me, well, did.

Lastly, I was disappointed. I worked so hard, and now it's over. It's very discouraging knowing that the producers have their minds made up whether they want you or not sometimes before you sing the first note. And I had to accept that I tried my hardest, and it just wasn't good enough.

I am not the only person who has felt this way. Almost anyone can relate to a time they felt cheated out of something they wanted, or they just couldn't bring their A game to the table. Maybe you're a journalist whose story is never published. Maybe you're the singer stuck in the chorus. The secretary who wants to be the boss. The athlete who is always in second place. Well, I've been in similar situations, and I understand how it feels. Everyone else is moving up in this world; when will my big break come?

Out of the depression and bitterness that comes with being the little guy, I have found some joy, and I know you can, too.

When I was a sophomore in high school last year, I had a clear plan: become the class representative for Student Government, and the next year, become the secretary. There was no reason (in my opinion at the time) that I shouldn't have been chosen-- my 3rd quarter transcript showcased a perfect GPA, I wrote a decent essay about why I should be chosen, I was on good terms with most (and I must emphasize the word "most"... there was a group of kids who laughed at me when I was campaigning... whatever, none of them have put much effort into their post-HS careers. Besides, this is the same group that laughed when I ran for homecoming court, and I won that) of my classmates, and I even gave them candy. I even made the mistake of assuming I was the leading candidate.

But, in the end, popularity is what won the election, and I am definitely not the most popular person in the grade. I totally skipped over the sadness stage; I was just mad. Like, who was voting for this? What were they thinking? I had more impressive credentials than many of the candidates, so what happened?

Now, I can think about it with a much clearer mindset. While I still think I would have been a good pick for the position, those elected have done pretty well so far. If it wasn't me, I'm glad it was them. And, things started to work out for me, too.

Early this year I joined my school's chapter of the Key Club and helped organize a few events to raise money for charity (our last fundraiser will allow us to donate blankets to a crisis maternity center). Then, in December I was inducted into the National Honor Society. Now that we're nearing the end of the school year (can you believe it?), elections have come around. So, I gave it another shot... twice.

For Key Club, I won because I had no opposition. For NHS, I beat out my opponent. This means that not only am I an officer in one club, but I am the secretary for two different clubs. And I feel truly blessed.

Around this time last year, I was upset because no one took me seriously. And now, I have more than I could have possibly ever wanted! I'm still waiting for the day my performance career takes off, but I'm well on my way with journalism. So, my advice?

Stay tuned. The best has yet to come.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Big Hero 6: My Review

If you're anyone who's not living under a rock, you've probably heard of the latest Disney classic, Big Hero 6. It came out in theaters in November at the end of 2014, and has finally been released on DVD and Blu-Ray as of February 24. I was one of the many who went out and rented (and the next day, purchased) it, and let me tell you that I was not disappointed.

There was so much I liked about this movie, so I don't even know where to begin. I guess I can start with what my thoughts were while I watched. The following texts are posts from when I live blogged on my Tumblr.

"After a week of searching for the DVD, I am finally about to watch Big Hero 6 for the first time. Should I prepare a box of tissues?" (Note: I should have, but no one warned me)


"I imagined Tadashi’s voice to be higher-pitched, but he’s still friggin’ hot…"

"Hiro’s demonstration was so cool, I almost like physics or chemistry or whatever it is…"


"Baymax is so cute I could just squeeze all the air out of him so much he’d spend ten minute tryna re-inflate"

"Hairy baaaaabbbbyyyyy"

"Can GoGo have her own TV show where she just drives cars and rides bikes around the city and runs people over and stuff?"

"I wish Honey Lemon and Fred could be my best friends."

"Well dang"

"Did they have to show those Tadashi videos tho" (This is when those tissues would have come in handy...)

"Honey Lemon reminds me of Rapunzel or Starfire or I dunno but I still wish she could be real"

"Well dang this is emotional and all but HURRY UP HIRO"

"Well, that was a cute movie. And the Fall Out Boy end credits ain’t too shabby, either."

And about those Fall Out Boy end credits...

Yeah. I did have some complaints, but I was able to skate over them, because the movie was just plain awesome.

So, where should I begin?

Let's begin with the animation. The very first scenes are a view of the fictional (but should totally be real) city of San Fransokyo at night, and man, is it beautiful. The bot fights looked pretty sick, too (don't worry, it's just an expression). And this is all before the beautiful Tadashi Hamada graces us with his presence. 

The voice acting makes it even better. Tadashi's voice is heavenly, Hiro's voice is heavenly, and Maya-freaking-Rudolph is the voice of Aunt Cass. The rest of the cast, including Jamie Chung and Genesis Rodriguez, is amazing as well, and all of their voices fit their characters very well. I love how it wasn't a celebrity-led cast-- yeah, Maya Rudolph is pretty famous, but I liked hearing some underrated talents.

The characters were so diverse. On the main team, there is an Asian, a biracial Asian/white character, a black guy, and two white people. I was impressed because not only is this one of the few times Disney has had an Asian protagonist, but that protagonist is mixed! Biracials are highly misrepresented in media, so I'm glad Hiro and Tadashi are biracial.

Not only are the characters diverse in design, but they are also diverse in personality. Wasabi's the neat freak, GoGo is not one for small talk, Hiro is the prodigy, Honey Lemon is a total girly girl, and Fred provides the comic relief (and occasionally says something smart). And of course, Baymax is the huggable one. This made the crew very well-rounded and entertaining the whole way through.

Science can be so cool! I don't really like math or science, but I really enjoyed what I saw in this movie. I really hope that a little kid watches it and thinks, "wow. That's what I want to do someday. I want to go to college. I want to be an engineer. I want to change the world somehow."

F-E-M-I-N-I-S-M. I absolutely adore Honey Lemon. All of the characters are ones I'd befriend in a heartbeat, but if I had to pick a homegirl, it'd be Honey Lemon. Not necessarily because I have a low B in Chemistry right now and really need a tutor, but because she's so friendly and sweet. I especially love that she's super feminine (and even GoGo, while a "tough girl," is fairly feminine) and loves to wear makeup, high heels, cute clothes, put her hair up in cute buns, and wear cute gadgets (with at least something pink in it). It's even lightly (just lightly) implied that she could have had at least a slight crush on Tadashi, in my opinion. Their only exchanges were "TADASHI!" and him commenting on her experiment, but I still ship it. Point is, yeah she's stereotypically feminine, but don't mistake that for weakness! Women, even if they aren't like GoGo, can still kick some major booty. And she and GoGo are women in STEM-- a huge minority.

Also, I gotta give GoGo's "woman up" quote some credit. Just because.

The comedy was actually... funny. I hate to hate on Frozen, but I'mma have to. Unpopular opinion here: I can't stand Olaf. He annoys the living crap out of me. Everything about his character seemed so forced, and I didn't find him funny at all. I literally cringed every time he spoke. Not because of his voice actor, but because the writing for his character just wasn't funny to me. But, the comedy in Big Hero 6 was golden! I didn't think I was going to like this movie when I saw the preview at Maleficent, partially because I thought Baymax was going to be treated like Olaf-- dry comic relief with one or two touching moments every now and then. But it was the complete opposite-- Baymax was a touching character, with some giggles every now and then. 

The comic relief that did it for me was Fred. He kinda seemed like a stoner to me... or just someone really dumb with bad hygiene ("one pair of underwear will last me four days. I go front, I go back, I go inside out, then front and back"). But, everything about him screams "crazy college kid who needs to be accompanied by his parents," even if he isn't really a student at SFIT. Just... the things he says are totally hilarious, because they're things any 20-something guy would say! The way he interacts with the team members is hilarious, too-- the way he gets on Gogo's nerves, how he annoys Wasabi when he makes his own theme music, his and Honey Lemon's commentary during the car chase-- it was just brilliant and utterly entertaining. And, obviously Baymax brings comic relief to the table as well, but he's more huggable than anything. 

The villain had a good motive. I'll leave room for you to find out who he or she is on your own, but I'll have you know that they had an interesting motive. And, even after that, he/she refuses to take responsibility for a certain character's death, saying it wasn't their fault. I think that is their way of defending their self against their emotions, because they know they are responsible and they could never live with accepting that, so they just don't. All I promise is that when you find out why the villain is being the villain, you won't completely hate them.

Three words for you: Fall. Out. Boy. I really like Fall Out Boy, and "Immortals" is kind of my favorite song at the moment, so I think it was a good pick for the movie.

Three more words: Buy. This. Movie. Believe me, you won't regret it. Just go and buy it. And then you can watch it over... and over... and over again. For best results, watch with a pizza, some garlic butter, and a box of tissues. Because you WILL cry... but you'll enjoy it.