Ever since I was 5 years old, and my family discovered that my flair for drama could be channeled into a whole new world of costumes, sets, stories, and peers equally as dramatic, the theater has been my second home. My parents always encouraged me and my sister to pursue all things creative, which meant ballet for her and the theater for me. It never mattered which establishment, just so long as I could find a script and stage, I knew I would be set for hours on end.

Growing up in acting meant finding a home in whatever world you were bringing to life at the time. When I was 7, my second home was a production of Sleepy Hollow, and I found myself rushing through the school day so that after school I could fully immerse myself in the Legend of the Headless Horseman. Theater gave me the opportunity to fully explore new worlds, characters, and personalities, and gave me a safe and welcoming place to do so. When I played the Dormouse, my second home was Wonderland, and I spent the school days doodling in my notebooks all about Alice’s adventures.

The theater is not a permanent place to me, but a concept. As the sets and stories changed, I found refuge in reading and performing them all the same. My theater was the same building, but the lessons learned and the people I learned them with would change every few months. As I became more confident on the stage, I became more willing to be creative in other aspects of my life. Each role that I took on unlocked a different aspect of my personality, taught me something new, and gave me a space to grow.

My home was always the place where I could practice my lines with my mom, my sister could do my makeup before a show, and my dad would bring me after a long tech week rehearsal where I would fall asleep in the car on the way. The walls of a theater have had many kids and teenagers go through them, as well as many parents who had to watch their 5-year-old stumble through a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Many of these students have found themselves, found understanding of others, found lifelong friendships, and found a passion in these walls, and many of them were only able to pursue this love of the arts because of their supporting cast, their family.

Wherever I may go in life, I can find a theater, and with that, I can find a home. This connection and bond that I have formed is lifelong and has taught me that a home doesn’t have to just be a house, it is wherever you feel the most welcomed, comfortable, and in my case, encouraged to be your true creative self. And when the curtain comes down after each show, my family is there to cheer me on.