When Mason (now age 13) was just a wee little guy around the age of 5 (around the time the picture to the right was taken), he told us he wanted to be an actor. And, in probably one of my not-so-great parenting moments, I hemmed and hawed, and tried to get him interested in other things. He has drop-dead-gorgeous blue eyes and people have told us over the years he should be a model or actor. “Put that kid in commercials!” was something we heard often. He was quick witted, expressive, outgoing, and a real goofball, constantly keeping everyone in stitches.
But, to be completely honest with all of you, I’ve never been keen on parents who get their kids into show business. Could the money be great for his future? Sure. But, shouldn’t kids be allowed to be kids? To have a “normal” childhood?
Perhaps most powerful in my mind back then were all the news stories about young actors being strung out on drugs, being taken advantage of by their handlers, and worse. Yeah, I’m very over-protective. Yeah, I’m very paranoid. I’ve fielded more than my share of criticism from friends and family members concerning my over-protectiveness over the years.
Last August, on a whim, Mason (now 13) decided to audition for our church’s Christmas musical. It wasn’t your standard small-town Christmas church play. It was a very professional production with high-tech lighting, audio, professional choreography, period costumes – the works. Those who had solos were recorded for later lip-syncing in case anyone caught the flu (lost their voice) before the performance.
Mason is our quietest kiddo. He was a rambunctious toddler but, over the years, he’s mellowed. He is now content sits back and observe life, rarely bringing attention to himself. Furthermore, he’s never been very interested in playing with other kids, preferring to read a good book, play with his Legos and trains by himself, or play video games. He’s homeschooled but we’ve had him involved in homeschooling groups over the years so he’s had plenty of socialization opportunities. We would find a new friend for him, they’d play a couple of times, and then Mason wouldn’t want to play with him or her anymore. He would say, “Other kids annoy me.” A typical day with Mason now involves us getting up to check on him several times because he’s so darned quiet!
So, when Mason got up on stage to audition last summer, in front of LOTS of people, and sang a song a capella (“Take on Me” by A-ha), and then read lines loudly and clearly, projecting his voice in a perfect British accent while gesturing animatedly with his hands (he’d NEVER acted before), I sat there in the crowd, wide-eyed, mouth agape, and saying to myself, “Who ARE you?!?!”
He never missed a rehearsal and he was fantastic in the play! I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. Even strangers approached us afterward saying he was amazing. He got four parts in the musical and, while on stage, he was the happiest I’ve ever seen him. He was able to instantaneously and humorously ad lib when the situation warranted (i.e. another actor taking too long to change costumes) and he got along great with all the other actors and set crew. There were lots of kids in the production and he never once complained about any of them being “annoying.” The director (who previously owned a production company in California) pulled me aside one day and said, “Your kid is going places. You need to get him into acting.”
I realized then that I had to look at my over-protective self in the mirror, push my fears aside, and let Mason be Mason. Of course, I comforted myself by saying, “It’s local theater so, really, how dangerous can it be?”
That evening, I signed Mason up at a local acting school. He has since auditioned for the part of “Rooster” in a local production of Annie. He wanted to play “the bad guy.” I thought they’d give the major parts to kids who have been involved in the local theater scene for a long time but…nope. Mason got the role! Last weekend, he auditioned for a production featuring Broadway tunes from musicals that were made into movies (Little Shop of Horrors, The Wiz, Hairspray, and others). We had to create two video auditions – one for dialogue and another for singing. And, we learned last night that Mason got solo parts in three of the songs! He is over the moon!!! 🙂
Mason is going to be a VERY busy boy through May! Rehearsals for both productions are Thursday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. He has guitar lessons with me every Monday (and a recital in April), youth group on Wednesdays, church on Sundays, and math tutoring every Monday and Thursday. (SHWEW!!) Of course, he also has his daily homeschooling lessons. And, he’s getting private voice lessons for his singing. They DO have experience with boys whose voices are changing. Yes, I checked. Oh, and he has to learn how to dance. I will not be any help to him in that regard. When I dance, people move breakable items far out of my reach. Hopefully, the dancing gene simply skipped a generation.
Needless to say, we are sooooo excited about Mason’s future! But, I can’t help but wonder how things would have been different if I’d let Mason get into acting years ago when he first wanted to. I’m feeling quite some pretty significant maternal guilt about that right now. 🙁
For now, I sincerely hope Mason will be content to stick with local theater. If he heads to Hollywood, I’m going to need anxiety medication…
- Local Restaurant Poisons Actors an Hour Before Their Final Performance
- The Fire Department Comes for a Surprise Visit!
- The EXACT Moment I Knew I Wanted to Be a Writer…
- First Guitar Lesson Injury!
- “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” (Mason pulls a funny stunt on his dad!)
Angela Hoy lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
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