I'm Julia! I'm a 25-year-old actress, splitting my time between Washington DC and rural Maryland in my hometown of Poolesville, where my relationship with performance grew up alongside me, ever-present. Like a parasitic childhood best friend, it was both the best and the most dangerous part of my upbringing.
As a child - self-centered, as all children are - my love was expressed in ballet recitals. My father will be quick to conjure a memory of me at this time when, upon hearing the applause meant for the entire company, my glossy-eyed 3-year-old self ran to the front of the stage and took my own, much deserved bow. There is footage, and it is adorable. (And eye-roll inducing.)
I graduated to theatre upon entering my middle school drama club, where I approached my experience like an alpha male reading Sun Tzu. I took everything waaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously. I had a motherfucking game plan. I actually think I considered reading Sun Tzu at one point. It became my life, my identity, and every step I took was to achieve a goal, and that goal was to be “that bitch.” Head Honcho of the Poolesville High School drama department. I realize it says a lot about me to admit that my drive, the fire that fueled me, was to be Queen of the Theatre Nerds, but hey, it’s my statement! I write what I want!
To Adult Julia’s frustration, I was very successful in whittling my identity down to a sharp point and using it to stake myself stubbornly in one place. Yes, I’m thankful I discovered my love of performance early, because it’s now my work and still my passion. But it’s an undisputed fact that the best artists are well-rounded, able to pursue multiple avenues, find pleasure in the human experience, and aren’t batshit crazy like me. That last part might be a matter of opinion, but you know what I mean.
Suddenly everything came to a screeching halt in college. I, like many an 18-year-old drama kid before me, assumed that since I was the big cheese in high school, that I’d come and conquer this new theatre department with ease. Needless to say this absolutely did not happen. I struggled to book even the student-run miscast Disney cabaret performed in the empty food court. (It was an enlightening time. Very high-brow stuff.)
I found myself at a creative loss for the first time. Suddenly adrift in this world that wasn’t so easily mastered, I was forced to focus on my studies, pick monologues, listen to new works, lock myself away in the practice rooms, et cetera, and the entire process scared the crap out of me. For the first time in my life I was surrounded by real performers who had something to say, and I found myself voiceless, almost apathetic. The real problem was this: I had spent my life to that point in search of the status symbol of being an actor, and had neglected the far more important work of discovering who I am as an artist. There had hardly been any creativity in my life thus far, just pursuit of identity. And suddenly the way I had identified myself didn’t make me special anymore. I'm not proud of who I was during this time. One of the saddest days of my life was when, in a class called Business of Acting, I was asked to list three things that define me, that describe my brand, and I had absolutely no idea what to say. Forget about writing an entire artist statement.
The great thing about your sense of self crumbling into a teeny little pile of dust, though, is that you become a blank slate!
Almost like a child again, I was free to discover who I actually am, and the kind of work I actually want to create. I’m happy to say that I’ve only just begun the journey of meeting myself, and I’m thrilled with the girl, the woman, I’m meeting so far.
I love non-fiction. I love cooking, and am taking culinary classes. I’m learning German, because I want to travel, and because my Omi was a German immigrant and learning the language of her home makes me feel close to her. I'm spending a lot of time with my parents as they get older. I’m rediscovering my talent for writing that I had in my childhood. I’m learning what I believe in, and what I value. I’m learning to stand my ground. I’m rekindling a desire to create visual art. I love to hike, and camp, and kayak. I love 70’s soft rock. I’m funny. (I’m hilarious, or haven’t you been reading this goddamn novel of an artist statement about my shortcomings?) I love the smell of early fall, of damp earth, of linen, of ozone. I'm honestly pretty weird. And this new zest for life I’m free to explore informs my work as an artist.
I want to be a part of tactile, WEIRD, visceral work. I want to create an experience for an audience member that appeals to the senses - the cold, the hellish, the fragrant, the flesh, the steam, the bubbles, the soft, the sweat, the warm, the bright, the green, the electric, the salty. I want to inspire feelings we normally repress, like jealousy, lust, extreme rage. I want to toe the line into discomfort, learn how to cross a boundary and raise questions and risk going just a little too far. I want to create outrageous experiences you remember for life. Any thing that evokes a sense of being alive, reminding ourselves how beautiful and fucked we are, I want to be a part of. I’m thankful I’m a living, breathing person, and I’m just scratching the surface of this beautiful life I’ve been given. I’d like to give the same to every audience I come in touch with.
I like to think the 3-year-old Julia who stole a bow all those years ago would be proud of who she’s becoming. Though she probably isn't paying attention, because she tripped and fell as she was trying to exit the stage. I'm also quite clumsy.