JUILLIARD DRAMA 50TH ANNIVERSARY
This weekend was a generous reminder of journeys, tradition, belonging and love for the work. One of the things that were said by one of the playwrights who spoke during the evening celebration at the Sharp, and some of the alumni who were interviewed in the video presentations: (paraphrased) that we were all invited to be a part of this community because we already ARE the kind of actors, playwrights, artists that we needed to be. This made me reflect upon my motivations as I continue in the training. That I’m not here so that I can learn how to be a white person by talking, speaking, walking, thinking like a white person or any kind of artist that fits into a narrow mold. I’m here because the people who have invited me in have seen that I have a Self that is large that is worth magnifying even more. That my strength lies not in me belonging to a specific mold but in my multiplicity, complexity and simultaneity. That what I am doing here is not to change my Self but to acquire tools so that I have the technique to support my Self that is already large.
I also want to take time to reflect upon the people of color, especially the other Asians and Filipinos who came before me in the Juilliard Drama Division. I may be the first Filipino to be accepted into the MFA program of Juilliard Drama since its inception in 2012, but there are a few other Filipinos who had been accepted into the BFA program of the school before I have been. The first one being Ana Valdes-Lim (Group 13) whose picture is above with Alexander Technique teacher Judy Leibowitz. I do want to recognize that I am standing on the shoulders of the people of color who have come before me and I am grateful to them for braving the four years of training even when there are so few people with similar backgrounds to them in the community.
I am acutely aware of how hard it is for people who are outside the United States to come to this school. As of now there are only 8 international students in the entire Juilliard Drama student community and only two of those are from South Asia.
As the Juilliard Drama Division continues to navigate its way and find its new identity in making space for other people's narratives, I feel like it is our responsibility as an institution to create more opportunities for people who are outside of the United States to come and train in this school. And once they are in, to be responsible for creating the conditions for their own voices and narratives to be seen, heard and sharpened.
I am a Filipino actress alternating between New York and Manila. I received my acting training at The Juilliard School. Take a look around!