Why Everybody Should Be A Diva

why everybody should be a diva

What do you think of when you hear the word diva?  Chances are you think of someone who is really stuck up, covered in expensive couture, and bossing people around.  The word “diva” has come to mean someone who is generally pretty dislikable, but still seems to get everything they want.

Hang on.  Here is the dictionary definition of what a diva is: a famous female singer of opera.  That’s it.

The term diva has evolved over time, and it is still evolving to this day.  It used to simply mean an accomplished singer, but I frequently hear it being used as an insult or descriptor word of somebody that is pretty high-maintenance.  But as the word has continued to evolve, I think the term diva has come to a completely different definition altogether.  I think the best and most relevant definition of a diva is a person who values their creativity, respects themselves as an individual, and draws attention to themselves because of their authenticity rather than their ego.

Some classic examples of modern divas would be Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Beyoncé (duh).  These people have achieved diva status not only because of their amazing talent but because they are truly one of a kind.  There are many other singers you may not be aware of who actually do sing opera, and sing it very well.  These people are first-class divas too.

This kind of diva sounds like someone I want to be.  In fact, I think anyone with a creative bone in their body should aspire to become their own brand of diva.  Since I aspire to be both a singer-diva and an overall-creative-diva, here are some steps I’m taking that may help you become a diva as well.

Divas don’t try to copy others, they love being themselves

Has anybody ever become successful by copying others?  No matter what field you are attempting to achieve diva status in, I’m sure you have people you look up to.  However, aspiring to be exactly like these people isn’t your key to success.  I think it’s wonderful that there are so many incredible people that feed my inspiration, but if I’m ever going to be that kind of inspiration for anyone else, I must be totally confident in being myself.

They look fierce all the time

Of course, it is natural to assume that divas “look the part” all the time, but that is not necessarily true.  Real divas own whatever they are wearing because they don’t get their confidence from the clothes they wear or how their makeup looks.  Divas wear whatever they like, even if it doesn’t conform to current trends.  In modern terms, these divas are called trendsetters.

Divas value their own creativity

One of the biggest mistakes an artist can make is selling themselves short.  It’s easy to compare yourself to others and see that you haven’t accomplished as much, but give yourself credit where it is due!  I am so guilty of undermining my success, but it is something I am working on improving.  Every diva knows that what she creates is worth her time and a success in itself.  So don’t sell yourself short!

Every diva knows that what she creates is worth her time and a success in itself. Click To Tweet

They may have fear, but they don’t let it stop them

Obviously, you can’t be a diva if you are constantly checking for approval from others.  No one can truly escape fear, but that doesn’t mean you should let it control you.  Any good diva will look fear in the eye and move on with her life.

Divas lift up themselves by lifting up others

One of the problems I have with the popular definition of a diva is that it seems to imply that divas don’t care about other people’s work, or will even slam the work of others to build herself up.  Divas are of course honest all the time, so when she sees something she likes, she will, of course, say something!  Take every opportunity to praise other divas; they will surely return the favor.  True divas are not threatened by the success of others.

True divas are not threatened by the success of others. Click To Tweet

They don’t need the approval of others to be happy

Divas sing or act or write or paint or do whatever because they love it.  Of course, it’s always nice to have the approval of others at hand, but take it or leave it because you should only be trying to make yourself happy.  If your work can make others happy, great!  But your work doesn’t need the approval of others to survive.

Divas graciously accept compliments and critique

Do you ever find it hard to accept compliments?  I know I do.  Sometimes all you need to say is a simple and sincere “thank you” and leave it at that.  When people compliment you, it’s because you earned it.  So like I said before, don’t sell yourself short and simply accept the good that others see in you.  Likewise, critique can be equally hard to accept, but the same procedure applies.  Whether or not you agree with the critique, smile and say thank you.  It’s the least you can do, and it may help you improve yourself.

While I am still aspiring to become a singer-diva, I am taking these steps so that I can become a diva in all areas of my life.  I believe that divas are a powerhouse of confidence, which they exude in all areas of their life.  In fact, I’m sure we all know plenty of divas in our own lives that are pretty fierce!  It might be your mom, or your best friend, or one of the upperclassmen at your school.  Either way, I believe we all have the power to be a diva.

Oh, and I also think guys can be divas too. 🙂

So, what do you think of this?  Do you like this new-and-improved definition of a diva?  Let me know in the comments what you think about aspiring to become a diva or some divas that you might look up to! 🙂

Adventure in New York City: Spring Break Trip!

adventure in new york city: spring break trip!

It seems like nearly everyone I know went somewhere incredible for spring break this year, so why should my trip to New York City stick out amongst the other amazing travels that you and I are hearing about?  Because this trip was truly more than the sum of its parts.  This trip changed me, and I totally wasn’t expecting it.  I really got to know the city for the short time I was there, and I know I will be returning as soon as I can!  The culture, the food, the people, and the theatres made my trip so special.  I’m not saying everything was perfect, in fact I hated some of it, but it felt like I was meeting an old friend again.  Does that make any sense?

Oh where to begin?  This was a trip that I took with the Theatre Department here at MSU Mankato, so most of my closest friends from school were with me.  We had been looking forward to this trip for months.  When I was first dropped off in the city, me and my classmates just wandered around like lost puppies for a while, looking for cheap food.  I was kind of overwhelmed.  I had been to New York before in high school, but never let off the leash to explore on my own.  It was kind of a deer-in-the-headlights feeling for the first couple of hours.

Throughout the next several days I got to experience this amazing city.  Some of the most memorable locations I went to were Central Park, The Met, Little Italy, Chinatown, and Coney Island (even though the park was closed, the beach was wonderful!) and many other places.

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! central park

Did you know there is a castle in the middle of Central Park? And what an excellent view it has!

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! the met

I played Aphrodite in a show at my school. I couldn’t really see the resemblance in this statue of her at The Met.

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! coney island

Even though the amusement park at Coney Island was closed, the pier provided an excellent view!

Well, obviously this is all great, but the real highlight for any Theatre Major going to New York City are the shows!  I saw four Broadway shows while I was in the city, and each of them were phenomenal.  Not to mention, they all taught me something about myself, or about theatre, or about life in general.

Show #1: Chicago

The Ambassador theatre was actually a lot smaller than I thought a typical “Broadway” theatre would be.  The whole atmosphere of the show was pretty intimate, mostly because of the interpretive nature of the show.  Not only was the orchestra on stage, the orchestra was the scenery!  I had never seen any version of Chicago before and I loved it!

Show #2: Something Rotten!

You guys, this is a show that everybody should see!  I’m not kidding.  In the middle of watching this show I was wishing that my family was able to see it, and there is something to be said for wanting to experience something amazing with those you love.  Something Rotten! incorporates everything that is significant about musicals, and by that I mean that there is a lot of tap dancing!  The energy that goes into these big dance numbers is unreal, not to mention, it’s a hilarious show!

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! something rotten

 

After the amazing performance of Something Rotten! a group of us decided to wait at the stage door to meet the actors.  I thought I would hate doing this, I guess that’s just my personality, but I loved it!  But the most exciting moment at the stage door was the interaction me and my classmates had with André Ward; an ensemble member with quite the impressive Broadway resume.  He took one look at the group of us and said “You guys are actors, aren’t you?”  We were all shocked!  “Oh I can tell an actor from a mile away!” he said.  I was completely dumbfounded that this seasoned Broadway actor was able to pick out the collegiate actors from the rest of the crowd.  This was an especially encouraging moment for me, and I began to have a better understanding of how special the theatre community was.  I also felt like this was Mr. Ward’s way of accepting us as fellow artists.

Show #3: The Phantom of the Opera

The day I went to see Phantom I woke up with the excitement consuming my brain!  If you know anything about me, you know that this is my favorite musical of all time, and I was about to see it live for the first time!  The anticipation consumed my thoughts throughout the entire day, and I’m pretty sure my friends were both amused and annoyed.

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! the phantom of the opera

Omigosh, I fangirled so hard.

However this was the only show I saw that I didn’t have really good seats for.  Actually, I kind of hated my seat.  I was in the way back of the orchestra.  It’s not that I was too far back, it was that the balcony was blocking my view of the top half of the proscenium, and I would have loved to have a full view of the majestic scenery, including the chandelier.  Bummer.  Not to mention, the people around me were talking during the performance!  Not only did I witness this myself, but my friends who were dispersed throughout the theatre all had to suffer through audience members talking during the show.  Please, please be respectful to the actors and other audience members whenever you go see a show!

Despite the sub-par experience at the theatre, the show itself was beautiful!  The Phantom, Christine, and especially Raoul (the Phantom Trinity) were unbelievable.  And I made a vow to myself that I will someday play Christine on that stage.  I promise that to you too!  You heard it here first folks!

Show #4: School of Rock

After my Hamilton tragedy, I felt the need to make it up to myself.  Luckily, one of my favorite actresses -Sierra Boggess- was performing in a show right down the street from our hotel!  Sierra Boggess has been a huge influence on my technique as a performer, but mostly she has been influential in shaping my character.  If you don’t know who she is, go check her out!  Her commitment to honesty and positivity is just as impressive as her theatrical successes.  So I decided to see the show she was in.

But School of Rock though!!!  This show blew my mind!  I have never been more pumped up during a show before, and it was so touching too!  I would recommend this show to anyone, and I daresay it was the highlight of my trip.  I also had a fantastic seat.  When Sierra came out for her first scene, I was about 20 feet away from her.  It was such a thrill!  But really though, all the actors were incredible, right down to the kids jamming out on their instruments.  Holy cow!

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! school of rock

My classmates and I were all touched by this show.  The message is incredible, and the theatrics are breathtaking!  Like I said, I highly recommend this show!

Oh yeah, I met Sierra Boggess.  I didn’t get to give her my 20 minute I-appreciate-you-and-you’re-amazing-and-can-we-be-best-friends speech, but hey, I guess that’s how it goes!

adventure in new york city: spring break trip! sierra boggess

QUEEN

This trip just affirmed what I am working towards while I am here at college.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud to be pursuing a degree for now, but I am sure I am moving to this city after I graduate!  I felt so welcomed by the very atmosphere of the city, and I must say it has been an adjustment coming back to school.  However, I now feel more refreshed, encouraged, and confident about myself because of this trip!  Farewell until next time NYC!

My Journey with Theatre

my journey with theatre

 

Theatre has been a passion of mine for nearly my whole life.

I started doing little church plays when I was in elementary school.  For an 8-year-old, this was the ultimate thrill.  That was really the beginning of this whole adventure, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

I was in my first full length musical when I was in 7th grade.  It was an adapted version of Disney’s Aladdin, and I was definitely the palest person on stage for a play set in the Middle East!  Thus began my love affair with community theatre.  I was involved in community theatre off-and-on throughout middle school and high school.

The last community theatre production I was in was Fiddler on the Roof.  I played Grandma Tzeitel and I have no idea how I got that role.  It was very against my type cast, (I was pretty nervous to play and old, dead, Jewish lady) but it was actually pretty fun!

my journey with theatre- grandma tzeitel, fiddler on the roof

That’s me.  This was fall of my senior year, when I was actually doing two musicals at the same time.  Community theatre and…

Enter high school theatre!  I was in the cast of all four fall musicals throughout high school, which was definitely an experience.  It’s amazing how much of a different perspective you have after some time has passed, but now I would definitely say Beauty and The Beast was actually really fun to be in, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  Because I know you’re curious, I played one of the Silly Girls.  You know, they’re those blonde bimbos that swoon over Gaston?  Yup, represent.  The thing that made this trio so fun was the other two bimbos I spent the whole show with.  One was my best friend of 10+ years, and the other was a super fun girl I got to be really good friends with throughout the show.  Suffice it to say, Susannah, Sage, and I were always in character.

my journey with theatre- silly girls, beauty and the beast

That’s me in the middle.  It sums me up so well.

When I graduated, I was glad to leave high school theatre behind.  I enjoyed high school theatre at first, but I despised it by the end.  My senior musical was The Wizard of Oz and I’ve vowed to never do that show again.  It was definitely the worst experience I’ve ever had in theatre, but somehow I was still compelled to make it my major.

my journey with theatre- tree, the wizard of oz

Look, I’m a tree!  Dream role of many senior students.  I particularly like the scarecrow in the background.  Such honesty.

To be honest, I got into the theatre game pretty late compared to many of my classmates.  I didn’t start thinking seriously about a career in theatre until my junior year of high school.  My junior year was also the year I started serious vocal training and my love of dance.  So yeah, pretty late in the game comparatively.  Luckily, performing in musicals was something I had been doing for years, so I had a pretty solid basis of how the whole thing worked.

The real trigger that launched me into the world of musical theatre was the 25 Anniversary Performance of The Phantom of the Opera.  It was all downhill from there.  To this date, it is still my favorite show of all time, and playing Christine is my number one dream role.

my journey with theatre- the phantom of the opera

College theatre is a completely different story.

Focusing your energy on performing arts full-time is a surefire way to see improvements in your performances.  Not to mention the constant constructive criticism from your professors, and the competitive atmosphere with your classmates; you improve your skills fast.  It’s hard too!  But honestly, I can’t imagine majoring in anything else.

my journey with theatre- zeusical

(Costumes by Jaclyn Britz, Set by Jake Sullivan)

This was a show that I was in that was for freshman only.  Our reward for doing the show was a trip to NYC. 🙂

Accepting that I was going to major in theatre was a process for me and those who know me.  At first, my parents and I wanted me to have a second major along with theatre, but that idea has long been scratched.  After that, I had several people approach me wondering what I was going to do to make money.  It was obvious that they thought majoring in theatre was a fruitless investment.  Another common question I keep getting is “what do you plan to do with that degree?” which is just a more polite way of asking the same thing.  Even my academic advisor asked me what my backup plan was.

Throughout all of this I’ve realized that most people just simply aren’t educated about what goes into majoring in theatre.  The truth is that if you go to a good school and work hard, you will succeed in theatre.  I get the impression that people are generally unaware of the multitude of prospects available for those who are skilled in theatre.  It really is a huge industry, and I have no intention of being a starving artist, therefore I work very hard.

I try to be patient with these uneducated people, but I know that the success me and my classmates achieve will be a testament to the life of a theatre major.  In all honesty, the major you pick is only as good as what you do with it, therefore, there isn’t really one major that’s harder or easier than the other.

Anyway, I love theatre and I am so lucky that I get to be so involved with all aspects of theatre.  And I know my journey with theatre isn’t over.

To be continued…

Show Choir Competition or Indoor Carnival?

In high school I lived for show choir.  Competition season was the busiest, most exhausting, most fun time of the year.  Well, it is that time of year again, and I am not donning any glamorous dresses, 3-inch stilettos, or ridiculous curlers.  I have to admit, there is a hole in my heart from no longer partaking in something that was such an influential part of my life.  I still have tons of friends in high school who are involved in show choir, and I just know they are having a blast.  I wish I could be with them.

However, this weekend I got to attend a show choir competition!  You see, my family is still very involved in the world of show choir on account of my brother being a new member this year and my mother serving as the co-chair of the show choir organization in my hometown.  At the competition I got to see my family, high school friends, and even other alumni who came out to support the team.  I must say, our show choir crushed it!

show choir

I mean, look at that.  Doesn’t that look like an epic performance?!  I have never experienced anything quite like the energy that generates from show choir.  It has all the excitement of a rock concert and the competitive atmosphere of a sports tournament.  Not to mention everything that goes on outside the performances.  At any given show choir competition you will see a spectacle of people either in spirit-wear to support their teams or full-out dressed up.  Most of the class rooms in the host school are decked-out in the theme of the visiting show choirs.  People are constantly parading down the hallways in performance-ready costumes.

There is always an array of merchandise available to commemorate the event.  I’m talking t-shirts, sweatshirts, bracelets, bandanas… I even saw full length footie-pajamas this weekend!  This competition also had it’s fair share of vendors.  There are always some massive lollipops that show up every year, as well as smoothies, gelato, and mini fried donuts.  The most interesting vendor I saw this weekend was a hand-painted custom shoe company that was actually based out of my hometown.  You could buy shoes from them or they could paint little scenes on shoes you already owned.  With such amazing things like this for sale, it’s easy to compare show choir competitions to an extension of an indoor carnival!

I was telling people all day that it might as well be Christmas for me, I was so excited!  What could be better than a day filled with friends, family, singing, dancing, great food, and crazy costumes?  I truly enjoyed everything about being in show choir, but the competitions were always my favorite part.  I was so grateful to relive that experience for a day, but honestly, it wasn’t the same as being a performing competitor.  Still, I am very happy to be a supporter and honored alumni.  If you have the opportunity to go to a show choir competition, do it!  Even if you know nothing about show choir, you will surely enjoy yourself and maybe learn a thing or two.  Just one thing to remember: Cheer loud!