FROM AMSTERDAM TO NEW AMSTERDAM
In the fall of 2009, I moved to New York City from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to study acting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I had been active in youth theatre since I was six years old; by the time I turned twelve my mind was set on studying acting in the US or the UK. From my early teens up until the week I left for NYC, I took up on acting and private singing lessons with some of Holland's greatest coaches.
BACKPACKING BEFORE CALL-BACKS
But I didn't head for the Big Apple straight after graduating high school. I wanted to spend some time on my own traveling the world before taking a stab at getting into drama school. So I took off to Singapore a week after my high school commencement. My trip to Singapore led to a thorough backpacking exploration of South East Asia, traveling through Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lombok. I left Indonesia and continued on to Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). I ended up returning to Amsterdam almost a year after I had taken off.
I was home for barely three months before I got a travel itch again. Since I had six months left before my drama school auditions came knocking, I left for London, United Kingdom, for half a year to study English at a Cambridge University affiliated international school. Living in a worldly city like London was just as mind-expanding as my entire trip through Asia had been, but this time I stayed put in one place and I was lucky enough to live with a friend in Notting Hill. My daily walk through Portobello Road was just as exhilarating to me as strutting down Kao San Road in Bangkok.
THE AUDITION GRIND
Returning to Amsterdam, I applied to multiple drama schools in London and New York City. After six months of initial auditions, call back auditions and lots of flying back and forth, I reached final call backs at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, The Guildford School of Drama and The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) in London and The Juilliard School of Drama in New York City. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) offered me a place in their program. My NYC journey had taken off.
ACTING TRAINING IN NEW YORK CITY
My time at AADA was a crash course in getting to know myself as an actor, as a collaborative artist and as a human being. My body, mind and creativity got stirred and were woken up by some of the most dedicated and inspiring industry people that I had ever met. I got to familiarize myself with many acting methods, explored the power of my body and voice and their importance in building a character and I learned how much historical, literary, social and psychological research is required in order to fully immerse myself into the world of a play.
The part of my training that I probably enjoyed the most was when I got to learn about my character during rehearsals and whilst doing my own research. Asking myself questions about my character's life, like the given and past circumstances, their desires and drives and relationships with other people, was what created authentic colors to whatever character I was working on, unique to my personality and my interpretation of the play. Learning about a period of time in history, researching a psychological disorder or studying a social setting during a particular (political) shift in society sparked an interest in the humanities and literature in me. So even before I had graduated AADA, I knew I wanted to continue my studies and complete my Bachelors Degree at a liberal arts college to study social sciences, art and literature and, of course, theatre.
AN INTEREST TURNED INTO A TRIPLE DEGREE
The first college I wanted to attend for this purpose was Columbia University's liberal arts college, their School of General Studies. Which, after many essays, tests and interviews, offered me a place at their program. I was beyond thrilled! But Columbia wasn't meant to be. Despite enormous efforts, I wasn't able to find the financial means to afford schooling at the prestigious Ivy League University.
After some research I came to learn that Hunter College offered an elaborate Theatre program and maintained one of the country's most intensive liberal arts curriculums. This was just what I had been looking for! I enrolled as a Theatre major, not knowing that my Set Design and Play Analysis classes would alter my entire outlook on the craft of acting and theatre itself. The exploration of a play from a designer's point of view inspired me to reshape my approach to acting from a completely different angle and added a new layer of depth to my work. The questions a set, costume and lighting designer ask to bring to life the world of a play are now questions that I ask myself when studying a play, preparing for a role. My Play Analysis class taught me how to carefully pick apart a play and its psychology, and this changed the way I now interpret dramatic texts and dialogue.
During my second semester I got invited to join the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, taking on a Liberal Arts major that had me reading and writing at great lengths, something that I enormously enjoyed doing. Wrapping my mind around the great works of Tolstoy, Brontë, Lawrence, Dostoevsky and Woolf - to name a few - resulted in finding myself inspired wanting to write a whole lot more. It didn't take long before I took on Creative Writing as well.
TAKING MY TRAINING INTO THE REAL WORLD
After graduating Hunter College Summa Cum Laude in January 2015, I assisted costume and set designer Louisa Thompson during the production of Washeteria at the Soho Repertory Theatre Company. When the show wrapped up I dove into auditions, and I have been part of a few wonderful productions since, including the musical Mame with The Heights Players and Noel’s Coward’s timeless comedy Present Laughter with interACT Theatre Productions.
I feel extremely blessed that I get to pursue a career in the city that embodies theatre and art. It is my desire and hope that with my work I get to give back some of the joy and inspiration that was given to me by this everlasting city and beaming industry that holds the world’s most talented artists.