Written by Barbara Bernardi
I moved to New York City almost three years ago, and my acting journey has gone different than I imagined.
Being an immigrant Latin-American actor, I was pretty much lost, not knowing where to start, how to approach acting. Luckily, I had my first step figured out, going to an acting conservatory. I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and it was there where I learned the majority of the tools that I needed to face the real acting world. I heard time and time and again that once I stepped out on my own, acting would be hard, and I expected it, but I didn’t expect not knowing where to fit in.
I am from Argentina, Spanish is my native language, and I have barely no accent thanks to my mom’s insistence of me attending English classes since the age of four. Whenever I went to audition for a Latin-American role, the comment I used to hear was, “Oh my God! You are Latin? You don’t look it!” Every time, I brushed it off, and kept applying and insisting on proving them wrong. Little did I know, I kept hitting my head against a wall. Maybe I wasn’t picked because someone was a better fit, but maybe it was because I don’t look the typical Latina woman.
One day, I woke up and decided to create my own material, to write my own play that would mention this issue, and many others. It started as a journal type of writing, mainly monologues about my life, past experiences, and some things that happened to friends and family members. The more I wrote, the more I found myself putting down on paper what women go through today; from harassment in different spaces (public, work, private settings), self love, transitioning from male to female, family values, soulmates, the idea of perfect beauty, to the theory that the image of “the vagina” has been displayed as an ugly monster in the media. I was lucky to have actors that gave me their time, and had a few table reads to rewrite and deconstruct the script several times.
I am proud and lucky to say that my play, THIS IS ME, had its first public reading last November. There isn’t a better feeling than hearing a group of talented actors reading your own words out loud. I am not saying I am Shakespeare, but creating and being able to share it with the world, is something to be proud of.
After this experience of writing, and soon performing THIS IS ME, I encourage, whoever is reading this that feels stuck or lost, to create your own work, and share it with the world! Whether it is a movement piece, a song, a play, a film… we all start somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to audition and get cast to do someone else’s work, but doing your own, makes it even more special. I have several friends who are on this path, and going to see their work on a stage is very inspiring. Don’t be afraid to try, to what people might think or say, to expose your feelings. I am not gonna lie, I am terrified of people’s reactions once they hear it, but every time I step into the rehearsal room, and I hear the director work with the script, and listen to the other actors, and see all the characters I wrote come to life, that fear goes away. The rush of acting and stepping into someone else’s shoes kicks back in, and once that happens, all is good in the world.