A Childhood Career
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This question is most likely one of the single most annoying questions I am asked often. It seems as if it is a very average and normal question. When a child is asked this, their typical response might include a very long planned out summary of how they will be president, make video games, be a doctor, be a nurse, become a teacher, or several other responses. What is my response you may ask?
I’ll give you my response. Better yet, I’ll also give you the typical response I normally receive after I have so generously given off pieces of my personal and private information.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be exactly what I am right now. I want to continue being a professional actress. Of course, I will be out of school by the time you are referring but I will be doing exactly what I love and am doing currently. I will be furthering my career.”
“… Oh. Career?”
Yes, It seems almost impossible that a “young” woman in this age has already started her “career” and has a very sizable resume. I have heard it all before.
I am not so much annoyed at the fact that adults are very “interested” (nosey) in our nation’s youth and what they aspire to be but I find myself very annoyed that they ask what we are going to BE. They don’t ask who we ARE. They don’t think it possible to have a job at age 9 because not many kids can. The also don’t seem to believe that children at our age have the possibility to have developed an actual identity. According to society, I am abnormal I suppose.
My name is Mariana King and I am a professional actress.
(Insert eye roll here.)
I was born in a town north of Philadelphia near Souderton PA. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is what happened after we moved from our family and took the “rebellious” path of stepping out of the conservative Mennonite area and moved to another decently sized town, Mechanicsburg. Here, dancing and the arts are not (to oversimplify things because Mennonite’s are rather conservative) frowned upon.
It is here where my parents discovered my passion, after my first actual appearance in front of an audience (my Great-Aunt Shirley’s basement). I lit up and my parents did the best thing for me that they could’ve ever done. They had me audition for a musical at the prime age of eight years old. I was spunky, I had fire, and I shocked directors. That may have been one of the best opportunities they gave to me.
I went on to audition for many professional shows and, as of last count, am about to perform in my twentieth show in five years.
One of my most fond memories of those thrilling early years in my career would have to be after my opening night of my very first professional show. I remember it extremely well. I have a rather accurate and abnormal memory of my younger years.
We were driving home from the theatre (my brother, dad, and I). I was looking out the window and it was late. I think it would have most likely around ten o’clock or so because it was opening night. I was looking for constellations because, in my nine-year-old mind, I had too much adrenaline in my veins and had way too much excitement in me for the twenty-minute ride home after such a thrilling evening.
I remember finding the big and little dipper.
My spirits were high and I was over the top with excitement as I blurted out,
“This is the best night of my life!”
That is the only dialogue I remember having in that car ride and I will admittedly say how abnormal it is for me to be lacking in anything related to dialogue. I was so happy I was speechless.
I do remember my simple and very innocent question to my dad. I asked,
“Have you ever been so happy you could cry?” I said, full of experience because I was of course tearing up at my pure happiness at performing for one of the first “real” times.
“Yes.” My dad replied. “I can remember when I was in the hospital next to your mom and the doctor told me that ‘It was a girl!’ That was one of my happiest moments and I cried.”
I of course, lost it.
I probably crashed from the adrenaline rush and my exhaustion and fell asleep after that conversation. I tend to do that. Maybe I talked with my six-year-old brother at the time who was also performing with me (although I’m not really sure he knew what he was doing…). I was most likely bossing him around and telling him that he did something wrong onstage or he needed to clean up his costumes faster. I would also tend to do that very often. But I honestly don’t remember any more.
I do remember the feeling.
I try to duplicate that feeling as often as I can.