By Alfredo Reyes
Talent abounds in my homeland. Most everyone has heard of the stereotype that all Filipinos can sing and take karaoke seriously. We are certainly not wanting for natural inclinations for performing. However, professional training can be elusive. As theater performers, we get by on gusto, heart, and a communal desire to tell stories. I applied to Atlantic Acting School during one of the most stagnant and unremarkable periods of my life. The chance to study the craft about which I am most passionate halfway across the world in New York City felt like a pipe dream—one that was reserved only for those with the financial means, connections, or citizenships that made it viable. I was shocked and beyond thrilled when it came true for me.
In one fell swoop, it took me from the doldrums of being unceremoniously divorced from what had been a core piece of my identity for over a decade to learning and growing with a brand-new tribe in this great city. The journey has so far revitalized my love for my craft along with my outlook on where I belong. It has also done little to temper my penchant for the hifalutin. Regardless, my gratitude for being on this path is heartfelt and sincere.
Atlantic changed me before I was even accepted, really.
For my interview/audition, I was tasked to prepare two monologues using an earlier, more basic model of Practical Aesthetics from a section of A Practical Handbook for the Actor that they had me read. Doing so frankly blew my mind. Never before had I encountered an acting technique that made so much, well, practical sense. I called up my contemporaries and told them I had realized that I actually had no idea how to act and that we all needed to drop everything we had been doing so that we might all touch the warmth of this promethean fire which I had just been cursed with discovering. I was dead-set on making it to this school.
I also enjoyed giving a diversity statement as part of my application. The topic was quite foreign to me given my Southeast Asian upbringing. Being called to ruminate on my unique perspective primed me for experiencing and engaging in a new cultural backdrop during a moment when we must strive for tolerance, inclusivity, and representation more than ever.
My experience with Atlantic so far has formed a sturdy backbone for my own identity as a person of color in the entertainment industry, one that will continue to shift and evolve as we learn more about loving one another as artists and people.
I always hated school. My last few weeks of undergraduate study felt like the slowest, most arduous crawl to a finish line I had ever experienced, despite being in a Fine Arts program. I will never forget how my final requirement was an oral exam for some science course that I initially failed in sophomore year and had nothing to do with my major. It was memorable because I quite literally ran off to dart to rehearsals for the international premiere of In the Heights immediately after. Now here I am, back in school, but I get to call my teachers by their first names; my classmates and I scream in each other’s faces every day and don’t get in trouble for it; and I can wear sweatpants on campus with no one judging me.
Everyone is the nerdy theater kid—we’re all mad here.
Finding one’s tribe is not just some hokey notion found in self-improvement books and motivational courses. It is part of doing; of valuing things outside one’s self. Atlantic provides that sense of community for anyone willing to step through its doors, drop in to who they are, fight for what they want, and do. The. Work. If you can check your ego at the door, and can be a live fuse that’s ready to catch the next spark of inspiration that comes along, I promise you’ll love it here.
Alfredo is a Full-Time Conservatory student at Atlantic Acting School. His undergraduate years in Manila were saturated with pursuing performing onstage while taking up a Fine Arts major, and he began acting professionally before finishing university. He then spent many years working as an actor full-time, playing key roles in the international premiers of musicals such as In the Heights; The Bridges of Madison County; Waitress; and The Band’s Visit, and touring Asia with Saturday Night Fever and Avenue Q. Most recently, he had the privilege of featuring in a lead role for the runaway hit original Filipino musical Ang Huling El Bimbo (“The Last ‘El Bimbo’”) which has since taken the nation by storm. He is currently in New York City attempting to reclaim the portions of his 20s that were lost to nonstop rehearsals. It is not going well.
Certificate Program–2 years: Acting
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