By Mariana Vily. Director of Communications
Let’s take a trip down the memory lane. Rewind to four years ago, during my first semester at Stella Adler, when I was assigned my first scene. I remember feeling both that it was a brilliant casting choice for me, and that I was ill-equipped to take it on. (In hindsight, this is probably why I was in school in the first place.) I don’t know what I expected from my first scene, but certainly not what I got. It was emotional, and it included a monologue that back then felt endless. At any rate, I had no idea how to approach it. Further, considering this was just one of many assignments I had at the time, and that I was also adjusting to New York, I was a little overwhelmed.Maybe because I am an optimist at heart, as I tackled my monumental task, I had a moment of revelation: someone thought I could do it. I mean, they wouldn’t have assigned me the scene in the first place if I couldn’t do it to some extent, right? I was aware that what was being asked of me required a stretch, but I implicitly trusted that I wasn’t being set up for failure.I don’t remember the outcome of this particular scene. My guess is that I achieved some things and failed at others. I was aware of my shortcomings, but fired up to bring my best game and keep on learning. And as I continued to juggle increasingly complex assignments, I also became more grateful for the faculty, because I knew the alternative: feeling that nothing was expected of me, or getting infinitesimal tasks that wouldn’t allow me to grow.
There have been many times in my life when I felt the weight of the expectations of others. I haven’t always gotten along well with that feeling. I now know that I owe many of my achievements to those who dared to imagine better things for me. Self-fulfilling prophecies can work for better, too.
We are all very good at self-preservation. We shy away from risks, lest we should disappoint others or, even worse, ourselves. Often we are encouraged to settle, and we do so because it is safe. So here is a challenge of sorts: what would happen if we chose to expect more instead? If we raised the bar for others and for ourselves? I am sure we would know how to deal with imperfect results. What we couldn’t do anything about, though, are the risks we never took.