I grew up wanting to be an actor. Well, up to my first day of elementary school. My teacher was asking every kid in my class what they wanted to be when they were adult. Everybody said that they would be a doctor or an engineer. When my turn came, I told my teacher that I wanted to be an actor. The whole class laughed. I didn’t know why they were laughing, I thought that they were only being stupid. My older brother who was waiting for me outside the class saw the whole thing. When I came out of the class, he was laughing at me, too.
“You can’t be an actor, you idiot,” he said. “Why?” I asked. “‘Cause all actors are good-looking and you’re not.”
I ran home and looked for my mother. She was busy cooking when I did my best crying.
“Budi said I couldn’t be an actor because I’m not good looking,” I was sobbing my eyes out.
I thought she would be mad at my brother and get my father’s leather belt and whip his ass. I knew my mom would support me. That’s what mothers do, right? To keep their children’s spirit up. I knew she would say I was the cutest kid in the world. But instead, she took a long breath and said:
“Well… you’re not that ugly either.” She wasn’t joking.
That was when my dream shattered. I stopped crying and went to my room. I was then lying on my bed and staring at the spider web at one corner of the ceiling. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. My mother’s answer did not kill me and it made me stronger. But it left a huge hole on my self-esteem system. Had I read all Barbra Streisand’s trivia, I would have had an emotional connection with her. She was, too, told that she was ugly. The difference is, while she got over the trauma and co-starred with all Hollywood hunks, I still can’t speak in public without sweating so hard. On the contrary to what my friends may think, I am a very shy boy.
However, I guess, my mom’s remark made me divert my dream to becoming a filmmaker instead of an actor. I think I’m doing ok. But I always envy actors because they can be so relaxed in front of the camera. I was doing a cameo once in a film that I wrote and got one line. They had to retake perhaps 10 times because my face was sweating like it rained.
Last week, my friend Ochay was directing a TV series and he asked me to appear. I would have a bigger part than just a cameo appearance. At first, I hesitated but I decided to face my greatest fear: to act.
I memorized all the lines and rehearsed myself everyday for my three scenes. An hour before the take, I did everything I could to warm up from shouting to doing some push-ups. I thought I could drain up all my sweat so there would be none when they shot me.
When the AD called me, I still thought I was gonna be okay. But when Ochay called “ACTION!”. The world turned pitch black and I forgot all my lines. I was sweating like a hog being chased by people with spears. We did several retake and when I finally got my lines, my eyes were wet and my body went limp. Ochay told me that my performance was good enough.
However, when I saw the rushes, it was obvious that I sucked. Now I know that my mom was doing me a favor by subtly told me that I shouldn’t be an actor. Once again, my mother was right.