Saturday, September 15, 2007

Where Are They Now - Tia James

Our great friend Tia James has landed in NYC—well, with Tia, “landed” never seems like the right word. Her spirits are always ten feet off the ground, which is one of the things I love about her. I asked her to write about her new life in the prestigious grad program at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She started a couple of weeks ago--a stranger in a strange land. Here’s her first report.

Posted by Tia James (You can click on the label "T James" at the end of this post to read earlier info on Tia's journey.)

Dear Richmond Friends,

I feel like Ms Celie from The Color Purple. "Dear God, I'm here! I'm here!" And that I Am.

I live in New York, and I sleep in New Jersey, just a 15 min ride to the City. Everyday when I walk from the subway to the street, I can just feel the energy. It made me smile the other day as I got off the train and started walking with at least 70 other people, noticing how we all were keeping time with each other, as if we were each a different instrument in a huge orchestra, keeping time, never really getting in each other's way, adding to the song.

What makes me smile even more are the tourists who decide to walk right down the middle of the sidewalk at a snail's pace, definitely changing your 4/4 to 2/4.

Things are truly great! The first week of orientation was loads of fun; I don't know when I’ve laughed so much at myself. In one of the orientations Dean Campbell asked us to stand, say our name and department, and one thing about New York that we found interesting. It was my turn, and I said, "Hey guys, my name is Tia and I'm in Grad Acting, and the interesting thing about New York, well, every time I think about New York I can’t help but think about Broadway. I really want to BE on Broadway. You guys PRAY for me!"
Everyone started laughing at the giddy, naive woman from Virginia. And then from the back of the room, one of the faculty shouted out, "You ARE On Broadway!" (The Tisch Building is located at 721 Broadway.) This of course made us all laugh and prompted me do my Praise Dance! :)
I laughed again when I went to the International Student Welcome. I sat in the front row waiting for it to begin, and as the seats were being filled I noticed that I was the only American. I thought … ahh, it's okay, I'll just hang out ... listen ... until they announced that everyone should stand up and introduce themselves stating where they were from.

Well, it was soon my turn, so I stood and said, "Hey guys, I'm Tia, Grad Acting, and I'm actually from Virginia, but New York seems like another country to me, so I just thought I'd sit in with you guys!" Which of course had everyone including myself laughing some more. I was happy I stayed cause I met a great group of people.

I'm living my best dream! I've met my classmates, who are awesome—the faculty and staff, all the other grads, everyone has been so welcoming. And all of us can't wait to get started.

One thing that really touched me was when Zelda Fichandler (pictured to the right) explained the basis for Tisch Grad Acting ... ensemble ... being a company. That just thrills me! I have had "ensemble" ingrained in me since high school, York County School of the Arts, with my teacher Mrs. Dixon always saying "Ensemble! We're family. Learning together, pushing each other, helping each other. It isn't a competition, we're all good. Now it's about training our instruments so we will be better able to give."

Give to who? Give what? As Zelda asked and answered, "Who's this for? It's for us. But the connections we make for ourselves are all for something greater – what we can give to them, our audience."

I am extremely happy! Praise God! You guys please don't forget me!