To the Original Joni
I come from a family of aeronautical engineers, geologists, and nurses. My whole life my mind drifted through the possibilities of soldering, geomapping, and taking vitals, but something never sat right in my heart with those dreams of my future. I thought math and science was so fascinating, they were actually two of my favorite classes, but something in my heart felt it was not right for me and the thought of poking someone with a needle terrifies me to my core. I felt in my heart that my calling was of another world. The world of art.
I looked around myself and was inspired by my mother, my father, my grandfather, but I felt like the inspiration I was absorbing into my soul had no place to burst forth. And then instead I looked at not who was present but who was not. My grandma Joanne, whose loved ones admirably nicknamed, Joni. I never had the honor of meeting her but my father's childhood home is lively with her presence...with her spirit...and her art. When I was old enough to take in who she truly was and understand the concept of someone being gone but never forgotten, I picked up ceramics, paintings, and sculptures and on the bottom of each of them was a signature, "Joni".
The first time I saw her scribbled name I felt like it was meant for me. "She made this for me" I would say this to myself. She knew I would need her. She knew who I was before I even came into being. She was the voice inside my telling me "go be you...go be an artist." I owe my journey to my parents, Mark and Lori, and I owe it to her.
To Joanne. To Joni. To my grandmother. My angel of art.
My Journey to Acting
My acting journey began in Lima, Peru. I had moved several years before to Quito, Ecuador, where I lived for 5 years, and then to Lima. I was born in Wichita, Kansas, and we had moved for my dad's work. It was our Kindergarten graduation play and we were putting on a production of Humpty Dumpty. My teacher had built a 4 foot wall out of cardboard and I was the only person who was not afraid to fall head first off of it. So just like that, I had earned my first role as an actress. I stuffed my shirt with pillows and fell as many times as it took to crack in just the right Humpty-Dumptyesque way. From there, the soul search of artistry began for me.
We moved to Houston, Texas one year later, a place I have called my true home ever since. In Houston, my life went in a direction I never saw coming as I began to play softball. I played for twelve years on some of the top teams in Texas. While my time in softball brought me closer to my father, taught me how to handle emotional strain, and created a confidence in me that I would not have without it, my true calling never muted itself within me, acting. In between softball, I acted in school productions and in two productions at the Main Street Theater (Phillip in The Magic City and the Snake and the Vulture in Anansi the Spider). I would rehearse for hours and then rush to the softball fields and vice versa.
Finally, when I made it to Babson College, where I majored in entrepreneurship and literary & visual arts, I played softball my freshman year but at the same time I was cast as Jean in Dead Man's Cell Phone. I would run a mile everyday from the softball fields to rehearsal. Covered in sweat, dirt, and tears, trying to find a way to not lose what I love. Finally, I made the decision to put softball aside and finally be true to what I knew I was meant to do. To act. It was on of the most freeing decision I have ever made. I owe a lot to softball but my heart is nurtured everyday by acting. My greatest friends, memories, and reflections have come from the artist's space.
My senior year, I decided to open up my acting world and I auditioned at the URTAs where I then made my way to Atlantic Acting School, graduated in December of 2022. A place where I trained with some of the most inspiring, loving, and beautiful people I have ever had the honor of meeting. Through all of the places I've lived, I've been, I've embraced, I have always found my only constant home was acting. I wake up everyday feeling luckier than anyone that this is my life.
I am hopeful and open to the life yet to come.