Okay, how did I start acting? Well, it’s an odd story. When I was in grade school, I was singled out to narrate a play. I don’t remember what the play was or about, but the teacher chose me to narrate. On the day of the play, another class, I had a field trip to McDonnell Douglas. They made airplanes, and the teacher told us we would see how the planes were built and go on an airplane. I decided the field trip was more important, so I chose that. The teacher who was putting on the play was quite upset, and she had to narrate herself. That was my first experience with the importance of doing what you said you would do. Now I host a “Podcast” of all things. Life!
In high school, I went to the Visual and Performing Arts High School (VAP) in St Louis, Missouri. When I attended VAP, it was downtown, near Soulard Market. The school had different departments, and I was in, the music department, and playing the saxophone. They have the fine arts department and the acting department. There were no sports there when I was there, and they finally started a basketball team. I believe it was in my junior year or something like that. Still, that was my first year there, to be honest, I attended Sumner High School in St Louis before that, then I transferred to Visual and Performing Arts High School my junior year.
So I was in the band. I was one of many musicians at the school. I was in the big band and the orchestra and some of the small outfits they had there too; if I’m correct, there was a saxophone quartet and things like that. There were a couple of musicals that the band would have to play the music for, so I was in the pit ban during that time. I played in a production of “Oliver” that I’ll never forget. It was so much fun. Some great music, that was such a great play, and I played the clarinet and the flute and the saxophone in the pit band. It was a great experience, and I also was in the pit band for the production of “The Wiz.” It was great, but the actors and the musicians didn’t come together, you know, they had different cliques, and the musicians pretty much hung out with the other musicians. The actors hung out with the actors, and there was no animosity or anything. I just knew my friends were musicians. I had no desire to be an actor wasn’t thinking about theater or anything like that at that time. I only cared about being a musician.
I graduated from high school and attended Webster College in Webster Groves, Missouri. It was “Webster College” then, but now it’s gotten an upgrade, and it’s Webster University now, but at that time, it was Webster College. Webster College was one of the best colleges in the country for theater, and students were traveling from all over the country trying to get into Webster. You could see that in the student body, how stressed out they were because if you got into the college, it didn’t mean that you would stay and the college. The Theater Department had an audition to get in, and there was an audition to stay in after your freshman year.
I’ll never forget a prank, my roommate, Pablo, and I did at Webster. I called him Pablo, but that’s not his real name. I’m not going to tell you his real name, but he was a drummer, and he was from Spain, and we did quite a few pranks and this is one I’ll never forget. Pablo, my friend Miguel from Venezuala and I saw some of the acting students building a snowman. So we disassembled the Snowman and put it back together in the elevator of the college. That was before they had smartphones and everything. Still, someone saw us and told the powers that be.
Still, we didn’t care because we were kids. We were summoned by the Dean’s Office afterward, but she laughed it off too. Still, she told us that it was hazardous, you know and what if we had shorted out the elevator or could have started a fire or something like that. But that’s what we thought of the actors at the time because we were young and ignorant and immature. Still, it was fun! But, at that time I wasn’t thinking of acting. It wasn’t something that I thought of pursuing at all.
I did one year at Webster College and decided that I wanted to go back to Boston. When I was a junior at VAP I got a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music for a summer. I was a program for high school students. I love it and wanted to return so, I applied to Berklee, and I got in. I met some great musicians at Berklee and studied sax with teachers like Bill Pierce and George Garzone. It is a very extraordinary school. I’m sure it’s even more intense now. Still, it was incredibly passionate, and I met some lifelong friends there and saw some extraordinary musicians playing there. That’s where I met sax legend, Branford Marsalis. I was introduced to the great Greg Osby in St Louis, maybe two or three years before I went up to Berklee. Still, he was at Berklee at that time, and the late trumpeter Wallace Roney, New Orleans Sax God Donald Harrison, and smooth jazz sax legend Walter Beasley and drummer and current Berklee Dean of Students was my roommate, Ron Savage to name a few. Yes, quite a few beautiful musicians attended Berklee, and it was an all-encompassing, very intense experience.
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