“One year into my studies at SMU, I decided to quit school and apply for a university in the UK that offers theatre studies. I’ve been wanting to pursue theatre since I was 14 but my parents were against it, so I had to do it behind their backs.
They were just concerned about my future I guess, so I had to follow the typical JC route to a local uni. The education system was very unforgiving and I wasn’t happy, and when you’re unhappy for a long time, you lose your motivation to do something.
That’s why I took a leave of absence for six months and started working at Checkpoint Theatre. With the few dollars I had, I applied for two universities during summer break and was surprised when I got accepted by both. After much thought, I decided on the University of Reading – that place is amazing.
I first got into theatre when I took up drama in secondary school. I simply fell in love with it! The first character I ever played was Ivy Chan from Beauty World. It was only a school production but my teacher was amazing; she held it to such a high standard.
This teacher of mine truly changed my life. Apart from starting the drama club, she also taught me literature. In sec three, I remember how she walked into class and immediately wrote this on the board: ‘Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.’
It’s a from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I remember it by heart to this very day; it’s helped me with many of the decisions I’ve made today.
My relationship with my parents? Of course we’ve had our fights in the past year, especially my mom and I. I do understand her concerns, and I appreciate how everything my parents have given me was provided for with love, but I need the freedom to make my own choices.
One of the worst things about going to JC was that it wasn’t my decision. I’m not 100 percent sure if pursuing theatre is the right choice, but at least the consequence is on me. Taking ownership and responsibility for my own actions, that’s so important.
After six months of working at Checkpoint Theatre and showing them how serious I am with theatre, they are starting to understand my love for the stage. I know they’re still not 100 percent convinced with my decision, rightly so, but I think they’ve come to learn to support me anyways.
My decision might have strained our relationship earlier, but with time and a lot of conversations, it has been better. Now, they’re able to see me more as a thinking individual, and that’s what I appreciate the most. It’s been a very interesting journey.” – Bella, 21
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