Help Me Study in London

MY STORY

Hello! My name is Jan Ellen Ball, or as I'm known to my friends and family, "Janni." I am a kidney cancer survivor. As of December 2014 I was five years cancer free! It took me a while to bounce back from the operation to remove part of my kidney, as it was a brutally invasive surgery and painful recovery, but I vowed to myself that if I were able to get through it all, I would take some time to discover my bliss and then go after it! Oh yeah, and I might also mention that I also have a little thing called "Aspergers Syndrome." (It means I'm considered "high functioning" on the autism spectrum, but it does NOT mean that I will let that stand in the way of my dreams.) Oddly enough, when I am on stage or fully-entrenched in a role, my symptoms seem to disappear and I am able to fully connect and inhabit the character and get out of my headspace. It's absolutely crazy, but it's also a huge blessing because this gives me a SKILL - something I can actually DO, and not have inhibitions or anxieties about it because I can just "be" in the moment. I can escape being "Janni" for a while. The "real" Janni has loads of anxieties, so for me, acting is a very welcome escape. It's quite nice.

I must say that acting, along with writing are my two BIGGEST passions in life. Both offer me a way to escape, but also a way to grow as a person. Both are very near and dear to my heart and alight a fire within which drives me towards success.

Although I'm getting a bit of a later start in life (we Aspies tend to sometimes be late bloomers and we also tend to stay pretty young at heart,) I've finally found what makes me happiest in life, and I've dedicated myself 100% to making my "dreams" come true.

I did quite a bit of acting in my younger years, but I had been away from it as an adult, so I decided to get back into it to see if I thought this was something I actually might want to pursue OR if it was just a simple pipe dream from my youth. As it turns out, it gave me EVERY BIT as much of a rush as it did when I was a kid! (Probably more.) I spent 2013 involved in Community Theatre - and was in three plays: Auntie Mame as "Sally Cato," Steel Magnolias as "Ouiser," and Romeo & Juliet as "Juliet's Nurse.") Then in the Summer of 2013, I applied, auditioned for and was accepted into the Acting program at Chattanooga State College. Currently, I am attending a two-year Associate's Degree program there. It's called the Professional Actor's Training Program. At the end of the two years, there is an option to take an additional year and a half at an Acting college in London called Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance. At the end of that period of study, I would have a Bachelor's in American Theatre Arts. I am leaning more towards their B.A. Hons program in Acting, however. There are also several other fine acting colleges I'd like to audition for (Central, RADA, LAMDA, etc...,) just to see if I might be able to get in - might as well dream big, right?

UPDATE SUMMER 2014: I've rec'd a provisional acceptance to Regent's University's drama program, pending audition. In other words, all of my academics have been considered, etc... and they've offered me a place there just pending audition, which will take place via a DVD sent to them in the Spring of 2015. The other schools should start the application acceptance process in the next several weeks! 

I've also just concluded a production of Macbeth (I was one of the Witches) which traveled all over the city of Chattanooga and surrounding areas performing for free - bringing the words of Shakespeare to an audience who might not otherwise get the opportunity to be exposed to his amazing works! Exciting times here!

WHY LONDON?

Because I firmly believe that London offers some of the finest theatrical training in the world. Where better to study this ancient art than in the land of Shakespeare? I might add, that I am also a self-proclaimed Shakespeare nerd, AND totally enamoured with London. That city has my heart. Completely. I would be honored to be afforded the chance to study and live there, even if only for a short while.  Studying in London is a big dream of many aspiring actors and actresses - myself included. I feel as though I would be afforded opportunities to learn things there that I may not learn here in the States - especially where Shakespeare is concerned, and I want to do a lot of specialized study in that area. If nothing else, perhaps I could even TEACH Shakespeare someday!

THE FINANCIAL PART:
While I am able to receive some Financial Aid here locally in order to attend my current college program, there is very little govt. funding or aid available to assist me with studies outside of the USA. My tuition would be somewhere in the neighborhood of about $26k USD per year - and that would NOT include room & board, so I would need to come up with additional funds for that.

I DO plan to work VERY hard in order to raise as much money as I can on my own to put towards this "life goal." The summer of 2013, I worked two jobs - and I plan to do the same during the summer of 2014 and 2015 as well. I also plan to work during school holidays whenever possible. (I can do web design as well as other odd jobs as I can find them!) However - I am well aware that my efforts alone will not be enough. That's why I am reaching out to friends, family, my Internet pals, the acting community, and anyone else who might feel led to give a little bit in order to help me realize my dream. I'm also researching scholarships and trying to apply for any of those for which I might be eligible. 

I worked very hard my first year in the program at Chattanooga State, and I maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and am on the Dean's List. I am also in a National Honor Society for two-year colleges (Phi Theta Kappa.) Never in my life have I made such high marks in school! I'm dedicated and determined, and I've finally found the one thing that really drives me. I want to take my learning as far as it will go. Someday, I would love to be a jobbing actor, or like I said earlier, perhaps even teach - who knows? I've spent this summer of 2014 further honing my craft, working in a production of Macbeth which traveled all over the city playing at various locations, offering free admission, in an attempt to bring Shakespeare to people who might not ordinarily be exposed to his great works! It was an amazing experience. 

In the words of one of my favorite actors, Tom Hiddleston, who I had a chance to meet in the summer of 2013: "NEVER. STOP." That's my mantra now, with regards to pretty much everything I take on these days... especially this! The other mantra (one of my own that I sort of leaned heavily upon during my illness and recovery) is "Always Believe." Simple words - yet so VERY powerful.



Your help - ANYTHING AT ALL - will be greatly cherished and SO very much appreciated. The only thing I can promise you is that if I ever DO, by some miracle, make it to "the big time" some day - I will never forget the generosity that got me there. Even if I NEVER make it onto the silver screen though, rest assured that I will keep at it - will never abandon it - and will ALWAYS carry you all in my hearts for as long as I live for your acts of kindness to me as I struggled to get started in this career path which I have so lovingly chosen for myself. *** I also plan to keep a list of email addresses of everyone who has contributed, and, if at all possible someday, my goal is to repay each and every person who helped me to further my studies! ***


The initial fundraising goal for this campaign is $30,000 - which will go directly to the tuition. All of the London drama schools run about the same per year for tuition - in the neighborhood of $26,000 USD with room & board being extra. I DO plan to find roommates and get the cheapest flat possible! I am NOT picky and don't need anything fancy. As long as I have a place to sleep and shower, I'm good. I would be willing to sleep on a park bench if it meant getting to realize this dream come true! I know that if I raise this money, it will only go as far as one year of study - if I make it into one of the three-year programs, I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it... but I am hoping/praying for the best. I believe there HAS to be a way to make it happen. I've come too far for anything else!

God bless you all...
Janni


P.S. The "WISH LIST" items are simply items that I'll add in here and there as I find out about specific needs from people who have already done this program, etc... The RT airfare one would be for my plane ticket over to London for any auditions or school tours which have to be done over there. The Megabus item is for me to get to auditions in the spring of 2015 because some of the schools will hold auditions there. It's a SUPER cheap way for me to get from Chattanooga to Chicago for my auditions, and like I said - I am not picky and don't mind a long bus ride. I will always fly the cheapest fare possible too, and I check around!! I have to. 


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Organizer

Jan- Janni- Ball 
Organizer
Ringgold, GA
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