I study English and Theater at school and have always wished to be exposed to the quintessential area of these two fields.
I graduate from Bridgeport University in May, 2017. I tried hard to study in England for my undergrad degree, but my advisor in high school told me there was no way I could ever afford it. Which was very true. So, I tried again in college at UB. A friend and I tried to make it to University College Cork, a fantastic college, and town in Cork Ireland, where we could learn acting and be inspired by the land. Again, thwarted.
This semester I was determined to make it to Ireland for a summer program no matter what. I would make my case at UB and use all my efforts to find a way to receive scholarships. In March, however, I was informed that other students had been chosen as recipients of scholarship money for them to study abroad in Ireland. My heart sank.
I was visiting my dear friend Annie in Florida at the time. She manages a horse barn in Ramapo, NY, where she is working towards becoming an Olympic Dressage rider. I got this Ireland rejection just before spring break so when Annie invited me down to Florida, I thought "Ok, I need some time away." So I went.
Later that evening, a dinner party was held. There, I had a chance encounter of indescribable nature. I met a woman by the name of Desi Dillingham, who is President of the British Horse Society and Vice President of British Dressage under the Duchess of Richmond. Denielle, Annie's boss, mentioned that I was an aspiring actor when Desi chimed in.
"Have you ever heard of the British American Drama Academy in Oxford?" Desi spoke with an air of importance, and sincere authority paired with a kind bombastic flair. The room fell silent.
"Yes, I've definitely heard of it." I replied rather meekly in comparison to her resonance. I had certainly looked at the program quite a while ago but only as an inspiring wish, rather than a serious consideration.
"I can help you get an interview," Desi then retorted, "I'm great friends with the woman who runs it. She's such a dear. You'll never meet kinder people. Then, of course, Sir Ben Kingsley is always around demanding everyone call him 'Sir". She laughed at this while she held a glass of white wine.
At this point, I was gone. Everyone was looking at me but I had no words. Speechless. This woman would help me? Out of the blue, out of left field, out of meeting me not five minutes ago? Well, I still had to audition right? Yeah.
After a sleepless night, I headed to meet her at the "races for lunch". I parked in the VIP section. A man in a golf cart pulled up next to me and offered me a lift to the entrance 20 feet away. I was really in the Ritz now.
I told Desi about my ambitions. "I made a promise to my mom and dad," I said "that I would never give up on my dream of giving all of us a better life. A life away from food stamps, eternal dependence on the government for financial aid, old cars that last for a year at a time, apartments with leaking roofs and broken windows, crippling school debt, hospital bills - all of it." I told her this not that she would pity me, but so she could understand where my source of determination lies, where, in the midst of all of that sorrow, a dandelion might push its way through some concrete.
I practiced my monologs until I went hoarse. For the next three days, I exhausted myself physically and mentally.
Then on Monday morning, I had an appointment to audition in Manhattan at 9:50am. That was a whole ordeal in itself and I almost missed my appointment due to weather and public transportation. But, I made it, I auditioned with Hamlet's "To be or not to be."
THEN. Two weeks later; the moment of truth. I received an email, telling me I had been ACCEPTED as 1 of 70 students from a North Eastern audition process spanning from Boston to Chicago.
I couldn't believe it, and I somehow still can't. Until I am standing there in Oxford with the Magdalen College green under my feet and the sweet summer air around me, I probably won't. Receiving the chance at an education from one of the best schools in the world, taught by some of the greatest actors in the world is something I never thought might never happen.
Being able to go there would give me a chance to learn, and be close to the greats I've always dreamed of meeting, to be working in a place that could give me the tools to shape a wonderful future, to be standing next to some of the most revered people the world has ever known. I will always be grateful for all of this, and there are so many people I feel indebted to. For now, there is still work to be done. I've got to get there! And I will do it all it takes until I do.
So friends, if this has touched you in some way, if you feel you believe in this dream of mine, I humbly ask for your assistance in this time of need.
Money has always been a problem, and I seem to need it now more than ever, and, although it is not the gateway to happiness, it can be a means by which a better life is built.
DonationsSee top donations
- Thomas Kelbel
- Thomas Kelbel
- Thomas Kelbel
- Bruce Frishkoff
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more