Michael Wright will soon be The Happiest Fag in the World
a Vancouver personality
on the up and coming list.
pavements of Hollywood North are being pounded by many a struggling,
aspiring actor. They continually face the endless routine of casting
calls, cattle calls, call-backs and quite often, no calls at all.
But if you asked any one of them if they would give up this madness
for a 9-5 job with a stable income, chances are theyd snort
at you in disgust and shudder at the thought of such horror.
Ontario native Michael Wright may be one of these hopefuls, but
not for long hes going to be a star!
effervescent, openly gay performer has chosen an industry that, in his
words, is very accepting. He is a triple threat, an actor/singer/dancer
and judging from his passionate and determined nature, he is a personality
that belongs on the up and coming list.
Michaels most recent success came when he received an award of Most
Outstanding Performance for his role as Judah in Jeff Hyslops Joseph
and his Amazing Technicolored Dream coat.
This was Michaels first step out onto the boards after what he calls
a 10 year cocoon. He almost didnt make it. After the
first of a gruelling 3 day audition process, he came home discouraged
after witnessing the immense talent he was up against. But with encouragement
from his sister, he returned the next day and was picked from 800 people
to be the second lead. This was no small feat for a performer with no
dance or vocal training. So whats kept all this talent hidden from
the world for 10 years?
Six of those were spent employed as a social worker, a job that appealed
to his need to help others. He worked closely with the founder of the
Youth Action Coalition in opening and running Covenant House, the storefront
service for Vancouvers downtown eastside youths. But in the end
he realized, "You cant go through life just taking care of
other peoples issues. You have to nurture yourself".
He looks back now and realises that the signs that he should be a performer
were always there but he always pushed them aside. For example, he would
start singing whilst at work and people would constantly comment on how
great a voice he had. He sheepishly admits to being a little naïve
in his dreams. He was waiting for stardom to come to him, always thinking
"Why havent I been discovered yet?"
Michael recalls his very first performance at the age of 5. He was to
sing Silent Night, accompanied on the piano by his music teacher. He recalls
standing there and becoming so mesmerized by being the focus of 200 peoples
attention that he missed his cue. He remembers it being a terrifying experience,
but at the same time, "a delicious scare. I was a precocious and
extroverted child and I wanted to challenge this fear".
He took a one year performance training intensive in grade eight, and
began auditioning for the Sarnia Little Theatre. He won the title role
in The Grinch who Stole Christmas and then in Grade 11 was
cast as Beast in Beauty and the Beast.
Michael began his first year at the University of Western Ontario with
the intention of becoming an advertising executive, after being inspired
by his high school marketing teacher. But he soon realised that the scenarios,
numbers and accounting were not for him. He employs that same imagination
now in his roles, but "Its not all so serious".
Like many other actors, Michael supports himself by bartending (he is
the star at Likerish nightly). He says that bartending and
acting go hand in hand, because it draws on the same talent of mixing
with people and having charisma. "There arent any boring or
ugly people in the serving industry and much like acting, its all about
Through the experience of working on Joseph, he has found confidence in
himself. "I learned to push myself and ended up realising Im
capable of doing much more than I imagined". He describes the artist
as being a conduit, and believes that the spiritual and performance aspect
of life are closely linked. "Auditions are no longer as nerve wracking
because I believe it doesnt have to be personal. To a large extent
its a numbers game, and eventually someone, somewhere is going to
love you. Its about hard work and persistence."
He doesnt feel limited by being a gay actor. "I wont
be considered for certain roles for film and TV, but I think passion and
belief in your talent contributes largely to success".
Michael is getting ready for rehearsals of David Blues "The
Happiest Fag in the World" which will run November 24,
25 and 26 at the Waterfront Theatre. This workshop piece addresses the
issue of gay marriage with a cast of characters that includes a guardian
angel, a fag hag and a smarmy ex-boyfriend called Carlos. Blues
intention is to use the proceeds of this show to finance a full two week
run that will coincide with the opening of Gay Pride 2003.
So what are Michaels aspirations? "Every performer wants to
be a star, but I just want to make my mark. I want to record an album,
I want power, and I want to drive my own projects." He is in the
process of writing a stand-up comedy show that pokes fun at his life experiences
and his Jamaican mothers eccentricities. It is entitled "I
Shouldnt Have Worn That Skirt".
© Jenny Brown Ocotber 2002 - writer-actor-dancer- and intern at Hackwriters
for this Fall.
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