actual blogging · personal posts · Uncategorized

But First, Lemme Take a Selfie

I hate photos of myself. There, I said it. I absolutely HATE photos of me. Selfies, tagged pics, candids. All of them. I hate them. The more I look at them, the uglier I feel in more ways than one.

I see in those photos every little thing I hate about myself that the next girl does better. While my chin looks like it’s imploding, my friend’s looks like it’s carved out of marble. When my smile shows off my lopsided chin and cheekbones, the girl who bullied me in middle school looks like she paid Facetune to give her the bone structure of the gods (true story!). And the one time I think my body looks good enough to share with my friends online, another girl posts a bikini pic that gets a million fire emojis, heart eyes, and supportive comments from people who don’t find my meagre face enough to warrant a reaction.

The more I think about these unpleasant memories of being online, the more I hate looking at myself in the mirror. I hate my face, my body, and my mind for making me think such ugly thoughts about myself.

And I hate myself when I’m acting. I just can’t stand it. The fear that grips me when I get up to do anything in class is horrible, like having a baby panic attack on the inside every single time. That’s why I force myself to get up first so much – to try and get it to go away. But it doesn’t. And that’s why I post pictures of myself all the time: in the hopes this feeling of ugly-not-enoughness goes away. But it won’t.

I’m lost for a cure for these feelings, even though I know exactly what causes it. It’s comparison. I compare myself to every single person I know. Am I up to their standards? Am I attractive enough to be friends with them? Am I talented enough to be their classmate?

I want to stop comparing myself to others, because I’ve been told it’s the thief of joy, but boy, it’s hard when that’s all the world does. It pits woman against woman, talent against talent, friend against friend. The world teaches us we have to stick our asses out, suck our cheekbones in, and scream our vocal chords into oblivion to even be worthy of being noticed. It teaches us that to be worth something, other people have to believe we are. That’s what I learned as a young woman in a high school world filled with Insta likes: I am worth nothing unless someone else TELLS me I’m worth something.

Well, this paradigm is full of shit, may I say. If this is the way the world is, it’s a crap world. I don’t want to believe that six billion people are HAPPY with this being the way that things are. And it’s even sillier because we have such a choice in this matter where we don’t with everything else that makes us dreadfully sad. We have no choice but to live with disease, with death, with poverty, and with a million other big and small unhappinesses. Why should we perpetuate one that is so easily solvable?

So I ask anyone who reads this to help me in my quest to stop believing this about the world. You can help me by consciously telling yourself, “I am the best version of me, and that is beautiful, and talented, and more than sufficient.” If you do it, I’ll do it. And we can start a trend of ignoring the way we’ve been conditioned to compare.

Thank you for reading. I hope you are having a happy, healthy, fun-filled fall. 🙂



I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Day One of London / Year One of London

It occurred to me the other day that September 24th marked one year of living in London. My friend Ava noted on an old photo I posted of myself from that time that I had matured significantly in only one year, and looking at these two side by side, I completely agree. Most importantly, I have boobs now. Because I’ll fully admit to being vain on my own blog.

I’m still a Slytherin, thankfully. But though that bit remains the same, I think the rest of me has blossomed differently to how I imagined. I feel like a little garden plant that’s been growing for a long time, but the soil was dry. And now that I’ve been put into new, better, healthy soil, I’m actually blooming.

This time last year, I thought I was ready to uproot and move four thousand miles away from anything I ever knew. And in truth, I was. I was ready for change. I was mature enough to understand that I needed a different environment than Houston to best grow in.

But I wasn’t well.

Since arriving, I’ve become painfully more aware of my own relationship with mental illness, which is much stronger than I thought. I’ve gone through many of the stages of grief with this one connection, too:

1. Denial – “I’m normal! I’m just a normal person with a cool personality! Nothing to see here!”

2. Bargaining – “Well maybe if I’m nice, the universe will take away these weird chemical imbalances? It’ll be like getting out of prison early for good behaviour.”

3. Anger – “I hate myself. I’m so stupid and worthless. I use this mental illness as an excuse whenever I do something wrong because I don’t want to confront my own crippling insecurity.”

4. Depression – “…”

5. Acceptance.

Acceptance is now, and it comes along with the other stages of grief at varying times. I have to actively choose to ignore the others and to stick with acceptance. It isn’t a state of being like nirvana where I am there forever once I’ve reached it. I’m constantly having to work at it.

And that’s what finally made me feel like an adult: realizing everything takes work, and nothing worthwhile will come easy. Realizing I can’t ever use anything as a crutch for my bad behaviour. Ever. It’s not my fault I was born this way (#YasGaga), but it is my problem. It’s my responsibility to be a great friend, colleague, daughter, partner, etc. with these hurdles, but not in spite of them.

Another thing that made me feel like an adult was learning to appreciate my own differences. Because I am physically wired to feel things more intensely, I am doubly loyal, excited, happy, and loving. I can be more productive than a lot of people for a longer period of time. I care so much about people that even if I stop speaking to them for a while, all that love never goes away. My passion for what I do is unfathomable. I live in an emotional exponent. These are some of the happy things I get out of my life because of these things that control my brain. They can make me feel that much more beautiful, confident, and content.

While I am actively refusing to use these things as excuses for wrong decisions, in turn, I am learning to stop apologizing so much. Now it’s the days of repentance, a time you are supposed to ask forgiveness for your wrongs and give it to those who have wronged you. It’s done because everyone is made in G’d’s image, and therefore deserves the ultimate amount of kindness. It made me reflect on how I use the word “Sorry”. I use it too much, and for the wrong reasons.

I’ve always used “I’m sorry” as a self-diminishing thing. I’ve always used “I’m sorry” to apologize for being who I am. But I don’t want to anymore. I feel sure of myself now, inhabiting the world. I’m loud. I take up space. And that’s exactly what I should do. I’m a woman now – taking responsibility for my own life includes being responsible for and accepting my own sense of self. I don’t want to apologize for doing a great thing: being truthful to myself!

It’s been a great couple of weeks. I’m hoping this streak of positivity continues. I’ve had to pull myself out of bad habits a couple of times, but generally, I’ve been doing great. Will update soon! xx




Judgment Day

Happy Fall, y’all. Second year is inching ever closer and I can feel it blowing in with the chillier autumn winds. I’m thrilled to get started. I get bored when I don’t have something to obsess over! That’s also something I’m trying to unravel – but I struggle to resist a good self-deprecating joke. 😉

Self-deprecation is actually the thing I’m here to write about right now. My worst habit is judgment. I am focusing on my judgment of others who hurt my feelings or offend me in some way, done without compassion, and worst of all, my unforgiving judgment of myself for the tiniest infraction.

I have been unduly harsh towards other people for being mean or making bad decisions. I have bought into this weird revenge fantasy that a lot of people have towards those we perceive as having slighted us in some way. Whether that be a boyfriend, a friend, a teacher, or even that asshole who I almost crashed into on Allen Parkway that one time, I’ve thought some pretty ugly things about people I’ve been mad at.

And you may ask yourself, “Jesus, MacKenzie, everyone does that. Why do you care? Also…wait a minute, what do you think of me?!”

The answer would be that I need to hold myself to kinder standards, and that starts with the way I treat other people when they can’t hear me.

When somebody hurts my feelings, most of the time, it has to do with a sense of abandonment. I am always myself to people. I have always been eccentric, intense, and loud because I know no other way to be. But it takes a massive amount for me to trust anyone. Vulnerability isn’t something I am comfortable with, because the times I have shed the layers of armor around that vulnerability, someone has either taken advantage of it for their own gain, or has effectively sucker punched my emotional solar plexus. Sometimes it’s on accident, sometimes it is purposeful.

When someone does that, I take it as an abandonment. I take it very personally. I see them leaving as a sign that something they saw made them say, “Yikes, this chick is crazy. Peace out.” That’s why I have never particularly had a friend group. I have had several close friends throughout my life, but I have not ever really fit into a group. I am terrified of being abandoned after taking my shield off, so I have become somewhat of a serial monogamist in my friendships. I have always felt like a drifter, never quite belonging in one place or another. Just in my own little bubble I occasionally allow one or two people inside of, hoping they won’t pop it.

All of this to say, I have an Achilles heel: fear of abandonment. When I feel threatened with that, it is my trained reaction to lash out and be cruel. I say “trained” and not “instinctual” – it’s a reflex I have developed after a very long time of experiencing that very thing, and the loneliness that comes with retreating so far into your shell that you isolate yourself from everyone, even the people who love you. I become incredibly judgmental of why someone may need space from me, or why they need to leave/take time for themselves. I selfishly think it’s something to do with me.

And the end result? Not only am I vicious towards people who likely just need to deal with their own traumas; I am horrible towards myself. As much as I will spout angry words I don’t mean about someone who has hurt me, I will place the worst blame on myself. If any of you have seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (whose main character actually shares my diagnosis!), a wonderful musical TV show, Rebecca sings a song called “You Stupid Bitch”. That song is what it’s like to live in my brain during moments like this. It’s an almost comforting kind of self-loathing, self-pity, and self self self self self. It’s actually narcissistic. But it’s been a coping mechanism for nigh on twenty years now. I am actively trying to unravel it.

The way to be kinder to myself in my own brain is 1. Accountability, and learning how to have healthy anger towards people who cross my boundaries, and 2. Showing compassion for people who hurt me and for myself. You truly never know the reasons why people take out their pain on you, so it is the safest bet to show them kindness. They probably need it most of all.

I realize now that the old was is a self-centred way to think. And, ironically, it isn’t very self aware. I am a very intense person. Clinically, my emotions are stronger than normal. At my most manic, I can be intolerable. It should be common sense to distance yourself from someone who is requiring more energy than you can give, especially when you have your own life and own demons to deal with. I am learning how to cope with a not-normal brain every day, and I haven’t been prioritizing it or trying hard enough. That has to change.

I love the people in my life, even the ones who have left me behind them because they had a different journey to go on. All of them. They deserve someone who is as empathetic as they are, who can be as available for them as they have been for me. They deserve a friend, not a client to play therapist to. I have learned I need to hold myself accountable.

There are people I wish I could apologize to for being unkind, judgmental, or downright awful towards. When someone has tried to help me, or if someone has needed space to help themselves, often I have lashed out in anger instead of simply being accepting and kind. I wish I could do it in person, as text feels cheap. Part of it is because I’m afraid. All I can tell them, if they ever see this, is that I am sorry that instead of accepting my own responsibility for my actions, my thoughts, and my words, I chose to be cruel and act without empathy. My having mental differences doesn’t excuse it at all. I have chosen not to control myself, and my words and actions are my fault. I am sorry, and I am trying my best to do better.

So where do I go from here? Well, to start, actively participate in my own healing process. I have to tell myself to stop when I begin to be unduly angry at someone, even in my own head. No matter how much they have wounded me in any way. It isn’t weakness or being a doormat to show kindness to people who are bad towards you. Especially in this world, I think it’s a strength. It takes significantly more courage to be loving than hateful. I think it’s appropriate I began to consider this line of thinking right before Yom Kippur, the day of forgiveness. I don’t really believe in “turning the other cheek”, as I think that’s a very easy way to let people walk all over you. I am trying to learn the difference between hostility and having boundaries. There is such a thing as healthy anger, but that should never translate into becoming personally hateful. (I mean, except in the case of a truly horrible person like Ted Bundy. That’s an acceptable level of anger.)

This year, I am trying to find forgiveness in myself, for being a person with a high amount of bad decisions, mistakes, and other errors. It is a journey, not a destination. But I hope all of you reading this will join me in reflecting on ways we can have compassion for everyone in our lives, and how to distinguish our healthy anger from our rage and hate. Many thanks to you all, and I hope your summer was brilliant!

Love from,



Thoughts From a Night In Part II

Jesus, my body just won’t quit! And not in a sexy way. I mean in a curled up in a ball with hives and stomach pain way. Yikes. Happy summer.

Since this one assignment in one of our voice classes, I’ve gone back to another old hobby of mine: writing. For this class, we were assigned to write a personal poem, read it aloud, then read our chosen Shakespeare sonnets. The one I wrote was not nearly as open as it could have been, because I was too afraid to be so in front of my friends (jeez, again with the fear of vulnerability, Mack!).

But after that, I got a bit…prolific.

It started as odd doodles here and there (figurative doodles – I can’t draw at all). Then grew into a folder in the Notes app on my phone. Then into a very private group that I share these poems with. Soon, I’ll be going to my very first poetry reading with a couple of talented friends. It’s exciting to take on a new hobby with such excitement I haven’t felt in a while.

But the reason it remains so private is shame.

I grew up thinking that poets were narcissistic assholes who only wanted to whine about love and death and all that “nonsense.” You know, because I was a baby who hadn’t experienced any of that yet. So I ridiculed it as a solipsistic art form that was more often sappy and terrible than anything of value.

Then I definitely grew up.

In high school is where my interest was piqued. I remember we had to read “Ode to a Nightingale” for class, and that was the moment I knew my heart was in it. Keats remains one of my favourite poets (sharing the title with Sylvia Plath – more on her in a minute). The words of that poem moved me in a way very few words had. Today, years later, I remember walking to Keats’ House, a museum inside of the house he actually lived in, just a few short minutes from my flat in Belsize Park. I wept. Like a little baby. Unashamed to say so.

I was so touched by the ability of someone whose life was nothing but struggle, pain, and (gross) tuberculosis to create such beautiful, timeless tributes to all of the great things in life. Even as he was dying, Keats wrote verse after verse about how much he loved this world. I actually broke the rules and painted the first sentence of his final sonnet on my bedroom wall in the first apartment I rented: “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art!”

How could anyone look at this man’s words and think, “God, what a douche”? I judged poetry so unfairly because I wanted to look cool and unaffected by all the things that troubled me, when really it could have been a solace to all of the wounds I sustained as a young person growing up in an often unforgiving world. Being a teenager is already hard, but I probably compounded it by poo-poo-ing all the things I actually may have liked just because I wanted to be a Cool Girl.

Sylvia Plath, by far, is the poet I judged the most. Dissecting my initial scorn at her reveals both my own ignorance and my internalized misogyny. I always thought of her as the “patron saint of sad girls,” the Lana Del Rey of women above sixty. But I never actually read her work. And when I did, I was in for a shock.

This absolutely brilliant woman lived a life full of suffering and mental illness in a time when there was no treatment. She suffered through a volatile, abusive relationship while in the thrall of a horrendous battle with her own mind, and still managed to create enduring lyrics.

I judged her because I thought it was stupid for a girl to admit any feelings of weakness, much less to talk about it in such a direct way. I judged girls who related to her hopelessness, occasional optimism, and morbid sense of humour because I wanted to be a “cool girl” who went against tropes. Then I became that girl who related to her.

I did part of “Lady Lazarus” for my very first voice assignment at Central. We all brought in several poems to read out loud one at a time, and see which one worked best. I brought in two Keats, and then this one. I was in a bit of a mood that day, and I think the teacher noticed. When I announced which ones I brought, she asked me to read the Plath first. I was doubtful, then I began.

And from the moment I started, I felt the room halt. It was like the air in the room stood still, for me at least. All of the rage I had ever felt was concentrated in my gut, and it felt like my voice was made of steel for that minute and a half. When I finished, I noticed that I was shaking with the intensity of it.

I was really scared to continue working on it, because it would take me to a very ugly part of my personality and experience I’m always nervous to go to: being angry at the world. But I think there’s a bit of that in everyone. I remember the day of the assessment being one of the most emotionally intense days of my life, because for once, I allowed the words to seep into my body and just come out as if they were my own.

In a way, they were my own. She wrote about her own power, about her inflated sense of self in the face of insecurity, and, contrastingly, her fury at how helpless she felt. Her words are my words because I’ve shared that experience, albeit in my own way and through my own set of demons. But that is why so many people, especially women, are drawn to Sylvia Plath – she speaks a language we can all understand. It’s the language of people who want to break the world apart because they’ve felt so beaten by it, whether that be through relationships, illness, or plain old bad circumstances. My heart breaks at how she ended her life, and I mourn all of the poems and books that could have been, how she could have gotten better with the changing of the times.

Sometimes, because my house is so close to Primrose Hill, I wander to the place where she lived. There is a blue plaque outside indicating she had been there (and fun fact: one of the houses she lived in was previously the home of Irish poet W.B. Yeats, also one of my favourites).

I remember the first time, on a bitterly cold night in December. I was extremely low. It had not been a good few weeks, to understate it. And then I sat on a park bench and looked at the pink building. And, weird as it was, it was spiritual. Someone whose work had stirred me so deeply had lived there, breathed there, written there. That was not the place she passed away in, so I think that was why all of my feelings looking at the building were joyful. People are amazing, even in the bad parts of their lives. Her bravery in being so honest has changed many people’s lives, including mine. I feel much more obligated to be blunt with myself and the world because of her work. Even that one time I used her poem shifted me so much.

So, in conclusion, I prevented myself from pursuing a hobby I may not be bad at because of my own judgments that placed on me by others, and that I didn’t try to challenge. Looking back on that growth has encouraged me to ask: What other things have I emphatically refused to talk or think about that actually may be worthwhile? What things have people told me I shouldn’t like or do that maybe I actually could?

Maybe one day I’ll feel brave enough to share my own writing with more people. But for now, I’ll keep it to some of my friends and a lot of strangers in some bar, snapping along to me baring my ugliest emotions one time, and never again. 😉

(Here are some lines from my very favourite poems and authors!)

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.”

-John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”
“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,  
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,  
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
-W.B Yeats, “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”

There is a charge
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge   
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge   
For a word or a touch   
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.   
So, so, Herr Doktor.   
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,   
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.   
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——
A cake of soap,   
A wedding ring,   
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer   
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair   
And I eat men like air.
-Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”
Thank you again for reading. Feel free to send your favourite poems my way! I love ’em. Hope all reading this are very well, and having a great end of summer. x

Thoughts From a Night In.

8:19 PM, Saturday Night.

Unfortunately, today did not go as planned. I was intending to go see my very talented classmates in RENT tonight (with a BOMB outfit prepared, too), but my immune system had other ideas. I went to the doctor this morning for the second time in a week, and everything is, ostensibly, fine. Well, I was fine until this afternoon. Then, I became suddenly very sick to the point where I’m likely not leaving my flat for a couple of days. Vivien is pretty happy to have me in her paws, probably.

And turns out, I’m pretty alright with it, too. Not with missing the show, but with having a night (or several) in.

I’m taking this as a sign from G-d that I need to take a break. Recently, I’ve been pushing myself to get back into school and work and warm up and study and walk everywhere and do everything. And while this by itself can be a good thing, I think my intentions need a check.

This year, I honed in on my craft using my natural sense of discipline, and worked hard to feel more confident. The more I worked, the better the results. Of course, right? That’s how it’s supposed to work.

But the problem with that is if I am beating myself up constantly when I do this. I feel like if I don’t work for X amount of hours, do Y amount of minutes of monologue work, that I will suck. I don’t believe I have any level of natural acting talent, so I feel like I have to continue to drill myself in order to be good.

This presents a problem in many ways. Firstly, what will I do at a cold read in an audition? I will not have any time to rehearse. How do I get jobs if the only way I can is meticulously prepare and get stuck in my ways?

Second, and most importantly, how does this impact my mental health? What other areas of my life fall short when I sell myself short?

For my entire life, I have told myself I can’t act. I’m a singer and dancer who can kind of hack it, nothing else. I want more than anything to be a great actress. But the only thing preventing me from achieving that is my own mind. It’s the myths I believe in that guide me in everything.

All of the things I believe to be true are myths with varying degrees of support. I believe poetry is an amazing form of writing. And to support that, there are special awards for poets, wide readership, and some pieces of writing that have lasted centuries that we still read and relate to today. Besides that, I can call up millions who would agree. That’s grounded in reality, so BOOM: evidence!

But reality isn’t the only thing you can use to support a myth.

I believe there is a God up there, and he guides me to where I need to be and makes me ask important questions of Him and everyone, including myself. There isn’t much proof in reality I can say that someone can’t refute, so all I can say is, “I have faith.”

I have faith.

Three words probably more powerful than “I love you.” I have only for brief periods had faith in things. In myself, in the good of others, or even in my talent. When I’ve had faith in myself, I allow myself to be seen for what I know I am, and every time I have been hit hard enough to never want to be vulnerable again. That doesn’t just affect my relationships; it glosses over everything.

When I stop wanting to be vulnerable to people I’m close to, I shut myself away even from myself. Because I know what it feels like to see and be seen, and it hurts to be rejected. So I start to think, “What the Hell is wrong with me?” Or worse, I take out my anger on others who are just as afraid to be seen for who they are, becoming unsympathetic and vengeful rather than admit that I’m scared and hurt, too.

A big note I received this year as an actress was to be OK with being vulnerable, instead of using sarcasm or anger as a shield during scenes. I think acting is where I’m terrified most of all: I am so desperate to be the best at something that sometimes I don’t even try. I’m not scared of sucking – that’s curable. Mediocrity is scarier to me than failure. Being “not quite” someone’s cup of tea is worse than an all-out, nasty rejection. You can write off a rejection as someone being silly or insecure. But a lukewarm reception is something you can’t really do anything about.

So this is what I’m reflecting on tonight. I know why I’m so afraid to not work myself to death: I’m scared that if I don’t, I’ll suck and never be great at what I want to be great at. I have to make the conscious effort to tell myself, “You are very talented, and you work hard. But allow yourself to have and enjoy a life, too.”

I know that having a life directly feeds into my job (after all, you need varied life experience to draw from if you’re playing a million different characters). However, it’s not all about my job. I need a life because I’m human, and I don’t want to wake up at 50 and know that I’ve wasted all my time dedicated to something that can’t keep me warm at night, and miss the things that make living special. So today, I’m deciding I want to find balance in my own tiny universe, and make room for everything. There’ll be more room for some planets in there than others, but they’ll all take up the space they need to.

actual blogging · personal posts

“As An Unperfect Actor On The Stage…” – The Top 5 Shows That Changed My Life

Hello again. Been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been half the world away for ENTIRELY too long! Back to the blog and very happy about it.

What a year. I feel like I’ve lived twenty years in one. Central is the best place I could ever have asked for. I’ve found my calling, my people, and my place in the world. I felt like my body caught up with my soul when I moved to London. It has been everything I’ve dreamed of and more. The theatre, the learning, and the lifestyle in England are the best.

So much of me has changed this year. As an actor, of course, but even more as a young woman. I think I’ve finally crossed the threshold from “anxious but ambitious baby” to…still anxious but still ambitious adult.

So, in honour of my birthday, I’d like to take some time to reflect back on the shows that have changed me the most, both this year and the decade or so preceding. With photos! Yay!


5. Little Women


Location: Triple Rock Theatre

Role: Jo March

Where would I be without you, LW? The people in this show are some of my lifelong friends. I love them all as much as I did nearly five years ago. If nothing else, this show would make the list for the friendships forged alone. The bond we had was so strong, and it helped me learn how important a sense of true ensemble is in a company. We took care of each other onstage and off, and that’s all you can hope for in a company of actors.

But it wasn’t just the people. Playing Jo pushed me into exploring myself as an actress. I am very similar to Jo, but I wasn’t quite comfortable being vulnerable onstage. That wasn’t something I started trying to do until much, much later.

At this point in my life, I was starting to learn not to judge myself as an actor (again, an ongoing process). A memory that immediately springs to mind is my first rehearsal (and first meeting) with our Professor Bhaer, my very dear friend Roman.

I was beating myself up for one line or another, and I apologized to him. And he quipped, “For what? For being an actor?”

I think on that moment often. I remind myself of it in rehearsals sometimes when something isn’t quite right. There is nothing to apologize for when you are trying your best and exploring your process in rehearsal. That’s why they call it a process!

Thank you for letting me know you have to fail in order to keep maturing, and for pushing me to explore instead of hide, Little Women.

4. Urinetown


Location: Pearland High School

Role: Hope Cladwell

Peetown! One of my all-time faves!

This was my first production at public high school. It was my junior year, and my first year in choir.

Up until this very play, I assumed I would never play an ingenue. Yes, I could hit all the high notes in choir to flesh out the big-ass chords, but I had NO passaggio middle range to speak of (or so I thought). No Cosette for me. Sigh.

And then there was Tinkle Town.

Hope is a soprano. I had a bit of a WTF moment reading that cast list. If there’s a word for being even less than uncertain, I was it. I was bamboozled. I was flabbergasted.

(OK, exaggeration. What else can you expect from a Leo?)

Of course, as these things always are, it ended up being one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve had. With some busting of the ass, some amazing voice lessons from Jack Beetle, and the fear of God struck into my vocal chords, I did it!

I learned that I am in fact quite funny AND a soprano. Double whammy. I learned not to pigeonhole myself into “can/can’t.” Doing that rips away the fun of learning what you’re capable of, and destroys the soil you grow in.

Thank you, Urinetown, for showing me that typecasting yourself is a fool’s error.

3. Thoroughly Modern Millie


Location: Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theatre

Role: Millie Dillmount

Where can I start? The role? The team? The cast? The fact that it was the role that got me started to thinking I could maybe possibly do this forever?

This is the best musical I’ve ever been in. Bar none. I was rewatching it the other day, and I wish I could be an audience member and watch it for the first time. It was magical. Everyone I worked with in this process was an amazing talent (and way too much fun at the cast party!). Kevin, our director, is an absolute genius, and knows precisely how to pull out of you exactly what you need for the role you’re in. He is a visionary with an eye for the whole story and how to move an audience, never just how to put on a spectacle. The shows I’ve seen of his I never want to see done a different way – he’s that good. Not to mention, he’s probably the nicest man on the planet.

I was the youngest principal in the cast. Fortunately, I had a lot in common with Millie: she has my same sense of humour, fits in my sweet spot vocally, and shares many of my personality traits and fashion sense.

But as I listen and watch back to Millie, I realize so many things I know now as an adult that I didn’t as a teenager. It was a role I really had to dig deep and use my imagination for. I had to step out of relying on my singing if I wanted to do it well. I had to come face to face with my insecurity about (and my fear of) acting

I have always understood her ambition and work ethic, because I’ve always had it. But I didn’t have an inkling of what it’s like to sacrifice everything you have to go after something that might as well be a dream.

I understood what it was like to be in love – I’d fallen in love for the first time at that point in my life. I knew the fun angst that came with it, and the butterflies in the stomach. But it would be years until I really understood being willing to leave your security and safety and love someone, “poor as [they] are”, completely and utterly. To want to share your world with someone for the rest of your life. I just couldn’t understand the intensity of that as a kid.

This especially is clear to me when I watch my baby self do “Gimme Gimme”. I can see it bubbling under the surface, but my emotions were shut in. I was so afraid of being vulnerable onstage because I was terrified of getting it wrong. I used to close my eyes a lot onstage when it would be an emotional or honest scene because I was too afraid to open up. I have been scared for years that my acting would never match up to my singing or dancing, and because the stakes felt so high for me during this run, I had to face it full on for the first time.

Still, when I look back at the tape of this show, I am proud of teenaged MacKenzie. I wasn’t perfect by a longshot, and I had a long way to go compared to my adult castmates. But there was something about my spunky attitude, commitment to the role, and natural instincts that worked. I was fully expecting to cringe looking back at myself knowing all the things I do now about good acting…but I was pleasantly surprised. She was alright, that kid. 🙂

I’d kill to get another shot at Millie one day. Years later, I really feel like I could give myself to the role completely, instead of dipping my toe in.

Walking out during those bows was a top ten lifetime moment, I’ll tell you. The Spirit of Sutton was with me, I’ll testify! 😂

Thank you, Millie, for showing me all I didn’t know, and challenging all I did.

2. The Cherry Orchard (technically not a show, but we’re counting it anyway)


Location: The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

Role: Varya

Ah, Chekhov. I went in thinking I hated you. But you changed my life.

Second term was full of surprises. The biggest of all is…get this…I can act?

Even after getting into Central and having a term under my belt, I told myself and others I was an awful actress. I didn’t know what I was doing. I questioned whether Central had accidentally put my name in and felt too bad to take me out.

Then came Chekhov.

We spent the full ten weeks working on this project. Some of the class did scenes from Three Sisters, and some from Cherry Orchard. I was lucky – I was either one of the only students or the only student to play one character through several scenes. I did three scenes as Varya, who is…not too much like me on first glance. Except she is. Chekhov wrote that she is a “crybaby”. What better role IS there for me?!
For some context: Varya has taken care of the orchard for years while her adoptive mother has been essentially throwing her finances and life away abroad. She is practical, direct, dedicated, and plain. She has been in love with Lopakhin for years, and everyone knows. They tease her for it. He teases her for it (though he loves her, too – he’s just afraid to say).

I did a scene with my “sister”, a scene with my “Mom”, and a scene with Lopakhin. While those first two scenes were fabulous for teaching me simplicity (that is, just saying the damn words and meaning them when you need to), it was the final scene where the penny dropped.

This scene had six lines between Lopakhin and Varya. He has been sent in to propose to her (SPOILER: He doesn’t). The lines themselves don’t say really anything. It was what was happening between the lines that made the scene. My partner and I are still very proud of our work on that one.

It was where I learned I don’t have to do so much. Yes, acting is active and you are always doing something to the other person, but I mean in the physical sense. I feel very free with my body onstage, but I struggle to be still. The time the tutor made me do this scene planted to the spot unleashed a well of emotions I was blocking off by being too active.

I realize now I was so busy onstage because I was afraid of vulnerability, a lifelong habit I am still dismantling. I had so many emotions that this scene was reminding me of that I really wouldn’t confront, and I was so focused on getting it right that I was being selfish onstage and not listening to my scene partner.

When I relinquished control for once, and found stillness, it worked. And it worked again and again.

This unit made me love how rich the characters and stories of Chekhov are, and I think pushed me over the edge of my fear. I finally started to think of myself as an actress, and a pretty good one at that. The more I worked, the more comfortable I became with this idea. I can’t thank Central enough for this time.

Thanks, Chekhov. I drank coffee like water during this period because you wore me out so much, but you taught me stillness is just as powerful as great displays of physical capability.


What the Butler Saw (Central unit on farce & jazz – I found out I can scat!), Clowning (what it says on the tin), Annie, and Into the Woods (both times!).


1. Twelfth Night


Location: Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

Role: Viola

I won’t shut up about this one, I know! But it’s the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. For our ensemble, it was what finally glued all 18 of us together. For the first time, we gave to each other as a company, and everyone was able to shine.

I have been a Shakespeare nut for a while. It’s my favourite thing about theatre. It just lights me up, ya know? It makes me happy just thinking about it. It’s a HUGE part of the reason I moved to London. I have always wanted to do it, but I never had the chance until college.

I had about a billion ups-and-downs during this six week process. And for good reason, too: I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder at the start of rehearsals. I got medication after that which helps me stabilize, fortunately. But it was still tough.

This new information, along with the IMMENSE pressure I was putting on my own shoulders drove me, my classmates, and probably my poor flatmate crazy.

I worked my ass off on mastering the text, using the verse to inform my choices, finding my emotional connections to the character, and incorporating a different physicality. I read John Barton’s Playing Shakespeare during rehearsals, and I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone learning Shakespeare. It served as a great tool and reminder of what directors present and past have said about Billy Shakes’ words.

I felt like I really had a handle on clarity of language, but something was missing. And I was so stressed out. I saw my classmates really coming into their own with these characters, and I, admittedly, was jealous. And I knew that my jealousy was so ugly, yet it still hurt to feel like I was the only one failing.

Our director (oh my God, I will sing his praises forever. He’s like British Kevin, and an AMAZING Shakespeare teacher) gave us one-on-ones before we opened. During mine, the first thing he said was: “I’m going to tell you something you’ve probably heard a million times: stop being a perfectionist. It’s the one thing holding you back from getting it right.” He then told me to trust that the work I’d done was in my body & mind already, and let myself play.

A few days later, my favourite spoken voice teacher asked me during feedback for our voice assessments: “Who do you trust?”

Trust. That was what I needed. In myself, in others, in the words I say.

I shared Viola with two other brilliant actresses (Liz & Rumi, who played my little sister in Cherry Orchard as well). I enjoyed watching both of them take on the role, and finding ways to connect all three of our interpretation. Here was another reminder: we were three completely different actresses who happened to play the same part. It was never, ever a competition; it was a joy.

I was the final Viola, so I entered in the middle of a scene with Olivia. Already, the scene is complicated, because there is a section where each word is one syllable, and that requires a significant amount of technique to make clear and understandable. So, entering at the hardest bit is doubly difficult.

Maddie, my Olivia, is a saint for letting me put her through the eight billion times I tried to get this scene right instead of just listening to her. She was fantastic to work with already, but her patience is something that really meant a lot.

Up until the day of the show, I could not get this scene. Something just wasn’t sinking in. It wouldn’t click. The harder I tried, the worse it got. I cried over that scene a million times.

Until I remembered our director’s advice, out loud said, “F*ck it,” and walked on.

That moment, I decided to take a leap of faith in myself and just be Viola for that half hour. And it worked. I was completely present for those performances. I gave myself to it, and trusted that my work would be there. And it WAS!

I found the thing that lights my heart on fire (and not in an indigestion way). And I learned that I have to stop putting so much pressure on myself for things I love, because if I do, I squash my passion and it morphs into a terrible anxiety. And that anxiety can crush my creativity if I let it.

Thank you, Twelfth Night, for helping me learn to be part of an ensemble and trust myself.

In conclusion, all of these processes have led me to take the plunge and actually begin to trust myself. I used to think it’s a mystical thing, trust: somehow, you just begin to feel that way with time. But, like therapy, it’s just a choice to make the changes you need. It’s a difficult one, and one you never stop making. But I feel now as I emerge into real adulthood that I have the power to make that choice. And now, since I’ve made it once, I know it feels better than any time I’ve doubted myself and miraculously done fine. Trusting my work and my heart above all else has brought me my happiest times, and I intend to keep doing it.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for an amazing birthday yesterday! I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated with my life in London, now that I’m quite a bit better at balancing it all. Hope everyone reading this is having a fabulous summer.



actual blogging · personal posts

children get older

“…I’m getting older, too.”

A year ago, I was afraid that I’d land in the rocks instead of the water as I jumped off a cliff. It wasn’t the smartest choice I’d ever made – you can lose everything by not looking before you leap. But, miraculously, I’m still here.

In 365 days I’ve gone through:

-2 cars

-2 boyfriends

-4 jobs

-8 college auditions

-2 solo trips to NYC

-At least 25 therapy sessions

-1 trip abroad (my first)

and 2 passports (Somehow, July 29 is very easy to confuse for July 24. Thanks, government.)

I’ve reconnected with my family in a way I never thought I could, strengthened my friendships, and met new people who have all had a massive impact on me, and I hope I’ve helped all of you in even a small way as a thank-you. I adopted a pet who really did save my life, no exaggeration. It’s nice to have a small panther to remind you there’s plenty of great things in the world to keep getting out of bed for…the top priority being feeding her whenever she desires.

I’ve gained a confidence in my talents I thought would be lightyears away. I’ve learned to control my instrument and lost my fear of vulnerability or of not impressing everyone all the time.

The most important lesson of all came from two teachers I love very much. And that was…keep your drama on the damn stage! Though it’s difficult, I’ve learned that a balanced, peaceful life is a better one than a life filled with rotating dramas and wild ups and downs. Forgive me as my youth continues to get the better of me, but I’ll be mentally 35 and thriving eventually. 😉

It’s been a year. Thank you to my family and friends who stuck by me through every difficult moment that led to this dream I at one point thought was beyond me. I love you all. Here’s to many more years and many more blog posts.

Cheers to 19!


actual blogging · personal posts · Uncategorized


It’s the thing with feathers. It’s also what’s eluded me most this year, like a persnickety feather in the wind that just keeps running away when you try to catch it.

January and February of 2017 were some of the blackest days I remember. Because of how ill-prepared I was for college auditions, my mental health, and the rapid deterioration of several close relationships (including ones in my family), I was at my absolute worst. That didn’t change much for the rest of the year.

Some people’s depression manifests in overactivity. They compensate for how awful they feel by going above and beyond, by continuing to achieve, by working their asses off. Mine was the opposite. I was so low I struggled to wake up. I felt worthless, unwanted, and irrevocably sad all the time. I understood that my problems, compared to other people’s, were mundane. But everything felt magnified, like someone took a microscope to every bit of pain I felt and forced me to look at it all day. I was exhausted.

I had no hope. People told me to stay positive, but it was like my explanations for how I felt were falling on totally deaf ears. I looked numb from the outside, but inside I felt every emotion all the time, silly as it sounds. A small, sarcastic jab at me felt like a gunshot. Someone being upset with me felt cataclysmic, like my entire world was ending.

I even felt this way while I moved out on my own at 18 years old. Nothing seemed to help me. I thought I was just an untreatable case, that there was no disorder, label, medicine, or treatment that would ever make me normal. I would just have to settle for living my life being ‘okay’; I could participate, but not truly enjoy.

But it did get better. It happened by itself.

I don’t know whether it was adopting my cat, getting asked to audition for a prestigious school based on my pre-screen, or finally knowing the name of what’s been wrong with me. But something got me out of bed today, and keeps making me get up. It may not have been hope, but that’s what it’s going to turn into.

I’ve been able to come to terms with a loss I thought I’d never recover from. While I’m not ‘over it’, I can accept that it happened and know it’s okay to be sad about parts of your life ending. Grief is human, and there’s not a timeframe of when you can and can’t feel it.

I’ve trained my ass off for a dream I’ve had since I was a baby. Working hard with teachers I admire and trust has gotten me consideration for schools I never dreamed I’d get into, and going into this year I have all the confidence I thought completely impossible.

I have a name and a course of action for the disease that tried to rip away pretty much everything from me. I’m not defined by it, but it is a part of me I know about now. I can banish it back to the dark corner it belongs in, and not let it control me anymore.

2018, for me, isn’t all about positive-yay-hoorah-make it perfect. It’s about progress. I’m at a damn great Point A right now, but I’ve got at least a few more decades to get to Point B. I’m not going to expect to be happy by the end of the year, not even to be satisfied. But my goal for the year is to regain hope. I want to be able to hope for better instead of living day to day, and it’s a goal I believe achievable. After all, I have to hope to be able to get it.



In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, I am amazed and thoroughly heart-warmed by the kindness people have shown to one another. Volunteers have come from near and far to help the most disadvantaged, most devastated victims of a storm no one could have weathered alone. We are able to postpone our qualms with one another and simply help communities along, finding footing in the flood.

I am reminded right now of all the times I have been encouraged to volunteer because it would “look great on a college application.” I loathe this mentality, especially considering what has happened in our world and how devastation continues to act all over.

When teachers, parents, and counselors encourage young people to volunteer, they treat the opportunity as a given. “Go get some service hours for your resume,” translates to “There will always be poor people to feed, homeless people to shelter, and victims of horrific trauma to minimally assist.” There is no real attempt to alleviate the conditions these people find themselves in; they are simply an asset to an image.

During this flood, no one likely was thinking about how ‘good’ helping during Harvey would look on a resume. They were actively trying to help people get back home, to help dry out their houses, and hell, to keep them alive by using boats/jet-skis/high trucks. There was a problem, and volunteers came out in droves to fix it.

Why do we not apply this mentality to charity work any time we do it? Why do we act as though going to the Food Bank is a nice person’s chore, a way for us to look like decent people on paper? Why do we not look for more active ways to engage our communities in helping the disadvantaged? Perhaps if we engaged our local towns in projects to assist our fellow citizens in getting jobs, finding affordable housing, or getting education, we would be able to start at ground-level and address the roots of poverty lurking within our own towns.

Part of this all is the way we treat poverty as a choice. We act as though people choose to be unemployed, poor, and/or starving. We forget that physical and mental illness, disabilities, and the limited jobs available in our market for uneducated people limit one’s ability to find their way. Nothing is as simple as going out and getting a job. Many cannot afford education to get higher-paying employment, even with government loans (and we forget – people are not simply ‘handed’ money to go to school. They must pay back loans eventually). Then, without a degree, they are stuck in jobs that require minimal qualifications. Even I am beginning to understand how difficult the job market is – I work three jobs simply to keep a roof over my head. It took me two whole months to find 1) a job that had consistent pay, 2) a place that was hiring, and 3) a job I was even qualified to have with no higher education and no previous experience. And I was lucky enough to have a laptop, internet connection, and people to ask for advice. Most aren’t that fortunate.

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If you look at the total numbers for people living below the poverty line (taken from the government census), it has gone up and up fairly consistently since 2000, dipping slightly starting in 2013. Our charitable organizations have been around much longer. How are they helping these numbers go down?

I believe our charities need to understand what it is they’re raising so much money for, and we as volunteers should actively want to help them with it. For example: I feel very deeply for those who are homeless. I would love to be a part of an organization which locates entry-level job training for homeless people, which provides them with enough living supplies (tampons, toilet paper, soap, etc.) to get them on their feet for at least a month, and can direct them to affordable housing in tandem with employment opportunities. I have not found one yet.

Charity work should not be a Boy Scout badge to get people into college. Helping other people who can’t help themselves is a core tenet of most moral codes, be they derived from religion or cultural norms. Encouraging people to volunteer in order to better their image is the most superficial act, and it actually counteracts the effects of helping at all. Instead, I believe we should approach volunteer work as an objective which we aim to achieve within a set time frame and with clear, specific goals that can mark our progress.

What’s the point of building a house if you don’t know how many can live in it? What’s the point of gathering food if you have no idea who you’ll feed? Why volunteer to help people if you don’t really know how you’re helping?


New Dawn/New Day/New Life

*record scratch*

*freeze frame on me, a young adult in the middle of a harrowing near-missed car insurance payment*

You’re probably wondering how I got myself into this situation.

I have decided not to attend OCU in the fall. Though it is a great school, the program I chose is not the program I want to be in. It is a music-heavy curriculum; my heart tells me that for my own personal fulfillment and to develop my ‘product’ as a performance artist, I should be in an acting program.

So I thanked OCU, notified them of my choice, and packed my bags. On my 18th birthday, I moved out of my house with two jobs under my belt, working on a third. I bought (with money saved from graduation and a year of tutoring) a used car, car insurance, a phone, and a phone plan. It was one of the busiest and most difficult days of my life, emotionally and otherwise. But here I am.

This year I am re-applying for schools focused solely on acting, since I will still be able to train in vocals and dance in those programs. The reason I made this decision is that I am putting myself first. By deciding not to attend a school someone else wanted me to attend, or going to school right out of college because I felt I had to, I made it clear that my intentions going forward are to do what is best for me. I’m really glad that it didn’t cost tens of thousands before I decided.

I am happy with the choice I have made. Soon I will be working full-time every single day, attending weekly acting and voice lessons, and, oh my God, paying rent. Though I have many things to be afraid of, like eviction or getting my water/electricity/gas cut off or my home being broken into, I am not afraid of anything. I’m not bullet-proof, mind you, but I am confident.

I will not be on social media at all this coming year, mainly because I have an intense year of studying, applications, auditions, and work ahead. If you would like, anyone who reads this is welcome to message me so I can put your number in my new phone. I’m always a call or text away.

There will be nights that I’m broke and lonely. I’ll probably come close to bankruptcy more times than I feel secure. But the only thing I’m afraid of now is losing the confidence I’ve got. And that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Thank you for reading. I’ll see y’all soon. 🙂