By Esih Efuru
In the summer of 1981, my mom told me that I was headed to camp. I jumped for joy and ran to pack. My praise dance halted mid-sentence as she added that it was a theatre camp. I arrived on the campus of New Jersey’s Montclair State College a week later.
During the second week, we were asked to choose a movie soundtrack song to perform during the program’s finale. I blindly chose the title song from the movie “Fame.” I decided to fake my way through it.
On the day of the finale, I longed for home with my stomach in knots and my group called into place. I finally inhaled and imagined myself as the lead Coco (portrayed in the movie by Irene Cara). Before I knew it, the music had begun, and I found myself prancing across center stage, caught up in the lyrics of acclaim and purpose. My mom beamed from the rear of the room. I was relieved that it was over, but felt that I wasn’t finished.
The experience stayed with me for the rest of the day, and rocked me to sleep as I played the words “Remember my name-Fame!” over and over in my mind.
It’s fascinating how that one performance foreshadowed my destiny. I joined chorus in sixth grade, attended Newark’s High School of the Performing Arts three years later, became a musician, writer and singer, and now write my own films. I once imagined myself, dancing on pianos and singing down city streets while people join in. It now happens to be my life. It’s my way to help people connect with God. I’m not in it for the fame, but for the glory of knowing and remembering his name.
The creative spirit within me was awakened at theatre camp by the possibility that there was more to life than what was surrounding me. I could believe, imagine and hope for bigger things with the gifts that were manifesting. I could really be a star; not for fame, but to reach that special place of full belief in myself. There is no Oscar, Grammy or amount of money that can top that amazing feeling of accomplishment. Fate had led me into this camp experience begrudgingly, past my own limitations, and gave me a sneak peek into the world that my soul secretly dreamt of.