Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Christopher Vournas
Current Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Christopher, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
From a very early age, I have continually struggled with various mental illnesses. Whether it was anxiety, depression, or intense insecurities, it was always lived with me. Throughout middle school and high school I was repeatedly bullied for my weight, my voice, and my overall appearance. It wasn’t until 6th grade at Sowers Middle School when I joined choir, I slowly lived a new life on the stage. At times, I relied on the stage, as it was my gateway to battle many issues at home and in my mind. I performed in countless competitions, variety shows, concerts, galas, and dances throughout middle school. I was surrounded by very talented singers and dancers, and instead of feeling some type of jealousy, I felt a sense of inspiration. I started amazing relationships over the course of those three years, that would later bloom over into High School when I joined the Academy for the Performing Arts at Tim Nelson’s direction.
Going from Sowers Middle School to APA is like going from a community theater to Broadway. The fact that there were hundreds of talented performers ranging from acting, dance, musical theater, art, stage design, and orchestra made me even more insecure about myself. However as the years went on, I went through the journey with my fellow classmates and best friends that I am still very much close with today. And every time I hit that stage, it was like a part of me disappeared. Whether it was the 8 musicals I performed in, the dozens of Surf City Singer gigs I participated in, I always took the chance to perform.
I learned how to work through my issues on the stage, and make myself a better person to not only be inspired from, but hope to inspire others. When I graduated in 2019, I was sad that I might not ever experience something like that again, until I met a new family when I started to perform at the Rose Center Theater. The Rose is filled with people of all ages, races, genders, backgrounds, and stories. I instantly became friends and close to many people there, and I learned and grew from the knowledge they gave me.
To know that adults have suffered similar things to me, and the ability to absorb great knowledge from these people, is really what the Arts is about. Community. We are all one big family, and we all have a strong passion for that stage and the audience we get to treat every night. I was able to do 6 shows at the Rose until the pandemic. It has been very hard to have your main source of happiness be taken, and I have missed performing, and that stage, ever since. Now, I have been relying on school, friends, and the love for my family. Hoping one day, I can return to a stage very soon.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
Currently, I am working towards my degree in Theater Arts Management. I'd like to hopefully be a Casting Director for Stage productions in the future. Beyond the dozens of performances I have done, I have not had any important projects other than my college education, that I am really confident and excited about. I make sure that every day, I train my voice and sing countless songs in my car to make up for the fact that performing is impossible right now. And I cannot believe how much my voice has grown and developed.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Have you had to overcome any on your journey?
Throughout my life, I have dealt with many mental struggles and terrible people. Like these people, my mental struggles have tried to ruin my life and ruin the image I have for myself. It is like walking with gum on your shoe, it is always on you and it will never go away no matter how much you try to remove it. I learned from being on the stage. The people around me taught me how to grow not only a person, but a performer. My mental state is very important to me, and honestly, it is very good right now, and I am very excited for my future.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
I learned that you should not rely on other people to make you happy. You need to find something within you, to achieve the love and happiness you deserve. For me, it was the stage and the drive to perform. If I could tell my younger self anything, is that things in life will indeed get better, and make sure to perform and be with your friends every chance that you get.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
The best advice I have been given was from Trevin Stephenson, a fellow performer at the Rose and someone I got very close with. He told me “You will go through your life with tremendous pain, and it is the pain that you should learn from, to make yourself a better person and performer”
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I am very inspired by the lives of and the lessons that my parents have taught me. Through their own pain and journey through life, they have always inspired me to overcome issues, and become an amazing young man. I would not be here if it wasn't for my mother and father.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
The proudest moment in my career is when I performed The Music Man at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, surrounded by Broadway legends that I have always looked up to, and I gained a lot of advice from. Another great moment is performing The Phantom of the Opera as my last musical at APA, and having the original Phantom, Michael Crawford attend.
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What role do you think the arts or artists play in today's society?
I believe that the role of an artist is to use knowledge and passion to spread love and inspiration throughout the world. It is to also there to create new angles about how we interpret art, and the issues going on in the world. Without artists, there could be no creativity. Without creativity, there would be no world.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
My hopes for the arts in the future, is, and will always be, inclusivity. I believe we need more displays of leading people of color, trans people, and people of the LGBTQ+ community, that have been disproportionately suppressed for thousands of years. We would not have modern day, cultural revolutions without the lives of famous people of color or people from the LGBTQ+ community.
Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts