Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Samantha Wojtaszek
Current Location: Placentia, CA
Samantha, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Growing up I was actually very shy which is why musical theatre is what I was drawn to, but it is also what brought me out of my shell. I started dance classes at the age of 5, and I loved it, but I knew there was something else out there for me. At age 8 my mom took me to go see The Wizard of Oz and needless to say that was it for me. I knew that is what I had to do with my life. Most people experience this feeling at their first Broadway or professional show, but for me, it was at an all-girls Girl Scout theatre and I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't think I had ever smiled that big, for that long in my life, but the joy I felt was incomparable. When the girl playing Dorthy sang "Somewhere over the Rainbow" I closed my eyes and saw myself up there singing, I wanted nothing more in my life than to be her in that very moment.
From there I auditioned for any theater I could find and decided to go to Huntington Beach High School and audition for the Academy for the Performing Arts. To be honest, I really didn't know anything about theatre until I got there, and that just made my love for musical theatre grow even more. I am incredibly grateful for APA as it helped prepare me for the next step in my career as I pursued a BFA in Musical theatre at California State University Fullerton. CSUF's Musical Theatre program is a cut program so every semester you have to audition to be able to stay in the program. It was definitely cutthroat, to say the least, but it made me into the performer I am today. I luckily made it to the end and our class that started with 60 ended with only 9 by my senior year.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
Right now I am actually stepping out of my comfort zone and have been auditioning for a lot of TV and Film. Musical theatre is what I know and love, but unfortunately, due to COVID, there are barely any opportunities to do any theatre. So far I have had a lot of fun trying to branch into TV and film and while I'm unsure where it may go, I'm proud of myself for not giving up and trying new things! It also still gives me a creative outlet which is very needed right now.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Have you had to overcome any on your journey?
It has definitely not been a smooth road, but that's what keeps me going. I have always been a fighter and I do not give up on things easily especially things I love. But I am also human and getting knocked down so many times it does get hard to always stay positive and motivated. I just have to remind myself that this is the one thing in my life I am completely passionate about and I know I wouldn't be as happy doing anything else.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
Something I have learned along the way is that it's okay to be different, and I wish I could tell my younger self to use that to my advantage. I have always been very tall, 5'11 to be exact, which you would think is a great thing for this career, but it has actually hindered me more than I should have let it. I am pretty much taller than most boys in theatre so being the love interest in pretty much any show was out of the question. That was very hard for me to accept because those were the roles I always wanted to play growing up. Something that's really hard about this industry is that everyone thinks there is this perfect "cookie-cutter person" you have to be to make it and that is not true. Being different is what makes you special, and honestly, it's what makes you stand out from everyone else in this career.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
"Not everyone is going to like you, and that's okay." This career path is so hard and you are always seeking validation from the people you are performing in front of. What this phrase really taught me is the only person that has to like you is yourself. You have to be proud of yourself no matter what you are doing. It doesn't matter what every other person thinks because you showing up to audition is already a huge achievement. It is so easy to be hard on yourself because in reality you don't know what anyone in the audition room is thinking and you never get to know because a lot of the time after the audition you will never hear from those people again. And that's terrifying and all it does is make you spiral into bad thoughts, but that's why being your own number one fan is so important! It doesn't matter what they think as long as you did exactly what you came to the audition to do that's more than enough.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about a moment in your life you found to be inspirational?
I think I am most inspired by other artists, I see something they are doing and it makes me want to do more and be better. When I see someone doing a scene in a show or a movie and see how truthful they are acting, I say to myself, "I want to do that." I see someone singing and being so vulnerable in a new Instagram video they posted and I immediately want to do the same. I see a musical on Broadway or at a local theatre and I am blown away by the talent in front of me and it gets me so excited that this is what I have chosen to do as my career. There is so much talent out there and yes it is really easy to get jealous but it's also just as easy to take the talent they are sharing with you and let it inspire you.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
I think the thing that I am most proud of myself for doing is never giving up. It is so easy to quit and move into a career that is much easier than this one. In my first semester of college I ended up getting into a car accident and I broke my neck, and that is probably the scariest thing that has happened in my life. Yes, the accident itself was scary but what terrified me, even more, is that I wasn't sure if I would be able to perform anymore. This showed me how much I really cared about musical theatre and how I would feel if I couldn't do it anymore and it just solidified that I am doing exactly what I am meant to do in my life. I am very thankful and happy that everything healed very well and I was able to continue taking dance and musical theatre classes by the beginning of my sophomore year. A lot of people asked if I wanted to drop out or quit because of what happened, but I knew I wanted this more than ever. And even though I had to do double the work to catch up to where the rest of my class was at, it was all worth it. So I am most proud of myself for not taking the easy way out in a really hard situation.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
I hope, especially after the pandemic is over, that the arts are taken a lot more seriously. I don't think a lot of people ever understood how much the arts affect our community and with everything shut down I hope it becomes more apparent. I hope performing arts programs at schools get the funding they deserve just like every other sport and extracurricular activity does. And most of all I hope that the arts community doesn't lose their hope and passion; this has been such a hard setback but I hope that if anything everyone comes out stronger than before.
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