Today we’re joined by Darian. Darian is a wonderful actor who is so incredibly passionate about her field. She has a Bachelor’s in acting and you’ll soon see that she has a true love of the art. In her email, Darian mentioned how much she would have loved to have seen someone acting while ace. Here’s hoping other ace actors are inspired by her example. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m an actor who dabbles in many different arts. I play a couple instruments (the keyboard, organ, ukulele, and flute). I paint (acrylics and watercolors). I also have an Etsy where I sell some fleece plushes that are kind of adorable if I may say so myself. I cosplay too from time to time. Acting is something that I love to do more than anything else though.
To tell stories is one of my greatest joys. Making people feel something is just so indescribably fulfilling to me. Any actor will tell you that acting is just “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances” but that doesn’t really tell you much? You’re embodying the fullest version of yourself if you were in that character’s situation. It is so rewarding to work so hard at something that is so prevalent in our culture. Many people see acting as easy or brainless, but actors are some of the smartest people. I’m not talking physics or biology wise (although Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist and Natalie Portman went to Harvard, speaks 6 languages, and has a Bachelor’s in Psychology so…), but we read people, we interact with people for a living. We’re constantly learning new things. Art is the language of humanity.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. Stories. I’m constantly inspired by everything around me. I do experience intense bursts of creative energy when I am surrounded by people also doing creative things. As an actor you have to draw inspiration from your own life and be able to interpret that for the stage or screen.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
To be perfectly honest, I first found an interest in acting in 8th grade at an assembly when the drama class did their “anti-drug skit” and I just thought to myself “I could totally do this better than them.” It wasn’t seeing a particular movie or play or tv show, it was snobbery. Now it’s mainly people telling me and others that I am not good enough. I transferred from a state college to a university and in the process of auditioning one of my professors decided to tell me I wouldn’t make it as an actress. The joke’s on him because I’ve been cast twice in two weeks since graduating university!
I did always want to be an artist. My parents wanted me to have money. I basically had to prove that I would be okay living on very little money. For a while I kind of masqueraded as though I would be a scientist. Now I see that is probably a ridiculous metaphor for me pretending to be straight… anyways I went from Astrobiologist to Astrophysicist. No matter what I knew I wanted to do stuff with space. I am very much a “Space Ace” as evidenced by my crying with joy at the discovery of Earth’s mini moon. I’m still super interested in science but not enough to pursue a career.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Actors have superstitions and rituals sometimes. I kind of just have rules: No saying the name of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, eat something you enjoy before a performance, and *if* you’re going to talk before a performance or audition, make it a warm-up with tongue twisters or something.
I don’t really include anything specifically in my work. In my paintings I kind of sign my initials when I remember. On my Etsy, though, the colors I use in my branding are those of suicide awareness because I actually lost someone fairly recently.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t listen to people when they tell you that you aren’t good enough. Take more lessons, further your education, keep practicing. You’ll get better with time.They say it takes 20 years to make a great actor; I’m sure that applies to every art.
Some people have a natural ability and some have a honed ability. Everyone benefits from practice. Don’t compare yourself to others, learn from them. (Also the people with natural abilities sometimes can’t talk about how they do what they do, the highest form of understanding something is if you can adequately teach it.
Make stuff that you want to see. If no one is asking you to make something for them, just make things you want in the world and people will find you and ask you to do more of what you love to do.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am a cisgender woman and a heteromantic asexual. I’m demiromantic.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Actually, yeah. It’s kind of part ignorance part bullying? I’m not going to sugarcoat it: People don’t like when you talk about how you don’t experience sexual attraction. Occasionally you’ll find someone who is okay with it but few and far between. That doesn’t mean you should stop but just be aware that it will happen.
At my college I had a professor saying to me “So you’re saying you wouldn’t suck a dick for a million dollars” upon me saying I don’t experience sexual attraction. Like, actually no that’s not what I said at all. At my university I experienced a professor saying “Well, sorry you’re not going to find any plays that aren’t about sex.” when I simply stated that I hadn’t be in a relationship and that I was asexual when I was having a hard time emotionally connecting to a monologue. (For reference for other asexuals I have used my relationship with my best friend to connect and once as a joke I used my love for mac and cheese during that professor’s class, it worked and she was none the wiser.) Find what works for you to connect. You don’t have to feel sexual attraction for it to look like you’re attracted to the person. Plus there are so many theatre pieces that don’t even have romance let alone sex!
Also you experience people you might consider friends who just kind of slyly make “jokes” or talk about how “every human being wants sex” even though you’ve talked to them at length about how you don’t and then you remind them and then they just say “Yeah, but you don’t count.” You count. Always. Personally I’m of the mantra of “Fuck people that say that” because if they were really your friend you wouldn’t have to constantly be reminding them of this integral fact about yourself. Friends care about their friends. I’m not saying they can’t have other things going on that may or may not take priority in their lives, which is true and perfectly fine. I’m saying that whether they realize it or not they’re saying you “don’t count” as human and you always do. Are you a member of homo sapien sapien? Congrats! You count as human! Your friends will not say this over and over if you have made it apparent to them how it makes you feel.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The most common misconception is that I’m stunted in some way. Either I’m childish or I don’t like hearing sex jokes or I can’t make them or I’m bratty or a bitch or I think I’m better than people because I don’t have/want sex. None of this is true of anyone who is asexual, solely because they are ace. They might just be dicks, but that’s not because they are ace. Also if I’m better than you it’s probably because you’re not even meeting the minimum requirements for basic human decency let alone being a good friend.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Dude, I struggle. I’m constantly struggling. Any advice you’ve been able to glean from this interview is what I want people to know. Whatever you feel you identify as, go confidently in it. Only be shy about it if you do not feel safe. If you can, make it clear on a first date what your expectations are up front before you get too invested. That being said, keep yourself open! Be an actor in your everyday life! Experience life in the moment and don’t forget to have a good time! (whoops this is advice for everyone) You can’t let the fear of loneliness keep you from missing out. I have a near crippling fear of loneliness, you gotta just find ways around it until your fear fears you.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Shameless promotion time? Okay! Find me on Tumblr at royalpinkdryad.tumblr.com, on YouTube at FiveUntilPlaces (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFC-nJSFYpAtYJ5gSsZrQZA) and then on Etsy at FiveUntilPlaces too (https://www.etsy.com/shop/FiveUntilPlaces)! I also have a Facebook and Instagram for my Etsy as well but all those links you can find on my Etsy so if you wanna go there then you can find that stuff.
Thank you, Darian, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.