Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Date Trees on Broadway" by Lara Seibert

I remember the first time I saw Lara perform. She was a Sing Song Hostess at ACU. I heard her sing and then saw her dance and, this girl is going to do big things. What I didn't know then was that Lara had a heart even bigger than her talent. She is what we call in the business a "triple threat" (meaning she is an awesome singer, dancer, AND actress). However, she is not defined by any of those titles. She is first and foremost a daughter of the King. I am so glad she's a part of this series. Thank you, Lara!

My name is Lara Seibert and I'm an actress living in New York City. I graduated from ACU in 2006 with a BFA in Theater. The summer after graduating, I decided to move to NYC, one of the most terrifying and thrilling decisions of my life. I had two thousand dollars to my name and no job waiting for me, just an apartment in Harlem that I would be sharing with an acquaintance that I had met about a year prior. I was terrified.

I grew up in the church and had a wonderful church home, both in Grapevine, TX, where I'm from, and in Abilene, where I went to school. God has always been very present in my life and I have felt so richly blessed. So this move was really the first time in my life I was truly stepping out of my comfort zone and taking a huge leap of faith. And it was extremely stressful. A few weeks before the move, I was having trouble sleeping, having horrible nightmares and anxiety. I had no idea if I was doing the right thing and for the first time, felt truly afraid of the future.

My sister, Allison (Seibert) Rogers is also an actress, who was working in Dallas. She and her husband, Jeff, had just finished reading a book that they said changed their lives. It was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. On the day I was leaving, they gave me a copy as a going away present and I read it on the plane on the way there. The impact it had was truly remarkable. The story, if you are not familiar with it, is about a shepherd boy who is in search of his Personal Legend, a path that God has planned out for every individual. He faces many trials and fears and setbacks and distractions but ultimately, his heart is not satisfied until he can fulfill what the Lord has planned for him. It was PERFECT! Here I was, trying to follow my dreams and this was just the encouragement I needed. One of my favorite lines from the book is, "It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." Dallas would always be there, I could always go back. But I knew I wanted to see what all I was capable of.

After a long day of searching for survival jobs, I was on my way to a restaurant that a friend worked at and was very hopeful that they would hire me, only to get a call on my way there, that it wasn't going to work out. That was my last resort and it had fallen through. I remember this day so well. I was walking back, in the rain, of course, crying like a crazy person on the the street and finally just stopped and cried out a desperate prayer to the Lord asking "What on earth am I supposed to do!!??" After several minutes of more crazy crying I finally pulled myself together and looked up where I had stopped. It was in front of a restaurant called Isabella's. I walked in and it turned out they were in desperate need of servers, so my lack of experience wasn't an issue, they wanted me to start the next day and my insurance would kick in three months later. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but this was truly an answered prayer.

So I had my survival job. I was meeting wonderful people, found a church home that I was comfortable with, not quite my style, but it was something. I worked at this restaurant for almost a year before I got my first acting job. Ah, the lessons of perserverance. It was the National tour of The Producers. I had a wonderful time.

I think you know you're on the right track when God sends you little signs or little gifts that help you on your way. John West was one of those gifts. I met him on tour and he became an instant best friend. He was a fellow believer and we started up a Bible study together on tour and went to church together whenever we could. There is no way I could have stayed so close to God without him. When that tour finished both John and I got cast in another production together where we would be given our Equity cards, granting membership into the official Actor's Union. We were thrilled. This show, however, for many personal reasons, was a very big struggle. I was unhappy, hadn't found a real church home that I could connect with since I'd been back and was not very happy with the job overall. Again, my stubborn nature took me all the way to the breaking point before I completely broke down before God in desperation, praying that something would happen to take me away from this show, anything. Once again, an answered prayer. I got cast in the Broadway production of Young Frankenstein. I was going to be making my Broadway debut. As Mr. Coelho says, "Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date trees."

The more familiar I become with this business, the more I marvel that anyone can do it without a relationship with God. To be constantly in competition with your best friends, repeatedly judged on outward appearances and falling short, to be out of the job every three months or so and then trudge on to two or three auditions every single day to find another job is ridiculous. What we do for a living is so unnatural and thankless. It will get under your skin and make you believe things you never thought you would believe. But the one thing, the only thing, that keeps my head on straight, is the truth that I know in Jesus Christ and His promises. I know this because it has NEVER failed me and it always proves to be true. I see jealousy and malice all around me in this business. But because of Jesus and His love, I'm free of all that. I am loved and need not bring others down around me to lift myself up. What a relief that is! Thank God I can be encouraging and loving to my friends and know that I will find so much more comfort in focusing on what they need rather than my own problems.

If you have dreams I pray that you follow them. That stirring inside of you is God telling you He is behind you, and He is! Your dreams are His desires for you, all you need is to keep Him at the front of them and He will not let you down. I have a wonderful church home now in NYC, Trinity Grace Church. It is truly the biggest blessing of all. I don't know how people survive in this world without Christian fellowship and furthermore, I don't know why on earth anyone would want to! We aren't meant to stand alone. We are so much stronger with friends to share the ups and downs with. To share in the turmoil of job hunting and auditions but to also share in the joys of a Broadway debut. He is there through all of it.

If you have not read The Alchemist, I strongly, strongly urge you to. You will feel so inspired to go after your own Personal Legend. My story is no where near finished. There have been countless rises and falls since that great show and there will be many more. But I no longer fear the future. With God leading the way I cannot wait to see how high I can climb.

Laura just finished performing at the Paper Mill playhouse in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum". In May Lara will head to Maine for the summer to be in "The Marvelous Wonderettes", "Annie", and "Xanadu". For ticket information please visit this website:

1 comment:

Amy said...

Lara, thank you for sharing your amazing story. You obviously have a huge heart for God, and I am sure you are making quite an impact in NYC. Blessings to you!