HEROES ARE REAL. | JOSE TONY GARCIA #THECHI | (Always Leave Early Pt. 2)

I’ve got an update to blow your mind, AND I’ve been mentioned-slash-name-bombed in a podcast, so basically what I’m saying is THIS POST IS ABOUT A MILLION DREAMS COMING TRUE. A sweet-a epilogue, if you will.

You all remember that audition when mycarbatterywouldn’tstartchicagowascoveredinsnowIhadtwobabiesthreebagsenormousstrollerbabysitterjumpedontheredlinecouldn’tmakeitupthestairsomgwe’restuckwe’lljuststaydownhereforever?!!? NO? CATCH UP HERE.

I’LL WAIT. Now come back…

Long story short, that was the audition day that everything, everything, everything went wrong – and as I articulate in the post, I always leave early because of situations just like that. But even my leaving early was not enough to get me to my audition on time, or – so it looked – even at all. This was my first TV audition for this particular Chicago casting director – one I had prepped and hustled and worked for – and it was all about to get shut down because the red line’s North and Clyborne train stop where we got off at has approximately 4295874 stairs, a half-scalator, and absolutely no mercy. I was stranded at the bottom of the three towering flights of stairs with no phone service, two kids, a babysitter, three bags, a monster-stroller, and an emptied train track at our backs. Everyone else from the train, so it seemed, was long gone on their way taking care of their own busy days. I was left with an impossible climb and the end of a dream. Except…

That day someone else left early. He also was the only passenger who chose to stay behind – a man who crossed our path and two steps ahead of us turned back to ask, “Can I help get this up the stairs?”

*SKY OPENS ANGELS SING HALLELUJAH*

esteban-lopez-482093

I feel the prayers my husband said that day because he couldn’t reach us in time spread to those around me. They had to. I couldn’t make it on my own. See, in my original post, I identified three types of people that make all the difference for a parent artist, especially a mother. People who contribute to creating accessible pathways for forward momentum: the support system (the one helping with preparation and long term goals – for me, the hubs), the advocate (extra hands and community – here, the all-star babysitter), and the hero (jumps in when things bottom out – at this moment, this dude).

This man was a hero – and, as I bizarrely did not discover until arriving at my own audition, he was also an actor with an audition in the exact. same. casting office. 

This actor helped
on audition day
carry a load
that wasn’t his
because his eyes and heart were open to someone else in need.
What.

After discovering him at the audition, and once I picked my jaw up off the floor, we exchanged info with my profuse gratitude, because thanks to him I made it to my audition on time and did great. When I wrote about the crazy experience soon after, I sent out serious vibes and asked you all to root for him in my post because he was a real-life game-changer. Even in the moments of receiving my immense gratitude he was kind and humble. The story could have ended there with that moment – someone choosing to help a mom heading in to an audition – but the twists keep coming. Shortly after my post went up telling the story, I received this message from him:

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.09.24 AM

Do you have goosebumps yet?!? Because you should. I’ve been sitting on this since last MARCH and could not be more thrilled to inform you, on the premiere weekend – here it is:

HEROES ARE REAL.

I met one that day.
And the hero that day was
JOSE TONY GARCIA
And the job he booked that day was a wee show on a sweet little network called
SHOWTIME – maybeyou’veheardofit
And the show he booked that day is called

THE CHI.

BOOOOOOM. One of the most anticipated shows of the year, and Jose Tony Garcia that day (and found out a few days later) booked as series regular drama teacher Mr. Gasca. Check out the trailer here.

You can hear Jose tell his side of the story on the super rad David Eastham Podcast, starting at minute 61:00. Tony describes having a funny feeling all day, something being off, and how helping felt like a regular gesture – something that anyone would do. He mentions this awesome bit of trivia: at the time he was looking for actual teaching jobs in the real world to support himself. The grind is real.

Since writing the original post, I’ve heard from people who know Tony that this goodness is fitting for his character. The gesture, according to Tony felt appropriate, normal. I believe this fully. However, the profound element I keep revisiting is how, in the pursuit of an important audition, effecting his craft, his career, his future, the agenda didn’t consume him to isolation. In the mind-fog of pursuing day jobs, having limited resources like all of us, hitting the grind, and the pressure of heading into big opportunities, he still saw us, and more – he literally extended a hand.

In pursuing his own career path, he sustained mine simply by offering to help.

This – this is the wonder of limited resources of time and strength, especially in professions like collaborative arts: they can multiply when shared. It is my great hope the performing arts community can grow to trust this reality when embarking on inclusive practices for parent artists.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 2.38.26 AM
Click here to visit the David Eastham podcast | story begins at minute 61:00

In the podcast, Tony mentions Parent Artist Advocacy League for the Performing Arts (PAAL), the non-profit we’ve started to help parent artists. I couldn’t be more honored to have it mentioned in the context of this story, because it reflects the organization’s heartbeat. This exact kindness and openness to others is foundational to PAAL’s mission. The performing arts community could create exponential, revolutionary change for parent artists by simple gestures, extending a hand, even for the brief moments when needed.

The impossible path may for some become possible just because we saw them, reached them, and offered to walk the path with them.

And beautiful things can happen to those who help, too.

 


Follow Jose Tony Garcia on Facebook here, watch his show, and give him a shout! He deserves every bit.

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