Actor and singer Idina Menzel has performed on stage as Elphaba in ‘Wicked’ and in many movies and TV series, including “Glee.”
Like many other talented performers, she feels she was “born to do this” and started working professionally in her teens, doing weddings and other things in high school, “while everyone else was having keg parties.
“I just felt destined to do it and really committed and driven; it was something that just felt right all my life.”
She has been singing “since she was born” and does it “everywhere I go. In the shower, walking down the street. I don’t need any impetus to do it. I just sing.” [Quotes from imdb.com]
She commented in an interview about what her character Elphaba meant, especially in terms of the courage to be yourself:
“When you’re an artist usually you have to take risks and usually you have to put yourself on the line and go against the grain in order to be great and unique.
“And then you sort of stand up for what you believe and are able to resist the negativity and things people will say to you. So that’s one aspect of Elphaba.”
Women are taught to stifle
She adds that most women “have this strength inside of us and yet we are taught to always sort of keep it down.
“If we’re too big or too angry or too bold or too beautiful or too talented, it can scare people. It might scare other women, it might scare men, whatever it is.”
She admits she has at times “taken a step back and made myself smaller in order to try to fit in. And that hasn’t worked.
“We have to learn to kind of embrace what makes us unique, and embrace our strength and then if people don’t like it, ___ it.
Menzel found that her character Elphaba “has such a power that she didn’t understand how to corral yet or anything.
“But something was happening and she wanted to do really great things. And the more she tried to hold it back, the more it would come out in the wrong way. And then people would make fun of her and alienate her.”
Standing out as a kid in not easy
She notes, “I found that, as a child especially, if you have a talent like a voice early on, for me – teachers would start to pay attention to me and I didn’t want to stick out too much because sticking out too much when you’re a kid, everyone will be mean to you.
“So you learn to hide your talents. Then when you get older you’ve got to let it shine. Let it rip or otherwise you’re going to sink, you know.”
[From interview article: Idina Menzel, Elphaba, and the Artistic Life, by Carol de Giere, July, 2005.]
But no matter what way you are creative, “let it shine.” What’s the alternative?
Also see multiple posts on my main site on Courage and creativity.
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Last reviewed: 16 Dec 2010