Let Your Kid Do the Thing

Julie Ballantyne Brown
4 min readApr 5

Don’t discourage them from a career in the Arts.

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

I discovered my love for the stage, theatre in particular, in first grade. I was cast as the Shoemaker’s Wife (Opposite my first grade crush, I might add. I still remember his name: Emil Sacco) in The Elves and the Shoemaker. I don’t remember much of the actual play, only that I was completely jazzed to dress up and perform.

Over the next several years, there weren’t many opportunities to act in actual plays, but I grabbed every chance I could to perform in our school choir or band.

In high school, I finally got to do a full-scale musical, playing Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, then Sandy in Grease two years later. I loved the work, the challenges, the pressure to make my characters as believable as possible, to win over an audience. I was smitten and completely convinced that I wanted to pursue theatre as a career. My mother disagreed, however, and wouldn’t pay for any more college if I continued as a theatre major, a completely unacceptable career path. Being a stubborn eighteen-year-old, I called the bluff and dropped out of college. I don’t mean to make my mother out to be the bad guy; I’m sure many parents have and would have done the same thing. Still, I had no support and no idea how to move forward with my dream on my own, so I adjusted focus and went the safe route, something I’ve struggled with ever since.

Fast forward several years and thousands of dollars in student loans (for a “safe” career) to when I delved back into theatre. My kids were not tiny anymore and I really needed a creative outlet from my day job, teaching. Seriously.

It was slightly terrifying to jump back in after so long, but I was luckily cast in the chorus of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I had an absolute blast. So much so that I’m still with my home theatre almost eleven years later, playing many different roles, and I love it so very much.

We just finished with a show that I’m particularly proud of, Becky’s New Car. It was received very well, and each time our amazing cast stepped forward for curtain call, I had the same thought going through my head ever since I began: What if?

What if I had the support as a young actor? What if I had been encouraged to follow that dream…

Julie Ballantyne Brown

Future London resident. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BrownBallantyne or on FB and Instagram: @JulieBallantyneBrown