In the city of Los Angeles, actors can be found near and far, but it’s not everyday two of them step into a high school classroom and change students’ lives. That’s exactly what stars of Grey’s Anatomy, Caterina Scorsone and E.R. Fightmaster, did for the young actors of Ánimo Jackie Robinson Charter High School.
Scorsone and Fightmaster harmonized with the students instantly, jumping into leading warm-ups and sharing with students acting tricks they’ve learned over the years. After nerves were settled, students took turns performing their monologues on stage, many self-written. Scorsone and Fightmaster took detailed notes, and watched in awe of the talent commanding the room. The two later revealed they expected the students to be good, but not to be so personally impacted by their outstanding performances.
Scorscone shared her story of starting her career as a child actor, and Fightmaster detailed their journey through improv troupes and comedy shows, igniting the Ánimo Jackie Robinson students’ curiosity. The students asked how to make it, how to stand out, and Fightmaster encouraged them that they’re each what the industry is missing.
Drama student and senior Fatima Rodriguez took these words to heart. “It’s gonna push us to be more us, because I don't want to try to be someone on TV like I used to. After hearing those words, I want to be me, because there's only one me. So I feel like it was very encouraging and motivating to know that just by being myself, I can really be recognized.”
Shanelle Sandoval, a comedic standout and senior at Ánimo Jackie Robinson, shared that she felt shell-shocked by the experience, “I can’t believe that just happened. I’m just so grateful for this opportunity. I really appreciate it. It's what we needed. You know, it's hard to get these experiences and in our community we don't get as much recognition, so I just really loved it.”
Member of the Screen Actors Guild and Visual and Performing Arts teacher at Ánimo Jackie Robinson, Rachel Kopera, was just as moved by the motivational presentation as her students. “It meant a lot to hear E.R. and Caterina validate all of the emotional work we've been doing with inspiring students to share their stories, share their truth, and find beauty in their woe. The fact that they were moved to tears by my students tells me that I'm in the right place and I'm doing the right thing with my life,” she reflected. Students thanked Kopera with immense gratitude, for helping to arrange this opportunity and for her endless support.
When asked if they would like to pursue acting in the future, nearly every student's hand shot up with excitement. “I feel very motivated and encouraged to possibly pursue a career and actually put my all into the showcases that we do here,” Rodriguez said.
Ready to face their upcoming performance head on, the students left this unforgettable class period with a new found confidence, pride in themselves, and pride in each other. At Green Dot California we have an unwavering belief in all scholars’ potential and empower them to see it too. Whatever stage is next for these Ánimo Jackie Robinson students, they will be prepared to succeed.