Everyone at JMU has a story to tell. Each week we'll feature a story from a student in our 'Humans of Madison' series. This is Bracken's story.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence, which is pretty normal for kids — and pretty normal for people in general, I think —  but I would do the school musicals and musicals at my church just for fun. One day ... it was a production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamCoat,’ and I was one of the brothers, and there was some one-liner that I had that tiny 13-year-old me just couldn’t get. [The director] told me to pretend that I was saying it to my sister, which I thought was really embarrassing and awkward and weird, and I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t really know anything about acting back then. I was just in it because I was in choir and the choir was in the musicals, but he kind of coaxed me to keep saying it until I just screamed, which was something I never did. I was always really quiet, and I didn’t like to be loud and heard and obnoxious. Something about that, seeing him see me get something right, it made me feel really powerful, and it made me feel like I could be loud if I wanted to. Since then, I took theater a lot more seriously — even though I was so young — and now I’m a theatre major.” 

“Well, I think that the reason I am so interested in theater now is not the same thing that got me interested in theater. I think when I was younger, it was a way for me to feel like a person who could say things and do things. Now I feel like my biggest value is empathy, and that’s why I like theater and art so much because I think that the ability to look on stage and see yourself in another person is really important. It’s something that everybody needs to be exposed to, because it helps us be able to care for each other better. I think without that moment, even though it’s not related to everything that’s keeping me in the arts now, it’s what led me there.”