Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Allen.
Aaron, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My name is Aaron Allen! I am a young aspiring actor that will be going to AMDA in Los Angeles starting on July 20, 2020. My story is one that I am proud of and excited to continue. From a young age I have always been outgoing and easy to talk to. I love meeting new people and making new friends. My first love was sports from a young age. I was really good at basketball and was starting to pick up football as well. I was doing outstanding from a young age as most of my coaches/family/peers saw me reaching the level of professional sports in basketball or football. I had a huge passion for the game and was very competitive which are traits that describe me as a person as well.
Unfortunately, I had my first setback of my story, as I started to have seizures on the court while playing. They did not know what was wrong with me for a good part of six months. This was rough because I just made the basketball team in 7th grade which is really hard to do because the team is mostly made up of 8th graders, so I was proud. They kept running test and I was very close to being cleared until a final test came back and showed I was positive for a very rare disease in the heart called CPVT. Only 2% of the whole human population have this disease so again very rare. This disease caused by adrenaline rush in the heart. Usually adrenaline is good for the athlete and keeps them going through injury or intense moments in a game. With CPVT though it is bad for my heart and causes it to go onto an irregular beat which causes the heart to stop which caused the seizures. I will never forget the day my parents told me that I would never be able to play sports again. I was very devastated as this was my first love and I knew I had a promising future ahead of me in athletics. I took in a positive way though most of my family/peers said. I have always been a positive person from a young age and try to see the bright side of things in rough times. For the better part of a year in a half I wasn’t doing anything. No extracurricular activities just school work. I was bored and looking for something to take on. My Dad put me in golf which was okay. I had fun and enjoyed learning the game but it was to slow for my personality and style. I also started too late to see myself grow into the amazing players that I saw out there every day. Not saying I couldn’t do it but most kids start golf at a very young age and grow their skills for years. I just knew it would be tough to reach that level especially in something I didn’t truly love just liked it. I didn’t do much over the summer and went into my Freshman year of high school at Lake Norman Charter High School. I will never forget this day because this another turning point where my life was changing. I was walking across the street to my carpool one day after school. One of favorite teacher to this day and honestly another father figure to me yelled my name as I was crossing the street. He said “Aaron! You’re going to be in the play! I’ll see you tomorrow after school!” I just looked at him and said “uh okay.” I was puzzled and confused because I have never been in a play before. I always had respect for the arts though.
As a former athlete sometimes, they get portrayed as we could care less about the arts. Which for some is true but I actually had a good relationship with the arts. From a young age my Mom always took me and my sister to the theater. I use to love watching plays and seeing some of my favorite book/stories come to life. So, the next day I went to rehearsal for the play. I pretty much instantly fell in love at the table read. I will keep sharing because the story gets better but it was pretty much history from there as they say! I started to get that passion and love that I had previously for sports. My teacher gave me a small part in the play and I ran with it. As acting became my passion my Freshman year I knew I wanted to get better. My teacher told me from my first day with that small role that I was so natural. He said that he hasn’t seen that before and that is one of the best qualities to have as an actor. This made me excited but more determined to get better. My mom signed me up for classes outside of school to work on my craft at the place we use to see plays at when I was kid. Which is The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and I starting learning so much more about acting. From then on, I did plays at school and one outside of school every year at CTC. I saw myself growing as an actor the more and more I did it. From then on that is what I did outside of school for my Sophomore year to my Senior year. I don’t like to brag but it was going really well that from my Sophomore year to my Senior year I had all main roles at school and at CTC. I just saw myself grow and become so much more comfortable in my instrument on stage. It was going well until another setback my Junior year. I was at a football game dancing and forgot to take my medicine for my heart. Unfortunately, I went in to cardiac arrest and my heart was stopped for 15 minutes. I was saved by a firefighter during CPR on me and getting the blood flowing before they shocked me three times and I came back with a pulse. I am blessed to still be here today with no brain damage or anything. I was in the hospital for a week and had to go to a therapist for memory. She was amazing and worked really hard with me. We had a great relationship and she even came to my plays my senior year. I’ve always had a really good memory so forgetting small things was very frustrating for me.
To make sure that if I never went into a state of cardiac shock again, I had surgery for an internal defibrillator put in me. This would shock me back to life if my heart every hit an irregular beat. This whole process did not allow me to perform with my school at the state competition which was rough but my school won. I was able to perform on the national level three months later. This was another setback but I never let it get me down or defeat me. My Senior year went very well and I finished my high school career strong earning four outstanding acting award in my last three years. At the national competition I also received over 150 scholarships from colleges around the country to join their theater program. This was a huge honor for me even though I’ve always been humble about my success. I graduated from Lake Norman Charter High School in 2018 and decided to attend Winthrop University in Rock Hill South Carolina. This was one of the schools that offered me a scholarship for acting and academics. I also fell in love with this school when I first toured it. They also have one of the best theater programs in the southeast. I had a major in broadcasting communications and a minor in theater. I loved the classes there for theater but I just felt like something was missing. I remember times before I would go to sleep and I would think to myself I just want to get better as an actor. Not saying that I wasn’t learning anything there but I just wasn’t challenged. I tried out for the school plays and was called back but did not get casted.
I was disappointed at first of course but very soon after I looked at it as a good thing. I needed that because I have never been rejected before, I had always got the role and was in the play. I was glad they didn’t cast me because I learned that you can’t possibly get every role and sometimes it is not your fault if you aren’t casted. I stayed positive as always and I didn’t beat myself up about it. Huge learning lesson that I am glad I got early in life. I loved Winthrop but over that whole semester I was there I was contemplating taking a scholarship to AMDA in New York. I was offered this scholarship earlier that year at the SETC competition. I knew I always already going to Winthrop and didn’t want to take it at first. I thought hard over the semester and realized that I would have better opportunities in New York and learn more at an arts school. I was torn but I ended up taking the scholarship in New York. This was a huge turning point in my life and was excited/nervous for the change. Another new obstacle by going to New York and starting acting school. I was excited but nervous of the competition I would be up against. I really enjoyed AMDA from the start. I was learning so much in just a few weeks it was crazy. I was seeing myself grow as an actor each class that I went to.
My first semester went well and I learned a lot that I never knew. I was picked by a former student to do a show outside of school to get my name out there which was awesome. I did a monologue and had a really great time. I got amazing feedback and had a blast showing my talent. I hit my stride in my second semester at AMDA though. The teachers gave me praise my first semester and saw a lot of potential in from the jump. Two teachers really got me up there from the open house visit that I went to in December of 2018. They saw me growing and really trying to get comfortable with my craft. I was killing the roles in class and reaching new heights that I didn’t know were possible. I auditioned for the school show and got picked to perform. This was major because second semester student don’t usually get picked for the show. They won’t even let you audition in your first semester. I was also picked for Fight Night for our stage combat department at school. I was very excited about this because I love stage combat and we were fighting with swords in front of the school. They only pick the best sequence from each semester. The show went great and I had a blast. My third semester was challenging but went well. The third semester at AMDA is the most challenging for sure. The teachers really ramp and up and push you to be the best you can be. Which was amazing because that is all I wanted to do was get better. I had some low points in the semester but ultimately did well from what my teachers said. I was also picked for the school show again and this time got to host the show as well. I was ecstatic about hosting the show but also to perform is a dream. I’ve always loved host of shows and admired being one, one day. So, being able to be in a show that I hosted and performed in?! I couldn’t ask for more and it went great. I was picked again for Fight Night and Selections for stage combat. Selections is a third semester thing only and it is the one of the biggest honors that you can receive at AMDA. I learned about it at the start of the semester and was working hard to get picked for stage combat. Selections is a performance in front of all the faculty at AMDA and President.
We had the best fight sequence that semester so we were chosen and it was an amazing honor. With all that being done it was time for my fourth semester at AMDA. I was excited because this is the semester where we come up with our own material and showcase it to the rest of the school. I had a lot of things setup for my fourth semester but unfortunately, I had probably the biggest/most challenging time of my life. On February 22, 2020 I was walking to a show for the school where they wanted me to showcasing my talent in stage combat for an open house. I was walking across the crosswalk when I was hit by a car running a red light going 50 MPH in a 30 MPH. My body was put 20 feet forward all in the air and hit the ground. I broke three bones in my neck, cracked my left hip, big scars on my head/side, and a really badly swollen right leg. That sounds bad but I honestly should not be here to tell the story. I am blessed beyond compare and still very happy to be here. I was not able to graduate with my class but I saw it as a blessing in disguise because the virus got bad right after and I was going to have to leave New York anyway. I was put on hold but so was the rest of the world. I stayed positive during this tough time and have fully recovered. I worked hard at PT and started walking two days after the accident in the hospital. Something about me is that I am strong and resilient. Not going to lie there were many days where I would want to give up and question God of the journey, he has me on. I knew giving up was never an option though.
Everyone believed in me and knew that I was going to come back better and stronger. I have been home in Charlotte, North Carolina since February 29th getting better and waiting for the next semester to start back. I am excited to say that I will be going back to AMDA but this time on the LA campus. I have had many tough challenges over my 20 years and feel like I have faced more than people in their fifties. This just pushes me to be better and the best I can be every day. I will fall down nine times but always get up ten. My life has made me who I am, made me have to fight to get where I am at. It made me strong and I am excited for what the future holds. To see what’s next in my journey.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Hit by Car
Young African American Male
Beating Death 3 times
Moving to New York/New Environment
Lost Both Grandmas same day
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am my business as an actor. I love the craft with a ton of passion. You will always get 110% out of me every time. I aspire to be the best at whatever I do and love to compete. I will be on time and come with a smile. I don’t complain because in life not everything is going to go your way. I love to have fun but I defiantly know when to be serious and focus on the task at hand. I am really good with people and can talk to anyone. I love to learn new things and am willing to step aside for someone to show me. I don’t know everything and am willing to learn from others. Also, to share the knowledge that I have with them. I am not selfish either and will do most for other when they treat me as such. I am proud of the few awards and accolades that I have received in high school and at AMDA. I am proud of overcoming the rough challenges that I have faced over the years. I am willing to admit I am wrong because being wrong is okay, that is how you learn!
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My Mom – She has done everything for me and always been by my side through acting and life. I am nothing with her and credit her for my kind heart. My Dad – Has taught me so much and has really help me mold myself into the man I am becoming. He taught me how to respect tether and especially the women in our society. Family – Supported me at most of my shows that they can come to. The ones like across the country I understand they couldn’t make it but supported me by sending me kind words before the show. Cody Willets – This is my teacher that I have loved since 7th grade. he was like a second father figure to me throughout school and the main reason I am acting today.
I could mention people for days that have steered me on this journey I am going through. All the doctors that I have encountered and taken care of me. I know most of their names but that’s a lot! All the peers that helped me in the hospital and at home when I was hurt. My teachers at AMDA pushing me to new heights and seeing me in the hospital as well too. And all the countless strangers they told me to believe in my dream and to keep going.
- Address: 5025 Eliza Long Wilkie Dr
- Phone: 704-998-9735
- Email: Aaron_Allen2@amda.edu
- Instagram: _aallen11_