A young man in swim trunks and an 80’s sweater sits on the edge of his seat in a hotel hallway, waiting for his name to be called. Around him, other young men and women dressed in formal clothing give him weird glances. But he doesn’t care. After what seems like hours of anxiously waiting, a tall man walks out of the hotel room and calls his name. He slowly stands up, trying to keep the nerves from taking control of his body. He walks into the room and stands across from the other man. As if the eyes of a professional from NYC aren’t intimidating enough, a large video camera records the young man. It’s just waiting to capture every move. Every word. Every mistake.
There is silence for a moment, and the young man in swim trunks stands still as a statue. He closes his eyes, and sticks his hands in his pockets, reaching for the watch given to him by his inspiration–his grandfather. He remembers the words once spoken to him by his grandfather: “Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to go out there and do something.”
He never really understood those words as a child, but now they scream inside his head, inspiring and driving him to pursue his wildest dreams. He takes a deep breath and whole new person takes over his body.
This new person was Zach Wood’s persona for his audition for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City. On April 11, while taking a nap, Wood received a call from the admissions director, congratulating him on his acceptance into the college.
“They called me, and I was half asleep,” Wood said. “I thought I was dreaming, and I was going to wake up all mad that it wasn’t real life. It was surreal. It still kind of is.”
Wood found his love for acting at a young age. This passion grew with the encouragement of North’s drama family. Wood has been in 6 productions at North, including the 2010 Spring play “You Can’t Take it with You”, in which he was casted as the Russian dance instructor. Wood is also the current president of the drama club.
“His favorite thing to say is ‘lose yourself’,” sophomore Jessica Olsen said. “There’s this certain spark in his eyes when he says it. Almost like he’s losing himself just telling that to someone. That’s how he’s inspired me.”
Although Wood was accepted into AMDA for acting classes, he is also known around North for his dancing abilities. Wood has shown his dancing skills off in front of the entire student body on several occasions–one of which he dressed as Tina Turner and worked the stage in high heels and tights.
“Mock Rock. Now that was the real Zach Wood,” Olsen said. “Not as a woman of course, but how he can make fun of himself. He blew me away. Everyone loved him–he even performed an encore.”
Dancing has been a part of Wood’s life ever since he was eight years old. He first became interested in the art when he saw his step-sisters dancing. Wood spends many after school hours in a local dance studio preparing for dance competitions and teaching 14 to 15 year olds how to dance. But he hasn’t always shared his love of dancing so publicly. While being bullied in middle school and the beginning of high school, Wood found dancing to be a secret sanctuary.
“Dancing used to prevent me from being myself,” Wood said. “I used to not tell people I was a dancer. I was just this kid trying to fit in. I kept it a secret for years. I was like Hannah Montana.”
According to Zach, the reaction from the school was quite unexpected. While he was expecting for everyone to judge him for dancing, he was surprised to find that they actually thought it was neat.
“I appreciate the love from people,” Wood said. “The fact that people accept me for being this weird, quirky kid, I’m so thankful for.”
During the audition for AMDA, at the request of the judge, Wood showed off a couple of his dance moves.
“I really think it gave me some brownie points,” Wood said.
The advanced program that Wood was accepted to is meant to prepare students to go straight out into the working field after 2 years.
“I always say that I wanna become kind of a star; I wanna be on TV and shows on Broadway. It’d be awesome,” Wood said. “But just to entertain people. That would be ultimate.”
As the drama banquet approaches, and the club must pass the stage to a new president, Wood and the rest of the Thespians prepare to say goodbye to each other.
“I don’t know high school without Zach Wood,” Olsen said. “I don’t know FHN Theatre without Zach Wood. I’ve had more laughs and adventures within the past two years than I ever have in my life because of him.”
Even though he is moving to New York in September, Wood still believes this is all a dream.
“I’m just some kid from the Midwest; I don’t think that stuff that I have dreamed about since I was a kid is coming true,” Wood said.