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Andy Warhol is my Idol

July 6, 2013

Well, he’s one of them, anyways. Everyone has them—someone to look up, to keep a biography of on their bookshelf, the person you name your children after, maybe even someone you pray to. You have your everyday idols that you thank in your Tony winning speech: your parents, the English teacher who praised your poem that one time in tenth grade, a friend who let you sleep on their couch for a month. But there are also the big ones, your Jesuses, J. K. Rowlings and Audra McDonalds who don’t get mentioned in the seventy-five seconds before the music kicks in.

Today, I’m taking a little time to mention mine (I have three big ones). Starting with our title idol, Andy Warhol:

Fun fact! I am fascinated by art history—I love a Van Gogh and Kandinksy and Klimt. I recreated Munch’s The Scream when I was in high school and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte (yes…the inspiration behind Sunday in the Park with George). My favorite artist though, is Andy Warhol. You could argue that Andy was not an artist because he took other people’s pictures of Marilyn and someone else’s Campbell Soup label design. I argue that Andy was an artist, a businessman, a source of great inspiration. I am a fountain of Warhol history and quotes—did you know that Andy had a studio known as “the Factory”? His friends would live and hang out there and help him make his art as well as make art of his own. In a fifty-eight year life, he made commercial art for magazines, his famous pop art silkscreen paintings, films, produced Broadway plays and music, created performance art, wrote books and marketed himself so effectively I’d be willing to bet that Andy is one of the most recognizable artists in history. Every artist can learn something from him, from creating in multiple mediums, collaboration with friends and marketing yourself—Andy Warhol is on my list.

#2 on my list is Joss Whedon. He is possibly the best known idol on my list, for works ranging from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (who will ever forget the time he made tv musicals cool again?) to The Avengers with his critically acclaimed (and canceled far too soon) works like Firefly and Dollhouse. He’s another idol in favor of collaboration—he continually works with a lot of close actors and writers on his projects. I have yet to see a Joss Whedon production that I haven’t fallen in love with and watched over and over again on Netflix.

But the real reason Joss Whedon makes my list is because of the 2008 Writer’s Guild Strike. During the strike, Joss decided to create something…a professionally made film without the budget and released for free. That “something” is better known as Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, one of Time Magazine’s Top 50 Inventions. Joss not only revolutionized webseries (what would the Underdog Actor be doing right now if it wasn’t for Dr. Horrible?) but also self-produced artistic work (something the Redheaded Actress and the Enterprising Actor know a lot about these days!). Not only is he following up Dr. Horrible with a sequel but another recently released, self-produced film Much Ado About Nothing. He’s a busy, busy man. And, he still found the time to give this awesome graduation speech. Can my school get Joss to come for my graduation?

Lastly, Joan of Arc. Saint Joan. That French witch chick who was burned at the stake. Is there any other woman in history who’s been interpreted so many times? Okay, I can think of a few (Anne Boleyn, for one but we’re talking about my idols here!). From Shakespeare to Shaw, her story has been written so many times. She’s been a saint, witch, heroine, warrior, martyr—what we do really know for certain about her is that Joan was a peasant girl who won the trust of a king and led his army, turning the tide of war. Even when captured, she withstood months of interrogation, attempted to escape, wore men’s clothing and short hair (in 1431!). Hollywood couldn’t have come up with a better heroine if they tried (and they tried really hard with Katniss Everdeen but Joan still kicks her ass). When Joan was burned at the stake, she was still a teenager. I am not much older than she was and haven’t changed the course of history. Do I need to continue to list all my reasons why Joan is my dream role of all time? Maybe she’ll be my Tony winning role someday. And if I’m not cast in the next few years, I will just have to follow Whedon, Warhol and the Redheaded Actress’s example to self-produce my own production.

There you have it! My three idols (and one dream role). Honorable mentions include Eve Ensler, J. K. Rowling, Felicia Day, Bernadette Peters (my first Broadway star) and Audrey Hepburn—I’m talking Nazi-defying, can hold her own against Fred Astaire, UNICEF Audrey, not just Breakfast at Tiffanys.

So, who doesn’t get mentioned in your Tony winning speech? Who are your inspirations, idols, the trailblazers?

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