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The Folger Spotlight

Inquiring young minds...

This entry is in response to a question, submitted by a student from JP McCaskey High School in Lancaster, PA. This student asks, “What led you to become an actor, and where do you envision your career going?”

This seemingly simple question has a complex, multifaceted answer, but I will try to respond as simply and clearly as possible. I was fortunate enough to be born to well-educated, artistic parents, who exposed to me to the arts from an early age and encouraged me to read, learn, ask questions, and try things! As it happens, my father, James Keegan, is also a professional actor, and I’ve had the outrageously good fortune to work with him on several occasions. I do not want it to seem, however, that becoming an actor was simply a way of following in my father’s footsteps. But the love of the theater and storytelling that he instilled in me at an early age drew me to the stage. Ultimately, I decided to pursue acting professionally because when I’m on stage, there is no place in the world I’d rather be. Telling a story, be it comic or tragic, creating and embodying a character, good or evil, is transformative and challenging and fun. It is a privilege to be able to transport an audience to another world, if only for a couple of hours.

As for where I envision my career going, there are many choices available to an actor. I would love to work more in the fields of film, voiceover, commercials, and television. These mediums, besides usually being more lucrative than the theatre, provide challenges and opportunities that aren’t available on stage. Ultimately, though, I would be happy to spend the rest of my career performing dynamic, interesting plays written by intelligent, gifted playwrights, on stage, in front of excited audiences. In the world of theatre, just like in life, it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. Some of the greatest successes in my life and career are experiences for which I didn’t plan. They came as a result of hard work, dedication, being in the right place at the right time, and being open to opportunities that I hadn’t previously considered. Some of the most exciting moments that happen on the stage are moments that are not planned; they are born out of creativity, experimentation, and risk. I have found that the same is true of life. So, while I will continue to dream, set goals, and strive to accomplish them, it is my great hope that life will continue to present me with the unexpected. I would never have guessed, five years ago, or even one, that I would be where I am today. But here I am, and I like the view. Although I have no way of knowing what the next 5, 10, 20, or even 50 years may hold, I will keep living my life and planning my career with this in mind: nothing but good can come from passionately pursuing the things you love.