Smiles are universal. Since moving to New York City to pursue performing, I have been able to immerse myself into the whole “acting scene”. One performer whom I admire very much is Paige Davis. You may know this Emmy nominated ‘smiler’ as host of Trading Spaces (TLC) and Home Made Simple (OWN) or from her vast repertoire of theater roles or from her numerous talk show appearances including The Ellen DeGeneres Show; needless to say Paige Davis does it all. But the aspect of Paige that I most respect is her philanthropic humanitarian work. It is SO refreshing and honorable to see a well-regarded, very successful actor giving back to the community.
One charity Paige works closely with is Volunteer of America’s Operation Backpack; and after reading Paige’s “Positively Paige” blog & seeing her frequent tweets and Instagram posts (@RealPaigeDavis) about Greater New York’s annual back-to-school drive, she inspired me to volunteer with them one day this past August. So I thank you Paige for all of the smiles you have given me, but especially the smile I gained from volunteering at Operation Backpack. I had the opportunity to ask Paige if she would be interested in writing her own Smile Story for NYC Smile 4 Me, and she very happily & graciously said yes!
Here is Paige’s #SmileStory:
I met Christopher following a performance of CHICAGO. I’m currently starring as Roxie Hart on Broadway. That in and of itself should give me reason to smile. It does make me smile. But ironically, that same evening when Christopher told me of his new blog and invited me to share my own Smile Story, it happened to be a day I was having a hard time finding my smile. I’d been battling a few demons, dealing with an aging body, a loss of enthusiasm, a dimming of hope. But when he asked me to participate, I suddenly realized, I already had a wonderful example. I just hadn’t processed it yet.
In the audience that night there was an adorable young girl in the front row. She looked no older than 10. It’s very difficult to see members of the audience because of the blinding effect of the spotlight, but I can usually make out the front row. She stood out to me because we don’t often see young audience goers at CHICAGO. I mean, the first spoken words of the show are “You are about to see a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery, and treachery.” Not your typical elementary school fare. LOL. Though the show is harmless enough. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for kids, per say. I’m just saying it isn’t the typical family night out, so I noticed her.
She was gleeful watching the show. I assumed she was probably a budding performer herself. And though I didn’t begin dancing until I was 13, I had an immediate affinity and connection to her. I saw my younger self in her eyes and her smile. I directed some of Roxie’s mid show monologue directly to her and managed to throw a wink in her direction during the Hot Honey Rag dance at the finale of the show.
Earlier that week I’d been reminded of my younger self when I watched a young girl doing a combination in dance class. She was vibrant and gutsy and committed and a real leader. She didn’t just do the movement correctly, she was “living”, as we say. It was class, but she wasn’t taking any chance to dance for granted. She would have danced the same if she had been on stage doing the routine. She saw class as a training ground for technique AND performance skills. That was always me. It’s still me to some extant, but watching her take those huge bites out of the NYC apple made me long for the hunger of my youth. Honestly, nowadays my body hurts too much to move fast enough to accomplish all the things my spirit is wishing.
Anyway, all this to say, I was in a funk. When I initially saw the little girl in the front row, I pegged her as another example of my fleeting youth. But when Christopher proposed this guest blog I realized that the little girl in the audience had actually made me happy. I genuinely smiled when I saw her adorable face. She brightened my day in the most unexpected way. I owe her a lot. And wherever she is, I hope she remembers the smile I gave her from the stage. If I know her like I know my own younger self, I bet she’ll remember it always.
Here’s to that little girl. Here’s to that dancer in class. Here’s to my younger self. And here’s to Christopher and his search for finding unexpected smiles. I owe you all a debt of gratitude.
Did you see someone in your ‘front row’ this week that made you smile? Share your #SmileStory by replying in the comments section underneath this blog post, or with our Twitter and Instagram handles @NYCSmile4Me