When I watched Kate’s video on Twitter describing her feelings about Sense8 and how she’s found pieces of herself in all of the characters, it made me wonder whether that is actually also one reason why this series appeals to me. So I’ve decided to start a series exploring my connection to the eight sensates (and maybe even going beyond just the main characters – let’s see how far I’ll get) to bridge the time until June 8, when the special will be available on Netflix.
Warning: It’s going to get personal.
I’m starting with Lito (played by Miguel Ángel Silvestre), because we have one thing in common: We get insecure when we don’t feel loved or accepted for who we are. We crave for applause.
(I would recommend watching this clip only if you’ve already seen the show.)
Strangely enough, in some respect this is not true for me at all, as I have never been prone to succumb to peer pressure. Even as a young girl I didn’t feel I needed to change just so I could fit in and become part of a clique. For instance, I wasn’t interested in drinking alcohol. My classmates kept pestering me saying things like „You’re not a real human being if you don’t drink beer!‟ (I’m from Bavaria, Germany, home of the Octoberfest.) My reaction? I vowed not to drink any alcohol at all for the rest of my life (and have pretty much stayed on course – all the alcohol I’ve drunk in the years since then fits easily into one bottle). I also haven’t tried smoking or any other drugs. Honestly, not once. Except for chocolate. And black tea. And watching TV/movies/plays. And Sense8.
While I’m lucky to not have experienced any real bullying because of that, I was never exactly popular at school either. So I drew my self-confidence from performing on stage. Since I was ten, I have been singing and playing (the flute) in a „church band‟ (it’s our 38th ❗ anniversary this year), I joined both the choir and the orchestra at secondary school (age 11-19), and later I also became part of the drama group there. I was rather shy in „normal life‟ but I loved being on stage, getting instant gratification and approval by the applause, by people coming up to me and complimenting me on my voice. I also did some – what was then called – street dancing (today’s equivalent of Hip Hop maybe), even ended up on German TV twice, an experience I cherish until today.
In contrast to Lito, despite the fact that particularly singing has been a constant in my life giving me so many unforgettable moments of pure bliss, I didn’t make a profession out of it, even though I once dreamt of becoming a „Hollywood actress‟ (no way did I want to be in German movies!) or of performing in musicals. My shyness and insecurities triumphed over my passion and belief in myself. So I can totally relate to Lito’s insecurities, and I truly believe that a lot of actors and actresses actually know this feeling, especially since they are constantly judged and reviewed. Of course, you’re in danger of becoming obsessed with what critics and fans say, and therefore might see your own value as an artist only through the eyes of these. So you try to live up to their expectations, all the time wondering whether you’re good enough. Unfortunately, there are enough sad cases of artists who fall into depression and/or resort to drugs – with sometimes fatal consequences. That’s why I find Lito’s reaction to losing his agents and seemingly „all his fans‟, while appearing completely exaggerated and over the top, absolutely understandable. I think I never tried to reach my dream of becoming some sort of performer professionally because I felt I couldn’t deal with the inevitable rejection that I would have had to learn to live with.
Now, being a teacher is not really a profession where you aren’t faced with any rejection… Especially at the beginning of my career I was often rather insecure going into the classroom – and students, of course, can sense fear like dogs, which resulted in a very difficult first five years (it actually took me even longer than that to really be comfortable – and even happy – with my job). But I „survived‟ these difficult years, in which I taught at a lot of different schools, had to deal with principals that didn’t support me, students that didn’t take me seriously and once failed a performance review (not sure whether this is the appropriate term here) that would have secured me a steady position at a school that I would have loved to stay at. I did have periods in which I felt depressed, in which I questioned my life choices, but I never gave up.
Since I started at my current school, things have slowly improved. I’ve been a teacher for 20 years now, and today I am confident that I have something to offer to my students – and I finally feel I’m being acknowledged by my superiors, and often also by my students. I’m at peace with my profession and enjoy life as a teacher (for the most part – there are always ups and downs and really stressful times). For a time I could even combine my „normal“ job with my passion for music when I was in charge of a small choir (& sometimes band) at my school. I will never forget how one year on graduation day students that had been in my choir for two years and now left school, sang „Thank you for the music“ (ABBA) for me as a going-away gift. Tears of joy were streaming down my face!
So, yes, I am glad being a teacher (it helps that teachers do have a better standing and get a higher salary in Germany than I feel they do in the US), but I do still envy people who have gone into acting (or any kind of performing arts) – maybe that is one reason why I attend fan conventions and fly to London again and again to see actresses and actors I like live on stage as they are performing in plays (can’t wait to see Tuppence Middleton – Riley Blue – in August, for example). I have this urge to show them my appreciation by supporting their art and, if possible, I like telling them in person – at the stage door or when getting an autograph at a convention – how much their art means to me.
Wow, it feels like I’ve gone a bit off topic, but that’s what Sense8 achieves: It makes you connect with the characters on a level that is hardly achieved by any other series and it makes you think about your life.
Of course, there are other reasons why I like Lito, one of them being that he is part of one of the most lovely (and sexy) gay couples I’ve ever seen on screen, and I also love the idea of the friendship and loyalty that Hernando and Lito (#herlito) share with Daniela. To be honest: I would love to be Daniela and share my life with these beautiful (inside and out) people… ❤