The influences in my life that are humans are as follows (in no particular order):
Bo Burnham, Kaelin Isserlin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Linda Garneau, Evan Peters, Julie Andrews, Lady GaGa, and my grandmother.
I will attempt to explain my reasons for why these people have a greater influence on me than others. Hope it functions properly.
The human form of elegance with just a spoonful of mystery.
Mary Poppins, Eliza Doolittle, Maria von Trapp, Queen Clarisse Renaldi, Millie Dillmount… I could go on…
A resume like this deserves the most respect out of any other actor/actress. Julie Andrews is a vision that will never fade. Her attention to detail, musicality and poise makes her endless generosity seem so invaluable. But! She manages to keep a cool head and stay focused on generating award-worthy performances every single time she steps in the limelight. Indeed, it is such a joy for me to even write about her because I admire her to no ends.
Among the characters she has originated/perfected, Miss Andrews leaps between the stage and the screen so effortlessly that I feel so connected to her journey. She invites her audience to follow her in moments of live theatre, and then she takes us with her when a camera is involved. To make that jump a number of times and still have the intelligence to analyze these plot lines is so impressive to me. I am constantly in awe of her history with performance. Whether she is in a box or a black box, Julie never strikes out.
She has worked with legends like Blake Edwards, Gene Kelly, Carol Burnett, Rex Harrison, and even Robert Goulet. To stand next to people like this would take a lot of confidence and cleverness, and Julie made it seem so easy. It’s as if I have no doubt in my mind about someone’s execution and that is such a comforting thing to have in my life. I don’t have to worry about certain choices that she makes because I know I will always agree with her. For example, her conceptualization of the title role in Victor/Victoria was so gracefully brought to life. This role involves a kind of androgyny that could be troubling for a female artist at the time of the film’s release. When asked to wear a moustache and find inspiration from a male perspective, she did not shy away from the challenge. I think that this choice was very risky, however, the final product was nothing less than iconic and helpful for her career. It gives me the courage to put the story first, so that I can focus on telling the plot and less on how a story could damage my personal life. Julie knows that her own experiences are separate from the characters she plays, and she embraces each role with mindfulness. And that sparkling fountain hat slays everything.
My first time witnessing her “crowning glory” was in The Princess Diaries. That VHS tape was like a stuffed animal to me. I stayed close to its presence and studied her and Anne Hathaway like a hawk. I wanted to be as great as she was in that film. I didn’t realize until I grew up a bit that Julie’s organized madness was the thing that kept me inspired for most of my childhood. From then on, she always seemed to be on my screen. Next was The Sound of Music, where I found her voice to be the lullaby of my dreams. Then came Mary Poppins and hearing her in the Shrek franchise as Queen Lillian. Around the time I was 16, I started obsessing over Youtube videos of her on old talk shows like this one and this one. But of course I started to figure out that I knew nothing about her; she had made her start on legendary Broadway and West End productions. When I heard that she had been the original Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, my ignorance stabbed me in the chest so hard I thought I would collapse. HOW COULD I HAVE NOT KNOWN THAT? Still so mad at myself. I had to do more research in order to understand her greatness on a different level.
As a teenager, I was fortunate to impersonate two of her singing roles in tap routines at my dance studio. “Le Jazz Hot” was the first song I portrayed as Julie, and I instantly felt so determined to attempt my best work for the sake of her legacy. It was a mission that brought me joy and excitement as well as healthy pressure. In addition, my choreographer was a super fan too, so there was a big amount of desire to do her well. Afterwards, I got to play a version of Maria with other dancers on my team playing the von Trapp family. What a thrill that was. To have my friends/teammates beside me onstage made me realize the opportunity of live theatre as a company of people was so much more enjoyable than to do it by yourself. I grew into my obsession with Broadway and other theatre opportunities where a group works together to produce entertainment. It was profoundly a happy time in my life. Also, I got to learn in detail about Julie’s mannerisms that she chose for Maria’s personality. I have never examined a role so in-depth and I felt accomplished with my final results each competition. I knew an opportunity like this would likely never come again, so I wanted to do it justice.
Although Julie Andrews has found more and more success in her life after her golden age, I still feel that her defining years were in those classic movies. I know that that specific style of motion picture is usually not created anymore due to generational changes, but I can’t help but wish that actors would remind themselves of the importance of grace and poise. I think I would respect their work more if I saw that they were more interested in creating art and less interested in fame. And that is what Julie represents, in my opinion. Her work ethic was and still is clearly guided by passion. The ora that she possesses could cure cancer, if that was humanly possible.
One day, I hope to meet her. Just to see her smile in person.
I will forever be indebted to her.