The applause, the high fives and pats on the back just keep coming for Analisa Allen. And it’s been an unexpected journey.
Two years ago, when Allen was a freshman at Timberline High School, she did the unexpected. She signed up for the school’s theater class. The shy, quiet Allen took the stage, learned her parts, and played her roles.
“I loved it,” Allen said.
Now a junior at Timberline, she’s now exceptionally good at acting, at delivering her lines and playing her parts. That skill has brought her to an unexpected stage – Broadway in New York. A star is born.
Last month, this once quiet, unassuming teenager surprised even herself. In a statewide drama competition hosted by the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Allen took first place in the August Wilson monologue competition at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in February. On May 3-7, she’ll be in New York, competing in a national monologue competition where high schoolers from across the country perform a three-minute act, delivering their parts and getting graded on their performances.
It’s a headline moment. Some of the actors in the past who have come and mentored at this competition have been Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.
“This is a BIG deal,” said Robin Tuckett, Timberline’s theater director.
This award and the honor of going to New York to compete in a national theater competition have already opened the door for Allen on some professional paying gigs for two plays in Seattle. And it’s been an eye opener for Allen, possibly shaping her career and leading her toward acting.
“I’ve known for a while that I probably want to spend most to all of my life acting,” Allen said.
But before she heads to a career in acting, she’s making sure she has all her squares correctly filled. She’s doing Running Start, attending three classes at South Puget Sound Community College. Her involvement with theater, with acting in the state competition, has opened another door of interest. “I’ve also used the skills I’ve learned in theater to build an appreciation for the human mind,” Allen said. “I would like to study neuroscience in college.”
So, Allen plans on going to college and not heading right to Hollywood out of high school.
“I would suggest against that,” Tuckett said with a chuckle about heading directly to Hollywood. “Unless you want to get eaten up and spit out, go to school first.”
Allen isn’t just a dreamer. She’s a doer. Besides being involved in Running Start, she goes to her school’s theater after-school program that’s directed by Tuckett and Terry Shaw from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. every week day.
“It takes a lot of work,” Tuckett said. “She’s committed. It’s been spectacular,” he said. “She’s gone from this shy freshman to this powerful character on the stage. It’s an honor to watch. She’s a great kid.”
For the last couple of weeks, Allen and 21 of her classmates have been practicing the school’s next theater performance – The Wizard of Oz – which will be performed May 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18 at Timberline.
With all her commitment to school and theater, Allen doesn’t have time to turn out for sports.
“I don’t allow it,” Tuckett said with a smile.
Career wise, Allen is already building an impressive resume by winning the August Wilson monologue competition at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. As a result, she’s gotten two paying gigs in Seattle and she’s heading to New York. She does her rehearsals for the Seattle plays on the weekends, keeping her busy. “I’ve had to prioritize and I prioritized money,” Allen said with a laugh.
When Allen first got involved in Timberline’s theater program, she wasn’t sure she should be involved. She wasn’t sure she had the talent or the desire. Being on the stage, being the center of attention, was hard.
“When I first went to theater, I don’t think I really wanted to do it because I was uncomfortable with everybody looking at me,” Allen said. But with encouragement, with support, Allen made an unexpected discovery. “I feel very much at home in theater,” Allen said. “I’ve had amazing teachers. And a support system. I excelled and it was a way for me to express myself. I can become my own person.”