When I read Sibs for the first time, it triggered an emotion that I have rarely, if ever, have felt after reading a script. I felt protective. I felt protective over 13-year old, newly orphaned Alister, having to encounter such grown up experiences so early in his life. I felt protective over Alister’s half-sister, Sophie, who having just developed her sea legs and planted them in for the long haul as an artist in New York City, is confronted with the prospect of uprooting her newly laid foundation to raise him on her own. I felt protective over these characters’ youth, their lost innocence, their promise, their relationship as siblings. And mostly, I felt protective over Samantha.
I met Samantha Slater at the Atlantic Acting School in New York City, where I have been a teacher for the last 18 years, during her second year as a conservatory student. Samantha is a force of nature. Her skills as a filmmaker and knowledge of filmmaking are self-taught, and wildly impressive. She comes by her entrepreneurial spirit naturally, and her fierce drive and fearless persistence is awe-inspiring. Her passion for storytelling is undeniable. AND, she can act! When someone like Samantha crosses the threshold of my classroom, my antenna immediately goes up, and I want to do all that I can to empower them to trust their instincts, prepare them for the volatility of the industry, while encouraging them to be steadfast in their pursuit. And, like many acting teachers, I challenge them to make their work substantive, personal, humble, and honest. Throughout our time together at the Atlantic, Samantha dug deep on her courage to bring more depth, more truth, more authenticity to her work. I was struck not only by her bravery, but also very moved by the unique relationship and beautiful connection she has with her three half siblings that she inevitably revealed to the class as she identified what was most important to her beyond her life as an artist. And, to be honest, I was envious.
I have two half siblings. They are twins. I’ve met them once. We share the same father. The three of us, along with my full-blooded brother, are all estranged from him. I would love nothing more than to have a relationship with my half-siblings. Facebook has facilitated communication with my half-brother. But, my half-sister wants nothing to do with me. I’m assuming it is because it’s too painful. I don’t know. I will always honor her wishes. But, it is a source of a great deal of sadness. I always wanted a sister.
Samantha’s story is personal. It’s personal to her, and it’s personal to me. And, complicated. At times, things have been tense. Because we care so deeply. Because we’re both headstrong, and opinionated, and driven. We both want what’s best for this story. We both want what’s best for our siblings. We want, very badly, to do right by one another. To make good on our commitment to truth in storytelling. To support each other as women. Perhaps it’s because we are so similar, to the point that we can drive each other a bit nuts, that I have felt so protective of Samantha and her heartfelt story since that first read. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say our relationship resembles that of…sibs.
New York City