A Story of Courage

Academy Alumnus Kali McAndless

It’s been 30 years since we founded Gateway Academy. That’s three decades of rigorous rehearsals, theatre game laughing fits, and backstage butterflies. To mark the occasion we’re sharing three stories from our Alumni, one for each decade of Academy, that capture our theatre education program’s core tenets: courage, creativity, and connection. Up first is our very own board member!

Whether you’re pitching, presenting, or performing, everyone benefits from a practice in courage. Discover how Graphic Designer and Gateway Theatre Board Member Kali McAndless built up her confidence through the supportive and welcoming environment of Academy:

At eight years old, I saw my very first musical at Gateway, and I was awe struck. I felt part of something, and I went home knowing I wanted to be up on stage. There was just one catch – I was painfully shy. 

My parents were delighted by my enthusiasm for theatre. They signed me up for summer camps and I kept going back year after year. It was usually hard for me to talk with people, but for whatever reason I could get up on stage and become a completely different person. I learned a lot of social skills, which gave me the courage to come out of my shell. I discovered very quickly that Gateway Academy was a safe space, and I’d go there excited to see
my friends.

The skills that I learned from my Academy classes, about how to present myself, have definitely supported me in my career. As a designer, you have to present your ideas to companies and clients, and so I am always getting up in front of people, even though it still terrifies me. I am able to articulate myself, get my ideas across, present my work. Simple little things like how to hold a microphone have stuck with me; sometimes I even coach my peers and support others’ presentation skills.

Even after I stopped attending Academy classes, I would volunteer at the theatre, and here I am full circle, on the board. Academy was an important part of growing up for me. It rounded me out as a person and gave me the confidence I needed to walk through life.

Problem-solving, public speaking, discipline, empathy – a performer’s skill set comes in handy for school, work, and life. Whether a child is set on sciences or social media, Academy can help them pursue their passions with confidence. Explore our Fall and Winter theatre classes!