There are happy stories out there, but I think some of them may raise false expectations for teens.
Growing up in this post-apartheid era, the first generation of teens in South Africa living in this new democracy, I often found myself feeling different. I was often the only person of color in an otherwise all-white school. And within the Indian community, because of my training with an English acting teacher, my accent was very different.
I love 'Breathless,' and 'Paris, Texas,' and 'Badlands.' I was obsessed with those films in my teens. I remember watching 'Badlands' and being amazed that there were these scenes in which nobody said anything and the silence told the whole story.
I myself started out quite young; when you're working, professionally, even if you are in your teens, you just want to be treated the same as everybody else. You just want people to see you as an actor and not as a kid.
It took me years to actually get comfortable on the stage. I prefer the intimacy of screen; it comes easier to me. In theater, you have to be louder and bigger - that was harder for many years in my teens. But now I've conquered that. I eat up the stage. I love it.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was barely out of my teens. Like our olive skin tone and caterpillar eyebrows, I guess it just runs in the family.
Later, in the early teens, I used to ride my bike every Saturday morning to the nearest airport, ten miles away, push airplanes in and out of the hangars, and clean up the hangars.
Often, as teens, we think we know everything, but actually we're just trying to figure life out, and we don't know much at all.
When I look out at the audience at some of our shows, I think we are reaching a younger audience... I see lots of people in their 30s and 40s, but I also see a lot of people in their young and middle teens, and that's definitely reassuring.
One of the things I noticed while I lived in New York City was how different the kids and teens were that grew up there versus, you know, my suburban upbringing. They have this innate resilience and toughness to them, and they're incredibly self-sufficient, usually from a pretty young age.