This is a departure from the other posts, but documenting the process of making the film is very much documenting my life.
Let me start by saying that I think it’s safe to say that 11-14 are the most impressionable ages, and we’re lucky to survive them. Your peers can be mean, adults don’t take you seriously. Your post-school future is as shimmery and impossible to imagine as outer space.
I had the extraordinary good fortune to meet Karisa Bandura in 6th grade and she was my life raft. We made each other laugh and went to the mall one million times and slipped notes into each other’s lockers. We talked on the phone for upwards of five hours a night. Once in 7th grade, she and I walked down an empty hall and voices from around the corner drifted back. It was two girls making fun of me in cruel and specific detail. I turned to Karisa and I remember exactly the expression on her face. It was unavoidable that we walk by them, and they’d see that I’d heard – one of those impossible social dynamics that defines what it is to be 12. Karisa gave me a smile that said I’m with you, we got this. And we walked past them, side by side. And I kept my head up. Because sometimes sharing something difficult is the only way through it.
Just over three weeks ago, Karisa was diagnosed with stage four adrenal cancer. When I realized just how horribly terrible things had gotten, I came back to Maryland to see her. I arrived late Saturday night and was in the next room when she slipped away Sunday evening. She leaves behind a close-knit and wonderful family, including two beautiful children. She brought a lot of joy into a lot of lives. As friends go, she was the perfect mix of generous, supportive and loving. The world is less interesting and much less bright without her.
My first acting experience was playing Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors when I was 12. I remember being backstage with Karisa, listening to the radio and wishing we were older. We shared a dream of moving to New York City to be actresses. This film is for you, honey. I love you so much. May your memory be a blessing.