Humans of Emerson: Alexandra Drouhet Henderson


Alexandra Drouhet Henderson, 22, Acting

Q: What led you to want to want to become an actress?

Alexandra: When I was little I had a lot of confidence issues and I was very quiet, if that’s hard to believe. I started taking piano lessons and one day I sang for my teacher, got into opera, and began taking lessons every weekend in the city (New York).

I started opera when I was around 12 and I was the youngest in a class full of young adults, so I couldn’t really relate to the others. They would discuss drugs, sex, hating school, hating their parents, and I wasn’t at that stage yet so it was very weird. Then I would go to school and be with kids my age, but I didn’t relate to them either, I didn’t do normal things like go out or party or whatever. I just wasn’t a normal kid in a certain sense.

Q: What kind of confidence issues did you have?

Alexandra: I was really shy, I didn’t know how to talk to people or express myself. I played sports and that was good for me cause I was able to move around and scream, but I had no way of showing myself and it was kind of hard for me. I’m not sure why, I just think kids are insecure because that’s an age when you care about what others think of you. The performing arts kind of helped me find my voice, not only to perform and learn how to present myself as a person, but also not care what people thought. That was extremely important because it helped me become the person I am today.

Q: What was school like for you during this time? Did you have many friends?

Alexandra: I hated it and I loved it. I was bullied a lot by guys. I had really long arms and legs and I kind of looked like a giraffe. Guys were just mean and would tease me a lot and call me names. There was a lot of quibbling and nasty talk. I kind of hated school cause there was this big expectation to be cool and I wasn’t and I just wasn’t a part of that world as much, I didn’t feel connected to it. I had other things going for me like opera and performing arts and people told me I was good at it, but at school being cool was the most important thing at that time and I just couldn’t relate to that.

Later in life things started to calm down and I felt very myself, if that makes sense.

Q:  When you first started acting what was your goal for it, what did it do for you?

Alexandra: It just felt good really. There’s a power to it, a personal spiritual power, when you’re able to go on stage and take a whole group of people and be like ‘let me entertain you, let me show you something you have never seen before, let me impress you, let me show off a bit,’ you know?

Sometimes people don’t express themselves in normal life; they don’t know how to cry sometimes because they don’t like it, or they don’t know how to laugh like crazy and not judge themselves. There’s so much judgment and fear that people are going to look at you a certain way, and I think what’s great about acting is that it sort of gives you permission to go a little crazy and be yourself emotionally to the full extent and there’s something satisfying about that. People relate to that and I feel like in the real world people are bad at expressing their thoughts and feelings – like really bad at it – and it’s so frustrating, and in acting we’re able to show all of that.

Interview conducted by Benjamin Schachter Gordon, Luminary Writer, Office of Diversity & Inclusion