Achievement House Blog

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Lights, Camera, Action! How One AHCCS Senior went from Actor to Director

Julia DeBald

Having the time to pursue a career path all while going to school full time could seem unimaginable to some students. Twelfth grader Azaria (Ace) Garcia proved, however, that you don’t have to wait until after high school to start living out your dreams. With a unique senior project in mind, Ace decided that he would direct and act in a play called Totally Gone with the Wind, chosen by Ace because of his love for comedy. He feels that being enrolled with Achievement House allowed him to accomplish his long-time dream of directing a play by giving him the time he needed to pursue his craft. 

Achievement House gave me the time I would not have otherwise had, which let me do the things I love and plan to keep doing in the future,” Ace says. “After taking AHCCS’s entrepreneurship course in 10th grade, I even had the opportunity to combine my passion for video with my interest in owning a business by starting a videography business. All the teachers have supported me through my struggles when I needed it the most and showed me that they’re able to connect with us students.

Ace’s mom, Mrs. Shannon Garcia, enrolled her two other sons in Achievement House after Ace’s positive experience. She explains how being enrolled at an online school provided her children with more chances to pursue their interests. 

We as a family love the flexibility we have thanks to Achievement House,” Mrs. Garcia says. “Since our public schools have cut back arts and music, cyber school aided in the opportunity for my children to explore their passions and grow as artists.

Ace's inspiration behind his senior project came from his long-time interest in theater. It all began when his mom and grandmother started taking him to various types of shows at a young age. Being too small to see the stage from a regular seat, Ace would add a cushion to the theater chair so he could see the action.  

I got to experience new things with every show, and since then I’ve been hooked on theater,” Ace says. “Attending these shows is a big reason I am who I am today and led me to act in my first play, The Wizard of Oz, when I was 12 years old.

Ace made a connection several years ago with an organization called Weary Arts Group, which is run by his previous school’s theater teacher. After convincing them to let him direct his very own play while mentoring him through his role as director, the rigorous preparation began with finding a royalty free play and location to produce. Once Ace decided on Totally Gone with the Wind, he contacted everyone he knew might be interested in being a part of the production team which led to several weeks of meetings, auditions, and rehearsals. This experience taught Ace that anyone can do what they set out to accomplish if they do the necessary research, work hard, and accept a lending hand when needed.

While this was my first time directing and it was difficult to find actors and a crowd to attend the play, I pulled off the whole production despite these obstacles,” Ace says. “It may take time and it may take others help, but you can do anything if you just accept that receiving support from others is okay. This helped me grow as an actor and I am now going to be working as director whenever I get the chance.

AHCCS teacher Ms. Anna Berzins attended the play and explains that the most special part about the play was that Ace included anyone who wanted to participate and didn’t exclude people because of their background or level of talent. It blew her away that he was able to envision having a dinner theatre and piece together the entire production. Seeing Ace in his element directing and performing in a play that he turned into a reality made this a one-of-a-kind experience. 

This was an unprecedented event, as no one has ever staged a performance for their graduation project in this way, so I hope he's able to translate this success to his future endeavors,” Ms. Berzins says. “Fulfilling a goal like this will allow him to pursue anything to which he sets his mind, and I’m sure he has learned that nothing worth doing comes without hard work. This was an invaluable learning experience, and I hope that he continues to view the world with such an open lens.

While Ace is still exploring all his options after graduation, he does know that he wants to continue acting and running his videography business while directing whenever possible. Congratulations, Ace, everyone at Achievement House knows you will go on to do great things!