Gabrielle Brinkman is sitting at a desk in her small, but cozy apartment. A cup of hot coffee and a Dutch pastry are set to the side, next to a graphic novel that she is working on. Later that night Gabrielle is heading to a local theater where she has a lead role in a musical. She is also preparing to start filming her first movie role. Gabrielle’s life is full of things she loves the most; drawing, writing, acting, and singing.
That is a dream that Warrenton High School’s senior, Gabrielle, 18, sees herself in the near future. Reaching this dream will most likely involve a college education and many brave tryouts and auditions to find her place in an acting career. But Gabrielle already has a plan: This fall she will attend George Fox University in Newberg, where she will double-major in theater and art & design, with focus on illustrating. She recently won awards at George Fox for both the art, and the theatre scholarship competitions. She also received the honor roll scholarship the past three years at WHS.
A rising star
Anyone who has attended Warrenton High School plays in the past few years have begun to notice Gabrielle’s talent in acting. Her lead role, Princess Winnifred, in the musical “Once Upon the Mattress” last fall was outstanding performance. Gabrielle’s ability to throw herself into the role and perform so expressively comes from her decision to be a story-teller.
Since she was younger she has always had a very creative imagination and she has enjoyed telling make-believe stories with her friends. Her best childhood memories are from those times when she shared the make-believe play with either her cousin or brothers. Later, in middle school, her best moments were when she got her friends engaged and either listened to her stories or acted some of them out.
- As a little girl, I always dreamt of acting. To play a certain role, to convince people you’re not the shy, quiet girl everyone thinks you are—that would truly be something. I wanted to do that—to sing, to dance, to interact with others in a way I wouldn’t in real life, to see happiness pour out from an audience. It seemed magical, says Gabrielle.
Starting high school gave her the first real opportunity to try acting in a drama class, but at first it felt too intimidating. Gabrielle’s parents, Ted and Shoshana, had to push her to attend to the class. They knew how much their daughter loved acting and wanted her at least to try it out.
- The only problem was that I had anxiety, Gabrielle shares. – How could I do these things on stage, when my words consistently jumbled together, and I shook to the point where I was vibrating worse than an Xbox controller?
Today she is thankful that her parents made her to do it. The whole high school experience would have been very different without the drama class. Gabrielle loved the class and didn’t care if she was on stage or not. She was very impressed of how passionate the upperclassmen were and instantly felt comfortable around Mr. Hackwith, the drama and stage teacher.
- The games we played, the humor—everything made acting a comfortable experience for me. Every time I stepped on to that stage was another time my anxiety lessened a bit more. It was only a matter of time before it no longer had control over me, Gabrielle says.
Finding her calling to bring happiness
As a child Gabrielle continually portrayed her stories and illustrations either through a homemade book, drawing, or by incorporating it in a game of make-believe with the help of her brothers or friends. She especially enjoyed watching characters in cartoons or TV shows interact with each other.
The new art teacher at WHS encouraged Gabrielle to grow in her passion in drawing, and when people started loving her stories, and requesting to read more of them in English class, she felt encouraged to continue these subjects in college.
- I’ve always loved to write, draw, and act, and I longed to use those passions in high school. I just wasn’t sure how, Gabrielle says. – I loved doing all these things, but I couldn’t decide which to pursue. It wasn’t until my senior year, when I realized that I’m a storyteller. Whether it’s through pictures, words, or using my whole body to present a story…that’s what I love doing. It took me all four years to realize that.
Gabrielle is hoping that doing what she loves will make a difference, and would bring joy in people that she would not normally see joy in.
High school years
Gabrielle leaves the high school being a more confident person than she was when she first stepped into the hallways of WHS. The building, and everything else seemed scary, and she did not know most of the other students. From kindergarten through 8th grade she attended North Coast Christian School. Thankfully there were few good friends from NCCS who started high school at the same time, and it helped to ease her fears.
Gabrielle has felt the whole range of feelings from the excitement of the unknown to the sadness of leaving high school. She is very thankful of many teachers that guided her through all four years and who became big part of her school experience.
For the remaining students the new graduate would like to give some tips to make the high school the best experience it can be. She encourages them not to give in to peer pressure, and not to compare themselves to other people. She also encourages students to listen to their parents if they suggest a certain class to take.
Gabrielle Brinkman has learned many of these in hard ways. She was shy and easily compared herself to others until she found more confidence. She refused to attend to drama class, but eventually decided to try it. That gave her a way to bring a life to the talents she always has had, but no place to pursue them. She is now on her way to see what the world has for her. It may very possibly turn to be a life similar to her dream; filled with art, stories, acting and singing, and to enjoy her small, cozy home where the aroma of hot coffee and Dutch pastry fills the air.