I rarely listen to the radio, but my Spotify connection on my phone was not working last week. I turned the radio to the Elvis Duran show, usually a chaotic mishmash of phone taps and talk of Hollywood and other things I do not keep up with. I heard a woman speaking about a song. I could feel the passion in her voice. She talked about a movie and that same song and said that it was a total cornball movie about joy. “We need that right now, we really, really do, “ she said. She spoke about the experience of singing the song and being part of the movie and how thankful she was for the opportunities. The other guest on the show commented about how her singing and the song were so incredibly powerful. The radio crew was in rare form. They were in awe. My interest was piqued.
I got just enough of the interview to realize the movie was The Greatest Showman about P.T. Barnum. My daughter and I went to see it yesterday afternoon. I forgot just how much fun a movie on the big screen can be. (And that a large popcorn, small sprite and a bottle of water can be $14!) It was all worth it though. I have a new hero.
I am a Hollywood black hole. I did not know Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron or Zendaya. Now I do, and all three of them delivered impressive performances. For me, the unexpected hero proved to be the Bearded Lady, Keala Settle, the woman who was on the radio. I did a bit of research and there is so much more to the project of this movie than what appears on the big screen.
I won’t be a spoiler if you have not seen the movie, but let’s just say the story is about believing in your dreams and joy, being your own brave self and being different. One of the great quotes in the movie from P.T. Barnum is “No one ever made a difference being like everyone else.”
Keala Settle is not like everyone else. As I did some research this morning, I got a peek into the journey that this movie provided for her and understood the passion that I heard in her voice on the radio. She was not a star before this movie. When the writers for the movie presented the song, This is Me, (that would become the anthem of the movie and a Golden Globe Winner) she asked who would sing it. They said it would be her. She said no way.
I watched more and more interviews with Keala. She is open and real. She shows her vulnerability and when they were rehearsing This is Me, something better than the movie script happened. She moved out from behind her music stand for the first time. The video that captures this on YouTube choked me up even more than the movie. She fully stepped out of hiding herself and into the ring.
In one interview she shares about how Hugh Jackman has become her friend and fierce supporter not just during the movie but even texting her before interviews to calm her nerves and help her manage her new fame. Like the Bearded Lady in the movie, the project itself pushed Keala to embrace being different, stepping into her unique talent and discovering THAT is her finest offering for the world. She had a group of amazing people who did believe in her, saw what was possible and nudged her along, with love.
It’s easy to say yeah, the Bearded Lady is cool, I applaud her. You Go Girl! Keala is awesome on the big screen as a character and in real-life as a person. She is here to be that and also inspire us to do the same. Can I really step into the ring, like the Bearded Lady in the movie, and be brave enough to be me?
Can I be strong in my convictions about what my being me really means? Can I love my own uniqueness as my own best offering, and make it through the bruises along the way?
Keala is now the glamorous superstar in the limelight. But I can feel that she has had many moments along the way where it would have been easier to hide. To quit. What would we all have lost if she had done that?
So how can each of us have the courage to keep standing up, stepping into our own unique version of This is Me to find joy and follow whatever crazy fantastical dream we each might have?
I wonder what Keala has done along the way to cultivate her courage. We each must find the practices that can sustain us. Yoga and mindfulness are those practices for me. They support me to discern what matters to me and hear my own inner wisdom to step into my truest offering of being me.
Thank you Keala Settle. You, and the Bearded Lady are my heroes.
This is me.