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Hi everybody! My childhood might shock you, but at the same time, it might help you change your mind about how your life, in general, is treating you. When you complain about how little you have, or just take pity on yourself, you must always remember that there are many people in this world that have way less. And that you can still succeed with a little self-determination… and maybe with a tiny amount of luck. Well, just listen to my story.
Let me start from the very beginning of my life. I do not remember it, of course, but when I found out, I was sad and happy at the same time. You will soon understand for yourself, let me explain. You see, my family was so poor that when I was born, my mother and father could not afford to pay the doctor who helped my mother give birth to me. Can you imagine? And you know what happened next? The doctor suggested that they leave me with him… as payment for his services. I can only imagine what use he would have had for a newborn child. Luckily for me, my father managed to make some money and also borrowed a dollar here, a dime there, and raised the amount I was worth.
I grew up as an abundantly energetic child, and to put this energy to use, my father would wake me up at dawn to practice martial arts. We practiced Kung-fu together and he also taught me to do simple acrobatics like somersaults and back flips. But as my fighting and acrobatic skills began to take shape, my academic skills fell short. I was dyslexic and never could write properly, so I failed my first year at Primary school and when all my classmates were already entering third grade, I was left behind. So, instead my father decided to enroll me in the Drama Academy at a local theatre school.
Sounds miraculous, doesn’t it? I still remember walking into the musty halls of that school, tightly clutching my father’s hand. My fears (if there were any fears at all) disappeared as my eyes gazed upon the dozens of kids, my age and older, somersaulting and playing with swords and sticks. It looked like “Disneyland” to me, my own version of a magical world. So I very quickly let go of my father’s hand and put my little palm into the hand of my new “Master.”
But the magic soon wore off and the true colors of this Academy began to show through. I later on learned that when a child was enrolled in this school, a contract between the parents and the administration was drawn up. According to this agreement, signed by both parties, one of the main clauses was that the parents wouldn’t have any recourse in the case their child was injured or even… died. But my parents still signed this agreement, as did the parents of all the other children at the school.
There was no miracle for me neither at school nor at home. Unemployment in my home country rose high and in order to keep their jobs my parents, who worked for the ambassador of one foreign country, had to move to Australia as their employer was relocated. Do you think that they took their 8 year old son with them? No. For you it might seem terrible that parents would even be able to leave their child behind. But for my family, it was simply a matter of survival.
So, my parents left and I stayed at the Drama Academy where we had all kinds of training in performance, acrobatics, music, and different kinds of martial arts. It sounds good, but we had to get up at 5 AM and train for 15-16 hours a day. Exercises were sometimes brutal, sometimes simply exhausting – like, for example, we were performing headstands and somersaults for hours on end. But nobody complained. And also, we could not show that everything was okаy either, because if the Master thought that somebody was taking the training for granted, they would increase the intensity until we fell down from exhaustion.
Corporal punishment and psychological pressure was commonplace at this school. Both from our masters and from our own schoolmates. At that time, I wasn’t as brave and was often picked on by the other children at my school.
There was no single day that went by without something bad happening. I was very angry. I allowed it to happen because I was scared and didn’t know how to defend myself. It continued until I stood up for a new student and defended him. By standing up for him, I learned how to stand up for myself.
Our school was a good place for movie companies to search for young stars for their movies. After a year of school, I got lucky to be chosen, too. At the age of eight I was already an episode actor, and by the time I finished school, I had participated in seven movies already. But I still hardly knew how to read and write…
Music by Epidemic Sound: