Gabrielle Wood is a senior dorm student from Jupiter, Fla. who entered Darlington School at the beginning of 12th grade. She lives in Regester House and most recently played the starring role of Winnifred in Darlington's winter musical, "Once Upon a Mattress."
How long have you been at Darlington, and what made you come here?
This is my first and last year. I chose Darlington because much of the administration and students reached out to me even before my admittance.
What are some of your favorite aspects about Darlington?
My favorite part of Darlington is the family qualities, literally and figuratively. I like going to the dorms and seeing mostly whole and happy families living there, and also how the dorm life makes you feel part of a family unit.
How would you describe your experience as a dorm student at Darlington?
As I've said, I feel more connected as a dorm student. I sometimes have trouble communicating with new people and dorm life forced me to share space and contribute and reach out more.
Which class has had the most significant influence on you this year?
My favorite class, although not my best subject, is AP Psychology. Mr. Allen's teaching style is more college-like and he really cares for his students. I also have an interest in the course. I feel I've learned a lot about myself and how I function and why. It helps me feel less crazy.
Describe your experience playing the lead role in "Once Upon a Mattress."
"Once Upon A Mattress" was a lot of hard work, but it was very rewarding. Winnifred is the most lively character I've played yet, and she was my first "lead." No one at my old school believed in me, so it was a bit of a shock to come here and feel special and important. I'm certain I drove everyone crazy with how often I sing, but [this musical was] my favorite high school experience.
I loved hanging out in Mr. Plough's office and "cooking by the book." I loved the Miranda battles I had with random people. I liked getting to be on the radio for the first time. Although we got stressed and angry sometimes we still came together as a cast and put on a decent show. It was a great learning experience. It helped me decide to keep going in the theater direction.
Have you always been interested in theater and the arts?
I started dance and singing when I was 7, though I was never very good at either. I was, however, an avid reader which I think aided in my acting skills. I also felt confidence in acting that I didn't have with singing. I actually starting acting though speech classes. Those who know me well can sometimes catch me when I slip up when I get excited or nervous. My teacher told me that practicing a series of words over and over would help eliminate my issues, so she gave me scripts to memorize.
Theater was also a good way to release some of my extra energy, which came from ADHD. I started singing more seriously my junior year but never felt successful at school. After school, however, I joined a local theater and they showed me more musical things rather than the classical things I learned at school. I want to continue working hard and become a strong confident singer and actor. I'm also getting increasingly interested in film, directing, makeup artistry and tech.
Which university do you plan on attending and what would you like to study?
Again, hard question. I'm leaning toward attending Florida State University. I would like to get a B.F.A. I'm not sure I can be successful as a performer, so I'm thankful I have other interests within the field. I might study English or forensic science. My dream would be to find a way to combine my passions.
Any advice to incoming freshmen about high school?
My advice for freshmen would be to get involved, keep up with grades from the beginning because you will give up sometimes, and to be patient and open with how much you will change over the next four years. Embrace the developing you and don't take it so seriously because one day it disappears and no one cares anymore.