Diversity at Juilliard | A Latino Actor's Journey to the School of His Dreams.

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Normal people with normal talent and normal work ethic don't go from inner-city high school to NYU to Juilliard within the span of a year.

Daniel is an outstanding young actor who has faced challenges that could have taken him completely out of acting. But Daniel wasn't having that apparently.

His story (below) highlights the timeless lesson that it's not about the challenges, but rather your mindset around the challenges that matter. Take it away Daniel...

Transferring to The Juilliard School has been my ambition since the 2019 final callback weekend. March 16th, 2019, to be exact.

Last spring, when I went out on college auditions, The Juilliard School was my ultimate destination. When I was given an invitation to the final callback, I was beyond humbled and grateful. To be at the school for a weekend participating in classes, collaborating, and working sounded absolutely beautiful.

On March 12th, 2019, I had an accident at school rehearsing a play. I fell into a gap and hit my side.

My kidney took the blow and I was internally bleeding. I was hospitalized that night and was there for about three weeks.

For the first two weeks, I couldn’t get up, I could barely move. I was unable to attend the callback weekend and had to withdraw my application.

There has not been a day since where I have not thought about how everything happened so quickly and unexpectedly.

My goal of transferring to Juilliard, didn’t develop overtime, but was dead-set on my withdrawal date last spring.

It hasn’t been a difficult one to consider or make… it’s in me. Whatever the outcome, I needed to get it done for myself.

There isn’t an obstacle that isn't only an impediment.

Everything is purposeful and so am I. The purpose of that event in my life will forever be reshaping itself. Presently, it has given me an entirely new side of myself to draw from and implement into my work. I can only be deeply grateful for a gift such as that.

The first thought I had when I found out I wouldn’t be able to fly to New York from Los Angeles was, “It's okay. You’ll get there next year.”

Today, as I’m writing this, I think to myself, “I have faith that one day, I can tell someone my age, yes, that happened… it hurt like I could never explain, but I still got there. Where I needed to get. You can and will too. Life is beautiful. There are moments that are terrifying, there are those that are victorious. Wholeheartedly experience them all, but let none weigh you down. Let all of them catapult you further. You’re going nowhere, but forward. You will be ready.” I aim to tell myself this with every chapter of my life.

As a Latino, I often fear any success I may find in this field, but I tell myself this, and suddenly I remember what is important to me. Working with beautiful people to tell important stories.

To anyone out there, life will take you where you need to go. What is yours, will become yours. What isn’t, will be replaced by what is for you. All you get to do is go and do your absolute best. Other than that, all any of us can do is take it a day at a time and love.

By Daniel Velez

Daniel is a current student at Juilliard (Class of 2024) and contributor to How To Get Into Drama School. He is from Los Angeles, CA.


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