Many people still have the image of Miley Cyrus twerking and singing “We Can’t Stop” in the 2013 VMA’s burned in their minds, and it will probably stay there until the next. However, an ‘11 Albion alumna has a different outlook on the performance.
Hollis Jane graduated from Albion with an English and Theatre major with a concentration in Creative Writing, and has since been pursuing a professional acting career while trying to break into the tough Los Angeles industry.
“The Theatre department at Albion helped prepare me the most,” Jane said. “Robert Starko, Mark Hoffland and Amber Cook were/are lovely professors and directors who taught me what it means to be a professional in this industry. I think that’s really one of the most important values to have in an industry where the product you’re trying to sell is yourself. It’s difficult to just get a foot in the door.”
Without much debate, Albion is substantially different from Los Angeles. Jane describes this transition as a “definite change, and at times, overwhelming.”
Recently, Jane received media attention from her blog post, “On Being a Little Person,” which describes her experience of being a background bear in Cyrus’s VMA performance.
“I had never been in a performance where I was purely meant to be gawked or laughed at,” Jane said in her blog. “I will never forget that performance because it is what forced me to draw my personal line in the sand. After our first dress rehearsal in the costumes with the crew, publicists, performers etc. watching us, I walked out of the Barclay Center shaking and crying.”
She describes her experience as feeling like a prop, being stared and laughed at for the wrong reasons. Jane also makes it clear she does not look down upon little people who do take these roles, however she knew it was not the part for her.
“If the little person community continues to do performances like this, it is my belief that we will continue to only receive maybe 2% of the auditions and opportunities of our average sized friends,” Jane said in her blog. “Society will think we’re OK with being laughed at because we still continue to do things that allow them to laugh at us or look at us as props.”
Jane wishes to send a clear message to those who read her post.
“People who are different shouldn’t be used as a joke or gag solely because they are different, and it doesn’t have to purely be about little people…basically all shapes, sizes, race etc.,” Jane said.
Jane was not expecting to become a media sensation overnight, as she was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight and has appeared in several publications. She has since received praise and backlash for her comments.
“I initially wrote the post as a way to clear my head and get some thoughts out about a debate that had started on Facebook,” Jane said. “Then I realized this was an issue that people might be curious about, so I thought doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit might be a good way for people to ask questions about little people they may have been too embarrassed to ask if they weren’t behind a computer screen. I definitely wasn’t prepared for any of this, and it’s been a humbling situation to say the least.”
Jane was offered a position on Cyrus’s upcoming tour, which she declined, and is continuing to work on her career. She is currently a stand in on the ABC series Trophy Wife and is writing her own television pilot.
She offered advice to those who might find themselves in a similar situation.
“Listen to your gut and surround yourself with people whose opinion you value,” Jane said.
Photo by Hollis Washington