From the HeArt: Gage Higuchi

I've had the pleasure of knowing Gage Higuchi, 14, since 2016. We met preparing for a national talent conference with our local agency and acting/modeling school, Susan Page Modeling (SPM).

"Ever since I was two or three years old, I would love to draw one of my favorite movies Monster House [. . . .] At that same age, I would act out scenes from Monster House and Star Wars. My favorite character was General Grievous, of course," he says.

He's got a pretty hilarious impersonation, too (see his video short).

Not to mention, he's already got a sizable resume for a teenager. Gage has attended acting classes at SPM as well as summer youth musical theatre programs at Diamond Head Theatre and ‘Iolani School. Before his voice started to crack (puberty sucks), he was also taking voice lessons from me. His hard work has earned him spots on Hawaii 5-O and Magnum P.I., a commercial job with Waikiki Trolley, and leading roles in the short films Ikigai and Too Many Secrets.

And if he couldn't get more talented, Gage is also a manga artist. Some of Gage's favorite manga and anime include Tokyo Ghoul, Parastyle, and Death Note.

"I actually already started writing a Manga last year but I have so many ideas that it’s hard for me to put them all down," he says. "It’s about a supernatural clan who are half dragons."

Other than manga, Gage is also passionate about K-pop, especially Korean boy band BTS.

Manga and acting, he says, have opened up doors of creative freedom and satisfaction that other activities couldn't.

"Acting and theatre have helped me become different characters that I’ve always dreamed of being and I’ve always wanted to be," Gage says. "And drawing has allowed me to express myself in ways that words never could have."

Not every child may become professional actors or artists when they grow up. But by providing them with arts opportunities, educators can show them ways of self-care for life as an adult.

"Society today," Gage says, "we need the arts so that we can relieve stress in fun, creative ways."

"The advice I would give to people who want to act or draw or do any kind of art is just try it! Be a risk-taker because you don’t want to go through life saying 'I wish I had tried doing that.'"

Researchers have shown so many ways arts education can be used to positively develop youth. To me, Gage is one of the perfect examples.

I first met Gage at acting workshops. When I recall those memories, I am instantly reminded of his fearlessness. Not even the adult actors (I include myself here) could match up to him in that arena. He was not afraid to be unique – he is truly his own person.

The most important lesson actors learn is to say "YES" no matter what is thrown at them. When we encourage youth to develop this type of mindset, they grow to become adaptable, resilient young adults. No matter what life throws at them, they accept and adapt. And what employer doesn't want an employee who is quick on their feet, eager, and ready for a challenge? No math course can teach students more useful life skills to help them advance in their careers.

Today, Gage continues to take acting classes at Susan Page Modeling and has hopes of expanding his film career. He is interning at Happy Moon Media, learning the ropes behind the camera including film editing and script writing.

When asked what is the biggest lesson he has learned through the arts, this future filmmaker says, "The thing that I learned most from theatre & acting is accepting myself for who I am & not trying to be something that other people want me to be."

You can follow Gage and his endeavors on Instagram @gages_stage_official. Check out his official From the HeArt video below:

"From the HeArt" features working artists in various fields, including but not limited to music, dance, theatre, and the visual arts. In this series, we hope to share stories of growth and inspiration through the arts.