Stage actress Daisy Wright blooms into who she truly is on-stage and off.
By Daisy Wright, Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro
Keep Austin Weird. We’ve heard it so many times: plastered on mugs and T-shirts, bumper stickers and coasters; touted by tourists on their Instagram captions as they hit up the Austin sights. In my opinion, this phrase personiﬁes the special spirit of this unique city.
There is a freedom here, a fearlessness, devoted to expressing yourself entirely. I see it in the wild and colorful murals that decorate the city. In the whimsical music festivals, concerts and events that bring such life and vivacity to the streets each weekend. I see it in the free spirits and drum circles at Eeyore’s Birthday Party each year. In the handmade trinkets for sale in the weekly Farmer’s Markets. I see it in the vibrant vintage shops, and funky food trucks, and even the uniquely shaped buildings that make up our beautiful Austin skyline. Life here is unexpected, unique and, well…weird. In the very best sense of the word.
Though it sounds cliche, this oft-repeated slogan is something much more precious and profound to me. It is an anthem, a way of life, a state of being that inspires one to embrace the little quirks and uniqueness of their own being and share it with the world around them. This little phrase gives me the sense that it is okay, in fact necessary, to celebrate all of who you are and to share that with the world.
When I moved here with my (native-Austinite) husband from New York in 2019, I soon felt the conﬁnes of my own self-image begin to blur and expand with exposure to the vast open-mindedness of this beautiful city. I began to dress more vibrantly and in tune with my personality without fear of judgment. Let myself oﬀ the hook a bit, allowing myself to enjoy and savor life a bit more. Began to take more risks and do more things just for the fun of it. I went hiking in the Greenbelt. Ate way more queso. I went topless. Gave into my weirdness. I learned to celebrate it, and I believe that this unfolding is the very thing that led me to my most recent success.
I had the incredible pleasure of getting to perform in ZACH Theatre’s recent production of The Rocky Horror Show. Based on the 1975 movie, and adapted and expanded to match the enthusiasm of today’s audiences, it was an absolute party that I got to take part in throwing every night. In the show, I played Janet Weiss: a young and innocent, newly engaged woman. She is wide-eyed and naive, a soon-to-be happily married housewife, blissfully unaware of the world and the truth of her own humanity. Throughout the show, you follow Janet and Brad as they enter Frankenfurter’s castle and progress through their wild evening. You watch as their defenses get stripped down to the bare minimum…as do their clothes.
That fateful night, Janet faces heartbreak and comes face-to-face with her own demanding desires. She ultimately gives in to her passions and the experience forever changes her. The things she kept hidden to “ﬁt in,” the quirks and desires that she kept under wraps, were forced to come out. In the end, she realized she needed to embrace and celebrate all of herself, even the raw, gritty, dirty, sexy parts, in order to reach her true potential.
“My mind has been expanded.”
It is equal parts freeing and heartbreaking to see that her newfound experience expands her mind and her persona so much that inevitably, she can no longer ﬁt it into the tiny pretty box of “’50s housewife” that society had demanded she reside in. Though after what she went through, I don’t think she’d want to go back into that box anyway. In the rich, lavish, over-the-top ﬁnale of the show, Janet sings, “I feel released, bad times deceased. My conﬁdence has increased, reality is here. The game has been disbanded. My mind has been expanded.” Janet has been untamed, and she can never go back to the girl she once was.
It was an absolute joy to take on this wild, wacky and incredible journey each night. Through Janet, I was able to discover and underline the awakening I’ve felt in my own life. Just like Janet, I’ve had to put the most vulnerable and unique parts of myself on display, and in doing so, I’ve found a new level of conﬁdence and empowerment not just on stage, but in my everyday life. I learned that embracing your weirdness can lead to a much more exciting, fulﬁlling and, dare I say, “pleasurable” life. To me, being an Austin Woman means embracing and celebrating the weirdest parts of yourself and sharing them with the world each day. Because, why not?