Pornography and heavy romance may not be her cup of tea but actor-in-the-making, Barbara Kalaj, will do any other roles to fulfill her dream.

Barbara Kalaj, 20, is a second-year in the Honours B.A. Dramatic Art program at the University of Windsor. Her persuasive speech in her drama class was well received. Kalaj has wanted to be an actor since she was about 12 or 13 years old. It was the only career she could see herself doing for the rest of her life.

Kalaj says she thinks an occupation like a caretaker is wonderful in terms of helping people but she believes the best way to help people was in the media.

“The best way to educate people in the world is to get inside the media and educate through that,” said the young actor. Kalaj says compared to a teacher that can only teach a class with however many students a year, an actor’s statement in the media can reach millions of people.

The student actor seeks a life where it will give her a bigger voice to help educate young women and young people in general.

“Fame and money are always nice,” laughs Kalaj.

From when she was a child, Emma Watson, best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series is one of three role models to Kalaj.

“I grew up reading Harry Potter and Hermione was one of the biggest words I learned how to read. I watched [the] film and loved the actor who played Hermione and that’s how I fell in love with Emma Watson – one hundred percent.”

Rebel Wilson, who was in Pitch Perfect and played a “no-personal space” roommate in Bridesmaids, is another role model.

“She never lets anything especially her weight or any of that get in the way of what she wanted to accomplish in theatre,” said Kalaj admiringly.

Jennifer Lawrence, best known for her role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, is yet another role model to Kalaj because Lawrence always tries to send a positive body image in Hollywood.

The Stage recently discussed the on-going debate between calling a female actor an actress or an actor. Kalaj believes that actor is the term to use.

“You call a male teacher a teacher and a female teacher a teacher. You don’t call them teacheresses. I recall an argument that I heard awhile back and that being addressed as an actress means that you are only limited to playing female parts. And as an actor, that’s completely untrue.” The young actor has played male parts at least half the times she’s performed.

Kalaj’s dream role to act is Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing because the character is sassy. Her favourite part about Beatrice is the way she falls in love with her love interest but through trickery and pranks. She says she’d love to play a romantic part in which there is very little romance.

On the topic of T.V. shows, Kalaj says Community is her absolute favourite. She loves the character Troy and Abed because the comedy between the two, although scripted, comes across so natural because of their wonderful acting skills.

Although Kalaj said she’d love to play a romantic role, she isn’t comfortable with acting out heavy romantic roles. She says playing out very romantic roles is difficult for her but it’s not something she’s morally against. Kalaj says she’s aware she would have to “suck it up” if she ever had to play that type of role.

Kalaj says she wouldn’t be comfortable with doing pornography. She says the difference between romance and pornography is that the former has at least some emotion even if it’s feigned whereas porn is just a physical thing.

“For me, sex isn’t something you should be paying for. I think it’s supposed to be for love,” said the young actor.

The student actor says that although she isn’t comfortable with porn she doesn’t think the porn industry should disappear. She says it may not be for her but it may be for other people to enjoy or to make money.

A 2013 article by The Guardian discussed their survey of drama students’ employment prospects. The article emphasizes how drama students need to face reality about their future employment opportunities if there were any.

There is a stereotype about people who work in the arts that includes acting, visual arts, music, and more that there is no future. The stereotype labels these people as forever working part-time jobs and chasing a dream that is impossible.

Kalaj disagrees. She says it’s a common misconception from people who are not very enthused about acting. She says there are people who are trained to be in acting and people who just want fame and stardom. Kalaj says it’s typically the latter who think it’s easier than it is [to act] who aren’t successful.

“It’s very easy to fail if you’re not putting in more than what you have.”

School and her dream is a rocky decision for Kalaj. She says if there was a drama exam she might be able to talk to her professor and he or she would probably understand. But that may not extend to another teacher in her psychology courses. Kalaj says she’s always considering and reconsidering options so her decisions would differ from a hypothetical situation and at-the-moment situations.

If Kalaj had an audition opportunity she says she’d absolutely take time off school for it. She says Danielle Wade, a University of Windsor student is doing just that since she landed the role as Dorothy in the new musical Over the Rainbow.

Kalaj says she thinks it’s wonderful Wade was able to land the role and get such an amazing opportunity but especially because Wade is local.

“Windsor isn’t exactly the biggest acting city – at all. It’s kind of a like a secret theatre thing. You wouldn’t know but it’s kind of underground,” said Kalaj.

From small city Windsor, Kalaj dreams to live in either New York City or London, England. She says although NYC has history, London is very cultured with their theatre and it’s at a different level in the United Kingdom. But she says NYC has a certain hustle and bustle that makes it feel like there’s so many opportunities around but at the same time makes you feel like everyone’s competition.

The young actor may be working on her dream career but she says she has thought about her back-up plans. Kalaj says she thought about being a high school teacher since she’d always wanted a full-time job but that would make acting her hobby which she isn’t keen on.

“Well, I’ll always have my minor in psychology,” laughs the actor-in-progress, “I do plan on getting some helpful experience in teaching just in case I do fail which fingers crossed I won’t. I plan on doing a year at teacher’s college just for good measure and I have a local high school I can volunteer at whenever I want. They’re all just things to keep under my belt just in case.”

Kalaj says she knows she’ll make it. But she says that because as an actor you can’t think otherwise.

“I mean it’s always great to have a back-up and to know what happens if you fail but other times you have to go in headstrong and believe in yourself. Otherwise you’ll get nowhere if you constantly think you’re going to fail. So if you constantly think you’ll succeed maybe you will.”

The young actor says she’d always put her career before any relationship.

“As Lady Gaga so eloquently put it: Your career is never going to wake up in the middle of the night and tell you it doesn’t want to be with you anymore.”

Kalaj says if anyone has a dream they should always keep it in their hearts. She says it’s hard to tell people to follow their dreams because sometimes they can’t. Money and family issues may stop them from pursuing their dreams. Kalaj says that people should never let anything hold them back because one day they’ll be able to do what they love.

“Sometimes it’s hard to follow your dreams and sometimes you financially can’t follow your dreams. But you need to always keep it with you because you’ll get the opportunity to do it and then? You take it.”