Spring Valley High School senior, Karlee Money, wrote this very special article about Josh Meredith’s career thus far. Wonderful job, Karlee!
The following is her article, “Bright Lights, Big Dreams”:
The lights begin to dim, reappear, then dim again. It’s a signal familiar to all members and supporters of the fine arts (Straz). The once red curtain is now momentarily colorless in the drab lighting. But then, a single spotlight shines out over the audience, fixated on center stage waiting to cast a circular glow on its first victim of the night. This atmosphere is one young man’s sanctuary. It’s the spot in the world where all troubles leave him, and he’s there, just him and the stage, and he’s happy.
Josh Meredith has had a passion for musical theatre ever since he can remember. “I’ve been taking on different characters and performing since before I could even speak. When I was in preschool, I was a different Disney princess every day. I made people call me Alice in Wonderland and I’d wear an apron.” The first time he performed in front of anyone was in his kindergarten graduation musical entitled “We Like Sheep”. He played the role of the littlest lamb and had one line. By age seven, Meredith was asking to return to the hustle and bustle that is performing. He hit the stage for a second time when he sang Shania Twain’s “God Bless the Child Who Suffers” in church. In 2004 Josh joined Huntington Outdoor Theatre (HOT), making his debut to the stage in the organization’s production of “Footloose”. It was around this time that Josh decided he would like to pursue a career in theatre. “I realized my childhood pipe dreams of becoming a pop star were unlikely to come to fruition. I learned that acting was something people pursued a career in, and I’ve never wanted to do anything else since…except become a pop star, but you know…” Josh continued to perform in HOT productions, and sing in church, as well as participate in other community theatre groups. He was taking on any escapade he could to feed the ever growing fire inside of him.
Meredith began to attend Marshall University in the fall of 2009, where he was presented his first of two life changing opportunities the school would offer him. He was recruited to be a member of Weathervane Playhouse, a high caliber professional theatre company. “Weathervane will always hold a very special place in my heart,” said Meredith, “They saw something special in me and gave me my first chance.” Before Josh’s summer spent at Weathervane, he barely had any experience with leading roles. His role as Huck Finn in “Big River” was a defining show as it was essentially a three hour monologue of just him talking. An all time favorite of Meredith’s however, was when he played Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors”, a part he could play anywhere for the rest of his life and be perfectly content. “The directors at Weathervane believed in me. They saw me in those roles and supported me the entire way through. I’ve always been extremely thankful for that opportunity.”
The next door Marshall opened for Josh was the chance to write and perform his own one man show. He called it “Josh M!” The show was mish mash of memoires from his childhood and musical numbers from previous shows he had done. Also incorporated were songs by his idol, Lady Gaga, a woman who Meredith both identifies with, and strives to be like. “She was merely a teenager who wanted to be a star. She simply willed it into existence. She believed she was loved, and talented, and she became everything she believed. She may not have the best voice, she may have unconventional looks, but now she’s a star. I strive to be like her. I may not be the most talented, or attractive person in a room, but if I walk in there believing that I am…then I am.” Josh deems the show his proudest accomplishment. He graduated from Marshall University with a BFA in Theatre Performance in 2013.
Josh’s love for theatre was escalating still and his dreams of what he could make of himself were, too! So, twenty-two year old Meredith decided to move from his single stoplight town in West Virginia to New York City and pursue his passion of one day being on Broadway. “Every time I visited New York before I moved there permanently, it always felt like home. I can’t describe it. The city just said ‘this is your home’ in the same way my hometown of Kenova did. Right out of college, without hesitation, I decided to move there. I packed up two bags and went, without a plan, without anything; just me and some dreams.”
Josh has been living in the city for just over a month now, and is enjoying most everything about it. He could go without all the walking—he’s still getting used to that—and he has discovered a new found love for eating lentils and beans…for three meals a day. But in spite of the pit falls, he has found that the city offers cool and unexpected things to experience around every corner. The perfect example of this is his newly acquired occupation. Josh recently began work as a server at a restaurant named Joanne Trattoria, which is owned by none other than…Lady Gaga’s father! Although acting is Josh’s primary purpose for being in New York City, working for and befriending the parents of his favorite icon is an idealistic dream come true. Josh can’t help but name that the coolest experience that has happened to him since his move.
Show business can be tricky, as it is a business with no guarantees (Straz). But despite this, Josh revealed that he has never even thought of giving up. Even more than that, he has no back-up plan. “People ask me if I have a back-up plan a lot, and I think it’s very silly. No one asks teachers if they have a back-up plan. No one asks lawyers if they have a back-up plan. I am a professional artist, who studied to be an artist, and holds a degree as an artist. It wouldn’t be fair to my career if I thought ‘what happens when it doesn’t work out?’ To be successful in this business—in any business—you have to go for it whole-heartedly, believing you will do it. If for some reason I can’t perform, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But I’ll always strive to use my talents for the rest of my life. There is no back-up plan for passion or destiny.”
Josh accredits much of his success to the support given to him from others. His family has never doubted him and has always backed him 100%. His community has also played a substantial role in his successes. “Growing up in Kenova has fueled my fire. It was sort of a ‘big fish in a small pond’ thing. I was given opportunities for exposure I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten in a big city. I have such a strong support group in Kenova that really helped me believe I could achieve my goals. I felt like a household name in Kenova and that was inspiring. It inspired me to be a household name to the whole world.” Other acknowledgements go to Josh’s professors, his friends, and his church, as well as all who believe in him. “Those people are why I perform. Those people are why I get up in the mornings to go to auditions. I want to accomplish the dreams everyone who supports me believes I can accomplish.”
“I continue to chase my dreams because I literally cannot think of anything else I would do with my life. God put me on this Earth to use my talents, and I’m doing just that.” Josh said. Through all the ups and downs he has overcome in his life, through the good and bad breaks he has faced in his career, and through the supportive and judgmental people he has encountered, it is his audacious will power and unyielding belief in himself that have been his defining characteristics. Josh Meredith is a young man who knows what he wants and has taken a leap into the world, eagerly and enthusiastically working toward his goals. Josh’s advice to others is as follows: “Whatever you do, don’t give up. If you’re doing what you’re passionate about, you will find a way to live doing it. The thing people don’t realize about doing things though is that you actually have to do them. You have to be vulnerable and put yourself out there. You can’t fear rejection. I like to think of rejection as just a part of my job…collecting NO’s until that one fateful YES. It only takes one. My most disappointing NO’s made way for my most treasured YES’s.”