Westley Richard Hackler, 16.
How did you get into art?
My grandmother signed me up for a class in my elementary school. It was a project and they teach the basics of theater. Like how to work well with others. Then after that, it just became what I did every single year.
What was the first production you were in?
The very first production I was in was called, “Prince the Popper,” a rock musical. It was a show about young Prince the Popper, your normal story. But it had a more modern theme to it. I would say I was around 10 years old when I did it.
What is your favorite theater production you’ve been in?
“The Secret in the Wings.” It was a Grimms’ brothers fairy tale show. It was really dark and mysterious. Out of the box. Really good.
Was the transition to theater a gradual process, or a straight breakthrough?
I’ve been straight going into theater. After this, I’m going right to an audition.
Does your school, or the people in your school inspire you?
I wanna say both. Because the school itself gives you opportunities to pursue your art. And the people around you, give you positive feedback and a positive environment. And you’re able to work and improve with it.
Why do you think you gravitated towards theater and not another form of art-making?
The reason why I gravitated toward theater is that it’s so complex. And it’s really impossible to master. I just saw a challenge and I like a challenge.
What would a life without theater be like?
Not well. I’ll say that. With theater, it’s gotten me out of some pretty bad times in my life. Out of trouble. It’s given me a home, and a safe place to go to when you’re feeling that life isn’t the best.
Are theater families a myth, or an accurate thing?
Theater families are for sure a thing. It’s just a normal cast, but as you create your bonds while doing shows, they’re like your best friends. And you don’t consider them your best friends because they’re always there for you. You know their good qualities and bad qualities and they just hook together.
Why do you think teens need art?
Teens need art because it’s something you can express emotion in, that’s not always the easiest form to use with words. So they show it with how they act, draw, move around; it becomes a more important thing in your life than just some object.
Where do you see your passion for arts taking you?
The main goal is to become a part of a touring company. New York is not really my thing. I like California a lot more. The environment there; but also if I was a part of a touring company I could travel to a lot of places and different countries. I really enjoy the idea of that.
What are your next steps to grow as an artist?
To grow as an artist, I always go to my director and ask what I can improve first. Those are tiny things I can work on. Colleges. What are the good ones? What’s a reputable name so, after this, I can show what I’ve been? What I’ve done. Getting paid enough to live.
Do you think other cities can learn from Tacoma or vise versa?
I feel like knowledge is passed around from this area to that area. We all share the same things.
Why do you think organizations for teens are important?
It helps get the word out. Art isn’t expressed enough. It’s a dying breed and there are very few people who are trying to keep it alive. I feel organizations like this keep it going.
Follow Westley @scratly14 on Instagram!