Josi Baker

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Josi Baker

Grace Ojewia, Staff Writer

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Pretending to be someone you are not is often something that is frowned upon. It can seem even more out of the ordinary when you have to run across a stage to hug someone for a role you are playing. However, for senior Josi Baker acting has been a means through which she can express and challenge herself at the same time. It was her sophomore year when she landed a big role in Highland’s production of Flowers for Algernon. She was playing the part of Norma, the sister of the main character Charlie. During one the many rehearsals for the play, Baker had to run up to the student playing Charlie and hug him, all while keeping in character.

“It was the funniest and most awkward hug you could’ve ever witnessed,” Baker said. “But running that over and over again taught me how to be comfortable with myself and others on stage.”

Her first exposure to the world of acting came from her older brother Kobi, who was a drama club officer. She had heard stories about his experience with being in drama and was drawn in by how fun and crazy it all seemed to be.

“He really influenced me to join and run for my dreams in theatre,” Baker said. “Without him doing so I’m not so sure where I’d be.”

Her acting journey started in the fifth grade when she performed in her elementary school’s production of Macbeth. Her teacher at the time, Linette Sheffield, was a Shakespeare enthusiast and she encouraged Baker to participate in the play. Of course, since the audience was so young lines had to be cut and Baker admits that no one truly understood the story.

Yet, she credits this performance and her teacher to introducing her to the magic of portraying someone you are not. When the time came for choosing classes for middle school, she immediately signed up for theater. Since then, Baker has acted in numerous plays, especially at Highland and is the president among all the theater officers.

“She totally cracked us up in their musical 9 to 5, she played Judy the office lush that eventually gets rehabilitated, she was sooo funny,” Baker’s mom Kristi Baker said. “But then there is serious rolls we enjoyed and were impressed with as well, like when she played Shylock in Merchant of Venice.”

Being able to be someone else for some time has opened her eyes to the way other people live their lives and the struggles they go through. Acting has served as her window to the world with seeing how much it can make others happy and how she can improve herself through it.

“Acting has shaped who I am and made me realize the limits I can go to if I truly push myself,” Baker said.  “I am more confident than I ever thought I’d be, and being an actor has taught me how to accept and love others in different ways.”

It is that drive to love and care for others that Baker has that drew her to raising a guide dog puppy for over a year and to continually help watch, feed, and walk neighborhood animals. Initially, career-wise, Baker was only really interested in acting. However, as she started to play more roles, she got interested in new characters, particularly those in dramatic cop shows. Even though she knew they were not realistic, they got her interested in finding out what law enforcement really was like. She took classes about criminal justice and did some research on the system and soon fell in love.

“I love helping people, whether it be just the general community or people I love and care for,” Baker said. “I respect and admire that police officers go out every day and risk their lives to protect the public, even though mistakes are made down the line. Forensic scientists spend hours to determine what truly happened at a crime scene to help bring justice to the families who are hurting.”

Baker says she has always been interested in why criminals do what they do and what goes on in their minds, so being able to study behavior and what law enforcement really involves intrigued her. In the future she hopes to double major in Theatre Arts and Criminal Justice. She first hopes to establish a stable career in acting, but if that does not work out she is interested in criminal justice.

“She is fun and funny, easy going but very much her own person, [and is] very strong and independent,” Kristi Baker said. “She allows people to be who they want to be without judging and is always there to pick someone up when they’re down.”

In her free time you can find Baker drawing and spending time with animals. She considers art appealing in many of the same ways that she considers acting appealing: she can express herself and use it as creative outlet. It gives her a sense of freedom that she finds is wonderful.

“We feel her art gives her a positive outlet, helps to relax her and she has fun with it as well,” Baker’s dad Shaun Baker said.

Acting is where her heart and soul is at this time, though. She loves how acting can impact audiences and she feels like she has helped her community through participating in productions and being a part of Highland drama.

“The thing I love the most about it is probably the impact that an actor can have on their community and complete strangers,” Baker said. “The connection that a complete stranger can have with a fictional character is insane. Being able to connect with the community and send a message, while also [giving] some much needed entertainment is fantastic in my eyes as this world would be chaotic and boring without the release of entertainment through another world that these characters are traveling through.”

It is certain that as she perfects her craft and pursues her dream she will leave an impact on the world in one way or another.


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