One Thursday night, June 6th to be exact, I made a late night journey to Cedar Rapids with my best friend in my shotgun seat. Why, on a Thursday night, would I be going there you ask? I was attending a movie premier.
It sounds so chic when I say it like that. Of course in reality it was the midnight showing of a movie called “The Purge”. And yes, it is supposed to be as terrifying as it sounds. And as much as I hate scary movies, I had never been more excited to see one before then. Solely because I knew one of the people who would be scaring us onscreen.
Never in my life did I think I would be able to say that I know someone who acted alongside Ethan Hawke in a Hollywood horror film. But I am so glad that I can. And I am even more happy that it was my old pal Tyler Osterkamp, or excuse me, Tyler Jaye.
Tyler and I have known each other since our early stage days eight or nine years ago. We met acting on the Young People’s Theatre stage at Starlighters in Anamosa, our middle point between Onslow, where he grew up, and Monticello where I came from. Almost instantly, Tyler was a member of our young little dysfunctional family and throughout our years of acting and teaching, his face was one of the ones I always looked most forward to seeing come April when we’d start workshops.
Tyler always had a knack for performing. His quick wit, endless humor, and professionalism shone through even at the age of 11. I always watched from the wings in awe, wondering why I couldn’t be as talented as he so easily was. It was effortless to him and I envied that. Despite the countless hours I spent both on and off the mainstage between seven different shows and 8 years of YPT before even entering high school, Tyler was always the one who snagged the spotlight when it came right down to it.
Finally, I realized that my love for acting could be taken off-stage and bowed down to Tyler’s superior talent, conceding by instead becoming his director. Now he had to listen to me (pretty ingenious I know). But I found that I loved directing almost more than I loved being up onstage with my friends. And I especially loved working with Tyler. He was very easy going and took direction well, which I greatly appreciated when my other actors wouldn’t listen to me.
So years later, when we discovered Tyler’s post-graduation plans included moving to Los Angeles to act, it honestly didn’t come as a surprise. It only made sense that the kid who never even stepped on the mainstage but had more talent than most of us combined would be the one on the big screen. The pride I felt for my childhood friend knew no bounds and I started telling whoever would listen about his story. Which is probably why I’m telling all of you.
It has been a true delight to watch and be a part of the transformation of my old friend from small-town Iowa into an ultra talented young man. Not just as an actor or musician but as a person. Tyler is one of the kindest souls I have ever had the chance to know and he is the kind of person who can strike up a conversation with anyone, making a friend almost instantly. Luckily with Facebook I am able to keep up with all his busy projects in Hollywood and I truly cannot wait for the day when I see his name up in lights and I can say “I knew him way back when.”