Desmond Fernandez didn’t expect to enjoy theatre when he first began.

“I always thought theatre kids were weird,” said Fernandez, “They were loud and obnoxious and I didn’t want to do it"

Fernandez graduated from Westerville South High School and has been performing since the sixth grade while being involved in athletics and student government. He got a little taste of everything, but found his central passion in theatre.

A friend of Fernandez convinced him to try out for “Around the World in 8 Plays” in the sixth grade. He was hooked on theatre after that. He later played roles such as Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid,” Papa Ge in “Once on This Island” and Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

          

These characters were draining and took the most energy from Fernandez. For “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Fernandez would get into the total mindset of Tom Robinson by keeping track of his heart beat via Fitbit.

“Before every rehearsal I would check it [Fitbit] to see if my heart beat would get to 120 beats per minute so I could really get into that role and it helped,” said Fernandez.

For Fernandez it all comes down to work ethic. He said it’s more than just figuring out the character, memorizing lines and performing. It’s about integrating yourself within the character through their mindset, personality and who they’re associated with so you make them your own.

          

“I like to make every character I play original and true to myself,” said Fernandez, “We can’t look at actors as people who simply try to imitate the character or who played it previously.”

In high school, Fernandez played football, baseball and basketball while performing with the Westerville South High School Theatre Department. By his senior year he dropped baseball and basketball, but continued to act and play football regardless of ridicule from his teammates.

“I was being made fun of,” said Fernandez, “I was called ‘gay’ and ‘theatre boy.’”

The name-calling didn’t stop him. For Fernandez, that added fuel to the fire.

“I knew that if I was okay with being different and being made fun of for doing theatre and I’m happy, then why not keep doing it?” said Fernandez.