ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS“I Want to Get Closer.”byZakiya Iman MarklandMaster of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance (Acting)University of California, San Diego, 2016Professor Gregory Wallace, Chair I became into a body that attracted more attention than my mind. I developed inseparably from a physique that betrayed who I was inside. Inside a battered ego sprawled its limbs out for eternal embrace: validate me. If at birth my mother named me Intelligent, how then did I view my knowing as primitive, stupid? Nancy Drew-ing this alone failed to free me, so creating inner confidence as artist became my purpose. Out I journeyed into the pockets of Galbraith Hall where I worked so hard that all you could see in my work was work-ing, effort-ing. But confidence is not work alone -not a mere creation. It’s self-possession, something you already are. How ironic was it then that my final role at UCSD, Princess Conti, demanded from me just that? I mean, you can’t rule a nation that speaks in rhyming couplets whilst strutting -no, gliding- across a room in 6’’ crystal-encrusted heels without knowing first-hand that everything you are, do and know is The Shit. Princess Conti was the definition of self-possession for me.In and out I was sensei, was senseid as I said “how do I be her without forcing her?” Use the text as power, breath and thought as inspiration; listen to play and play to receive, but, most importantly, believe. I believed. Still, in and out I was senseid; schooled by an art that requires years more of mastery. How far I’ve come. How much farther I have to go.