Joel Austin Higgins was born in Nashville, TN in the mid-80s. He was reared in the middle Tennessee area and, in his youth, he would frequent his godparents' home in a town called (this is absolutely true) "Joelton." It was there, while laying on his back beneath a thick wooded canopy on the banks of a still Tennessee pond, that Joel discovered his love of storytelling. He would conjure wild tall tales, outrageous histories, and lavish ghost stories and divulge them to his godparents as soon as possible. A few years later, his godfather would purchase a video camera and allow Joel to explore his world through a lens. He found the medium enthralling and determined then to add it to his storytelling toolbox. 


If Joelton gave him the canvas, then Joel's life gave him the paint. He was a child of a single parent and the younger brother of a pair of twins. Throughout his childhood, Joel read feverishly. He learned magic tricks and performed them for anyone who would watch. As a young man, he discovered the theatre and that he had, much to his own surprise, a certain talent for performance. That talent would go on to win him numerous acting awards through his high school's Forensics program. Among them, Joel was a national qualifier, a state champion, and member on the team's Officer Staff. Into this bliss, confusion amassed. Shortly before graduation, Joel's mother and then stepfather divorced, separating Joel from his step-sister and closest friend at the time. The ripples would haunt Joel, informing the mistakes that were to come. 


And college came. And college went. Originally a Theatre Performance major, Joel found the allure of college life more enticing than college itself. It wasn't long before action was taken. Joel failed out of school and fell deeper into the confusion his teenage years had wrought. He slummed around Nashville, Tennessee. He worked, he partied, he contemplated - and ultimately, he found himself lost. The months that followed left Joel wary and robbed. After a particularly devastating breakup, Joel moved in with his Aunt Paula. Not one for excuses, Paula slowly whittled away at Joel and, by the end of their time together, he found himself clutching a re-admission letter from The University of Tennessee with all his worldly belongings packed in the bed of his old pickup truck. He returned to school. 


This time around, Joel chose English - Creative Writing as his field. The decision would prove wise. Joel went on to enjoy the remainder of his collegiate career on The Dean's List. He graduated with a 3.0 GPA - not the most remarkable achievement until one considers that he had indeed failed completely out of school not five years prior. He was awarded the highest undergraduate accolade available through his program - the Margaret Woodruff Award. He published his first piece of fiction, met the woman who would become his wife, wrote his first screenplay, directed his first award-winning short film, and looked forward to the future with hope and awe.  

 

Joel's passions have not subsided. In the time since his graduation, he has added more tools to his storytelling toolbox.  He's returned to the stage and screen as an actor and now finds himself working professionally in these fields in New York City. And, through it all, Joel still clings onto the lessons he learned as a boy, laying on his back, watching the sun drift through the leaves in middle Tennessee. 


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