When Gigo decided to join the acting faculty at the Tbilisi Institute of Theatre and Cinematography, he went there with his mum. But they told him if he wanted to attend, he should use the back door, not the main entrance. Whilst his mother told me this story, he was listening quietly. Then he took me into another room, and said, “When they told me that, I told them to “piss off” and banged my fist on the table!... I did the right thing didn’t I?”
I know that sometimes we like to believe that we reacted differently in certain situations, when we think of what we wanted to say after the fact. However, I hope Gigo really did bang his fist on the table and that this determined young man will achieve his goals.
Gigo is already a good example for many and, in future, may become even more of an inspiration for others. “It is time to listen to the voices of people like Gigo, not just what their parents have to say,” his mum says.
In 2001, when it was time for Gigo to start school, not a single one accepted him. Instead he got his primary education through homeschooling and at day centres. It wasn’t until he was 14 that ten Tbilisi schools announced more inclusive programmes for children with special needs. It was late in the day for him to have the usual childhood experiences of classmates and teachers, although he got there eventually.
However, he wasn’t allowed to take final exams and the programme he was in would only give him a certificate instead of a diploma. Consequently, this limited his options for further study, and he wasn’t interested in what was available to him.
More than anything, Gigo wanted to be an actor, and he still does. He’s good at it too, having been on the stage since he was ten, even playing the role of “The Little Prince.” He also wants to continue being in show business. For several years he was on TV, as a co-host of the Georgian version of the “X Factor.”
When he wanted to become a barman, he did it. At the interview for a bar position at the Holiday Inn, he told the manager: “Whenever I go past this hotel, I always dream about working here. I’ve been liking your Facebook page for ages.” Due to the Covid-19 virus the bar is currently closed, but Gigo is still registered there as a barman. This job is not as simple as it may seem. “I have to be a psychologist as well,” he tells me, “the business might just be making cocktails and coffee, but you also have to know how to deal with drunk people.”
Gigo’s story seems a successful one. He portrays it too, posing in front of the camera looking every inch the confident and ambitious young man. But behind this success there has been a lot of work, heartache, and ever more barriers to overcome. Gigo’s dreams are to bash down these obstacles, or as he puts it, to cut outdoors in the walls, especially the door which was blocked for him at the Theatre Institute many years ago.
“I have to cut a big door in that wall, then I will open it and fulfil my dream of becoming an actor.."
Photographer: Levan Kerkheulidze
Writer: Archil Kikodze
Project was produced within the framework of the Children Are Not Born with Prejudices project run by the Glada Hudik Theatre in Georgia with the support of the Swedish Institute.