You know those stories where some shy, mousy, ugly-duckling girl finds herself center stage, sweating it out under the spotlight? And everyone freaks out, thinking she's going to be a big flop, but she opens her mouth — and suddenly she's a hit? Then, after the encore and the standing ovation and the throwing roses at her feet, someone points to the girl and says, all shocked: "A star is born!"

This is not one of those stories.

I mean, I guess sometimes it happens that way. But not with me. I'm not "Surprise, a star is born!" material. I'm the opposite: I was born a star.

No, really. My dad took all these videos when I was little, and you can tell I wasn't just an ordinary kid, all red-faced and squealing. When I squealed, people listened. Even then, I had star presence.

That's what my great-aunt Silva calls it. "You don't learn star presence," she always says. "You live it."

And that's what I've been doing my whole life.

Every star is a work in progress. By my thirteenth birthday, my progress had been straight up for thirteen years. Up like a skyscraper. Up like a rocket. Up like a shooting star.

Wait, you may be saying. Shooting stars go down. They start in the sky, then flame out in the atmosphere and plummet toward the earth.

Well, I was about to do the same thing.

I just didn't know it yet.