Eat, sleep, breathe and drink the pursuit of stardom! That’s all I thought I could do if I was going to be a successful actor. If I wasn’t auditioning, taking a voice lesson, in a class, a workshop, or watching Elphaba comparison videos on YouTube I was throwing away any chance I had at Broadway. I don’t think that’s true anymore.
Very quickly after moving to NYC I left for a series of shows that made me feel like I was on top of the world! Then, in the first week back after months of being a working actor, I felt depressed. I was mostly in bed, only accomplishing things that were absolutely necessary, and confused as to what was wrong with me. My go-getter attitude was gone and I felt like my dreams were dead.
My soul feels most alive when it creates, develops or explores and after thinking and praying I realized that I had to find new outlets in my life to achieve those things or I would self-destruct. Waiting around for producers and casting directors to pick me or tell me I was good enough didn’t cut it; I needed to be making my own stuff. For the longest time I assumed if I was going to be an actor, everything I did needed to somehow support that dream in a traditional sense, but in this moment of self doubt and sadness I did something very not traditional and signed up to get my personal training certification at a school in Manhattan. The idea excited me, it woke something up in me I desperately needed to feel. However, to continue my pursuit of Broadway, I made sure I only went to school at night and worked on the weekends so I could audition during the day.
I began one of the busiest, hardest and most bizarre seasons of my life (another story for another day), but I felt alive again! Little could I have known that this choice would be such a complimentary pursuit to that of being a performer. The friendships it brought me, the networks it created and the lessons I have learned have been invaluable to me as an artist. I now vehemently encourage other artists to find parallel pursuits to their life as a performer because the possibilities are endless and the results are exhilarating. Your parallel pursuit might be performing arts adjacent or completely removed from the world of the performing arts, so as you ponder what might be right for you, I encourage you to consider THREE things:
1. What naturally brings you JOY?
Making a meal for yourself? Going to the gym? Reading a good book? Knitting? These things you take for granted might be indicators of ways to invest your time to find purpose and make money beyond your life onstage.
2. Who are the artists you admire and how do they invest their time and talent?
Javier Muñoz, Billy Porter, Alyssa Gagarin, Rodrick Covington, Jeremy Greenbaum, Jelani Remy, Sarah Ellis. Just a handful of people in my life who have found pursuits and passions beyond the spotlight including a meal prep business; youth education; a short film series; designing totes & other fierce accessories; personal training; writing and directing new works of theatre; and fighting for human rights. Knowing and watching them inspires me to think of what is possible beyond what is “normal”. Look each of them up to figure out who did what - you'll be inspired AF!
3. What scares you?
Fear is very powerful and has the ability to control and manipulate. Sometimes the things you fear indicate the exact direction you NEED to move towards and other times our fears act like a curtain; preventing us from seeing the amazing possibilities we could be embracing! Deal with your fears and own them; your world will transform when you do.
Never stop pursuing your career onstage if it's what you believe God made you to do, but also don't limit yourself to such small brained thinking that you can only accomplish one thing with your life. Live outside the box and be amazing!