“I am so thankful to have Waterloo in my DNA and am forever grateful for the community of artists there for shaping who I am today.”
What was it like growing up in the Waterloo Region?
Waterloo was such a great place to have grown up! I felt in many ways like the area was at the perfect crossroads of urban and rural. There is such great diversity in the region and I believe this is a large factor in the thriving arts community that has developed there over the years. It was organizations like KWMP, TCP, The Singer’s Theatre, and RCMP that really fostered my love of performing. They allowed me to grow so much as an artist and make lifelong friends as well.
Describe your process to becoming a professional artist. What would you pass on to others considering the profession part-time or full-time?
I had always loved musical theatre and performing, but it wasn’t until my final year of high school that I decided to commit to pursuing it professionally. I studied musical theatre in college and moved to New York to begin auditioning after I graduated. I have since had some great successes and some long periods that felt like failures, but I don’t regret any of my decisions thus far!
I do think it’s important to add however, that it IS doable! There is so much fantastic Canadian talent performing on Broadway and regionally around the United States!
Your first job out of university was playing the Tin Man in a national tour of The Wizard of Oz. What was it like working on a touring production?
It was truly the best! I was very fortunate that that was my first professional gig following graduation. Admittedly, I have yet to top that one! We got to play over 20 cities across North America and share our story with hundreds of thousands of people. It was the greatest way to see so many places that I otherwise never would have while getting to sing and dance 8 shows a week. Our run was 8 and a half months, but if I could have continued the tour for another two years I probably would have!
Can you talk about your decision to attend a theatre school in America and what it was like to perform there?
I knew that the optimal goal for me was New York and ultimately Broadway, and I wanted to study somewhere that created a pipeline into that reality. CCM at the University of Cincinnati had been a top choice of mine but I actually wasn’t accepted my first year auditioning! My second year I cast the net wider to extend beyond my initial three schools and ended up with a great list of acceptance options to choose from, including CCM! The reputation of the school, the facilities, the training regimen, and the quality of the productions were all big draws for me to want to study there. The program was definitely intense, but the four years I spent there have been some of the best of my life. CCM, and other top MT schools in the states, also create a senior showcase in New York City attended by the industries top agents and casting directors. That was an amazing transitional platform as we began our careers. Every one of us in my class of 16 moved to New York upon graduating.
Auditioning in New York and performing around the US is fantastic, but also very challenging. There is nowhere in the world like New York in terms of opportunity in musical theatre. Naturally, there is also nowhere else in the world with as fierce a pool of competition when it comes to landing jobs. As a Canadian, there is also the additional challenge of lining up Visas and work authorization to be able to stay. Unfortunately the current administration and climate in the US has only made things harder over the last four years. That is a whole other conversation. I do think it’s important to add however, that it IS doable! There is so much fantastic Canadian talent performing on Broadway and regionally around the United States! Although I have begun a new transition in my life, performing on Broadway is still a dream of mine.
…nothing is permanent and we shouldn’t feel guilty as artists if we want to put our performing on hold for a period and explore other options. Theatre can always be a part of your life if you want it to be.
Tell us about your decision to return to school for business? What are you studying and what drew you to it?
I am currently back at school at Fordham in New York getting a Masters in Media Management. I had admittedly been having a hard time in the city finding a fulfilling balance of day jobs, auditions, and a personal life, (and had also experienced some immigration and injury related setbacks) and I was exploring other options. I did an internship doing social media/marketing for a TV personality and she helped me transition into going back to school and exploring a new career. I knew I wanted to do something that still allowed me to feel like I was part of a greater creative process and that allowed me to collaborate with others, and still provide me with some stability and this program seemed like great fit. Many come out it to pursue public relations, advertising, tv/film/music production and management, so I feel like I am still connected to the entertainment world in many facets.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other artists considering delving into other careers?
I’m still figuring this one out! I suppose I would say that nothing is permanent and that we shouldn’t feel guilty as artists if we want to put our performing on hold for a period and explore other options. Theatre can always be a part of your life if you want it to be. I never liked when people said “If you can see yourself doing anything else, do THAT” because I always had a number of interests outside of theatre and truthfully could see myself in a lot of different careers, but the thing that I remained the most passionate about and inspired by was theatre. I actually think my outside interests have helped shape me as an artist and made me a better performer. I suspect that this new tangent in my life will continue to enhance my inner artist. I am enjoying where I’m at currently! But my decisions have always been very personal and based on my own experiences and goals. Everyone’s path is different. I remember an instructor at school telling us “there are many roads to the Mecca” and that has stuck with me.
I’ve heard that the creative adult is the child who survived, and I would certainly agree.
What do you love most about the theatre?
I love the aspect of immersive story telling. As actors we get to play pretend and invite people to join us on our journeys, generating a shared transformative experience! What could be better than that? I’ve heard that the creative adult is the child who survived, and I would certainly agree. I love actors and theatre people. They have the largest hearts, and most generous spirits of just about anyone.
What do you find the most challenging?
Definitely auditioning and the day jobs you need to sustain you while you’re in between gigs. I never felt like I was a great auditioner and I was never really successful at finding a day job that was flexible/stable/moderately enjoyable.
There is such great diversity in the region and I believe this is a large factor in the thriving arts community that has developed there over the years. […] I think the strength of the Waterloo Region’s theatre scene is really a testament to the type of community that it is.
What do you carry forward from the theatre?
I learned a number of invaluable lessons during my Musical Theatre BFA and my time performing afterwards that I wish everyone could have experienced, no matter what their profession! The ability to collaborate effectively and with integrity, the “yes, and” attitude needed in so many aspects of our lives, the ability to multi-task, a deeper capacity for empathy, the connection between physical expression and mental and emotional processes, tactics of negotiation, the list goes on! Ultimately acting is the study and understanding of humanity, and that is an essential attribute no matter what you do.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not in the theatre?
I love to be outdoors, and particularly enjoy hiking. There is a surprising number of great hikes accessible from NYC! I am also a sucker for reality TV and trying new foods and restaurants. I’ve also gotten more into baking in the past six months… and especially during the last few weeks of social distancing. Me and the rest of the world I suppose haha.
If your life was a musical, what would the title be?
Fits and Starts
Why do you think theatre is important for the Waterloo Region?
I think the strength of the Waterloo Region’s theatre scene is really a testament to the type of community that it is. Many of my best memories as a kid and teenager were doing community theatre productions! It hasn’t been until I left the area that I realized how incredible our local community productions were! I have been a part of several professional shows whose quality was not up to par with some of the community theatre shows that I did locally growing up. Not only were the standards for shows top rate in terms of showcasing local actors, musicians, designers, and technicians, but the act of rehearsing and performing provided a great outlet for me as a young creative person. My high school never did musicals, and so the community productions that I did were my only chance to perform and to connect with others who shared the same passion that I did. I am so thankful to have Waterloo in my DNA and am forever grateful for the community of artists there for shaping who I am today.