Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ten Questions, Part 2

Last week's post was a big hit, so here's Part 2.  Take it away, working artists!

6.  What is one aspect of your work you adore?
Creating art. Touching an audience.

The magic of community and collaboration!  My casts usually feel like my family rather than co-workers.  There's nothing better than telling a great story with people I love and respect.  

Getting to sing a lot of different kinds of music.
Adam Kemmerer

Wow, this sounds corny but --where to start?! I love that no job is ever the same-- always new stories, new people, new locations, etc etc etc. Its the best. 

I just love making music, and having the opportunity to move an audience. Unfortunately, that's about 5% of my job.

I feel so blessed to be in a business where uniqueness and being different is celebrated.  I have never really seen people for their color or gender in a negative light...more rather in a curious light.  I've always been intrigued by different cultures and nationalities than mine and theatre has played a huge role in feeding that fascination positively.  

Standing on stage, holding the attention of the crowd, and taking them on a journey with me. Also spending time with my castmates backstage.

Heidi's Takeaway - The attention, the money, the cache of being a performing artist are attractive, but that's not what makes artists thrive.  The act of creating, of expressing something larger than yourself -  that is what keeps people in the business.

7.  What is one aspect of your work you despise?
A lot of producers and creative teams in this business will dangle carrots in front of you to get you to agree to things, most of the time they end up being empty promises. Also I hate the Catch-22 of needing to be a "somebody" before anyone will take a chance on you for that big role. Less and less casting directors will hire anyone who doesn't already have a Broadway credit.

Networking and self promotion. Its endless. No matter what level you're at. And what I've found surprising is it only gets MORE stressful as the stakes get higher and higher. Yes, it hurts to almost be hired by a regional company but lose out for reasons X or Y. However, it hurts more when you lose out to a gig for a Broadway show or a BIG house (like the Met or Los Angeles Opera). It's nice to know you were close, but the sting is just that much more. 

I also hate being "camera ready" at all times. You never know when a photographer is going to show up at a rehearsal. Technically, a company is supposed to give you warning, but usually that warning is as you walk in with your hair in a scrunchie and caked-on eye liner from the night before and the stage manager says "Hey, there's a photographer here. I hope that's okay." I'm not that much of a hair and makeup person, but after a company had to PHOTOSHOP their rehearsal photos of me (I was supposed to be playing a glamorous fallen diva), I learned my lesson. 
Donata Cucinotta
Open calls. There's nothing worse than sitting in a room full of 300 jolly people at 7:30 AM.

The lack of financial security for sure.  I think we already went there, haha! (That's correct, we did, in Question #4 of last week's post.)


There is nothing about it I despise. The thing I struggle with, or "dislike," is how social aspects creep into, or are blatantly a part of, the work. Sometimes that can be amazing and great, but when it's bad-- it's bad! I guess I have this view that a plumber has it easier because he just gets to go in, do his work, and leave feeling good when it's done. On the flip side, the mixing between business and pleasure is also why artists are able to walk away from their work with deeper relationships and fulfillment. It's not so bad, just sometimes can be a little tedious.

Heidi's Takeaway - There are many aspects of this business that are exceedingly challenging.  Successful artists find a way to rise above the challenges.

8.  What surprises you the most about your business?
The amount of loyalty in the business....and sometimes, the amount of cold hard business.

How small of a world it is!  In the last show I worked on, one of my cast member's wife happened to be a Broadway performer I very much looked up to as a kid and would sing along with all over my house.  And now here I was, clicking cocktails with her and talking to her like any other normal person.  If you told little me that, she would have flipped!

Owen Pelesh
That it's not impossible to be a working actor. That success can come from hard work. Until about a month ago, I still thought that I would never work again after each show closed (thanks to the endless college speakers who talked about how hard it was to make it). Sure, it's hard, but what good things in life aren't? 

I think you just never know what is going to happen or what you're going to be considered for. I've gotten to sing roles in genres of music that 10 years ago I would have never even considered myself capable of doing. 

How small it is. We all have mutual friends. eventually you get to a point where we all know the same people.

9.  Do you have your career goals written down?
I tend to take it one day at a time. 

Yes. I have a 5 year plan that I re-evaluate on a yearly basis. 

Yes, and I look at them every morning.

Only in my brain.
Lauren Cupples

No I do not. I'm terrible at writing things down. There's a good book called The Organized Actor that helps with that. I've never committed to it. Maybe I'll write that goal down...

I do.  I did a program called Magical Manifesters in the fall of 2013 that got me back into journaling and writing down what I want...and making it a feasible reality!  I believe in that power of putting it out there so much- make yourself accountable for your day dreams!

10. How often do you coach or study (voice, acting, dance, etc.)?
I go in for a voice lesson once a month. Teaching has REALLY helped my singing. I'm currently shopping for an acting coach.

I try to take a voice lesson at least once every two weeks, a fitness class like Pilates or barre three or four times a week, and short-term acting classes (like at the Walnut or 11th Hour) whenever I can afford them, like once or twice a year.

I work on rep and my vocal exercises every single day. I try to study voice once a month with a teacher. I take dance classes often when I'm not in a show.
Tara Tagliaferro

It never stops!  Even on the road, I have voice check ups with a cast member who teaches voice and other teachers via Skype!  I dance as much as I can when I'm in NY and sign up for workshops/classes whenever I see a stretch of time.  I love being in class and having that safe exploratory environment.  And I'm always practicing yoga- whether it be tracking down a local studio or doing videos in my hotel room!  What an irreplaceable peace!

Hmm...I'm sad to say I have not coached or studied since I graduated about 2-3 years ago (guilty confession)... but fortunately I've been working in the field since and am thus constantly using those muscles (and definitely doing my own warm-ups!!).

To be honest, when I have the money and inspiration. I myself am a coach, so that helps me keep in touch with audition rep and technique. When I have the cash, I try to make an occasional voice lesson. If I have a big audition, especially for a play, I will try to see an acting coach. Luckily, working is its own coaching - it keeps my voice and body relatively in shape. However, I do go to the gym 3-5 days a week. 

Thank you again to the working artists who responded for your time and honesty.  I'll see you on a stage soon.

Creataviters, your response to 10 Questions has been overwhelming and positive.  Therefore, I'm going to make this series an annual event.  Send me your questions, especially the ones you've always been afraid to ask.  Posting a comment here on the blog is best.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


  1. Wow! What an awesome idea! I liked how different the answers are. Thank you artists - love your headshots!!

  2. Thanks, Jean! I think the variety in answers supports the idea that there are many different ways to approach a career in the performing arts. Another reader has suggested that I add artists over 35 to the next installment. What do you think?