YBY ep 233: Nik Whitcomb is a nimble theatrical Renaissance man

This week on Yes But Why, we talk to Chicago-based actor, arts educator and casting director, Nik Whitcomb.


Nik Whitcomb is a nimble theatrical Renaissance man. Nik has had a varied and successful career in entertainment, working as an actor, a director, an arts educator, a podcast host, an arts administrator, an online content creator and a casting director. Recently Nik was recognized for his hard work in the world of entertainment when he was named a “Theatre Worker You Should Know” by American Theatre Magazine. Nik is also the creator and host of the new online multi-platform talk show “THE COME UP with Nik Whitcomb.”

In our conversation, Nik shares stories of growing up doing theater in Omaha at the Rose Theater. Nik tells me about his experiences working at theaters in Minneapolis and Chicago and the differences in his experiences in either city.

We talk about covid’s effect on the theater/film scene in Chicago. We have a couple of hilarious rabbit hole discussions, one of which is about JFK and harkens back to Nik’s 8th grade government class. It. Gets. Weird.

Nik and I talk about our theories on teaching actors how to create space and how to evoke emotion. Nik provides some really important advice on how to pick gigs and make connections; and he gives great insight on auditioning.

Support Nik Whitcomb by listening to his podcast, “THE COME UP with Nik Whitcomb.” Also, check out the upcoming Playbill Virtual Play Festival and look out for Nik’s show, OUR TIME, a 10-min adaptation of OUR TOWN made specifically for the digital space.

You can also book Nik to be your acting coach or website designer. He can also prepare you for an upcoming audition. He knows everything about everything! Book Nik Whitcomb now!



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(production notes: recorded Zoom call with HyperX earphones and my lapel mic at the home studio on 9/24/2020….weaved his Zoom audio and mine.)







TRANSCRIPT by Otter.ai

HOST  00:00

Hello, Yes But Why listeners, this is your host, Amy Jordan.   Thank you for listening to episode 233 of Yes But Why, my chat with Nik Whitcomb!   But first, let’s talk about our sponsors.   This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible. You can get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.   Audible is available for your iPhone, Android, or Kindle. Download your free audiobook today at audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.  This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com.   Podcast Cadet is dedicated to helping you build your podcast. We will connect you to the resources you’ll need to get better and better with each and every episode.   Swing on by PodcastCadet.com to get help for all your podcasting needs! Let us know you heard about us from Yes But Why and you’ll get 20% off the workshop or service you buy!   This week on Yes But Why, we talk to Chicago-based actor, arts educator and casting director, Nik Whitcomb.   In our conversation, Nik shares his stories of working at a number of major theatrical institutions around the country as well as his current experiences as a TV and film casting director.    Support Nik Whitcomb by checking out his podcast, “THE COME UP with Nik Whitcomb.”   I now present to you: yes but why episode 233 –  Nik Whitcomb is a nimble theatrical Renaissance man  Enjoy!  I’m Amy Jordan, and this is Yes But Why Podcast. Yeah.


GUEST  02:10

I took my first theater class at the Rose Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska, when I was six, and I literally didn’t stop. I just went to the rose. I was always in classes over the summer, I took classes in the fall and the winter and the spring, I was just always at the rose after school. That’s just what I did. But it wasn’t until high school. When I was talking to my choir teacher, I spent the entirety of my senior year in the choir room being a quote unquote, aide. But that just meant that I was just like, not in classes, which was awesome. But my choir teacher I was I was talking to him. And for forever, I was like, I’m gonna be a computer scientist, going to computer science. And then I got to high school. And I was like, that sounds terrible. And I spent all the software you’re having no idea. And then junior year, I picked up like, I never stopped doing theater through all of it. But I picked up theater at my high school then. And then senior year, I was deep in the high school choir theater scene and the rows. And I was like, Mr. Manley. That’s my choir teacher, I have no idea what I’m gonna do. And he was like, why not theater? And I was like, cuz it’s not a job. I was like, you can’t do theater for a career. And he was like, my degrees in theater. He’s like, yes, you can. And I was like, really? And I was like, Huh. And so it wasn’t really a particular moment. I mean, it only made sense. It was all I had been doing since I was six. At that point, I was like, 1010 years deep, like, and so it only made sense, I would do this. And it just, I guess it took that one conversation. I remember. So clearly, it was that conversation, when I was like, Oh, I guess I can go to school for theater. And, and so I did. And then I have just been lucky enough to have a place like the rose that has kind of propelled me through being a student and being a teacher acting, doing the admin work directing all of it, so that I’m very lucky in that sense that, you know, it just, it just kind of happened.


HOST  04:06

You know, I find that we don’t truly recognize what our child selves are telling us until much much later in our lives.


GUEST  04:16

That crazy. And I say all the time, um, that actually just saw a Facebook memory today. And it was like, I posted this status that was like, I just walked by these kids. And they were playing in this really small fenced in the yard and they’re running around and having such a good time. And I missed that. Like, why did we take that for granted? The fact that we can make a whole world in a box, and I feel like children are some of like the smartest beings and that’s us. And then something happens around, I don’t know Middle School, where we start thinking about things and it all gets ruined. And then we’re no longer fun. We lose our imagination. We don’t trust our passion and our impulses. In a lot of ways, we’re taught that we shouldn’t because we get to school and they tell us that we need to sit we that we need to restrain ourselves, you know what I mean? So I, it makes me wonder, are we coaxed into losing that part of ourselves? Or is that just a part of growing up? I don’t know.


HOST  05:15

I don’t know. I mean, I, I have definitely said what you’re saying right now meaning, like, I have told people yes. When you get to middle school, something happens to where like, your child self is darkened. And I use that as, because I teach improv, right? And so improv is a skill. That’s a natural thing for children. But then as adults, we have to learn it. Right. And it’s a lot of it has to do with the fact that, you know, we are judging ourselves and everyone else around us. And yes, I think that’s, that’s something that’s taught in school. But I think it’s like, I think it’s like a like something that they tell us to a defense mechanism con totally wrong, right? Like, yeah, you’re right, you do need to pay attention to what societal norms are, and try to stay within those to function in the group, you know, elementary school, middle school, these things aren’t easy, you know, you have to navigate people being weird to you all the time, right? But, like, you, It then goes too deep. And then like, they can’t even be funny, or, or like make a joke. They’re immediately embarrassed. Like today, I was teaching a class of high school students. And I told them to do something super weird. And they all did it. But then they got super embarrassed. And they were like, Oh, and I was like, Guys, your embarrassment is exactly right. That’s what acting is being embarrassed and getting through it. Like, just get through it, you know, it’s okay. It’s weird. I was like, being funny being the utricle is, you know, unusual, but the payoff is so high, that risk at risk, it just get, get that and, like, be who you are, and be excited.


GUEST  07:12

Well, and it’s fun, right? Like, we, I don’t know, a single person that started doing theater, because they were like, I’m looking for a really stringent activity to contain myself with, like, so it’s, it gets frustrating when but, you know, you work in like a large regional theater, and you have all these corporate meetings, and you must wear pants and, and I’m like people like, like, this is like we make play we do make believe as a career. Like, there are 30 of us that are employed right now to make a play. This should be fun. Like, I should be able to wear shorts that have crabs on them, or giraffes or whatever. And I get aside from you. Because we’re literally a Fun Factory. So it’s just it’s I love playing like icebreaker get to know you on some of building type games in adult, especially theatrical situations. And not with the teaching artists because teaching artists is game if you teach theater, like Like you said, an improv class, like, we’re ready, like we’re crazy, and we want to do the thing. But people just start taking it taking this craft, even outside of high school once we get into the craft, so seriously. And and it just becomes so boring and so heady, and so not authentic, or anything that we notice in real life. And so, yeah, I just, you know, I think we need to keep playing need to keep having fun and, and find a way. That’s why I love teachers that are able to get kids on their feet, even in like non theatrical spaces. Like, sometimes you need to get up to learn something. And I bet a lot more kids would do better on the standardized test than you’re assuming. test their their their smarts, if they weren’t all being fed the information in the same way if you were making it in engaging process that they could attach themselves to that but that’s just that’s just my guess.


HOST  09:06

Yeah. And also like that being said, you know, to a certain extent, I do teach theater and you’re with a lot of theater people I think that theater people have a curiosity that sometimes other people don’t, right, so in other and other educational disciplines when they’re trying to teach sometimes it it is harder, because maybe nobody has that excitement in them. You know, like, just cuz you’re a history teacher doesn’t mean you’re like, want to jump up and down and be like, let’s do the JFK shuffle. Like you know, nobody asked the


GUEST  09:41

JFK stuff. I’m obsessed I want I want to make it up.


HOST  09:53

The worst part, this is the worst part. JFK was a perfectly good human being, but the only thing that we are obsessed with With his death, so as I said, JFK shuffle, I imagined just like reenacting the like car down the road


GUEST  10:07

like, and let me tell you, I spent an entire I mean, it seems like a month, it may have just been a week. But you know, we had block scheduling in high school, which meant that we had eight days in D days. So we’d instead of having eight classes in one day, we had four classes on on one day, four classes on the other, and that alternated. So in my history, my freshman honors history class, we spent it seemed like a month on the JFK assassination. So I know about the grassy knoll, I know about the smoke coming up. I know about the window. I know about Lee Harvey Oswald, I know about the mafia. I know about the Italians, like I know about the umbrella theory with the little Dart that came out of the umbrella like, I am invested. And so once you said JFK shuffle, I was like, in ready, I’ve got some people I can call.


HOST  11:00

Oh, my God, it’s so hilarious. I went to college in Dallas. I’m from Boston originally. So I didn’t know anything about it. Really. I mean, I knew about JFK, because Boston, you know, we love him, and all the Kennedys, their gods to us. And, and, but so I didn’t really know or, like, get it until I went to college in Dallas. And my parents came to, like, drop me off. And they were like, Hey, can we go to the grassy knoll? And I was like, sure, whatever, let’s go. And they were like, so precious about it. Like, they’re like, Oh, my God,


GUEST  11:35

look at this,


HOST  11:35

like it was such a big deal to them. And all of a sudden, in that moment, I got it. You know what I mean? Like, I, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t like know how big a deal it was to people. And then all of a sudden, I was like, Oh, these two were children. Like they were children when this happens. So like for them, it’s like a big deal. And they went and just to see the way they dealt with it and like looked and like check things out. I was like, oh man, Wild Wild how invested they were in this idea, this story that they wanted to figure out while they were in town like a wild.


GUEST  12:11

Yeah. And I mean, but the piece of that the story that I don’t think gets enough highlight. And I mean, you may have cut this out. I don’t want to gross anyone out but Jackie Kennedy became my hero in that video. Oh, yeah. The fact that without hesitation, she leapt onto the back of that car and grab that man’s head. That is dedication. Okay, like for her to like reach and be like, I’ll hold your brains. That’s cool. Like that is I love me some Jackie Kennedy. And I actually went to I was in Philadelphia and I went to a museum and they had the the exhibition was of their photographer, the person, the man that and follow them around for the whole time the JFK was in the White House. And just these stunning photos. Like Jackie had her own photographer, she was like, she was the first first lady to be like, no, I need my own photographer. Thank you so much. Because that’s who she is. That’s who Jackie Kennedy is. So I like I really thought I loved her cuz I was always a little gay child. And then watching her reach out on to that car and grab that man’s brains. before they’re like, Jackie, get back in here. I was like, that’s my hero. That’s it. I’m done.


HOST  13:26

Like, how dangerous was that in that moment? Like there’s a gun. It’s coming for you to get back.


GUEST  13:34

And she’s like, no, I need his brain. Yeah, respect


HOST  13:39

wild why I’m such deep. Like, what love What? Not, not even just like, I’m gonna do the right thing as the first lady in this moment and like, stand in front of my man and take care of him in this moment. But like, she’s gotta love him in that moment to be like, baby, like, Ah, so


GUEST  13:58

sad. I mean, that was that was the gut instinct. That was the instinct. It was there was no thought it was like this happened. I have to grab this like it was. Ah, yes. Like you said such deep love there.


HOST  14:10

PS loving this JFK rabbit hole that we’re on. We’re on right?


GUEST  14:15

Ha ha ha.


HOST  14:17

I’m hilarious. So wait, I’m gonna bring it back. So we were talking about you in high school. And then we went down. We were talking about how teachers who teach theater get to be playful and other people don’t tell me about your theater teachers, both in high school and then I’m assuming you also dropped that computer science idea and got a theater degree somewhere.


GUEST  14:41

Yes, that is exactly what happened. Um, so yeah, I mean, the the biggest impact for me for sure was I mean, it was at the roads. I was there since I was six. I was the kid that all the teachers started to know. My mom often forgot to pick me up she had a daycare. So she would pick up all the kids from school and then forget I was downtown with the rose. And then I’d have to call me like, hey, come pick me up. And she’s like, Oh, I’m on my way. So I spent a lot of time with these people. And I really grew up in that building. I went from being a student to assisting in classes to teach in my own classes to then working in offices and talking to the people that were also inside of the theater and becoming friends with the membership department and the marketing team and understanding what their role in the theater was, and talking to directors and working with different directors as an actor and then as their assistant. And so really, I mean, well, I mean, I love my my teachers in high school. Kate wig was my teacher for freshman years. And she left we got Miss Jordan, who Marcy Jordan was incredible and teaching me how to structure a rehearsal schedule to get a show done. But my roots and still my heart, I still go back there and work. I tried to at least once a season at the Rose Theatre, that’s that’s where I really got my wings. And, and it’s it’s really permeated all of how I move through space and all of how I teach and how I create characters when I do perform. It’s all outside in. I never, I never learned theater as a heady thing. It was all creative play. It was all what character you’re going to be today. It was all the floors made of jello. How do you move like that? That is how I learned everything I know about acting and building a character. And so that’s Yeah, that creative play from Kevin Earhart and Michael Wilhelm and Brian Gehring and Mike Harrison and Suzanne with them and Amanda Kibler, all the all these I’ve missed a lot of people but all these incredible people have shaped me and and then I got to work alongside them as a teacher and then as an actor, and then as a director. And yeah, so that’s the rose is my is my stomping ground and really where my foundation began. And in that creative play, that’s just always how I’ve, that’s what classrooms look like to me, because that’s what they’ve always been to me. So,


HOST  17:02

yeah, I really appreciate that idea of creative play. Did your college do that as well, or like, I know, a lot of people when they go to college, especially for theater, it gets a little heady and highfalutin, like you were saying when you’re talking about like doing, you know, like business meetings for regional theaters, and everyone’s all like, it’s very important. Like colleges are like that, too. I find that they get a little like, let me teach you everything about Shakespeare. That’s what my college was like. It was like they wouldn’t let us do anything. That was after 17 hundred’s like if it was written after the 1700s they were like, what, what is this new drivel? You know, we were like, Okay,


GUEST  17:51

we got up to the 60s, we got up to like 1965, or maybe even 1970 Fh. But that but that was the crazy thing is I’m mycology for it. So I went to separate colleges, I started at the University of Northern Iowa and love that program. I think that the facilities in the way that the college the way that you and I cares about the program is incredible. And they also have a specific feeder for you. Like, major that is awesome. But I started there and that just wasn’t a fit for me and I kind of wanted to come home I thought I had achieved all that I could in Omaha. But I was literally a child that hadn’t worked anywhere. So I was like, Oh, I haven’t at all. So I came back to Omaha went to Creighton University. And it was Creighton was great for me because I was able to work. I was able to work at the rows of the teaching artists, I was able to take up contracts at other companies in town, doing a reading here and there. Being in shows singing songs here and there, which was great. For me, it was great to be a working artist while I was getting my degree. My I mean, like I said we didn’t really get past the 70s in school, which changed when we got a new professor in my senior year. But at that point, I was like already kind of established in my own career. But yeah, so so my time a great, you know, there we look at the Stanislavski we did a little bit of Michael Chekhov. Um, and those are all things that I like to have in my toolbox. And you know, you have to have that language, especially if you’re teaching people. But something that I learned that was amazing is called rasa boxes, which is this incredible it I mean, it was developed in the 80s. And it’s basically taking Sanskrit words and like laughter and sadness and jealousy, love. There are eight of them. And then there’s also a piece which is Santa, and it’s embodying those words, and that when I heard that, I was like, Oh, this is a quote unquote adult acting style I can get with because it’s, it’s so much more like the outside work that I’ve been doing through my entire childhood. So, as far as college goes, that was the piece that I really took with me outside of school. And now I’ve kind of adapted that workshop and I teach it myself and everyone in Chicago thinks I’m a wizard, because no one’s ever heard of it. But yeah, I mean, you know, the, I just, standard thought seems dangerous. I’m gonna say it. Um, this idea that I need to dig back into the traumas of my life to understand the traumas of someone else’s life. That’s so dangerous. How do I come back from that? And that’s the thing is, he has no tools of how to come back from that. Michael check off is closer to what I’m thinking, like talking about the centers, the heart center, the head Center, the groin center, I see it, I feel it. But then instead of just using that, and playing with that, we have to tie in all the head no, like, that’s, that’s enough. We need to teach actors, especially in college to just live through that motion. Because so often, like it’s like, Oh, you’re so on a path. And then you you cut yourself off, because you were like, I didn’t hit that beat, right? Well, maybe that’s not how you felt at this time. And that’s cool, because that’s what happens in life.


HOST  21:07

Not to mention the fact that I think that a lot of people think that they’re just supposed to be able to feel it without rehearsal, like, like, the reason why theatre plays, rehearse for months, before they go up on stage and then do the play every day, for however many weeks is because you need to get so deeply embedded in the words in the vibe of what’s going on, that you’re not thinking like, I wonder what my line is? No, you know what your line is? Because you’ve said it 14 million times you are in this moment, and you and your friend are staring at each other trying so hard to live through these things, and say what you’re saying. And if you get in tune with each other in a moment, you really can feel this moment. Like, if you just use the rehearsal to build that backstory to build that, like, I know what this feels like. Yeah, you do, because you’ve done it 50 times. You know, like, you don’t need to think about some old trauma, you are living this moment over and over whether it’s you or somebody else, you’re living it.


GUEST  22:16

Well, yeah. And people always say like acting is living truthfully, under imaginary circumstances. Well, if that’s the case, then I need you to build those imaginary circumstances and not harm yourself by digging into your, your, your own past. It’s also just not healthy. And I think that that’s something that, especially right now actors need to be conscious of, is that oftentimes, I mean, there’s no one really doing a mental check in. The director oftentimes is like, oh, that emotional, big breakthrough is so amazing. But then they don’t check in to be like, Are you okay, though. And so I think that actors lose agency, they think I just have to keep doing that, because that’s my job. But if you’re, if you’re crying backstage before a scene every night, because you think that’s the best way that you can do that, that thing, then we need to talk about it. And we need to figure out a safe way because that’s not healthy. Like, even if you’re doing this for a role like it, like you said, we do it every night a week. So if you’re crying for every rehearsal, that’s every day for six nights a week. And then performance me if you’re doing like five shows a week, that’s five times a week, you’re crying every night and you have to go home and wake up and probably do your job. And unless this is your job, in which case, you might be crying in the morning and then cry, that’s a lot of tears like that cannot be healthy. So, so vigils, they just have to be there has to be another way to, to, to get there and to, to rehearse and to understand the stakes and to get into the words and, and live in the world and stop thinking about what am I the actor, I say this my friend all the time. She was like, I went to this audition and I gave the best audition ever because they they asked me if I could sing a song and I was very exciting song. But instead of quick one rep and I did it and it was going to be what it was. I was like I was like we should all just put it’s going to be what it is. You just have to live you have to know the circumstances. Know your lines, know your songs, know your movement, know your whatever, and just go live in that world for two hours. It should not be what does my face look like? What is my line? Did I hit that beat? Is this is the audience getting this emotion? If you just live in that life, they’ll feel the emotion because you’ll take them with you.


HOST  24:27

Yeah, right. Plus, if anybody has a problem with it, they have to see it from the outside. You can’t be judging it from the inside. That’s why we have directors, that’s why we have stage managers. That’s where there’s people who are watching you to be like, you know, hey, this didn’t work with the audience. Let’s try it differently or whatever or like Forget it. So what they didn’t get it. You know, like, I don’t know. I think you’re right, though, that people that actors put a lot too much on their own shoulders as far as like what they have. To put out and what they have to accomplish, I’m glad that you’re doing that you’re teaching your workshop to actors in Chicago so that, you know, they have other skills, other skill sets that they can use to get to an emotional place.


GUEST  25:17

Yes, I love and I teach mostly right now with my my friend Tia is a professor at Roosevelt. And so I go in with her, her sophomore students, you know, sophomore senior study. And that’s like the best time because we’ve now had a whole year of heady, probably traumatic time in college, because that seems to be happening to universities and many institutions around the country, often these days. And so it’s nice to go into that space. And not only do this this rasa box activity, which allows them to find different ways to just trust themselves and what’s already inside of them and unlock that. Because Because as you said, We master emotion at for like, and for you know, that if I cry, you’re going to do X. And I know how to make myself get to the point where I look like I’m having a true tantrum, and you give me the ASCII code, and I’m good a minute afterwards. That’s all acting, why do we lose that, um, so rasa box allows us to kind of like, tap into that more primal thing. But I also love to teach agency, I love to teach because a lot of times the actors put the weight on their shoulders, because not only the emotional journey, but their whole thing is I have to make people happy to keep jobs after make the director happy, as to make the stage manager happy, the producer has to, like people need to like me, and they so they want to please. And so in that you can lose your autonomy, you can lose the right to say, I don’t feel safe, you can lose the right to say, I don’t think that’s fair. Or you can lose the right to say, No, I’m sorry, we haven’t, we haven’t had a break all week. And I would really like to take this break. And I, I think that’s so important to instill in everyone right now. And in a moment where, who knows what the institution is going to say right to being taken away, left and right. And the space that’s supposed to be conducive and healthy is artistic spaces. So we need to, we got to take our spaces back, we have to push out the supremacist idea that we need to be correct and proper and, and perfect all the time. And then we get to be flawed humans, because that’s what we celebrate and making art. And so I that’s, that’s something huge that I that I try to teach the students there is that you have the power here, no one’s coming to the show, if you’re not on stage, so if you don’t agree with something, you need to talk about it because and that’s what I say, in all my rooms, when I’m directing is, I can have all the ideas I want in the world, I’m gonna do it. I’m believe I’m not gonna be here. So it doesn’t matter what I think if something goes wrong, and I need to come back and talk to you, that’s one thing. But these words need to feel good coming out of your mouth. What do you need? What do you feel? And that’s, that’s always where I where I come at it from. And I think that actors, I don’t know, I just want more actors to understand the power of their place. And not in a in a hierarchical sense. But just in a, you you should your goal is not to please anyone in this space, your goal is to tell a story and just like the director, and just like the designers, and just like the stage manager, and just like the producer, like that’s our goal, our goal is to tell a story. And we should all feel good doing that.


HOST  28:09

Yeah, absolutely. And have the drive to continue it and do more of it. And if the experiences that you’re having are making you have a traumatic or terrible time, you’re not going to want to keep doing this over and over. And in fact, I think that’s what happens. A lot of times I’ve seen actors quit at certain points, and you’re like, what, no, you’re a genius. What are you doing? And they’re like, I can’t handle it.


GUEST  28:34

It’s like, it’s just fortunate.


HOST  28:37

Yeah. Oh, so unfortunate. I mean, you can’t dictate another person’s creative path at all, of course, but it’s like, oh, no, like I, especially you, you are clearly a teaching artist as well. But like, I see, such so many people go through and I want to hand pick out the ones that are just amazing and great. And be like, you need to keep doing this. And sometimes you see people and they’re like the most talented person you’ve seen in multiple years. And they’re like, Yeah, I just took this class for funsies I’m gonna go back and do something else. And you’re like, what? No, like, it’s crazy.


GUEST  29:15

Right? Well, because it’s, it’s wild when I when I think about my like, artistic career and in, in what’s happening right now and the fact that everything is closed and all my work went away and in within two days and it’s just a crazy world, but I you know, I I I understand now why why people would probably like, you know, that’s probably not the path I want to take. I’m gonna keep this lawyer job even though I have an amazing actor.


HOST  29:48

Yeah, I mean, not a lot. I don’t have that, you know, have the drive to, you know, take the hard path and you’re right about right now. Like, like if if if being in theater itself didn’t, you know, cut the wheat from the chaff or what’s happening now? Like, like people who are, you know, some of us are in it forever, there’s no way that we’re not going to do it. It’s just what’s going to happen. But some people are like, you know, it’s a conditional relationship. They’re like, well, if it’s going, Well, I’ll keep doing it. But it doesn’t seem safe, right. And it’s not, it’s not safe at all, clearly, as we’ve all established, but if you can maintain it, if you can, like, do it, if you can stay with it, I just feel like it’s so I mean, I guess that means that that’s what you’re meant to do. And I, you know, I have no right, judging the lawyer for wanting to be a lawyer, it’s important for good people to be lawyers, but, you know, it’s, it’s like, I feel like there’s gonna be when we all come back, there gonna be so many, so fewer people than there were. Because they’re going to be like, it’s unsafe to do this, I can no longer walk the tightrope of this, the world does not allow me to walk the tightrope of this, I’m quitting. And I know people right now that I’ve already done it, like,


GUEST  31:12

you know, and it’s, that’s a that’s a double. That’s a double edged sword for me, because the market was so oversaturated.


HOST  31:21



GUEST  31:22

and it doesn’t mean that those people weren’t talented and gifted. But there are certain people, as you said, that this is a vocation. I mean, I remember fighting my friends in college, because they were like, Nick, you are not you don’t talk about politics enough, you’re not as politically invested. I was like, one Do not assume that me not discussing, the thing that makes me want to literally throw up all the time, doesn’t mean that I don’t know about it, too, don’t assume that because I’m not actively talking about all the time doesn’t mean that I’m not doing my civic duty. And three, I firmly believe that what I’m doing in the artistic realm is going to help me change the world. And I would, I would fight with people. And it’s interesting watching those people now, in this moment that are like, wow, like, it’s been amazing to see your voice grow over the last few years, I love the work you’re doing, the content you’re putting out is amazing. It’s really having the conversation, blah, blah. And I’m just like, it’s so funny to see how that has, has shifted, even in my moment, when I feel like I’ve lost everything, I don’t have anything. I’ve started this platform, and I’m using my platform and the platform that I’ve developed through my art to to make a change somewhere. You know, I don’t know how big that changes. But that was the other thing that I used to argue with him about is, I can’t change everything. It’s it’s impossible for me to think I can change everything, what I can do is I can touch individual lives. And I have always believed that this art, my art, my vocation is going to be what helps me change the world or change your mind or change your life. And so yeah, I think you’re so right to some people, it’s gonna be hot. Like, even for me, I’m like, I don’t even know how to look for a quote unquote, real person job. Like, that’s never been a thing I’ve done. And so I’m relearning that in this moment. And it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting, but I, but no day, do I ever not feel like an artist because that’s who I am. That’s not something I can turn off. That is so much more than a job for me. I’ve just been lucky enough to make it a career. But it’s, it’s, it’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s what I’m here to do.


HOST  33:23

I feel you I totally agree. I am supposed to do this. This is how I am able to communicate with people. This is how I am able to do everything like I was talking to somebody about literally do like the exact same thing like doing politics, like how would you do it? And I was like, I’d be great at it. But they look at my resume and be like, you can’t be in politics you haven’t been you didn’t go and get a degree in the important things you’re supposed to get a degree in and you haven’t been interning at various places your entire, like you’re a 40 something year old woman who’s only done theater, why? Why should we listen to you? And it’s like, because I’m a person in the world. And I’m going to tell you what the world is like for me, and I’m going to represent my people in this scenario. People that have that, that, you know, and it’s not like I’m gonna swing in and be like, oh, let’s give 100% of all our money to the arts. Like I understand how the world works. It can’t just be one thing. It’s got to be divided. It’s got to be this got to be that. But you need different points of view. Like I was just telling somebody the other day that I was like, I’m mad that it’s an impossibility for somebody who lives on the poverty line to be President. I want that. I want it because we need different points of view to be put out there. Do you know who like like the poverty lot people who live on the poverty line have a point of view of the way this country runs that is so different than people who have money or have been doing, like I said, like going to the right colleges and getting the internships and moving their way up and blah, blah, blah. Like they have a real life understanding. They’ve had jobs, they’ve had people take advantage of them. They’re trying their best, and they’re still living at the poverty line. And it’s not their fault. It’s just what’s happening because life is like that. But we need to hear their voice because like, so many other people are living that same life. And so their opinion, when it comes to what legislation should happen, and how things should work, and certain ways that things are set up infrastructures, I mean, we require that input. And I don’t know why we don’t have, you know, even if it’s like, oh, well, you gotta be a rich guy to be president, which I still think is BS. But like, even if that’s the one rule, well, then great, we still need to have like a committee that literally represents every single tax bracket, and says, like, you know, what, we don’t like that because of x. Or it’s really tough for us because of this, like, you know, ridiculous things that people don’t think about, because they’re everyone’s stuck in their own path. They’re like, this is the way I live my life. And that’s the way that it is I catch myself doing it all the time. I catch myself being like, like, because I’m full theater, I’m 100% Theatre, my husband works in conventions. We are both freelance self employed, we do not have regular jobs. So when I hear people talking about how their bosses are holding them down, and like, whatever, just quit, and they’re like, I can’t, and I’m like, what, why





GUEST  36:39

Literally, me, literally me. Well, and and off of what you said before, you know, I’ve been harping on this for a long time, shout out to eighth grade American government, because what I learned was that the there are rules already in place for the house, for the Senate, for the executive branch. And for the judicial branch of how you get in. The only stipulations to me in the legislative branch and the executive branch, are age, location, and citizenship. That’s it. And it’s made like that, because we are supposed to have a representative democracy. We’re supposed to have artists and conversations about the National Endowment for the Arts. We’re supposed to have doctors in conversations about health care, we’re supposed to have scientists in conversations about global warming. We’re supposed to have people that don’t have money in conversations about taxes. it like it’s, it’s frustrating to me, you know, there was a tweet after the Kamala Harris announcement, from Simone Sanders, who’s from Omaha, shout out Omaha. She’s running the Biden campaign. And she posted like $2 million 24 hours or something like that. That’s the tweet. And I’m like, great, where’s that money going? And I think it’s so unfortunate that you need to buy the best suit that you need to have private jets that you need to get a bus that you need to get all these things just to run a presidential camp. That’s not how it should be. That’s not fair. That’s not equitable. And so I think it’s it’s difficult to break down any of the conversations of, of disrupting the system or defunding the system or creating equity in spaces within America because our system is run on an equity our system is run on it. I mean, the system works exactly as Zein white men made it white men wanted to work this way. And so that’s what’s happening.


HOST  38:29

Right? But women,


GUEST  38:32

yes, rich white men. Thank you for that, that clarification. But there are rules in place that are written on the books that are supposed to make that not the case. And so if we’re going to talk about not dismantling the system and not burning it down and keeping it and running it as it is, then then we need to start asking real serious questions about why you Why do we need so much money? And why are Why are you as an American citizen pushing me and mad at me, because I don’t want to give them my money. They’ve not done anything for me. I’m not going to keep rewarding them with my dollars. What is that for? What is it going to? I don’t see the benefits of that. And so I and I, yeah, so we need to we need to take the money out of politics, like there has to be another way that we can engage with these folks to make the decisions we need to and I love this committee idea. And I’ve been seeing ideas like it rolling around, they’re like, how can we scramble it up more? How can we get more voices in these rooms, and take away the barriers. Um, it just it has to be done. It has to be done.


HOST  39:34

I went to this really great diversity in the workplace workshop. And it was a beautiful discussion about how we needed each other. Because we all have different ways we look at the world and we need to hear as many different ways of looking at the world as possible to make the best decision. And so whatever your background is whatever tax bracket you’re in whatever jobs you have whatever part of the country you live in whatever that means, we need this diverse group of people so that we can really understand. I mean, this is a humongous country, the fact that it, we even imagine that it’s possible for us to understand what everybody in this country thinks and feels, is ridiculous, unless we can literally have people who are actually representing them, like you’re saying, the representative democracy and how they’re supposed to be standing for us. But really, everyone who is in our respective, you know, states who are supposed to be representing us, or just representing themselves to get themselves moved up to get to the point where they’re at, to get the job in the Senate, or the house so that they can have a paycheck for the rest of their life. Like it. They’re not trying to help me, right? They’re not, they don’t care about their fellow man, they’re, they’re on a career path. It shouldn’t be a career path, right? It’s like not a, you know, I had said to somebody, I want to do politics, and I want to run on a platform of Who cares what I think whatever you tell me to do? I’ll do?


GUEST  41:17

Yes, because that’s the job. Well, and and that’s the other thing is if, if you I’ve I do not like career politicians, I don’t like the term career politician, because, like you said, is it should not be an aspiration, it’s a duty, it’s a civic duty. It’s a position that you serve to work for others. So when I hear it, someone’s been in the politics for 2030 years, I’m like, well, No wonder your ideas are antiquated. When have you had time to learn anything? When you’re always campaigning? When? When have you had time to learn the new discoveries of science? When have you had time to actually, you say you talk to all these experts? But when do you have that time? I don’t know, when you’re doing that if your only goal is to stay in office, that’s a full time job, stay in an office.


HOST  42:02

Can I just say that I have learned so much more. I didn’t have as great in eighth grade government classes you did clearly. But the I’ve learned more about how the government runs since AOC, get came into her seat, because she tweets and posts all this stuff about what’s going on with her, and what it has to do with and like, hey, they told me I had to do this, this is how I’d like to change that. Or this is the way this is working. And I read all these things. I don’t live in New York. I mean, I used to live in her district when I lived in New York City, but it’s like, I don’t live there. Now. I didn’t vote for her. I can’t vote for her. But she’s so like communicative when it comes to like, Hey, I don’t know if you guys knew how the government works. But PS, this is what’s happening to me. And it’s been so illuminating, about how like, how it works as far as like, not only just for like a freshman senator, or like getting in there being young and pretty, how that is affected, which is crazy. But just like, you know, the things about, like you said how much money they have to raise all the time, and how they have to, they’re told, like, they immediately have to think about being reelected and stuff like that, like, what, you know what I mean? Like, you know, you need to do the work that needs to be done. Which brings me back to what we were talking about when it was about how our theatrical skills are actually placed us in a good position, to know how to be politicians and to know how to work the system. And that through theater is how we can do you know, we can communicate our, you know, make political change as best we can, I think right now, with the way that arts have been, you know, paused for a year, which is so crazy. But like, when we come back, we have a real opportunity of very much using this time to like, make statements and use the skills that we have to get involved. I mean, you know what, like, everyone who doesn’t have a job in theater right now, that worked full time, Let’s all try to get in politics, right? Because like, we have skills about talking to people, making people like us, making sure that we can get information out there. And it’s not like you have to be president. No, you focus on the thing that’s most important to you your thing like I, I was raised in Boston with my mom, who was a teacher, I spent most of my life in the Boston teachers union. So I care about teachers, my whole life was about teachers. So I think about it now. Like, I want to get on the school board here. Like I’m gonna try to get involved, you know, like, figure out how I can help the teachers, like figure out what I can do with laws with assistance with like giving them the respect that they deserve that they’re not getting, especially now But like using that experience that I had in, you know, working with teachers, and the theatrical my ability to talk to large crowds or, you know, do an improvised monologue or talk to strangers and not be afraid of it like that those skills are important skills when it comes to, you know, spreading a good message and helping make real political change. You think people want to I mean, people give a hard time to political figures when they’re like, attractive, but that’s like an important thing to people. Yeah, I don’t like that it is, but it is.


GUEST  45:37

Well, and I think, artists, what we’re really great at, especially theater artists, is creating space. And that’s, that’s what’s kind of been disheartening to me in the whole conversation about about our spaces not being open is that everything has come to a halt. And I really don’t think that it needed to. And I think that it could have come back even sooner if we if we weren’t so concerned about the physical spaces that those multimillion dollar spaces and more concerned about, like how can I use my body voice and imagination to do a thing, and realize that our space is so much larger now, because anyone around the world can consume your content. So that that’s, that’s my one gripe with like the conversation around space. But that being said, because we know how to create space, and so like, we can use our voices in these powerful ways in our skills to get in front of people in the political system, but also, we can we can create, we can have conversations with each other. What what’s the world that we want to see? Who are the people that you can’t connect with right now? Or that, that you’re just like, I don’t understand what you are missing when I talk to you about why this is a problematic issue. But how else can I use my storytelling skills? How can I use my playwriting skills? How can I use my skills of empathy and, and, and, and movement to to connect you How can I hit you on a visceral level because that’s what that’s what we know how to do. And so I’m, I’m so interested in when we come back to whenever back is, which has to be different than before, there’s no option in, in figuring out how we use our voice to help everyone understand, understand, like you said, understand politics, understand this system that we have to are forced to work with them. But then also work on facilitating creation of space, to have more open dialogue and create the world that we want to see I’m I really think that artists can do that. And I’m, the more that I think about it, the more I’m like, I think this is the calling this is why there’s a calling for some people because our our job is so much more than escapism. But it is escapism, then I think there’s way for us to more than make you escape for two hours, I think that we can create something that people can escape to, and and be in some a great a great world where everyone is equitable, and everyone is happy. And it’s not built on systems. It’s built on people and empathy and compassion. Because that’s, that’s what I want to see. And I think we can make it maybe that’s too lofty. But but I think we can make it.


HOST  48:13

Yeah, it’s a good goal. I think it’s definitely something we have to work towards. It’s either that or lose hope and give up and I don’t think that’s really an option.


GUEST  48:21

Mm hmm.


HOST  48:22

Not at all. So I want to take a take a hard left here, and and start and ask you a little bit more about your career. So we talked about the fact that in, you know, in college, you worked on various programs, and now you are teaching at some workshops, but I feel like there’s a lot that we’ve missed, what did you do? How did you get into working full time theater after college? I feel like that’s a tough time for a lot of people a lot. A lot of people end up you know, becoming insurance agents or real estate agents at that point right out of college. It’s scary. How did you stay in theater?


GUEST  49:02

Yes. Um, so the rose again, was a big help for me after my freshman year of college, I, I talked to the education director of the rows and he was like, You should come back your junior year of college, do our education internship, because that’s the best time and I was like, Okay, great. And then they got an opportunity to go to an education conference. And so he called me and was like, Hey, I know I told you not to apply for a few years. But what you actually want to do this internship now we have this cool opportunity. And I’d love to have you I was like, Okay, cool. So I applied and so I had a teaching job my first summer out of school, because of the rows and that kind of lit the fire that was like, oh, it is possible that like this is a job I can do this as a career. Okay. And then it became my goal to always have an internship or some sort of work in the summer when I was not in school. There’s some privilege detach my story. I was able to I lived at home, my mom was a business owner. So I was financial financially. Okay, that was not a concern of mine. And so I had the ability to be like, I’m gonna take the summer and maybe make pennies, but do this artistic thing to help build my resume. And so I just kept doing one summer I was teaching classes. Another summer I was in a show. Another summer, I went to New York, and did an apprenticeship in for a very small company in New York, and also got to be in the show out there. And I stayed at some shows, and I was on the casting team, which meant that I just sent emails in between seeing Broadway shows, which was amazing. And so I was just able to, in a short span of time, accumulate a long resume, that was varied. That was me, because I also told myself that I couldn’t really be an actor. I was like, I’m no one’s gonna hire me as an actor. Because I’m a very specific type. I’m a large black man, it’s not gonna happen. And so I need to be good at literally everything else. And so, what I told myself was, as long as I’m working in a theater, I’m good. That’s box office, that’s a shirt that’s membership department. That’s marketing team that’s onstage that’s backstage, that fly rail. That’s whatever it is, I was like, I’m just gonna work in the theater. Um,


HOST  51:15

same time, same man. Yeah, same same.


GUEST  51:19

And so I just kept taking gigs. And I worked in Omaha for a long time, was a teacher for the most part, but did some shows which getting paid to act in Omaha is more difficult than than teaching. And I told myself, I can only take pay jobs because this was not a career for me. That’s the other thing I did was I shifted my mind to thinking like, I stopped taking opportunity gigs unless I needed to. You can’t live your entire life. You can’t pay your light bill on opportunity. So as much as you want to do the gig, if it doesn’t pay, I have to start tearing things down. I have to be like, I’m sorry. I can’t do that. Because I got to make money. It’s my career. Um, so yeah, I was acting in Omaha. I was teaching in Omaha. And that’s primarily what I was doing. And then I got a job I, I was offered the education and outreach coordinator position at the omak community Playhouse. I did that for about seven months that did not work out for various reasons. And I was like, well, Nick, what do you want to do? What what’s the thing you want to do? And I was like, you want to be an actor. So just try it. I put in my three weeks notice. And I freaked out. And then I pulled up the list of all the theaters in I think was five from places it was Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Chicago and New York. And I went to the equity website, I downloaded the list of theaters, I can get AMC points it and I emailed them. I just spent the last three weeks of my job emailing them like Hi, this is who I am. This is my headshot and resume. I might be there in in this after the summer because I have some gigs in Omaha, but let me know. I got a call from a theater in Excelsior, Minnesota. They were doing ghost the musical. And I initially turned them down then they called again and I was like, Okay, I guess I’ll do this. Went to Minneapolis did goes to musical for five months. In the midst of that got a job at the Guthrie in like a company management type position for the summer program they did and which I got to meet all these incredible artists, including the associate producer at the Guthrie, who was directing Christmas Carol. And so I did that for like no money. But I also had a job at the National Theatre for children booking shows at schools and I worked at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts making phone calls for memberships. And then I got the Kathy British ship at the Goodman. And then I did a little bit of acting while I was there. But then I mostly was doing casting and I fell into casting hard because casting is a 24 seven job. For those that don’t know, um, and then through that I was talking to northlight northlight introduced me to pass around Nikki casting in Chicago. And I’ve been working in television and film casting around doing random theater projects here and there ever since. It’s kind of a crazy story because I mean, things really took off when I got to Minneapolis and that was 2017


HOST  54:13

dude got three and the good man. Are you kidding me? Those are such big


GUEST  54:17

deal. I you know, I truthfully, when I saw that job for the Guthrie, I straight up was like, ah, I was like, I’m gonna apply but they’re definitely not gonna interview me because it’s the geffrye. Right? And then they did and I was like, Okay, well, they interviewed me, but I’m not going to give that job. And then I did. And this was and I had just gotten to Minneapolis. I think that program started in June, and I got to Minneapolis in May. And so I like within a month I was now within the Guthrie, like every day, and I was like this is insane. And I think and I think a lot of times people put value on those like one I’ve never really put I mean yes, I put that value on it because we’re supposed to but then I work there and like I was in the elevator with with Joe has and I was like Oh hey, you’re the artistic director. He’s like Yes, I’m like cool. Nice to meet you and I went on my merry way. That’s just the person that’s doing the job. I don’t I don’t put that level of weight on the work. And so I think people look at me in the theater world, not, as we talked about not in the actual world, because no one cares about any of my successes. But in the theater world, if people know what that is, they’ll look at my resume and be like, wow, that’s incredible. And I’m like, I was just trying to pay my bill. And they were a little racist. But you know, because that I mean, that’s just the reality of this of the major regional theater scene.


HOST  55:30

In Minnesota,


GUEST  55:31

and Minnesota, I mean, and Nebraska and


HOST  55:35

yeah, no, no, you’re right. But I just met like Guthrie. I’m not that surprised.


GUEST  55:39

For sure. Well, and one of the one of the main reasons that I that I worked so hard on the grind was because I was from Omaha, Nebraska. I was a black man from Omaha, Nebraska. And I knew, I just knew that people would try and take advantage of me, not only because of Omaha, Nebraska, but also because I’m black man. And that’s just something that happens, people assume that I know less people assume that I shouldn’t know more. Or maybe that’s an assumption that I’ve been taught to, but I’m happy I did, because I pushed hard because I was like, I need to learn as much as I can about this field from all sides. So that I can walk into any conversation, knowing what I should be receiving, knowing what’s right, knowing what’s okay. And feeling alright, about saying no to things because I know that there’s better or I know that that’s not how it’s supposed to be done. So it was that was my big thing was and at one point, I wanted to be an artistic director not so much anymore, at least in this moment. But I was like, I have to know everything, I need to know everything. And and it’s it’s been very helpful, because I’ve been able to be nimble. And when someone’s like, are you a producer, I can be like, sure. And I then I can have a producing gig for a month. And then I do a concert next month. And then I stage manager show. And then I cast a thing, and then I teach some classes. So I’m nimble. I like being nimble in that way. One, because I just like to be able to do everything but to it’s, it’s helped me it’s sustained me, like not being a one, one trick, whatever has been able to sustain my career, which has been just awesome.


HOST  57:08

Now, I feel like that is a great thing. I think the more knowledge you have, the better for sure, especially in theater, because so many times depending upon what theater you are working for, they’ll combine jobs, especially jobs that like don’t make sense together. But they’re like doing it because it’s like, well, this one’s gonna be during the day. And this one’s gonna be at night. And you’re like, I guess so. But like, you know, it’s so good that you have this knowledge of all sorts of things. Have you found as you’ve gotten these jobs and moved around that people have been, you know, receptive to your, to your resume having so many different things on it? Or are people giving you a hard time saying like, Oh, I wish you were more focused, because, like, when I was coming up, I feel like that’s all they told me was like, pick one thing and go for it. And I didn’t, but that I feel like that’s what they were saying.


GUEST  58:03

I had a lot of people ask me why I hadn’t. And I think I was starting to hone in on directing. But also, I mean, it’s interesting. So I mean, actor at heart is what I’ve always done, I love singing I will never let that go. But truthfully, it’s like, it’s that’s like the most unsustainable, that was most of my concern outside of thinking I couldn’t be cast. Was that like, I was like, I tried to go to auditions all the time. That sucks.


HOST  58:30

Yeah, right, make like 400 and $500 here,


GUEST  58:33

while like all my directors, directors get paid every time. So I and there’s no question about it. So and that that seems like a nicer path. But also, I I don’t know I kind of like being the Renaissance man. And, and also I started doing things and it went and when I try and leave people don’t let me which that is not me bragging that is just the truth. Like I straight up, I went and I directed a show at the rose I directed lm champion last year, which was an incredible, amazing experience. And so I left PR casting for a month. And I told him I was over the time. They’re like, think about it. Think about what you want, when you want when you come back, like just let us know. And in the midst of that, I was like, wow, I really missed my freelance life. I really missed working gig gig as crazy as that sounds, I miss it. I would never say that anymore. But that’s where we’re at. That’s not true. I do miss it. And I still love it. It’s probably how always work but losing five jobs at once is trauma inducing. Anyway. You know


HOST  59:37

what, though? I feel like the skill of it is super helpful right now. Like sure being able to because my husband works in conventions, we get one big check every six months or something like that. So we know how to take money and stretch it over a long period of time. So having to do that now is like Yeah, sure.


GUEST  1:00:00

For sure, for sure. Um, but yeah, so I emailed them this long i like i like painstakingly wrote this email that was like, I appreciate you, you change my life like you open me to a whole world, blah, blah, all this stuff. I just don’t know if I can come back to in like in the full time capacity to the casting office. And I’m still working there. They did not let me quit. I mean, just like teaching like, I’m like, I’m no longer teaching and someone’s like, Are you sure? Like, come on? And I’m like, Okay. It’s just like, people just pull me back. Because I’m, I like to think that I’m good at these things as well. I like to be good at everything I do. But yeah, I mean, people have been pretty receptive. What’s interesting is, I got to Minneapolis as a performer, performer. And so people knew me as a performer and everything else was like icing on top. I got to Chicago as a casting director. So I’m a casting director first, and all the other things are surprised. So like, I post, everyone in Minneapolis, and Omaha knows that I sing. I post a video of me singing and everybody in Chicago is like, Why are you hiding that? And I’m like, I’ve not I’ve sang for every musical theater house in the city. And none of you have cast me. I’m, I’m hiding nothing, you just don’t see me that way. You see me as a casting director, which was also interesting, in trying to like mingle in the city, because I’m a casting director, which automatically puts me on this pedestal, and people, and people feel like they can’t talk to me. And so it made this weird, hierarchical thing where it was like, hard to determine, like, is this unauthentic relationship? Are you talking to me? Because you think I can get something for you? Are you is this? Why is this feeling awkward? Like stop being really nice to me? Like it just it was just like, it’s this really weird thing that I’m still trying to work on breaking down, because I think because of that I wasn’t really able to form the type of community I would like to and Chicago, just because there was that instant separation. So so that’s been probably the most interesting thing about like, the resume is that, I mean, people don’t really look at all your resumes, or look at all that you’ve done. They just know you by what they know you from and depending on the region. That’s also what I learned that like things are so regionally specific, and not even regionally specific, like city specific. Like my friend in Minneapolis is an equity actor. And she’s from Chicago. And she was like, Oh, I want to come to Chicago and talk to you about working at these XP theaters. And I was like, Well, I’m like Minneapolis, there are probably only two theaters you can work at and like get paid anything close what you’re getting paid in Minneapolis. And she’s like what, but there are so many theaters, there’s like there’s Steppenwolf and victory gardens and Chicago Shakespeare. And I’m like, Yes, those are not Lord theaters. Those are Chicago area theaters. They have a separate contract for actors equity that pays you substantially less. And she’s like, what, but that’s like, no one even knows that. So someone’s like, oh, you’re working at Victory Gardens. That’s top echelon. It’s like, yeah, that’s like, maybe 500 a week. Like and when you’re looking at a Guthrie, like someone’s like, like in their minds. Guthrie and BG are at the same level, you know what I mean? Like, it’s like, they’re like, oh, like Victory Gardens or Steppenwolf? Like, is it the same like at least name level as Jeffrey Bennett got through, you’re making thousand a week and Victory Garden, Steppenwolf. You might be cutting 500? Unless you’re on the ensemble, or like some bigger name. But or at some of these theaters, especially for storefronts, yes, you can work there as an equity actor. But they have two contracts is one actor, one stage manager, and it’s 125 a week. But you don’t know that if you’re not in Chicago. So that was another interesting thing to learn, like, oh, like, we really, truly don’t know what’s happening in other markets, not even by region, but by city. We have no idea.


HOST  1:03:41

You know what, I wonder, based on everything being shut down. Now, there have been so many theaters, like here in Austin, that have gone under venues that have closed and whatnot. And I really wonder, you know, like, you’re talking about all these different ways that the theaters in Chicago run? Like, I wonder, because so clearly each one of them have a different like business model, right. And maybe they get their money differently. You know, some of them are nonprofits, and some of them are for profits. And like, some of them have, you know, donors, and some of them don’t, you know, they’re just trying to make money from ticket sales, that kind of thing. And I really, like I don’t want to be I feel like a vulture when I think these things but like, I’m so fascinated to see what kinds of theater business models succeeded during the time. Like, how long? How long will certain theaters last, given the fact that we’ve had to take a year off? I mean, in Austin, for instance, my main group is improv theaters, right? I know the people that run every single Improv Theater in town. And so during this time, I just been kind of checking on him occasionally. Sometimes I talk to them too directly. Some of them times I just checked their Facebook page to make sure they’re not having the worst day of their lives. And I’m like, Okay, thank you seem to be going well, no. So Things have closed. But some of the things that have closed were like already going to close. Right? So it’s like, I wonder how the different business models will fare when they hit essentially the hardest wall any of us have hit in this scenario, like, I wonder if the landscape of Chicago theater is going to be so different in I don’t know which direction it’ll even go. Like, everyone gets paid less, or everyone gets paid more. Who knows? Right? Who knows what business model worked? And then, and then, when we come back, that’s what we’re going to learn, right? I mean, like, I read this long article about like Broadway and how they were running it and how it was going for them. And I was like, I find this article fascinating. Because it’s like rich people talking about what it’s like to be rich. And I just was like, What is this experience that they’re having, like they are having this experience of being like my entire livelihood has been pulled out from underneath me. And they don’t know, they’ve never had that, right? Because they’ve gotten to this point of being a Broadway producer, and I’m pretty sure that’s cushy job, right? If you’re getting if you’re up there, you’re doing well, you got some cash, you know, money. And you have to have friends who have money, and connections who have money. But now like, you know, New York City is like a warzone at this point. Like, what’s going to happen to that? So the landscape of theater, I think, is fascinating when it comes to like, how is it gonna suss out? What is it going to lead to? How is it going to work? Like, will Minneapolis continue to be a better city to work in for actors? Who knows? Like maybe it won’t be given a lot of the terrible things that have been happening there? Right, who maybe it’s totally going up? Now Chicago’s better or maybe a different city altogether? Maybe Omaha? Is the major theater city because they lasted because they stuck it out? Because something about their business model worked better. So I don’t know. I mean, we’ve been living on the New York, LA Chicago is are the only places that exist for many, many years. And I wonder if it’s going to change?


GUEST  1:07:15

Yeah. And it’s, and I think, I think I think it will change because it has to, and I think a lot is going to change. And I think there’s I think there’s also going to be a lot more questioning of business models. A storefront theater in Chicago, they’re like 300 theatre companies in Chicago, because it’s the storefront scene, which pretty much means that there are there are different spaces that have storefronts and use like the den or theater, which are state sensitive, and three, that have multiple small spaces within them that people can rent. In some places have their own, but most theaters in Chicago don’t have their own space. So they’re called storefront theaters. So anyone, pretty much what happens is people graduate from the seven universities in the area and are like, no one’s casting me and they start a company, and then it’s a company. But there’s this company that’s been around for 40 years. And they just put out job postings in Chicago, for a literary manager and a managing director with all these requirements must have a four year liberal college degree must have experienced with this, that this that volunteer, it was a volunteer position. But and, and that happened all the time. In Chicago, there are so many volunteers out there so many full companies and people that are proudly company members that aren’t being paid for that work. They’re just doing it because their friends or whatever, that’s what you’re supposed to do. And it just begs the question means like, don’t


HOST  1:08:35

get me wrong, like I work in improv, it’s like, unless you’re a teacher, you’re not getting paid to do it. But at the same time, like managing director Get out of here, Oh, my God.


GUEST  1:08:46

And my thing is, you haven’t produced anything for all of 2020. So you don’t have anything to pay this person? What is your business model? Like? What What is your financial structure that you’re offering a job right now, and you’re saying that you don’t have money to pay anyone? One, if you don’t have money to pay anyone, then you need to get your boards do this, because that’s where they exist. And two, we need to have a serious conversation about where your funds are, you have spent no money, we have had no productions, I’m confused. So so I think that this moment is gonna not only figure out like what models work and what sustains, but also, hopefully get artists of all because a lot of time actors and even directors and design, anyone that’s not on the production or the company side doesn’t know what’s happening with the numbers they and they don’t ask, they just expect it to be what it is. But I’m curious, like, why don’t you have money for a managing director? Why don’t you have money for a manager? What are you hiring those people for? And you haven’t produced anything so what do you even like if you don’t have a bank account, you have a company like outlook that is


HOST  1:09:59

Yeah, man. It’s like it, you know, it’d be one thing if you were like, Hey, we spent all our money to pay for the space. And now we don’t have anything but at least be open. You know what I mean? Like, I think at this point, people would be a lot more open to hearing a story about what had gone wrong. If only just to say, like, we tried to do this, we exhausted all our savings. We tried to do XYZ, and now we need new people to help us because we are we’re have at a loss, right? Like and that that in and of itself, I’d be like, Okay, all right. I get it. They need my help. You know what I mean? As opposed to, hey, we’re great. Everything’s super awesome. Over here, you know, where you want to work for me? And you’re like, Oh, my God, I do want to work for you. You seem so put together How much? And they’re like, yeah, it’s volunteer, like, oh, also, like back to when we were talking about like, our resumes and how the real world doesn’t look at us. Like we have any worth because we have a theater resume. Why are our own


GUEST  1:11:03

people looking at it? Oh, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Yes. It’s it’s this rite of passage concept that, because I actually got into I got into a Facebook back and forth with someone about it, who was like, Oh, I really hope someone great signs up for this job, like this old institution deserves someone to take this up and get them through this hard time. And I asked him, I was like, What are you going to apply? And he was like, No, I’ve already paid my dues. And it was like, Well, I mean, it’s you’ve run a you’ve run an art, you’ve been artists director for 12 years, you opened a company, it sounds like based off of this job description. That’s who they’re looking for. So if this is so important to you, if this is not about our skill set and being valued with dollars, and it’s about getting someone through the thing, then why Then why aren’t you going to apply? And of course, crickets? Because the answer is because it’s not paid. Well, yes, sir. I know, that’s why you gotta fly. And that’s what we’re all saying. But you have to think in your mind that someone deserves to not be paid for this position, because this theater is more important than someone’s livelihood. And we should help this company that probably can’t even produce anything until the middle of next year. Like get through this quote, unquote, hard time. If times are that hard, I need you to take this job pose down. Mm hmm.


HOST  1:12:22

You know, what times are hard. Everyone needs to be paid for something, meaning no matter what the job is, I need some cash for it. Am I picking up trash? Am I answering phones, and my welcoming people in the front door of a car lot? Am I taking tickets at the front of a theater, no matter who I am, I need to be paid for my time. Like, the only other thing and I’ve done 1000 of these. So people I’m sure listening are like, you’ve worked for free a ton. I work for free, when I’m gonna get something out of it in a way that like, it works out like like I volunteer for South by Southwest. I go and do you know, little parts of it, because I get in free to things because I can then go to see the comedians that I want to see and the bands I want to see. And I get to go to the party that I want to go to, like


GUEST  1:13:17

that’s danceable value. And I talked to this, there’s this incredible actor named t Michael Rambo. I saw this man on stage in Minneapolis. And I was like, that’s me in 30 years, like I felt it so viscerally in my bones. So we just had to hang out. And he said, there are three things that he thinks about before he takes the gig. One, is it financially sustainable? Two, does it feed me as an artist, and three, like as an artist personally, and three? Will it advance my artistic career? Before he accepts any gig, it has to check at least two of those boxes. So if you’re not going to get paid what you need to get paid, it must be something a show that you’ve really wanted to do. So you love it personally. And it’s with a director that can advance your career or whatever. Or maybe you get paid well, and it’s a director that would be really great, but it’s not a show you super passionate about but that two out of three and so for me like I in this job because of location, yes, we have to work for free. I mean, I’ve also done a lot of really free gigs. I’ve done some things for free that I probably shouldn’t have done. But But there is a bit of one you need to get your foot in the door. I just don’t believe in doing that forever. But to like sometimes passion and an artistic development can override that Financial Peace. So yeah, I just it’s it’s a game. It’s a balancing game of figuring out like what what am I willing to sacrifice? If I want to do this like when I assistant director show at North light, and they don’t have a specific stipend to pay their assistant directors. I pushed her one and now they do. But it was with Kenneth Robeson who’s a amazing choreographer of Avenue Q. And it was a show about Nina Simone. And I was like, You know what, I’m willing to kind of like stretch the dollar from these other gigs I have, and take this assistant directing gig because what an amazing room to be in an incredible story to tell. So sometimes you can put it aside, but it’s just about not knowing that you’re worth more. And it should be worth something to you. It’s not just about what can I do for you to get me the next gig. It’s about what can I do for myself to advance my career to make me happy and sustain myself both financially and mentally?


HOST  1:15:34

Yeah, man. Totally. Oh, you got some salient advice? I like it.


GUEST  1:15:40

I got a minor in philosophy. So


HOST  1:15:45

Wow, you really shouldn’t be in politics, theater and philosophy.


GUEST  1:15:48

Oh, yup. Just boosted all around.


HOST  1:15:56

Oh, man. So I want to ask you about what casting is like, because I am fascinated with casting. I think it is so fun. I have been, you know, I just really think I have cast my own shows. I’ve cast shows for improv, you know, productions and whatnot. And I really, I love watching people and finding a way to puzzle piece a cast together. And I just like, what is it like for you and your experience? Because you’re doing TV and film? What is it like when you get projects? How does it work? What’s the I mean, I heard I hear you when you said that, like when you moved there, it gave you an unfortunate distance from being friendly in the theatrical and film communities. And I totally get that. But what’s the part that you love the most? How do you enjoy it?


GUEST  1:16:54

I love I love casting. And I love it. Because it’s always been my job to create space, like I was talking about earlier. And this really gave me a chance to platform people and, and present ideas and be heard in in an interesting way. So I started in Goodman doing theater casting, and there I was an apprentice. So I was really learning. But I learned I mean, that’s a fast track, because they’re casting things all the time. It’s, it’s a very long gated process. I then learned when I got to TV and film casting that it’s it’s two completely different worlds. So I’ll start with theater and theater. You know, there’s more time you sit in the room there about but you’re talking to the director, you have discussions. And as a casting director, you are you really get to kind of sprinkle like, you get the style from the director, but then it’s about your taste and how you make that happen. So you get to have fun with like, let’s try this person. Let’s try this person, you have more time typically in the theater setting, depending on how you do it, especially when you’re an in house casting agent, company, casting department like at the Goodman, you have time to play, you have time to bring in ideas you have time to test things out. In TV and film, that’s the thing you miss the most isn’t the time we cast, the Chicago rolls. And that ended up being a lot of the main roles too. For this upcoming season part for Fargo, which debuts it’ll be a little after this episode, this episode will come out and it already be on TV. So I hope you’re already watching on FX or who want FX,


HOST  1:18:26

I saw that it advertised it looked so amazing, excellent casting. So that


GUEST  1:18:31

is a lot of Chicago actors, which is which almost never happens. It almost never happens at Chicago gets lead people but we did, which is so cool. Um, but there was an episode in the season that we got the script. And in the script, it was like, Okay, here are 10 brand new characters. And it’s like, when does this shoot? Oh, next week. Great. So then whatever plan we had for that week is still has to happen, because we have those commercial contracts and that other TV show in that movie. But now we have to cast 10 roles for Fargo. And I think the most common misconception is that casting directors actually choose the cast. We don’t we present options. And then the director or producer or whoever the network chooses that person from tapes. And there’s a lot less autonomy in the casting conversation in a TV and film space. So in theater, you can sit in the room and the director is like, oh, that person was terrible. And you’re like, Yes, that was not them. That was a bad day. Here’s the context I have for them. There’s a little bit of that and TV and film world. But really, a lot of times we’re casting for people that are in LA. So we send them here are the people that we taped here are five favorites from the day and they send back great book this person. So then we just have to know that that actor can get on set and do the job because if not, it’s our fault. Um, so there’s a lot more trust in TV and film casting. There’s a lot less conversation about and in an artistic sense, but it’s still very artful because there’s more power in the in the casting directors hand as far as curating the list that you’re going to see it’s more specific. I’m hope I’m making any sense, because it’s all kind of nebulous.


HOST  1:20:09

No, no, you, you totally are. And I appreciate that. And the reason why I have become so obsessed with it, is because my husband and I realized that there was a casting director of television shows that we like watching. And we noticed, like I, because I work in the industry. I I’m obsessed with all the players, every person. So like, I’ll watch the, we always watch the credits. And I always watch the credits of all my television shows, largely because, you know, I’m kind of hoping I’ll see somebody I know. But also, because I like to recognize names, right? And if I see the same producer on two different things, I’ll be like, Oh, hey, let’s watch this show. This person produced it or, like my husband and I are obsessed with the casting director Sharon bialy. That casting director, every single show that her team is associated with is amazing. And we are like, I will watch a show from nothing. Like I’ll be like, I’ve never even heard of it. Sharon bialy cast it, I’m like, yeah, let’s watch it. Like she just like somehow that team whoever works, they’re doing it doing it, right. Like their people are always on point. The combination of people are like, Oh, look at this interesting like, p i meet new actors like and they’re always on point like it is. So like, no one else could play this role. This is so amazing. And I just like so I we get into that kind of stuff. And so because we became obsessed with her and started like, I just go to IMDb now and whatever her next show is that she worked on. We just watched that, like, I won’t even like look it up like Yep, put it on, we’ll find it. And we love it every single time. But it’s because of that, you know, we do that with producers too. You know, like certain people, you we see their names on a couple of good shows. And we’re like, yeah, that person knows how to pick a show to give money to let’s do it. Like, so it’s all the little players that come together to make something so I love casting and I love not only because I think it’d be super fun to do, but also because like, it’s just so interesting to you know, be able to, to think about all these different players putting this play together, and putting this out in front of me and all the work that they do. And forget all the people that say that there’s like two people in the arts that matter and everybody else doesn’t. I love all the tiny players. I love everything. I watch television shows. And I watched the show and I will tell you, the big players, the small characters, I’ll tell you 12 other things that they were in, like, I’m like that guy who’s working the register like that was just in a toothpaste commercial that I saw yesterday. And also he was the guy who was murdered in that lawn order we just watched. Like, I am always like that.


GUEST  1:23:13

That’s what I learned when I got to the TV and film office is that that that is what an acting career looks like. Like there are people coming into the office that I had seen a Goodman they’re like on the a list like they’re the top actor like on the first list for every Shakespeare I’ve been doing this for 20 plus years in Chicago work at every equity house. And then they come in and dance like a crazy person for a State Farm commercial. Because that’s their job. And, and and in Chicago, we don’t get like I said, we don’t get a lot of main main lead role castings. But we we get those big players like when I’ve my first week MPR casting, we worked on the show redline, which was a CBS miniseries and they were casting like citizen number one. And the role the the the line was like young getting it done or something like that. It was something like some quote unquote, throwaway line. But we had people come in the room and say that line five different ways. It was a very intense who were going to look for this job. And then that actor booked that job paid a cell phone bill like so it’s all these things where it’s like, yes, you may have been on screen for just a little bit, but you also don’t know who’s watching you on set. I played a barista, I was a barista. And the movie called I used to go over here that just came out. It was a cool day. I’m saying I hung out with Gillian Jacobs, which was amazing. Um, and so I let her I’m in this movie for like, all of like, 15 seconds. I have three lines, but it’s so five. I


HOST  1:24:43

can’t wait. But I then


GUEST  1:24:45

I then booked the pilot episode of a show. And I get on set. And one of the crew members comes up to me and he’s like, did you shoot a movie? I used to go here and I was like, Oh, yeah, and he was like hey, great work on set. I had No idea that this person was watching me on set. But that matters. Because if you come on set even as a bit player and don’t know what you’re doing, and you’re terrible, they’ll offer a review for that. So it so it matters. It may not matter in the blank to the to the quote unquote lay person. It’s like, Oh, well if you’re not Brad Pitt than are you really doing the thing? Or the question like, what would I know you from? It’s so annoying like that that’s an assumption that the other pieces of my artistic career don’t matter. And that’s not fair.


HOST  1:25:32

Well, I mean, it turns out you and I are the only people that really appreciate all of Theatre and Film and Television, and that’s fine. It’s just us. It’s just you and I. That’s okay. We don’t need them. They don’t need to appreciate me for us to be good.


GUEST  1:25:52

I never needed them. I never needed them. I’m just kidding. I need someone to need


HOST  1:25:57

a lot of attention. Yeah. Yeah, I do a podcast guys. I talk for hours on the internet. I’m looking for attention. Ah, goodness. So I love the casting experience that you have. I’m so excited. Like, like, it’s just so interesting to me. I am also glad that we’re like friends now because I’m like, tell me everything about all of your future castings to like I want like texts about like weird things that happen like guy just walked in with a chicken on his head. He got the roll. Like it’s like,


GUEST  1:26:34

seriously weird stuff. So okay, so real quick, funny casting story. So so we were, we also cast the show utopia, which will now be playing on your TVs when this comes out. So check it out utopia amazon prime. And a lot of people died in that series. Like there’s a lot of death and you don’t be and so there are a lot of there was a lot of auditions where people just needed to like die. And so we got a self tape from this guy who liked the scene. As he opens the door, he gets shot or something and then he dies. So he like didn’t slate. And then someone the person with the camera knocked on his front door. He opened the door and got shot and then stumbled out into his yard and fell onto a blanket he had laid out in the driveway. Like, I’m not sure if he booked it, but I would have booked him because that is the commitment that we need. Like that. I was like wow. Like that is what that is how you stand out in the crowd. Yep. Yeah.


HOST  1:27:32

If nothing just from the blanket, I goes like bro, my goodness, all without a blanket. Get rid of the blanket. Ah, if you can’t fall on the ground, you can’t be in this show.


GUEST  1:27:46

Wow. It is tough, Greg seems like a new unless there was dirt on your shirt. You did not do it.


HOST  1:27:53

I’m just saying don’t wander out to like a, like, I thought you’re gonna be like he flipped over his hedge. And then he fell into a pile of leaves. And then he had blood squirting out the front of his chest. And he was like,


GUEST  1:28:08

oh, my goodness, no casting is not a context for what a story though. I mean, we’ve gotten a taste of people in gardens. There was I did a BP commercial once where like, the whole thing was people fighting against the elements. And so I would be like, I was like, the faster I wave my hand the more it’s raining and you have to find all the inventive ways to escape the fake rain as you’re typing in your BP number at the gas station pump. Does that make sense? Okay, here we go and rolling. Like it’s crazy. Like, like some of the especially for commercials like the things I asked him to do are just wild.


HOST  1:28:46

That’s why they always want improvisers for yes for commercials because people do stuff like that. They’re like, see, you’re in a room with a badger. Badger says hello, go. And, you


GUEST  1:28:57

know, they love improvisers. And it’s funny producers will be like, they’ll be like, um, have you have you heard of the Second City? Like, could we get some of those people? And we’re like, yes, we’ve heard of Second City and they’re already on the list Anything else?


HOST  1:29:14

One time I did a commercial. And my line in the commercial was like, the was like the ad like it was for internet. And it was to tell the people what the internet speed was, like, it was essentially like 400 beats per minute or whatever. It’s clearly not beats per minute. But um, but, uh, you know, I had a line and it was clearly like, what they were selling. You know, it was the, it was the deal that they were trying to advertise in the commercial. So we’re doing the thing, and they’re like, hey, if you want to, like improvise and like change it up, and I wanted to be like, and I was like, Okay, sure. So like I had no idea what they wanted me to do. Because I had To say this line to sell the product, like it was essentially, like you should get this internet because this is how fast the speed is. And I was like, how do I change that line? Um, so I kept trying to, like, just say it in different ways or like, or like, turn it into like, the craziest way a person could say, like I cried, as I said, like, did you know how fast the internet oil baby? And they’re like, okay, let’s like that more like you were doing it before. I’m like, Yeah,


GUEST  1:30:36

okay. Right. See. And that’s the, that’s the other thing that I don’t think people realize, because specifically about like commercials. And when you’re as an actor, sometimes what it may be like this, like the the director of Hidden Figures was in our office one day, and I was like, what’s here for there? Like, he’s the director of the McDonald’s commercials. It’s like, Oh, that’s fascinating. But I mean, paints a mouth, just very different level. Um, but, but it’s like, it’s, they don’t realize that like, one, when the producers and the director and the agency come to the commercial, so Fs commercial callback, they’re probably eight people in the room, all on their laptops, probably not looking at you. But they also just met that day. So the director will say something and then ask the producer, and the producer will say something, and there’ll be two very different notes. And so the trick, the trick that people don’t know is that like, then I as a casting director, I’m there to help you not have to deal with that conversation. So before we roll, I’ll be like, that makes sense. And if you’re like, it doesn’t, I can then turn around to those people and be like, Okay, what I heard was this, maybe we try it this way. Is that cool. So like, there’s, there’s much more of a teammate. thing that doesn’t happen for a lot of actors in casting, because they feel like, I’m on their side, I’m not on their side, that’s my boss. So I want you to do a good job, too. But they don’t know each other. And then you send people to set. And a lot of times people are worried about shots, they’re worried about looks, but then they have no idea what they want you to do on camera, and they’re like, Oh, just change that lineup. And they’re like, Oh, wait, that’s the product. Like, just kidding. Can you can you actually just say what you said last night? Like they don’t know. They don’t know what’s happening. So that’s the other thing I learned when I got to, like working in the commercial realm was I was like, oh, we’re all just making it up. Okay, great. Awesome. Great.


HOST  1:32:26

Yeah, yeah, that that part of being a commercial actor, where you have to wait like the the passing of information from person to person to person before you actually get the note is so crazy.


GUEST  1:32:39

What’s the funny thing is that everyone has competing, competing things like the director is like, this is my artistic chance. The production company is like, we need to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible because it costs money. The agency is like, yeah, we’re the ones really concerned about money because it’s our product. And if this doesn’t make any money, then it’s going to be a problem for everyone. And so like, everyone’s like, like, everyone’s there for the same goal, but everyone’s direct mission is very different. And the stakes, the stake levels are different. And so it’s just it’s just a fascinating, fascinating finger experience.


HOST  1:33:11

Oh, my God, so funny. Ah, man, you’ve it’s been a pleasure chatting, chatting with you. You’re lovely.


GUEST  1:33:17

So much fun. Thank you so much for having me. This is a blast.


HOST  1:33:21

I have really enjoyed my time with you. Oh, you’re just so lovely. Let me just ask you one more question. And then I swear, I’ll let you go. It’s like the middle of the night. What advice would you have for people like yourself, who are just excited to be involved in theater that want to try everything? Like how did they do what, like, what advice you have for them on their career? And, honestly, you’re welcome to give advice based on the world as it was. And if you have any COVID advice, you can give some but you don’t have to, because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the new world.


GUEST  1:33:58

Right? I mean, I think the advice stays the same. It’s it’s Don’t be afraid to make the connection. I think my network even even in starting the podcast has been what has floated me. I’ve been able to reach out to all these people from all corners of my life and be like, Oh, this project you’ve worked on or Oh, this thing or Oh, this topic we talked about one time like let’s bring it to the show. So like don’t be Don’t be afraid to make a connection and then and then water those connections maintain them. I send random emails people all the time that I’m like, Oh my God, we haven’t worked here in a while, but I’m just saying hi. And that the number of times it’s gotten me like a connection to someone else and then an interview and then a gig is insane. So so just don’t be afraid, especially with email. Email is so non committal. If you have Gmail, you can now schedule the message uni would have hit send, you can take that pressure off for yourself. Like but just just send the message like any every opportunity I’ve gotten has been from me, getting to a city like Minneapolis and Chicago I got here. And I found companies I thought I wanted to work for I sent them an email that said Hi, I’m in town. Hear my resumes, if you want to talk, let me know. And that’s literally how I got my job at PR casting was the like from an email, and then someone sitting down with me and then introduced me to PR. And then they hired me within like, two weeks. So like, it’s just about, you know, send it, send that email, leave that voicemail. Don’t be annoying, you know what the difference is. But but get yourself out there, no one is going to vouch for you as hard as you have asked for yourself. So just Just don’t be afraid to communicate.


HOST  1:35:28

Yeah, and I’m gonna say based on your advice, which is very smart, that in the way of post COVID Theater, you need to make those connections, you need to let people know that you’re still in it. Because there’s a lot of people who aren’t. And so if you’re still going to be a director, or a casting director, or an actor, or producer, or a costume designer, or a makeup artist, you need to check in with your people, especially I feel like it’s coming around. I feel like we’re getting to the point where things are going to start happening again. You know, they’re starting to be a few more gigs I’ve got I’ve had a couple of auditions myself. So if that’s happening, I mean, I get like an audition a year. So if I’m getting a couple like they’re happening,


GUEST  1:36:12

well and right now, like right now, like you don’t have to stop right now. Like make a thing, if you like as safely as you can, if you’re a makeup artist, practice makeup on a friend. If you’re if you’re a singer record a song every week. Like there are so many ways to just to keep doing things right now to just like you said, be able to reach out and say, Hey, here’s what I did when nothing was moving. Imagine what I can do when things are poppin. And also, like, look at what I’m doing right now like, and also so many people need an escape. So many people need to laugh so many people need to cry so many people need. So many people need art right now. So it’s it’s our job to provide that. And so yeah, so make make your thing right now, whatever thing you’re nervous about making because you don’t know if anyone’s gonna watch it. It doesn’t matter. Don’t make it for them. It’s for you and for your career and for your your sanity. So make the thing right now.


HOST  1:37:12

Can I just say that there was a thing that my husband and I put together? right at the beginning when we were first home, that we were just not really in the best mindspace for at the time. But now that we look back on it, and I knew this as we were doing it, we were both just so messed up about our careers. And we did this project because it was for a good cause we’re trying to raise money, but it felt so like, yucky, we didn’t feel like we did our best job. But now that we look back at it, we’re like, you know what, we did a pretty good job. And now we have this record of this thing that we can do that we didn’t know we could do to create this show as a fundraiser that we are now trying to use and actually successfully using to get other jobs. So like we’re showing people like see this thing that we made, we can make something like that for you and your company. And they’re like, Wow, look at this. And it’s like we would never have done that. We would never have created this. We’ve never worked on this project had a friend of ours not been like hey, can you help me raise some money? Since you know you guys don’t have any gigs right now? Can we put something together? And we’re like, yeah, let’s put something together. Let’s make something we need to be creative right now. And it was so we were in such a bad headspace, you know, but again, just the act of doing it. Drew people to us people have been like, wow, the production on this is XYZ we’re very interested in working with you. And it’s like, oh my god, we didn’t like That’s amazing, like, great. You know what I mean? Like, so you never know, you never know what project you’re gonna do. That’s gonna catch the eye of the right person or, or get you connected with another artist who was like, Hey, I really like the cut of your jib. I like the way you put things together. I want to work with you. Let’s make something and then there’s your like dream partner who knows? Yeah,


GUEST  1:39:05

yeah, who knows possibilities are endless. Because Because opportunity creates itself. Yeah, so there’s that.


HOST  1:39:16

Oh my god. Thank you Nick. So much for being on the show. You have been such a lovely perfect, wonderful guest I so loved our time together.


Um, Amy, thank you for having me. And thank you for keeping us on task.


Thanks for listening to Yes But Why Podcast. Check out all our episodes on YesButWhyPodcast.com or check out all the content on our network, HC Universal at HCUniversalNetwork.com

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