Performing Arts

Weekly conversations and insights on the fine line between setback and success in the performing arts. Fellow creatives share their own journey as artists and the lessons learned along the way with host Patrick Oliver Jones, an actor who knows first-hand the ups and downs we all face.


In part one of my conversation with Christophe Zajac-Denek, he talked about growing up with dwarfism, his love of music and drumming, and how he just kind of fell into the world of acting on camera. For part two, we continue that journey with the movie and experience that had a profound impact on his life. 

As we start this episode Christophe has moved back to Michigan to go to music school and return to his first love of drumming, but life had other ideas for what Christophe needed to be doing.

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If I’m being honest, I have never really met a little person. Maybe in passing, but never actually sat down and had a conversation with one. But once we got on Zoom, Christophe Zajac-Denek and I chatted for more than two hours and even then we still could’ve kept on talking. There were so many areas of his life and experience that were not only interesting but also inspiring. So this is actually just part one of that conversation.

His fascinating story is such a departure from most conversations I’ve had on this podcast. He answers questions about dwarfism was and the day-to-day life of someone living with this condition. Christophe also shares his love of music and how he found acting...or rather how it found him.


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Thanks for coming back to join me and Kristen Hetzel again! This is a bonus episode to the previous conversation, where we cover topics and five specific questions that we didn’t address on the last episode. Today, Kristen talks about her athletic and acting bucket lists and shares wisdom from her Aunt Zee. 

The time and expense needed to bring these guests and conversations to you each week is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. 

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In this podcast’s continuing series, Bettering Ourselves, Bettering Our Careers we’re finding ways to improve how we work and create, how to push through challenges we face. So far we’ve looked at ways to better our public relations, our mindset and deliberate practice as well as branding strategies and how best to use social media.

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Today, as we head into a long Thanksgiving weekend, we’ll be tying it altogether by talking about persistence and gratitude with Team USA silver and bronze medalist Kristen Hetzel. She’s a runner and cyclist who is also an actress, personal trainer, and holds a doctorate in physical therapy. She shares her secret to getting it all done and how she overcomes what stands in her way.

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Well, I hope you listened to our previous conversation because Bianca is back to answer the Final Five questions. She shares her disappointment in not getting to play Evita but also her joy to portray Chita Rivera in the hit TV show Fosse. She also goes deeper into her love of family and being a stepmom.

Would you like to answer the Final Five questions? Let me know at


The time and expense needed to bring these guests and conversations to you each week is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. Please consider buying me a coffee to support this work that goes into each episode.

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In today's wide-ranging conversation with Bianca Marroquin, one of the issues she addresses is that of language and accent. Growing up near the Texas border, she had the opportunity to learn both languages. So in addition to being the first Mexican woman ever to land a leading role on Broadway, she is also the only one ever to do Chicago in two different languages.

Yet in the 18 years since the Broadway debut as Roxie Hart, she has still faced confusing and ignorant statements from casting directors and reporters, for example, regarding their expectations of what a Mexican is or should be. At the end of this episode I'll shine a spotlight on this week's Hispanic Icon, John Leguizamo, who has a few things to teach us about Latin History

But first, Bianca and I discuss an issue we are all dealing with as artists: the state of theater and the arts during this pandemic and what that might look like in COVID's aftermath.

Since childhood Bianca's life has been one filled with change. Though she was born in Monterrey, she grew up living on the Mexican side of the border in Matamoros, yet went to school on the Texas side in Brownsville. She first studied dance at the age of three but by high school was also learning flamenco, jazz, and tap. For college she wanted to study in Spain but her father insisted on a technical college in Monterrey, where she majored in Communications with the intention of becoming a reporter.

But she soon found her dancing feet again in a flamenco company as well as various festivals and concerts. She had made a name for herself, so much so that by the time she was doing Roxie Hart in the Spanish version of Chicago in Mexico City, she won best actress and caught the attention of Chicago's Broadway producers. And in 2002 she came to NYC in the show and role that has come to be the one constant in her life.


CBS News - Language Barriers Cause Problems

Patrick Swayze on working with Bianca Marroquin in LA 

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Well, it's the last Monday of the month, so that means it's time for this month's podcast recommendation: THE INDUSTRY, hosted by Dan Delgado.

Every week Why I’ll Never Make It likes to highlight and dive into the areas that hold us back as artists, the realities of this business with all of its ups and downs. Sometimes we find success and other times, like now, we face hardship and/or failure. So when I happened upon a television and movie podcast that did the same thing, focusing on lesser known stories behind the scenes, I was immediately intrigued. 

Since 2018, THE INDUSTRY has taken a closer look at actors who thought too much of themselves, producers who did not know what they were doing, and studios that would do anything for a hit show. Delgado's exposé, for example, of the rival movies Lambada and The Forbidden Dance, which both came out at the same time in 1990, revealed a lot of the behind the scenes bickering and was highly entertaining.

But it was actually a very different kind of episode that first introduced me to THE INDUSTRY. Last Christmas Dan did a bonus episode all about the first Charlie Brown Christmas Special on CBS and how it almost didn't get made. Since that episode I've been hooked.

Dan gives some backstory to his podcast, and in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, he also shares a bit of his own background as well.

So in your playlist of podcasts, I heartily recommend you add The Industry. Just put it after Why I’ll Never Make It, of course.  :)

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September 4, 2020

FINAL FIVE: Alex Pires

After our conversation on the previous episode, Alex answers the Final Five. He shares his love of Christopher Nolan movies and his dream to be on Law & Order: SVU as well as what he learned from Will Smith and Michelle Obama.

Check out Alex's web series: P's in a Pod 


The time and expense needed to bring these guests and conversations to you each week is sometimes challenging but always rewarding. Please consider buying me a coffee to support this work that goes into each episode. 

Do you have questions or stories of your own? Share them with me:
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The process of getting an idea, a story from conception to production to finally being onstage or onscreen can be a rather lengthy process. Hamilton took seven years and La La Land was almost nine. Alex Pires is another one of those with plenty of ideas. He’s an actor who came to NYC with a mission to not only act but to write as well. But as we know having the idea is just the first step on a long journey towards actually seeing it come to life.
His comedy web series P's in a Pod released its Pilot Episode in January 2019, but the rest of the seven-episode season didn't come out till April 2020. He talks about that long journey as well as some of the serious subjects addressed on this funny show: stereotypes, racism, depression, and even germaphobia.

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Broadway is no cure against challenges or setbacks. Bart Shatto has experienced the joys and the hardships of a life in theater, both personally and professionally. He gives an open and vulnerable look at how this business can create wonderful moments and powerful lessons.

Bart particularly shares his time with WAR PAINT, playing opposite Patti LuPone, as well as being in the cast of Tom Kitt's SUPERHERO and dealing with the negative reviews. Even I, the host, open up about the lowest point in my acting career, one that Brat shared in.


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Music used in this episode: 
"Bon Journée" by Chad Crouch is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License
"Meekness" by Kai Engel is licensed under a Attribution License
"Barbara" by U.S. Army Blues is licensed under a Public Domain Mark 1.0 License
"Driven to Success" by Scott Holmes is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial License
"Old City Bar" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, sung by Bart Shatto, recorded at a live concert in Las Vegas, 2011.
"Smooth Actor" by Podington Bear is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License. Based on a work at
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