This is part two of my conversation with Janine DiVita. Last time was a Spotlight episode on her work with the USO Show Troupe. In this episode she and I dig into what drives her as an actor and singer, the choices she’s made in her career, and how she maintains a work/life balance since getting married.
Janine opens up about going to therapy and how it’s helped her focus on what truly matters, especially in auditions. She also shares what is was like filling in for Idena Menzel in the Broadway musical IF/THEN. Janine is a poised and consummate professional, whose singing voice is as angelic as it is powerful. She co-founded Empowered Voices, a company that combines dynamic theatrical techniques with traditional prevention education tactics to combat and prevent Sexual Assault within the U.S. Military and beyond.
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Welcome back to part two of my conversation with Terri Dollar. In the previous episode we focused on STAR, her program working with special needs theater artists in Raleigh.
Normally this would be another Final Five episode. However, after our initial conversation about her work with special needs actors I had a lot more questions about the other work that she does. So today in this bite-sized episode we chat about her talent agency and what she looks for in actors she represents as well as how she works to open up casting opportunities to all of her clients, including a couple of the STAR actors who are on her roster. We then discuss her work with Artsplosure, a huge arts festival she runs every year in Raleigh that is completely free and open to the public.
All in all Terry is one busy lady. I know that when I grow up I want to be more like Terri Dollar, and I’m sure after listening to the rest of our conversation you’re probably going to feel the same way too.
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Having worked with Lauren at Theatre Raleigh on BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, she joins the podcast today to talk about her transition from Broadway back to doing theater in her hometown of Raleigh. From her time growing up and studying theater in college to landing her first Broadway show and ultimately deciding to direct, she shares her own experiences in auditions and what she now looks for on the other side of the table. It's a great conversation about the business and how she found fulfillment in what can often be a trying and frustrating profession.
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A surprise bonus episode this summer...I just couldn't stay away! And also introducing the first-ever listener question.
- First and foremost, I'd love to hear from you and get your thoughts on this podcast. Share what you love and especially what bothers you about WINMI episodes or the blog or the online presence. It's all fair game in the Season Two Feedback Survey: survey.winmipodcast.com
- There's also been a slew of Broadway show closings announced recently. By summer's end 16 shows will be gone, with two more set to leave Broadway in the Fall and Winter. Is this normal? Should we be worried about the state of NY theater? As always, money plays a big part in the equation, but there's also an interesting trend or market correction at play as well. Read more from Ken Davenport as well as Forbes and TheaterMania.
- It's been awhile since I've mentioned it, but there's yet another reason why I'll never make it: my own lack of time management and keeping up with my schedule. I share a personal story of messing up big time, and it involves a former guest on the show.
- And for the first time on the podcast, I answer a listener's question about moving to NYC, auditioning, getting an agent, and when is the best time to join Actors Equity:
Hi! My name is Carley and I'm an actor that's living in Florida. I've been to NYC for "audition season" for the past 2 years to go through the motions. I haven't been too successful because I've been non-union, so I'm hoping that I'm seen more at this upcoming season in 2020. I was wondering if you had any advice for people who are living outside of NYC but still working to make it? I plan to move there soon. I'm getting married so my fiancé and I are hanging out here right now because it's easier to save but plan to move after the wedding that's in October 2020. So I guess I'm just wondering what advice you have for people outside of NYC, do any agencies take talent outside of the city, etc. I love the podcast. Thanks in advance!
(Thanks so much to Carley for reaching out and I hope more of you will do the same. If you'd like your own question or comment addressed on a future episode, send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
So here are some of my thoughts on the issues raised...
- I used to live in Florida as well, in Orlando for nine years, and I was taking trips to NYC also for specific auditions. So I think it’s smart that you come up for the audition season as a whole. That way you can focus on getting seen as much as you can, which as you said is unfortunately hampered by being Non-Equity. But there’s still plenty of tour work and regional theaters that need non-Eq performers to fill out their casts.
- As you prepare for 2020, I would say find as much theater work as you can there in Florida. Don’t hesitate to drive (if you can) to Miami or Jacksonville or Tampa for specific theater season or show-specific auditions. There are plenty of Equity theaters that could possibly get you your Equity card before you get to NYC, which would of course be such a leg-up in getting in the audition room.
- You’re also smart about staying in Florida and saving. That’s what I did as well and had a nice nest-egg coming to NYC that helped tremendously. It kept me from having to find work right away so I could focus on auditions and getting theater work. I came alone, however, while you will have your fiancé. So it’ll certainly be an emotional and financial help to have both of you supporting each other.
- Some agents will take out-of-town talent, but most want you in town of course. Having credits behind you or a recommendation from a casting director or another agent would greatly help you to get an initial appointment for possible representation. Also, colleges are a big deal here. So if you went to Michigan, CCM, Boston Conservatory, UPenn, etc. - those kind of rich musical theater schools have vast networks throughout NYC. I had no such degree, so I came here without any college cred or network behind me. It was a little more uphill because of it, but I was still able to make some headway.
- If you know any directors in Florida who work in NYC, whether as a director or teacher, get in front of them again, especially if they’ll be in NYC auditioning. Connections and networking are a big help in this business, like schooling I mentioned above. It’s one of the aspects of the business I’d not given as much thought or attention to as I should’ve. So even after 11 years here, I’m still not known to as many directors and producers as I'd like.
- As to the issue of when to join Equity, it’s really a different answer for each person. I would say that once your resume is diverse enough and has sufficient credits that show off the range of your talents, then you’re probably ready to make the leap. It’s all about consistency and having positive experiences in the audition room, whether you book the role or not. If you’re prepared to give that level of diligence each time, then you’ll be in a good place to handle the “clout” that comes with being in Equity. I put it in quotes because it’s more of a perception and is not a real indicator of talent or professionalism, but it still comes with some responsibility of maintaining and presenting yourself in the best light at all times.
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Audition season is winding up here in New York City as we prepare for the summer months. I hope you have some good plans for the summer. For myself, I will be doing a couple of shows: one in St. Louis the other in Raleigh.
My special guest today is also keeping himself busy. Ethan Paisley is a writer, producer, and director, with a TV series this summer on DVD Netflix called Set Life. Other projects include the feature film .453 which is on Amazon, two films that have screened at the Cannes Film Festival...and when it comes to awards Ethan is no stranger. He won Best Overall Film at the San Mauro Torinese Film Festival, Best Young Filmmaker at the Los Angeles Film Awards, and Best Young Director at the Young Entertainer Awards.
Just how young is he? He's accomplished all this by the ripe old age of 18.
So when I ask myself why I'll never make it, it's guys like this that have the drive and ambition to keep them going. He and I discuss his rapid rise to success and the setbacks he's faced in getting there. He has definite points of view on filmmaking and auditions and directing. It's a fascinating interview with a talented, young, and upcoming artist.
Welcome to WINMI's first international episode!
Joining me on the show today is Sherryl-Lee Secomb from Australia. With over thirty-five years on stage, creating roles in musical theatre, farce and dramatic works, she began working as a freelance theatre director, creating large scale musical theatre productions in her home town of Brisbane, Australia.
In 2011, she was appointed as Communications & Online Marketing Manager to Savoyards Musical Comedy Society, a large community-based theatre company, and began the process of creating their online presence.
In 2014, an experience with a another passionate but under-resourced regional theatre company, inspired her to begin a blog, An Idiot On Stage, highlighting ways community theatre organizations can improve and grow.
But Sher's work not only focuses on the theater companies themselves but the artists and actors and technicians that make up the whole creative team producing and making art on stage. She gives plenty of insight into how to approach art as a business while still maintaining the creative vision and passion.
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Broadway is all abuzz with the latest shows and performances making all the headlines. But theater in New York is so much more than what happens on the great white way. There's important and significant work being done off-Broadway and by theater companies around the city.
One such company is Leviathan Lab, and today I'm talking to Ariel Estrada . . . an actor, singer, arts advocate, producer, and Founder of Leviathan Lab. They are an award-winning not-for-profit creative studio whose mission is the advancement of Asian and Asian American performing artists and their work. With Leviathan Lab (now celebrating its 10th year), Ariel has produced acting and writing salons, cabarets, fundraising events, staged readings, showcase productions, and short films, including the award-winning film Two Weeks.
But today's conversation is so much more than just shop talk about auditioning and producing and running a non-profit. Our conversation really digs into some weighty topics of race and opportunity for people of color and the struggles that go with that. Ariel is quite candid and open about his experiences and how they've shaped his career.
This is an episode you don't wanna miss!
After being on WINMI Episode 32, fellow podcaster Clayton Howe invited me to return the favor and come on his podcast. We chatted about my own journey as an actor and what led to the creation of WHY I'LL NEVER MAKE IT. I share my own fears and battles with not "making it" but also what keeps me going and hoping along the way.
There's plenty of wit and wisdom in this great conversation with my friend, and I'm so glad to have been a part of his podcast. Enjoy!
As part 2 of the focus on auditions, John Ort joins the podcast. He is a member of CSA (Casting Society of America) and works on TV, film, new media and theatre.
His insights on the audition process are informative and useful as we continue to navigate this sometimes rough and mysterious process. John sheds light on on-camera vs theater auditions, how best to do self-tapes, and even tackles some of your questions.
John's work includes: CBS’s “Bull,” feature films Last Ferry and Anya, and short films The Water Song and Etymology. Associate credits include season 1 of the series “Ozark” (Netflix) for which he won an Artios Award for outstanding casting, the pilots of “Bull” (CBS) and “Blindspot” (NBC), “Younger” seasons 1 & 2 (TV Land), and the last 2 seasons of “Royal Pains” (USA). Previously, John was Manager of Casting at ABC Primetime NY searching for series regulars for numerous pilots and series.
For 7 years he oversaw the casting and production of the annual Disney | ABC Talent Diversity Showcase in NY. Independent theatre projects include musicals, plays and cabarets produced downtown at the legendary Joe’s Pub at The Public, Green Room 42, The Cherry Lane Theatre, Le Poisson Rouge, The Duplex Cabaret and various venues in the NY International Fringe Festival.
Follow John on Twitter.
He is also on the board the Artist's Patron Fund, a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2016 that provides fiscal sponsorship of mid-career artists, with project-specific grants. http://artistspatronfund.org