Chris Ignacio


EP 107: Chris Ignacio (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 107. 

[00:00:05] Alrighty, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Chris Ignacio, are you ready for this, Chris? 

[00:00:15] Chris Ignacio: [00:00:15] Yeah, totally.

[00:00:17] Dane Reis: [00:00:17] right. Chris is a Filipino American performer producer and educator. He has toured nationally and abroad since graduating from the Boston conservatory at Berklee. He is a culture push fellow for utopian practice and Queen’s council on the arts community engagement, commissioning grantee for his self produced project co-written which involves collaborative song writing with the young people of color. 

[00:00:42] With this community based project, he has paired renowned musicians, such as champion beat boxer, Mark Martin with future songwriters in nontraditional settings. Chris recently produced the New York times. Critic’s pick. TJ loves Sally forever at Jack previously. He served as associate producer for the Obie award winning mahi theater company. 

[00:01:06] He currently works and performs at LA mama, etc. In the East village, alongside resident theater, artists and puppeteers. He has sung at Lincoln center. Joe’s pub national sawdust, and is currently developing a song series anchored around his experience, a folk music as a child of Filipino immigrants. 

[00:01:24] Chris, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry. 

[00:01:40] Chris Ignacio: [00:01:40] Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much. That was, that was amazing. 

[00:01:44] Thank you for having me on here. First of all, I’m very grateful.

[00:01:48] Dane Reis: [00:01:48] Thank you for being you for being 

[00:01:49] Chris Ignacio: [00:01:49] and an honor that you asked, uh, for my story. So my name is Chris. I’m originally from San Antonio, Texas. And, uh, right now I’m living in Jersey city, New Jersey. Uh, after having lived in New York for 11 years. I build myself as a performer producer and educator. Uh, like Dane said, I currently work at LA mama in the East village, which is, um, you know, the theater that pretty much started the off, off, off Broadway movement. 

[00:02:17] And right now I’m in the middle of rehearsals for a small shadow puppet piece with one of the resident artists there. 

[00:02:24]Dane Reis: [00:02:24] Very cool. And let’s move on to this next section here. And Chris, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone. 

[00:02:37]Chris Ignacio: [00:02:37] Okay. My favorite quote is. Life is too important to be taken seriously. 

[00:02:44] Dane Reis: [00:02:44] Ah, so true. And can you. Expand on that a bit on how you’ve worked that into your life and your career.

[00:02:54]Chris Ignacio: [00:02:54] Yeah. I always remember to have a sense of humor about everything and keep people in your life who make you laugh. That’s it. Especially during a time, like right now, You have to find laughter and joy somehow.

[00:03:10]Dane Reis: [00:03:10] For sure, because it is a crazy time at the moment. Isn’t it?

[00:03:14]Chris Ignacio: [00:03:14] Yeah.

[00:03:15] Dane Reis: [00:03:15] And let’s move

[00:03:17] Chris Ignacio: [00:03:17] laughter more important. 

[00:03:18] Dane Reis: [00:03:18] Oh, absolutely. And let’s move on to this section. And Chris, of course you are an entertainer. I’m an entertainer. And I think that you would agree. That this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally honest, personally emotional industries in existence. And, you know, you know, Oh, Yeah. And you know, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, there was an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being an entertainer. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career? 

[00:04:10] And how did you come out the other side better because of it. 

[00:04:14]Chris Ignacio: [00:04:14] Okay. Well, one thing is I have, um, I want to challenge the welfare. I have issues with, um, 

[00:04:19] Uh, the term entertainer. I don’t know if I identify as an entertainer, we’ll get into that later. Um, but I’ll talk about the challenge first, because I do work in the entertainment industry. 

[00:04:29] Um, but I, I wear a lot of hats, so I’m not necessarily an entertainer. A challenge. Um, you know, working in this field is that I don’t have rich parents who could pay for, or even understand my actor life in New York. So I couldn’t advance as quickly as those who did. Um, I worked in restaurants for seven years, kept my head low, kept going, took breaks and stayed open to other opportunities to work in the theater. 

[00:04:58]And I mean, I mean, any opportunity. 

[00:05:00]I worked in the box office as a technician stage manager, board op producer, literally anything and everything I have done 

[00:05:08] it. And I’m glad I did because now I can say that I’ve traveled and worked globally and have a wide skill set and knowledge base that I couldn’t get from school. so that was a challenge. And now here’s the other side, I guess I’m now on the other side. I pay my, I pay my rent, um, solely by working in the arts, which is fantastic. And I have time to make my own art and help others produce their art. 

[00:05:32]I don’t have to audition anymore. Uh, I get asked to do projects, which is amazing, and I can turn down projects, which is even more amazing. Um, You know, I’m, uh, I’m 33 in great health. I have a great apartment and I’m waking up grateful every day. So yes, to the other side. Um, that said I’m still not financially rich, but I’m stable, secure, and happy. And . Um, so, ah, ah, a note on happiness. I want to say that happiness, I think, is something that happens in moments. So I don’t want to imply that I have found happiness. I think I’m always in a constant state of fluctuation. 

[00:06:11] It’s just that these days it’s more up and down, which is something very fortunate, but also something that I have worked to cultivate. 

[00:06:19]Dane Reis: [00:06:19] Yeah, there is so much gold in everything you just said that was chock full of amazingness and. You said. 

[00:06:28] That you’re always  finding happiness or your you’ve never really arrived at that. You’re always happiness is in moments, right? Is 

[00:06:36] Chris Ignacio: [00:06:36] It happens in moments. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:06:38] Dane Reis: [00:06:38] Yeah, and that’s so true. And. Also back to the beginning and you said, Hey, you know, I didn’t come from a wealthy family and people that could really understand. My struggles as I go through this journey of a performance career. Right. Right. And I can very much relate to you. I, I, I, as well, don’t come from a wealthy family. I had to take on outrageous amounts of debt. 

[00:07:02]Uh, to go to the Boston conservatory, um, was it the right decision to make. I don’t know, but it’s the one that I did make and that’s one that I’ve moved forward with and all the great things in my life have happened because of that decision in a way as well. Um, but yeah, everyone’s journey is different and it certainly can be helpful to have a bit more of that financial help, but. 

[00:07:22] Look, doing the grind, doing what you need to do to make life happen the way you want it to be is everything. And that journey is so important for all of us and it just adds to our character and who we are. And clearly you’ve. Come out, like you said, on the other side, I mean, I mean, it’s an  amazing accomplishment and a huge success to say, yeah, this is. 

[00:07:45]How I make my money. I only do entertainment based work. I can turn down work. I mean, I mean, that’s the dream. To be able to choose projects that you want to work on. That’s everything. And you 

[00:07:56] Chris Ignacio: [00:07:56] Yeah, I actually, I turned down a residency at Mount Tremper, which is like a highly coveted residency, but I was not interested in going there with the people that were going there and I wasn’t interested in the work. And so I actually turned it down, which is like, damn, why did I do that? But yes, I actually know why I did that because I’m prioritizing self care and mental health. So that’s, that’s where I’m at. 

[00:08:18] Dane Reis: [00:08:18] Yeah, for sure. And I know in my career personally, that I also had that transition period, cause there’s a. There’s a solid portion of my career, where I just, I did everything and anything. Because I had to, you know, I had to do it all and. Eventually, and it was only, I would say the last handful of years that I’ve been able to. 

[00:08:39]Start being a bit more picky with the things that I do. And I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone does that straight off. There’s certainly depending on your situation, there’s a time and a place where you do need to do what you gotta do to. Get through everything. But.

[00:08:52] When you can start seeing that transition time, start dabbling in it. Can you start saying no to things? Because what I found is once I had established myself enough in a market and people knew me that the calls start coming in, you have to audition last, like you said, And you get offered things and. By being picky and choosy, actually more fun stuff. And more things that I was passionate about started approaching me. 

[00:09:19]Chris Ignacio: [00:09:19] Yeah. And I mean, I mean, saying no is really, it’s really difficult, but it’s one of the most important things I think actors can learn. I mean, I said, no, even if that meant sometimes. Working more days at the restaurant, you know, but whatever I said no to it must have been. Something I really felt strongly about. 

[00:09:38] But I think it’s a good skill to cultivate. Say no. You don’t have to do everything all the time, but again, like you said, you shouldn’t do that right off the bat. It took me 10 years to get to this place that I’m at now, you know? 

[00:09:49] Dane Reis: [00:09:49] Yeah.

[00:09:49] For sure. There’s a lot to be said about saying yes. And that is definitely the way that you should be entering your career and then start dabbling into the nose. Once you’ve got some footing. 

[00:10:00]For sure. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your. Spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for living or maybe it was, yes. This is what I need to be doing in the entertainment industry. Tell us about that. 

[00:10:26] Chris Ignacio: [00:10:26] Okay. So I, a couple of things, I, um,  always watched TV as a kid and I would see like power Rangers and Dawson’s Creek and I wanted to be on TV. And that was like, my first thing is like, I just want it to be on TV and have super powers. Like the power Rangers did. So, I guess that’s my like yes. Moment my spotlight moment, but what I, what I, when I saw this question, I was thinking about it. I I’m, this goes back to when I’m talking about the word entertainer. 

[00:10:52] I, um, I, so I don’t call myself an entertainer. I don’t know if I identify with the term. I feel like an entertainer is someone who is primarily concerned with entertaining others, which I. Selfishly. I’m not, I never wanted to be on Broadway actually. Which is like, why did you go to the Boston conservatory? 

[00:11:13] And, um, I’ve been stubborn about having to fit into certain molds that the entertainment industry sets, especially being a, an Asian actor. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever really had a spotlight moment. I just always followed my intuition. Um, stayed open to things and left things to chance. And that’s how I’ve ended up where I am. And it took me a long time to decide if having a career in the arts is something I really wanted to dedicate time and money to. And actually I still go back and forth sometimes. 

[00:11:46]So I would say that right now. Is my spotlight moment. I’m deciding that I’m going to stick with making art, but also supplement that with jobs in arts administration and arts education. Like teaching, producing, running live streams, grant writing and creating my own opportunities because I know that financial security is the priority. 

[00:12:13]So to make that decision right now, as opposed to dropping everything and starting a moneymaking career in tech or health feels radical and deserving of a spotlight. 

[00:12:23] Dane Reis: [00:12:23] Yeah, I could not agree more. That is so good in. I love your perspective on. What is an entertainer and the way you identify with it. And I think it’s so important and so valuable that you. Chose to bring that up. Today because. So many of us that enter this industry, we have a skill right. Or multiple skills that. 

[00:12:47]initially propelled us into this industry, this field. But as we grow up, they develop and they change , or. You get injured out of things or you just can’t do it anymore. And there is such a world that exists within the entertainment industry that so many people simply don’t consider or worse, just don’t know about. 

[00:13:08]You know, because no one ever talks about the grant writing, no one ever talks about the admin, no one ever talks about, unless you’re going to a tech theater school, no one talks about the stage management and the production and the costuming and the marketing of these things. 

[00:13:21]No one 

[00:13:22] Chris Ignacio: [00:13:22] It’s 

[00:13:22] Dane Reis: [00:13:22] conversations, but there’s so much fulfillment that can come from.  This industry, but just not be directly related to being that person with the spotlight on them on the stage. 

[00:13:31]Chris Ignacio: [00:13:31] Well, I have to say, I mean, and I’ve, I’ve cast shows before, and I’ve been part of like big casting teams and the P the actors that always get the jobs are the people that are not just actors. Like they always are doing something else. They’re writers, they’re directors, they’re producing their own material. Like they’ve got other, they have really a well rounded knowledge of what theater is because they have been on all sides of the table. 

[00:13:56] And those are the people I see succeeding the most. 

[00:13:59]Dane Reis: [00:13:59] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Because you need to have that, or it certainly helps to have that kind of bird’s eye view of what it takes to put together. Uh, production because there’s, I mean, I mean, when you’re just one character, you’re just a cog in. The machine of whatever that production is and everyone is, everyone’s just a cog, but everyone has to collaborate and work together to create that end product. Right. Right. 

[00:14:21] And by dabbling here and there asking questions. 

[00:14:25]Seeing Seeing what’s out there and how you can learn about the different aspects of this industry.  only benefit you in any aspect of the industry that you want to stick yourself into, because they’re all interrelated  and you never really understand the connections until you decide to look for them. 

[00:14:40]Chris Ignacio: [00:14:40] And you gain a real respect for the people behind the scenes for the stage managers, especially for. The producers for everybody like you, you gain respect because you learn what they do and you don’t ever take it for granted ever again. And so I think that’s really important. 

[00:14:58] Dane Reis: [00:14:58] For sure. And really appreciate those half-hour calls. If you are the performer. Cause you’re the only ones getting them. 

[00:15:07] All right. And let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day and the auditions. If they happen to be a part of it. What was going on in your life. And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite booked it. 

[00:15:27] Moment. 

[00:15:29] Chris Ignacio: [00:15:29] Okay. Uh, I think I, I also have questions about, um, the term booked it, and then we’re gonna, we’re going to talk about it later. We’re going to talk about it later. I really thought about this day. And, um, so I think I had a, you booked at moment when. Uh, one day and I had several of these types of days. 

[00:15:46] I was ready to give up theater. Of course. 

[00:15:50] I probably called my family and told them my exit plan. I told all of my friends, some kind of triumphant story about how I realized what I should be doing and that it wasn’t theater. It was probably physical therapy or something. 

[00:16:05] And I think I was walking around Bryant park or somewhere outside. And of course my agent called and told me that I booked miss Saigon 

[00:16:14] again. Uh, this time though, it was a, it was a better paycheck and it was with a pretty reputable team of Broadway people. Um, so of course I took the gig. I think I forgotten about the audition. Cause that was, my practice was just going in auditioning and forgetting about it. So, uh, it was a total shock. It came at a place when I was at a complete low, and so I was half excited, but also have disappointed that now I had to like redirect my whole plan again.

[00:16:43] But that was, that was, um, one of the bigger jobs that I got as a, as a performer. 

[00:16:47]Dane Reis: [00:16:47] Very cool. And. Can you talk about that performance a little bit? You said. How many times, many productions of miss Saigon, have you been on.

[00:16:55]Chris Ignacio: [00:16:55] I did to miss Saigon’s and that was enough for me, uh, because. 

[00:17:00] Because, you know,  there are Asian guys and girls that do miss Saigon as a career choice. Like it’s the, like, they are the best miss Saigon actors out there. They know the show inside and out. They’ve been a swing. They’ve been every single part. They don’t need a book anymore. And they just bank on booking that show everywhere it is. 

[00:17:22]Um, yeah, I knew someone that’s done at 17 times. You know, I knew people that did it regionally everywhere, and then finally they got to Broadway and that was like their big thing. I never could picture myself as someone like that. Um, I don’t judge them, but I, I, I definitely could not do something like that. So. 

[00:17:39] Dane Reis: [00:17:39] Yeah, 

[00:17:40] Chris Ignacio: [00:17:40] Um, it was a good gig. It was a good gig, but I, I, I never fit in with, with a lot of those folks. 

[00:17:45]Dane Reis: [00:17:45] Right. that’s crazy to me. I mean, it makes sense once. I I’ve never considered it before, to be honest. But it it’s almost like the opera world. In that sense, where if you have a voice, if you have a Mozart voice type, or if you’ve got a Wagner voice type, you just run the circuit of that composer for your entire career. 

[00:18:04]Chris Ignacio: [00:18:04] Yeah, well, and also there were like two Asian shows, you know, it was like that. And like what Pacific overtures sometimes, like maybe you’ll be the guy in thoroughly modern Millie. Maybe you’ll be like, I don’t know. It’s like, they’re. There isn’t very many op there. I’m going to say wasn’t optimistically. There wasn’t that many opportunities for Asian actors. When I graduated in 2009. 

[00:18:29] Um, Uh, yeah, I think things have shifted a lot. Um, but it’s still a long road, but, uh, yeah. To miss Saigon’s and I’m good. 

[00:18:39] Dane Reis: [00:18:39] Fair enough. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present a bit. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And we’ve hit on it a little bit, but it’s a weird time, right? We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years? 

[00:19:01]Chris Ignacio: [00:19:01] Oh, OK. Um, I am always working on a few things that way. I don’t feel pressure to be at work on one big thing that needs to be perfect. Um, I like to have several things going on and give each one time to breathe and be open to change. So I’m working right now on documenting the story of my mother’s immigration from the Philippines to the us. 

[00:19:25] And this documenting could take on a few different forms. I’ve thrown around the words, cabaret song, cycle, survival guide. Um, all I know is that there’s going to be original songs and probably some covers and woven between an interview, text and videos. And hopefully puppets find a place in there somewhere.

[00:19:45] Um, yeah, I’ve been really into stop motion animation lately. Um, I also might be developing a piece I’ve done before. This is really fascinating. Um, in 2017, about a guy with an isolation fetish. Um, it was a puppet piece originally performed at the tank as part of dark Fest, which is a festival. Where you need to come up with a show completely without electricity. 

[00:20:12]So I did this puppet piece in the dark and the isolation thing worked because the character paid to be locked in a closet by a dominatrix and humiliated through the door. If that was his kink. And, um, the dominate tricks was a blow up doll and the guy was me. And now I’ve been approached to potentially remount that piece in a theater space. That’s being built out as a peep show. 

[00:20:36] So I, and I think it would be interesting doing it again now because I feel like the whole isolation fetish. Hits real different.

[00:20:45] Um, there’s also like fascinating rituals, um, you know, in indigenous tribes that involve isolation, dark spaces for extended periods of time. And it’s considered a privilege. And the person who emerges is like a highly revered person in society afterwards. So I’m thinking maybe that’s a bit how we look at our time. Now spent an isolation, you know, as preparation for re-emergence is better people. 

[00:21:11]although it doesn’t really feel like we like the collective we ever really took the time to isolate. It feels like we’re just. Always wanting to just get back out there. I mean, New York right now is like bursting at the seems like people are crazy outside dining. Um, As far as the industry moving forward. Right now, I feel like it’s probably more important to make money than art. Ooh. Sounds terrible. But, um, you know,  my big fear is that being able to make art art that is widely seen, reviewed, produced, um, funded. Is a luxury that pretty soon, only rich people will be able to afford. I feel like Broadway will come back as the profit making machine that it always has been. Possibly under the guise of some new woke identity and maybe a proclaimed new set of values. but it is always been and always will be about money. 


[00:22:11] Dane Reis: [00:22:11] I mean, it’s show business, right? 

[00:22:13] Chris Ignacio: [00:22:13] Right. Right. I think there is, um, there are some movements like the black theater United that are doing some good work. Uh, but it’s still a very, very, very long road. I do think that the time. Is ripe now for cashing in on white guilt. There are definitely lots more opportunities popping up for BiPAP artists and creatives. And even though there are, they are like panic driven opportunities. Like we need. Black people on our board. Um, it’s still a chance for a more diverse group of folks to get their foot in the door and make actual decisions and actually be heard. Right now there’s a lot of talk and a ton of ideas going around. So hopefully we can turn all that into action when the theater’s open back up. I think one of the most significant actions right now that can impact the theater world is for the New York times to replace Ben Brantley with a critic of color. And a constant action I’m always doing is teaching and making performance with, and for young people, it’s crucial that they learn how to think creatively and work together. 

[00:23:15]Dane Reis: [00:23:15] you’re so right. It is. It’s hard to. Do art into, or like you said, On a large nationally recognized lots of press without funding. It’s hard to get both. 

[00:23:27]You know, with

[00:23:28] you, can’t have, it’s hard to have one without the other. Isn’t it?  

[00:23:31] Chris Ignacio: [00:23:31] Yes. I mean, at least in New York, you know, someone told me once that New York is a great place to sell art, not to make it. 

[00:23:39] Dane Reis: [00:23:39] Oh, 

[00:23:39] Chris Ignacio: [00:23:39] you gotta think about

[00:23:40] Dane Reis: [00:23:40] Yeah. Yeah. And you know, you’re right. It does cost so much to go to the theater. I mean, 

[00:23:48] And when I say going to the theater, I mean, I’m T I’m talking, going to Broadway, going to a Cirque du Solei show, going to any of the top shows, say in Las Vegas, they’re all very expensive, you know, 150, $250 plus a ticket. You know, 

[00:24:00] It’s $1,000 plus for a family of three or four to go out to dinner and a show. You know, it’s a lot of money to throw down for an evening of entertainment for the vast majority of people in the world. Um, I had a study abroad experience before I went to the conservatory. I studied in Vienna, Austria just for a semester and studied music. And it was ah, who is amazing. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. But I remember going to the opera. Weekly. And I didn’t really, particularly, I was studying vocal performance, but I didn’t particularly like opera by the end of the experience. I really enjoyed opera and really appreciated it. But what was important is that we go to the state opera house and you would have to wait in line. You’d have to dress pretty nicely and you’d have to wait in line for two to four hours. But. You got to go see standing room tickets of the best operas in the world. I mean, I’m talking about like Renee Fleming, Juan Diego, Florez, these kinds of people, best people in the world. And you pay one year of 50 to go see it. 

[00:25:04] No, I’m sure it costs a little bit more now. But. I think the States and other. 

[00:25:09] Countries in this world need to in other cities need to make that accessible because art really is for the people. Sure. They need the money to keep running and going forward and things like this, but you need to have some way to make it more accessible for 

[00:25:23] people. 

[00:25:24] Chris Ignacio: [00:25:24] Yeah. And I think it’s just gonna get worse actually. I mean, like there’s $23 million of funding cut from arts and culture this year. Like that whole accessibility thing, I think it’s just got even harder. You know, there’s just going to be. So many more barriers to entry. I feel like, unfortunately, in which is why I’m saying make money. If you don’t have money, you can’t make any art. I mean, I mean, you can, but nobody’s gonna see it or pay for it. 

[00:25:51] So. 

[00:25:54] I mean, that’s my, that’s my sad truth.

[00:25:56] Dane Reis: [00:25:57] And let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:26:18] Chris Ignacio: [00:26:18] Yes, I have all of them prepared.

[00:26:20] Dane Reis: [00:26:20] Oh, perfect. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:26:27]Chris Ignacio: [00:26:27] Money. 

[00:26:29] Dane Reis: [00:26:29] There you go. Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:26:36]Chris Ignacio: [00:26:36] Go before your ready.

[00:26:38]Dane Reis: [00:26:38] There is so much truth in that. Cause here’s the deal. There’s never the perfect time. It doesn’t exist. It 

[00:26:44] Chris Ignacio: [00:26:44] Right. You’re never ready.

[00:26:46] Just a hint you’re never, ever ready. So 

[00:26:49] Dane Reis: [00:26:49] Yep. 

[00:26:49] Chris Ignacio: [00:26:49] go. 

[00:26:50] Dane Reis: [00:26:50] Take the leap. Third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause. 

[00:27:03]Chris Ignacio: [00:27:03] Exercise, eating healthy. And saying no to anything that does not serve you or your purpose. 

[00:27:11]Dane Reis: [00:27:11] Beautiful. And the fourth question. What is your best resource, whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now. 

[00:27:25]Chris Ignacio: [00:27:25] Okay, I’m going to go with technology. Um, I have learned to act as a live stream operator because all theater needs to be street. Screamed out somehow. Um, so I am now the person that streams it out. So I learned how to use OBS and other streaming and coders, uh, to put out a clean live stream so people can still make something that resembles theater. And LA mama. The theater that I work at has been an amazing resource for me. They also have a technological arm called culture hub. Um, and they’ve been giving me this opportunity. Um, so also in terms of, uh, helping out a career, uh, the best resources people invest time and money in people, people will help your career. 

[00:28:07]Dane Reis: [00:28:07] Oh, that’s so true and very cool what you’re doing with all the live streaming stuff. And it’s so important. You write that. That knowledge and that. Of how to do that. Technically is. Paramount. 

[00:28:18]I think in, especially right now, specifically, but even moving forward, I think this trend’s going to continue in some form and it’s so good and you’re right. People, my gosh. They are everything, your network of people that you surround yourself with. That’s why, for instance, you don’t have to go audition for things anymore. Right? Right? It’s people approach you for projects. 

[00:28:39] And it’s because of people. 

[00:28:41] Chris Ignacio: [00:28:41] Yeah. I mean, one quick thing, you know, I spent years auditioning and auditioning, auditioning, auditioning. Um, I S I spent one day like meeting someone and working with her on a small project. And like the next day she asked me to go to Ukraine with her, and I was flown to Ukraine and performed at  their national theater. They’re an experimental piece. Yeah. So it’s just like, like, that was easy. I wish I didn’t spend all that time and money auditioning. Um, and she was the person that introduced me to LA mama, which has sustained my career for the past 10 years. So. 

[00:29:12] Dane Reis: [00:29:12] That’s amazing. That’s right. Their relationships. 

[00:29:15] And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same? 

[00:29:33]Chris Ignacio: [00:29:33] Okay. I would not pay over $150,000 to go to school for theater. I would prioritize. 

[00:29:43]I would prioritize developing a close, solid, trustworthy network of people to make art with. 

[00:29:51]Dane Reis: [00:29:51] the education in performance or performance arts schools is. It’s such a slippery slope, isn’t it? Because there’s a lot to be. There’s a lot of training that is valuable to get right. But also . It’s can be a lot of debt too, and that can be. Not nice to have to deal with from experience, uh, through your career and your life. Um, and when you really boil it down, what are you doing it for? You know, if is for some people, the school option is the perfect thing for you. For others, it’s not. And you can get a lot of your training privately, go to classes, meet people like you said, and get your training out in the real world. That is a. 

[00:30:29]Totally fine thing to do, because this is a very merit based industry. Right? Right? If you can do the thing or if you look the part, then you are going to.

[00:30:39]Book it right.

[00:30:40] Versus, you know, being on wall street and trying to get into a hedge fund somewhere, they really do care a bit more about what your Alma mater is. 

[00:30:50]Chris Ignacio: [00:30:50] Hmm. Well, I would say actually that, that what you’re paying for $150,000 to go to school for theater is you’re paying for the name. Like they do care about what school you went to. I mean, New York is full of just, you know, all Yale and Juilliard and Brown. Um, that’s it, you know, Like, and the CCM kids, like doing Broadway and Carnegie Mellon. Uh, but yeah, like it’s just those schools like automatically gets to the top of the list. So if you have the money then totally that that’s what you’re paying for. You know, You know, that you’re not paying for the training you’re paying for the name, the training just sort of comes with it. 

[00:31:24]. One of the things that I think needs to definitely change about the industry. Definitely. 

[00:31:29]But the thing is the name like with the name comes a network, right? People trust the name Yale because they know that you’re connected to other,  people that are. You know, well-informed, well-funded, uh, smart and had amazing networks of people. So, and that brings more money. So it’s all about money again. 

[00:31:49] Dane Reis: [00:31:49] Yeah, for sure. And that’s what makes it, you know, this slippery slope kind of a double edged sword, you know, It does connect you with, depending on what you’re trying to do and what your end goal is, it can connect you with. A great network of people that could very much serve you throughout your career. It just really depends on what your goal is and what are you trying to accomplish and to. Really be conscious about that decision and what it is that you want and clear before making.

[00:32:13]The decision to go to a school for 150, $200,000. And you know, there’s nothing wrong with it, but know why you’re going there.

[00:32:21] And then you’re doing it for the right reasons.

[00:32:24] Wonderful. 

[00:32:26] And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry that you’d like to leave with everyone?

[00:32:37]Chris Ignacio: [00:32:37] All right now let’s drop bam. Make your own work. And put it out there strategically. Don’t just go around proclaiming. Look at me. Write down your ideas apply for grants, residencies, fellowships, make your own films and submit them to festivals. Right. Poetry or stories and submit them to independent magazines. Seeing, put it on YouTube. Do not wait. 

[00:33:07]In that sense? I would like to challenge the term, booked it. Right. Right.

[00:33:12]Don’t wait to book anything, booking something to me implies that there was something out there waiting for you to book. It’s an outside thing that you have to go and get and step over people. So you can be the first to get it. I say, book yourself. And build yourself up so that people are lining up to book you. I’ve seen many examples of this aside from my own successes. So I’m not just talking whimsically actually,  I just opened my email and found out that, that I was chosen to be part of, uh, next year is exponential festival, which is a little. Um, I, I’ve not little, it’s a big festival that happens in Brooklyn every year. Uh, it’s like a fringe festival. I have my own day where I’m on the bill as a solo artist and I get paid. So look at that. Um, so I guess that’s booking it right, but like, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t. You know, I wasn’t waiting for anything. I just built myself up and someone booked me. So that’s what I’m saying. but also keep in mind. I have all of my basic needs met right now. And that’s, I think something important that no one ever emphasized is that you should make sure that on that pyramid of needs you have all of years met. That includes getting enough sleep. Not living with crazy roommates, not working five jobs, not being in toxic relationships. Not being able to exercise. Or have some state of peace. You need all of those things. That should be the priority. Before art? I think so. Good health one. Good people around you. Always. And then make your work. Do not wait and be open. 

[00:35:00]Dane Reis: [00:35:00] Oh, that was amazing. Thank you for all of that. I think everyone needs to rewind that real quick and have another listen. And. I love your perspective on booklet, booklet and booking yourself. And you’re so right into.

[00:35:16]Well, Well, a couple of things, man. There’s so much in there.

[00:35:18]First strategically putting out your content. We’ve got these little brilliant little computers in our pockets all the times, and you can. Distribute your content super easy, but to do it strategically to find also the networks like the festivals and things like this, that can. 

[00:35:38] Give you more leverage for your art, for what it is that you’re putting out there into the world versus just putting on your Instagram feed. 

[00:35:46] Is important to do. And to know that those things exist into leverage those networks as well. 

[00:35:51] Chris Ignacio: [00:35:51] yeah. You just gotta think of yourself as you’re marketing yourself all the time. Like every, like every picture that you post your marketing yourself, you know, so even if you’re not necessarily putting your work out there, you are putting yourself out there and 

[00:36:04] yourself yourself is work. So, you know, 

[00:36:05] Be strategic about it. Much like you’re doing with this podcast. 

[00:36:09] Dane Reis: [00:36:09] Yeah, exactly.

[00:36:12] And I also love where you really hit on the pyramid of.

[00:36:18]necessities and needs that you need to fulfill. And it really is. A luxury to be able to create wonderful. beautiful art and I think it’s hard, actually. I, I, from my personal experience, I know that it’s hard to be artistic and creative when I don’t have. 

[00:36:35] All my ducks in a row. If I can’t. 

[00:36:37]If I’m struggling to pay my rent to buy food or things like this, it it’s very hard to be creative. It’s very hard to be healthy. 

[00:36:45]Chris Ignacio: [00:36:45] And. 

[00:36:45] I will say, I mean, like I do also make art in those times, 

[00:36:49] like of just complete sadness and desperation. Totally. But like, uh, the next step of like getting someone to hear it, or, you know, recording it nicely or. 

[00:36:59] Presenting. It requires me to sort of, you know, be sober, have my stuff together. Uh, 

[00:37:04] be presentable and just like, and, and put it out there in a strategic way, you know? 

[00:37:08] Dane Reis: [00:37:08] Yeah, well well said, well said to blend those two things together.

[00:37:11] And it’s so important to have.

[00:37:13]That pyramid balanced out in your life. Love that. Thank you for sharing that.

[00:37:17]And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give your self a plug. Chris, where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:37:32]Chris Ignacio: [00:37:32] I’m on Instagram at Chris Iggy. Uh, , you know, I have a website it’s Chris Um, uh, yeah, people I’m, I’m super open to people just reaching out. I’ve I’ve been sort of a mentor for, for a few folks by now. Um, and, and I love it. I love talking to people about this stuff, so yeah, just reach out. Um, I’m always going to be around downtown New York. If anyone’s ever around, wants to hit up LA mama, I’m probably going to be there playing with puppets or something. 

[00:38:00] Dane Reis: [00:38:00] All right. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Chris just said in the description of this episode, so you can easily connect with him. 

[00:38:10] Chris. Thank you so much for your time for sharing your insight and your journey. 

[00:38:15] It’s been a pleasure catching up and talking with you. 

[00:38:18]Chris Ignacio: [00:38:18] Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much, Dan. This has been, it’s been so good. It’s been really nice to articulate all of these ideas once and for all, for someone, for anybody who’s listening, because I’ve been wanting to talk about this stuff for a very long time. 

[00:38:32]Dane Reis: [00:38:32] Well, I’m glad I could offer the platform.