EP 108: Kelly O (autogenerated)
[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 108.
[00:00:05] Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today, Kelly. Oh, are you ready for this Kelly?
[00:00:14]Kelly O: [00:00:14] I am. Hi Dane.
[00:00:15] Dane Reis: [00:00:15] Hey, kelly grew up in Portland, Maine where an early love for dance turned into focused ballet training. She studied with Portland ballet, American ballet theatre, the Washington ballet and Pittsburgh ballet theater before working with Omaha theater, ballet and the Roxy ballet.
[00:00:33] Embracing massive change. Kelly then moved to Las Vegas to take a job with the world renowned Jubilee, where she learned the ropes as a bonafide Los Vegas show girl. From there. Kelly has performed in several Los Vegas productions, including Jerry Mitchell’s peep show fantasy, Chris Angel’s the supernatural lists, the mat goth show purple rain and crazy girls.
[00:00:57] At the legendary Caesar’s palace, Kelly has also had the honor of playing the role of Cleopatra, welcoming guests throughout the property. She also has extensive experience as a go-go dancer in the hottest nightclubs in Las Vegas. Kelly, give me seen as a dancer in the music videos for Cielo greens. I want you and the weekends earned it.
[00:01:18]Excited to start a new chapter of her life. Kelly and her husband, Simon are moving to Cyprus later this year. Kelly. 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, filling the gaps, who you are, and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.
[00:01:41]Kelly O: [00:01:41]
Right. So, well, I live here in downtown Las Vegas. I’ve been here for 10 years and obviously when we give our resume and our highlight reel, we kind of list the shows. But the nitty gritty for a lot of us specifically. Vegas and I would Wade you’re New York city entertainers as well is we fill in a lot of our income with gig work. So like we mentioned, go, go, go dancing.
Um, myself and all of the dancers and performers and town, um, at least prior to the pandemic or constantly doing gigs. And that, that was a huge part of her income. And. A really great opportunity for us, so those can be, you know, a little, uh, production shows that are just a one off or an event or modeling or being a show, girl, taking pictures, all of that in addition to the production shows that we do. So that’s kind of a big part of being a performer here.
[00:02:27]Dane Reis: [00:02:27] Yeah, absolutely. And. That is what I love about the Las Vegas market, because Vegas. Allows you to really. Be a professional entertainer where all you have to do is entertainment stuff. Right?
[00:02:42] Kelly O: [00:02:42] Yeah,
[00:02:43] Dane Reis: [00:02:43] There’s so much work available and you really can have that freelance life and the show life all in one. I think it’s an incredible market as compared to my experience with some other markets.
[00:02:55]Kelly O: [00:02:55] Yep. I agree. And it just, it gives you a lot more opportunity and more opportunity for income, which is just great.
[00:03:01] At least before the pandemic.
[00:03:03]Dane Reis: [00:03:03]
Well, of course everything.
[00:03:05] In reference to making income is a pre COVID,
[00:03:10] Kelly O: [00:03:10] Yeah, exactly.
[00:03:12] Dane Reis: [00:03:12] All right.
Well, let’s move on to this next section here. And Kelly, look, I’m a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone.
[00:03:22]Kelly O: [00:03:22] Don’t have a favorite quote. But I do have a quote that I think is really apropos for this moment. And that is that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. And that might even sound a little bit trite, but.
Um, I think that obviously that applies to what’s going on and nobody expected to have the shutdown, nobody expected for all these shows to close and, um, it’s affected our industry greatly. So it’s, it’s how you respond to that. I think.
[00:03:47]Dane Reis: [00:03:47] Yeah, absolutely. And. Are you able to dig into kind of how. You’re responding to this time.
[00:03:56]Kelly O: [00:03:56] Yes.
Um, well, for me personally, I’m a, I’m a little bit different because I just had double jaw surgery. So I apologize if I sound a little bit, lispy are funny in my speech. Um, but this was a long time coming, leading up to that. I actually had to get wire braces put on my teeth, which made my ability to perform very limited. Um, there’s not a lot of shows and people that will put you on stage with.
[00:04:16]Giant wire braces on your teeth. So I was already kind of
kind of winding down my performance career at least momentarily. And then when the pandemic happened, um, that just continued. So I had started a YouTube channel. Um, and I just kind of put my focus into that. And I put my focus into my yoga practice. So that’s, for me personally, I know some people have been doing really great things with, you know, actually dancing or singing or what it is. But for me, I was already kind of transitioning into something a little bit different, at least for the time being. So that’s what I’ve been.
[00:04:44] Been working on.
[00:04:45] Dane Reis: [00:04:45] Ah, very cool. And let’s get into this next section here. And Kelly, of course you are an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think you do agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries, either of us have probably ever experienced.
[00:05:05] 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 is outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. 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
[00:05:32] is one key challenge, obstacle or failure? You’ve. Experienced in your career. And how did you come out the other side better because of it.
[00:05:41]Kelly O: [00:05:41] Wow. What a great question. I think, first of all, I just want to commend you because I feel like in our industry, a lot of people only want to show everything. It was like, where was the imperfect? And they don’t want to talk about the problems. And yeah, our industry is glamorous. It’s fun. We’re so lucky to do what we do, but it’s not perfect,
you know? And there are issues.
Um, in my career and I like to talk about this because I know there’s so many young dancers coming up that aren’t really necessarily getting this counseling, but in my career personally, and this doesn’t happen to everybody, but I have more than a few run ins with. Difficult. Um, bosses, should you say, or I could say, or people that I ended up working for that were less than solid characters, you know what I’m saying? So. So.
You know, any time in this industry that you book a job. It’s so exciting. Like you just getting that. Yes. You got the job, you got the gig. Like that’s a great feeling and you’re so excited. But sometimes you book, the job is so excited and then it’s not what you thought, or the person you’re working for is abusive or they are not they’re dishonest or there’s some sort of issue in that way. And I think that can be really challenging for performers because.
there’s a, there’s a bit of a scarcity complex in a sense of lack. And like, is this really. Um, You know, I, I can’t walk away from this because I might not get another job, you know, you know, and I just think it’s so important to, you know, have some self worth and stand up for yourself and don’t hold on to a job where you’re not being treated well, just because you’re scared of not booking another job or because the person you’re working for
you know, has a popular public image or something like that, like you need to do what’s best for you. And if that means walking away from a job, that’s what you need to do. Your mental health and your sanity, you know, it’s never okay to be mistreated. And in this industry, most of the time,
[00:07:28] There’s no HR, you know,
you know, there’s nobody, you can go to your, the person you have an issue with could be your boss, you know, and that’s that. So I just, I think, especially for young dancers that aren’t getting this counseling, like just please know that you can always walk away. And do you don’t have to put up with it.
[00:07:45]Dane Reis: [00:07:45] Yes, I completely agree. And it is unfortunate that these things occasionally happen in our world. I mean,
I mean, they happen in every world. But like you said, A lot of times in our industry. there’s not that HR department for you to go to. There’s not that third party. Right.
[00:08:03] And I liked that you brought up the scarcity complex is what you called it. And I think that’s
[00:08:08] Spot on. Because us as entertainers, we always. Think that. We need to take that job,
right. That if we don’t say yes, someone else is going to say yes. Right. Right. And. That is a very true thing. that’s, that’s a real thing. Someone will say yes to the job, but. Just having the job and saying yes, depending on the scenario and the situation.
[00:08:31] Is not the end all and be all if you’ve discovered, like you said that it’s not a great environment to be in, you have to. Take it upon yourself to leave that and trust that. Your going to land on your feet because it’s, again, like you said, not worth sacrificing your mental health.
[00:08:47] Or any other. Parts of your integrity for something that is not somewhere that you feel comfortable.
[00:08:54]Kelly O: [00:08:54] Very well said. I feel like you just said it much better. Yeah. That’s exactly
exactly exactly it. Yeah.
[00:08:58]Dane Reis: [00:08:58] Wonderful. 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 as an entertainer. Tell us about that.
[00:09:23]Kelly O: [00:09:23] That’s an easy one for me that was booking to Billy. So I was a struggling, starving ballet dancer before I booked you, Billy.
Um, my only training was in ballet, which. It was just sort of, sort of a matter of circumstance. Um, I just wasn’t really exposed to other dance forms and I was good enough to get to the professional level of ballet, but I wasn’t good enough to really make a living. , you know, I’m five, nine, I’m kind of curvy. I was very prone to injuries when I was in ballet. So it was really struggling. I wasn’t making a living and some, some friends had mentioned to me, there’s a show in Vegas. They love tall ballet dancers. You should audition. It’s called you Billy.
[00:09:59] I thought it was scandalous when I found out that it was topless. I was like, Oh my goodness. But. But just still funny now, because I’ve done so many top of shows, but,
um, yeah, I just was intrigued and I looked into it more and it looked beautiful. So I, there was an audition in New York city, which is close to where it was. And.
[00:10:15]I booked it. So that changed my life and that’s when I started making a living. That’s when I learned that,
um, I wasn’t maybe cut out for ballet and this was actually a much better app. I knew for me to pursue it. So yeah, that was it. For me. That was a big turning point.
[00:10:30]Dane Reis: [00:10:30] For sure. And it’s great that you brought that up you said,
you know, because of circumstance of life, I never really got exposed to. Other parts of this industry, right? And there’s so much out there. Even within just the performance world that the genre or the category that you are performing in, even there’s so many categories.
[00:10:54] And if you’re finding yourself not really jiving with one, you can sample some others because there’s so much out there. And you can move around. Very easily. And like you found . You discovered where you fit in this industry?
[00:11:09]Kelly O: [00:11:09] Yep.
[00:11:11] And it was just a matter of circumstance,
like, like you say, and I didn’t know, like it turns out that I need to be in a pair of heels and I need to be moving in a kind of sexy way. Like I had no idea. I was trying to do pirouettes and TK terms. And. And really it was like, it came. So the moment I tried to do this sort of Vegas style that I don’t even know what we call it. Right. This Vegas thing. Um, the moment I tried to do that just came so easily.
[00:11:34] Really to me though, it was like, Oh, this is what I,
you know, but you, why would I have known that in a ballet school in Portland, Maine? I don’t, I wouldn’t
[00:11:40] Dane Reis: [00:11:40]
[00:11:40] of course.
[00:11:41]Kelly O: [00:11:41]
So. It’s interesting how we find, we find our way, you know,
[00:11:43] Dane Reis: [00:11:43] Totally agree. And I want to piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one book. Did moment walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. 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. Moment.
[00:12:05]Kelly O: [00:12:05] Wow. That’s a great question for me. That would be the show peep show.
Um, and that, so it’s a shame. A lot of people don’t remember it. It was a really, really great show us by Jerry Mitchell. Who’s a really famous choreographer and. Awesome guy. Um, and he used to have a show here that was equity. It was, it was like a, a Broadway spectacular with fairy tales and sexiness. And it was a little bit topless and it had.
[00:12:28] I had ever had celebrities that had everything. It was really great.
So, um, I had given my notice at Jubilee, cause I just knew it was time to move on and I didn’t have a job lined up. And um, I had auditioned for peep show when I first moved to town when I was still a bun head and I absolutely embarrassed myself. I went in to audition with.
[00:12:44] I think my hair’s in a bun. I think I was wearing a leotard. I think.
[00:12:49]I think, I actually remember contempt from the people running the audition that they were just like, what is wrong with you? Why did you even show up? You know what I mean? Like I was that bad. And so of course I got cut first round and I was embarrassed that I even did that to myself, but then fast forward, maybe three years to being,
um, knowing that I had already given my notice to leave to Billy. And some friends mentioned, Oh, you should come to the peep show audition with us. And I was like, Oh man, I don’t want to embarrass myself.
[00:13:11]And they’re like, no, no,
no, no, no, you should come. It’ll be fun. So I just kind of force myself to go for the, you know, the. class aspect of it and to be a better dancer, not knowing that I wouldn’t, you. I think it would come of it because I had such a bad time in the past. But But you know, in those three years I’d become a much better dancer and I wasn’t such a bonehead anymore. And I had kind of learned how to move differently and.
Um, I got capped and they narrowed it down and I was one of the final people. And that was when they did a second day callbacks. So then I had to go to the next day, call back. And then I didn’t get at that time. A couple months later, they have another audition. Same thing. Gets, uh, asked to stay to the end, get a call back for the next day, make it all the way to the end. Don’t get the job.
[00:13:52] The fourth time I auditioned for the show. I finally booked it. And just from going from
like, Embarrassing myself, like one of the worst auditions of my life to booking the show, a fulltime equity contract was an outstanding, you know, world’s renowned choreographer. That was definitely my book. Didn’t know that for sure.
[00:14:11] Dane Reis: [00:14:11] Oh, that’s so cool. And I remember that show. I. Came to Vegas. when that show was. Almost closing. And I remember going to it, it was so entertaining, so great. And then it’s crazy, you know,
you know, through the time of being in Vegas, he ended up being friends with most of the people that were in that show. And it’s so cool. that was a great production in a great theater as well to be in such a great room.
[00:14:36]Kelly O: [00:14:36] Yeah, it’s sorely missed. It was
kind of just that everything Vegas was about, you know, and it just, you know, I don’t think they could afford to run it. Unfortunately it had a really high overhead, but I think that the public opinion on that show is that it was outstanding. So.
[00:14:48] Dane Reis: [00:14:48] Yup. I completely agree. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And it’s
kind of a crazy time, right? We’re amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:15:08]Kelly O: [00:15:08]
Well, um, well, where I’m at right now, I’m. In a really strange kind of limbo situation, because as I’d mentioned earlier, I had braces and double jaw surgery, so that put my performance career on hold anyway. And now with the pandemic everything’s on hold. So, um, I’ve been focusing on my YouTube channel at least up until before my surgery. Um, and I’m just sort of exploring that world of content creation and being your own kind of, uh,
[00:15:31] Personal brand or public personality.
Um, and also, as you mentioned, my husband and I are moving to Cyprus, so I’ve always, um, been interested in performing in Europe. I don’t know if that’s going to be possible, but I’m definitely interested in pursuing that when we get there. I know there are some, some things in Cyprus, but I don’t, I’m not really too familiar. So we’ll see when we get there. Um, and in terms of your question about how do I think the entertainment industry is going to change? I think that, um, kind of, like I mentioned, personal branding is only going to be more important.
[00:16:00] And I think that’s a double edged sword because,
you know, I think a lot of us are sick of social media and we hate having to like push yourself out there and like kind of be that person spanning everyone’s Instagram. But, um, I do think that the day of just being like a faceless dancer that doesn’t, you know, have a personality or not, the dancers don’t have personalities, but you know, the kind of.
[00:16:17] Like old school mindset of like you just listed do with the choreographer, tells you to, and
like, don’t have an opinion. And I think that, and still of course be respectful to choreographers, but I think, um, dancers are going to be known for their personalities. And their public image and their personal branding. And, um, it’s going to be more than just.
[00:16:34]How you do it, an audition,
you know, And maybe that depends on the job, but I think that that, that might be how things change.
[00:16:39]Dane Reis: [00:16:39] Yes. I completely agree. And first I think when you go to Cyprus, I think you’re going to actually find there’s a lot of opportunity in Europe. There’s so many things happening in Germany and in Spain. And even if you pop over to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and stuff, There are so many great things happening in that part of the world. So I think you’re going to be super solid there.
[00:17:00] But as far as the personal branding, It’s a lot of work,
right. To personally brand ourselves all the time. But unfortunately, that is the reality of what this world has become with social media that you really do have to embrace the social media world and treat your social media. Kind of as a running resume
[00:17:18] Kelly O: [00:17:18] Yep. I agree.
[00:17:20] Dane Reis: [00:17:20] Great and let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview i call it the grease lightning round i 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
[00:17:37]Kelly O: [00:17:37] I’m ready.
[00:17:38]Dane Reis: [00:17:38] Great first question what was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer
[00:17:44]Kelly O: [00:17:44] I always knew I wanted to be a dancer, but I didn’t realize I was
sort of practicing the wrong form of dance. I was doing ballet and it wasn’t right for me. So once I figured that out, everything fell into place.
[00:17:55] Dane Reis: [00:17:55] And the second question what is the best piece of advice you have ever received
[00:18:01] Kelly O: [00:18:01] what you feel on the inside shows on the outside. So if you feel the joy and the presence and what you were doing, it will radiate from you and it will make you stand out as a performer.
[00:18:12]Dane Reis: [00:18:12] Totally true and the 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
[00:18:24]Kelly O: [00:18:24] hot yoga. I can’t live without hot yoga.
[00:18:28]Dane Reis: [00:18:28] And the fourth question what is your best resource whether that’s a book a movie a youtube video maybe a piece of technology or a podcast that you found is helping your career right now
[00:18:40] Kelly O: [00:18:40] so I wasn’t sure how to answer this. Cause I know that you’re looking for a piece of media and I don’t really use any of those,
um, in regards to my career. But I would say that my best resources.
[00:18:53] I would say that my best resource as corny as it sounds has been my own inner voice and intuition.
[00:18:59]Dane Reis: [00:18:59] I love that. That’s fantastic. 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
[00:19:17]Kelly O: [00:19:17] I would believe in myself that was something I struggled with all my life, especially, especially in my youth and even in my career, I always felt like I was an imposter. Like I wasn’t good enough. And every time I booked something, I was surprised.
Um, and I think that it’s important to understand that other people’s doubts other people’s fear. That’s just a projection , that has nothing to do with you and you have to find. A way to just be, go within and believe in yourself. And that is a really important factor.
[00:19:48] Uh, important key to being able to succeed. I really wish that I understood that better when I was younger.
[00:19:53]Dane Reis: [00:19:53] Oh, that is such good advice for everyone listening out there. And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry you’d like to leave with everyone
[00:20:08]Kelly O: [00:20:08] if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, what’s the point. So that’s why we become dancers. Right. That’s
Right. why, because we love it so much. So if you don’t enjoy the job, kind of like we talked about earlier, the scarcity complex thing, if you’re not having fun, walk away. Your career is short, have fun with what you’re doing and if not, move on to the next thing.
[00:20:25]Dane Reis: [00:20:25] Yeah, for sure, because you’re right. We all do enter this industry because we love it. And sometimes along the way, we get caught up in the hustle of it or the business of it. And we forget why we even began all of this in the first place. Besides the fact, you know, that we’re good at this. And we have to constantly remind ourselves that we do this because we’d love it.
[00:20:49] And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?
[00:21:00]Kelly O: [00:21:01] Yeah, come find me on YouTube. My channel name is Kelly. Oh. I have,
uh, quite a few Vegas videos and. A video that your listeners might find interesting is, uh, I made a video for advice for dancers. And, uh, specifically sort of targets dancers that are interested in working in Las Vegas. And I just go through all of my advice there. Um, also, I just, I love helping people that are coming up in dance. I know that sounds really cheesy and I don’t know what it is, but I get a lot of fulfillment out of helping people that have questions or just coming into the industry or just moving to Vegas. So you can always ask me a question on YouTube. Send me a DM on Instagram. My Instagram is called me underscore Kelly underscore. Oh. And I’ll be happy to help you with anything. Cause I’ve, I’ve been doing this for awhile.
[00:21:44] So let me know if I can help.
[00:21:46]Dane Reis: [00:21:46] Brilliant.
[00:21:47] And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything that Kelly just said into the description of this episode. So you can easily connect with her. Kelly thank you so much for being here it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on today
[00:22:02]Kelly O: [00:22:02] thank you so much, Dana. This is really fun. And thank you for doing this. This is a great resource for people.
[00:22:07] Dane Reis: [00:22:07] Oh, thank you.