Bret Shuford

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EP 128: Bret Shuford (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 128. Okay. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today, Brett Shuford. Are you ready for this Brett?

[00:00:15]Bret Shuford: [00:00:15] I am so ready. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:17] Dane Reis: [00:00:17] absolutely. Thanks for being here. Brett is the founder of Broadway life entertainment and entertainment lifestyle brand designed for theater, lovers, and professionals to live their best lives. Under the Broadway life brand. Brett has built the lifestyle blog, Broadway husband’s theater theme, merchandise Broadway life apparel, and continues to offer consulting and coaching services as the Broadway life.

[00:00:42] Coach while building these brands and business, he has successfully navigated the competitive landscape of show business. Yeah. As a producer director and actor through weekly YouTube videos, Instagram content, and supporting his community in the secure actor project Brett’s mission is to change the industry.

[00:01:00] So that fulfillment is the norm rather than the exception. Brett, 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.

[00:01:21]Bret Shuford: [00:01:21] Yeah, sure. I’m originally from Southeast Texas. Uh, I grew up with three brothers. I have a twin brother. I have an, uh, two older brothers. One of whom is actually, um, uh, autistic. And so I grew up in a very close family, a family that always sort of navigated. I like to tell this, just because I think that I very early on in my life had an affinity for people.

[00:01:45] I just love human beings. I love getting to know people. I’m curious. I think that really is where a lot of my curiosity came in is how to, you know, having had a twin brother or having had a brother with special needs, how can I help? How can I be of service? And, um, and I think that led me into loving theater because I loved the collaboration part of it.

[00:02:05] I loved. Uh, moving an audience and telling a story. And I started doing theater very young, uh, in Texas doing community theater. And then I went to school and went to college at university of Oklahoma for two years from musical theater. And then I ended up transferring to a liberal arts school in New York city called Wagner college, where I got my degree and was working professionally all through college during the summers, got my equity card.

[00:02:31] At paper mill Playhouse in New Jersey and, uh, uh, continued to pursue a career, mostly in theater and musical theater. , um, and making a living full time, really in New York, my first Broadway show was Chitty, Chitty, Chitty, bang, bang, bang. And then I was imbued in the beast. I was in the original cast of the little mermaid on Broadway.

[00:02:50] I was in the original cast of amazing grace on Broadway, and I was in the original cast of. Cirque du Soleil paramour with a mutual friend of ours. And then I most recently joined the Broadway cast of wicked. And, um, that’s really, uh, in, during all of that, I’ve always been, like I said, curious, I’ve started and stopped different several businesses as an entrepreneur, things that I felt passionate about that I could help people do.

[00:03:19]Um, and then. Found myself coaching and I love coaching. I became a certified life coach in 2014 and continued to offer private coaching and group coaching. And, um, it’s continued to be a very fulfilling, rewarding side hustle while I continue to pursue my craft.

[00:03:39] Dane Reis: [00:03:39] Awe. That is an amazing journey. Thank you for sharing all of that. What a great diversity of shows as well.

[00:03:47]Bret Shuford: [00:03:47] Yeah, right. Totally.

[00:03:48] Dane Reis: [00:03:48] so cool. And let’s move on to our first section here and Brett, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?

[00:04:01]Bret Shuford: [00:04:01] sure. Well, I’m a huge Disney nerd, so I love Walt Disney’s quote, where he says all our dreams can come true. If we have the courage to pursue them.

[00:04:12]Dane Reis: [00:04:12] Hmm, such a good quote. Can you expand on that a little bit?

[00:04:16]Bret Shuford: [00:04:16] yeah early on in my life, really in college, I remember somebody saying to me, you know, you can really have anything you want. It’s just sometimes that you may have to work a little bit harder to get it. And I really see that word courage. And when Walt does, it says that the courage to pursue them.

[00:04:36]Is really where this idea of action and taking action and pushing through your fear and pushing through your resistance. That takes courage, being vulnerable, being willing to go to an audition and expose who you are, being willing to even put yourself out on social media that requires a level of courage.

[00:04:56] And those are awesome things that I’m constantly challenging myself to push through so that I can continue to pursue my dreams. Oh,

[00:05:04] Dane Reis: [00:05:04] Oh, that’s so good. And what I also find is, yeah, you’re right. It is very difficult and takes courage too. Put yourself out there. . And I liked that you brought up social media that yes, there’s even a vulnerability in putting your work out into the world, you know? Cause as soon as it’s there, it’s there, it’s there to be criticized as well and it will get criticized and that’s the inevitability of it.

[00:05:24] But doing it is how we move forward. But also I find that it really becomes a habit and a muscle that you kind of train that. The more you do the thing, the easier it is, it is right to go into those rooms and bury your soul, or to share your projects on social media and with the world, the more you just keep pushing things out there and putting it out there, the easier it also gets.

[00:05:48]Bret Shuford: [00:05:48] I, 100% agree. I think that. You know that I think that I’m always seeking ways to push myself past my comfort zone. And, you know, I always say, if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. Now. That doesn’t mean pain. You don’t have to be in pain, but you want to. You know, you want to be, you want to push yourself past that comfort zone that requires courage and that’s, and that’s in order to grow.

[00:06:13] And the thing in this industry is you’re no matter what, no matter who you are, no matter what level you get got to in this industry, you’re always going to have to keep hustling. You’re always going to have to keep going for that next thing. And that requires that you continue to grow. And so it does get easier because.

[00:06:30]The more you put yourself. I mean, I mean, gosh, I’ve been an understudy and I’ve been a swing and the fear and the anxiety that comes from going on, you know, last minute for a role like once the more you do that, the less fearful and the less, the less anxiety it produces because with, repetition is the mother of skill.

[00:06:49] So the more you do it, the better you get at it.

[00:06:52]Dane Reis: [00:06:52] Yeah, absolutely. And swinging is no joke. Okay. 

[00:06:55]Bret Shuford: [00:06:55] No.

[00:06:56]Dane Reis: [00:06:56] I found I’ve done a lot of swinging as well and what I find or what I found eventually it wasn’t like this at the beginning for sure. Is that. I almost stopped even  caring really about what was in my head and I that’s maybe the wrong word, but I really began to just trust my brain.

[00:07:14]Cause I would go on stage. I’m like, I don’t even know I’m 99.9%. Sure. I know exactly what has to happen when I go out on stage, but it’s almost, I had to give it up   otherwise I would be freaking out too much before every single performance. You just have to go it’s in there. , let’s go do it.

[00:07:29] And to really trust your body, trust your body trust your mind is a really cool, but very weird place to be in as well.

[00:07:36]Bret Shuford: [00:07:36] It is. And also for anyone, who’s a people pleaser, you have to let go of what other people think. It’s such a great training to like move through whatever your stuff is, because you’re never going to make everybody happy as a swing. You can’t, that’s not the point. You know, you’re not going to it’s, it’s getting through the show and no one getting hurt and, um, and making sure that the story gets told and in the end, um, if you’ve done that, you’ve done a great job.

[00:08:00] Dane Reis: [00:08:00] Yeah, for sure. And let’s move on to this next section here. And Brett, of course, you’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you would agree this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries in existence. And. You know, You know, as well as I, that in order to have and create a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes over lot of dedication and hard work.

[00:08:31] And while yeah, there’s an 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 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.

[00:08:55]Bret Shuford: [00:08:55] Oh gosh, this is such a difficult question to answer because I feel like how many, I mean, like how do I pick one? There’s just so many, you know, it’s like the, the amount of jobs that I’ve lost or, um, moments that, you know, I’ve really struggled, you know, you know, like I said earlier, I tend to. Seek failure.

[00:09:15] I just tend to want to always set a bar and go for it. And sometimes you don’t reach that bar. Sometimes you, you lick your wounds and come back for me. I think probably the most key obstacle I had was, was early on when I really battled my addiction. , um, I had a drug and alcohol problem very early on in my.

[00:09:36] Twenties and I made a commitment to get clean and sober, and that was a profound moment for me. It really proved to me that my happiness didn’t lie on the other side of my career. On the other side of my job, that if I kept thinking, like, if I could just get that gig or get a Broadway show or whatever it was that I would actually finally feel fulfilled.

[00:09:59] But when I. Got clean and sober for me. I found fulfillment in this moment right now today. And moment by moment found that. And also just, you know, I didn’t have to do it alone. I found a community and I found people . Who wanted the same thing for me and vice versa. I learned about being of service. I learned about how to, um, to not always make it about myself.

[00:10:25] And then on the other, on the other side of living a fulfilled life is where I found it.

[00:10:30]Dane Reis: [00:10:30] Yeah, it really comes down to us and our mindset and our mental health. Not, not in the thing, not in the Broadway show, not in the, the peak or the. You know, the, the line on the resume. That’s not the fulfillment. It’s, it’s that journey leading up and how and how you experience that and how you internalize that is really the fulfillment.

[00:10:49]Bret Shuford: [00:10:49] Yeah. Yeah. I say, I often say to clients, like, while you’re over there trying to book. These jobs and obsessively. Like I get clients that come to me and they say, Hey Brett. So I’m taking in this workshop, I’ve done these auditions. I’m going to these things. I have these headshots, I have this resume, right?

[00:11:04] I’m taking this class. What else should I be doing? And I immediately asked them, when’s the last time you went for a walk in the park. When’s the last time you went to a museum? Like. Be a human being because that’s what makes you an artist. That’s what draws people to your craft. And I think it’s so important that , you know, while you’re pursuing this career, that you’re also living your life at the same time, because you’re going to miss out on that journey.

[00:11:33] Like you said,

[00:11:34]Dane Reis: [00:11:34] Yeah, I conjured percent agree. Thank you for saying that. And I, a hundred percent can attest to that in the early stages of my career of just, I don’t even know what you would call it. A, almost like an unhealthy laser-focus you know where it was. Yes. You need focus. This career takes a lot of dedication and.

[00:11:54] You really do have to focus your energies, but , I really wasn’t enjoying the ride. I wasn’t enjoying the moments of life and there’s whole spans of time where I know I did some really cool things, but I look back at them and I don’t really feel like they were amazing things. I don’t remember feeling like they were amazing things, but I knew I can experience them or reflect on them now and enjoy them.

[00:12:16]Bret Shuford: [00:12:16] Yeah.

[00:12:17]Dane Reis: [00:12:17] Yeah, it’s so important. So important

[00:12:19] Bret Shuford: [00:12:19] So important.

[00:12:21]Dane Reis: [00:12:21] 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 a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer. Tell us about that.

[00:12:44]Bret Shuford: [00:12:44] Oh man. I was a weird kid. All my brothers played sports, just like good Texas boys and I loved musicals. And. I didn’t know that, that I just thought they existed on screen. I didn’t know. You could do them in person. And when I was like six, my mom took us to some sort of, you know, library children’s fair.

[00:13:05] And there was  this troupe of kids, performing songs. Like Like don’t talk to strangers, don’t do drugs and all these different things. And I just immediately went, my mom thought I was stung by a bee. , I was hysterical. She was like looking like all over to see what was going on. It was very dramatic. And then she finally got me to calm down and I said, I want to do that. And so my mom took me to the woman who was  conducting and playing piano and said, my son would really like to do this.

[00:13:34] And. That was my first foray into performing and I never stopped. I just, that was the thing. It was my escape. You know, I think that professionally, I think I never, I use it as an escape from most of my childhood and was lucky that it motivated me enough to train, train, train, and get really sharp skills as a singer and a dancer and an actor.

[00:13:59] And I worked professionally a little bit here and there. But nothing prepared me for life in New York city. And, and when there’s this moment, I think where  the escape that you get from being a performer as a kid  transitions into a business. And it’s a, it’s a difficult transition because it no longer provides the escape anymore.

[00:14:25] It now provides the income. And I think that some people don’t ever, no one trains you for that, right? No one really teaches you how to in college, even how to transition from the, from the escapism that it provides when you’re young, actually approaching it as a business. That took me a long time to figure out

[00:14:46] Dane Reis: [00:14:46] Yeah, absolutely. I think the financial aspect of, or the business side I should say of this business is so integral, especially if you want to have any sort of longevity in this career, but no one talks about it. And it’s crazy, you know, because it’s subjective as our industry is the financial world in the business world.

[00:15:08] Really? Isn’t all that subjective. It’s pretty much in stone, so it’s not like it’s a curriculum that you can’t teach. Right. And 

[00:15:16] it’s something that 

[00:15:16] that is so important. 

[00:15:17] Bret Shuford: [00:15:17] I agree. It’s fun. It’s so important. But I think there’s a misalignment that happens when, um, because there’s art, like, especially if you want to. Work at a high level, like, like Broadway or work in Hollywood. There’s some artists that have such a resentment to calmer and they see that as antithetical to creation and.

[00:15:40]until you can actually find out how to merge those two things, or at least find a way to align your values, especially on Broadway with commerce, you’re going to always feel like you’re going against the grain. It’s going to always financially feel like a struggle. And I think that that’s something that.

[00:15:58]I learned I had to go, okay, they’re hiring, they’re just trying to sell tickets. And that’s, it’s a,  it’s a commercial industry. And so how do I help them do that as opposed to, , how do I make myself seem more valuable? Like, you know, I don’t know if that makes any sense, but

[00:16:14] I 

[00:16:15] Dane Reis: [00:16:15] good switch 

[00:16:17] Bret Shuford: [00:16:17] Yeah, 

[00:16:18]Dane Reis: [00:16:18] Yeah, absolutely. All it’s all goes back to service ? cause you’re bringing something to the table. . You know, you’re a very important piece of the puzzle and. That’s why they hired you is to be that creative person to offer your skills and to share your skills 

[00:16:32]live in that. 

[00:16:33]Bret Shuford: [00:16:33] A hundred percent. Okay.

[00:16:35] Dane Reis: [00:16:35] Right. Right. And. Let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it 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.

[00:16:56]Bret Shuford: [00:16:56] I love that. Um, , 2013 was a rough year. Lucky number 13, I had in 2012, I had made a real commitment to pursue more television and film work. I had done the radio city Christmas show the season before, and I’d saved up all this money. And I was like, okay, I’m going to.

[00:17:17] Really invest in networking and taking class and getting a reel and getting some on camera work and really devoted to my time and in doing so, I had turned down regional theater, gigs, and impossible income and, um, was willing to risk it because I had saved up some money and. Um, , uh, some other events had happened that year and it was really rough.

[00:17:42] At one point I was working like six jobs as a site. I was, uh, I was as a tour guide. So I was working for six different companies as a sightseeing tour guide all over New York city, even in the winter, like three degrees, giving people a tour. Um, and you know, this is after four, four Broadway shows, I think at that point.

[00:18:01]So. I just was getting really discouraged, really discouraged. And, um, my husband was in a show at the time. I think he was still in was the Billy Elliot at the time. , he was, he was making pretty good money and. I had just had said something to a friend of mine who worked for, uh, she was an associate or an assistant to Martin Scorsese.

[00:18:22] And I just had said, well, what are our fear? I really was, you know, I had never really wanted to talk to her about the industry because she was my friend and I never wanted to make it awkward. And I finally said something, you know, I really want this year to be my television and film year and she’s, and I said, You know, how open would you be to passing my headshot off to somebody?

[00:18:40] And she did, and I got an audition for the Wolf of wall street  so I got in, did an audition, got a final callback to go in for Martin Scorsese and the audition required improv. So I’m terrified I have to improvise in front of Martin Scorsese. High pressure. And so I had, you know, had to be like a wall street guy.

[00:19:06] So I researched all of the terms and watched all these videos and movies practice literally practiced different scenarios in my home, uh, to prepare for that audit  and went in and did the audition. And two weeks later I found out I booked it. And I had one line, I booked one line, which actually ended up on the editing room floor.

[00:19:30] Cause it’s like a four hour movie. Um, but I remember the, the, the feeling of that was after having gone through all of those months of hustling, it was like, Oh, okay. I can do this. I’m a good actor. And I can’t do film work. , you know,  it was very validating. And then also spending a week on set with Leo DiCaprio and, and Martins.

[00:19:54] Chris says, you know, that was something I’ll never forget.

[00:19:57] Dane Reis: [00:19:57] Of course. Yeah. Talk about that experience a little bit. What was it like being on set?

[00:20:01]Bret Shuford: [00:20:01] that is such a high budget movie that it was surreal. I mean, , of course. I had a trailer and they, you know, I was on a principle contract for seven days. Um, but Matthew McConaughey sat, I sat right next to Matthew McConaughey and he’s a good old Texas boys. So I was thrilled to be able to talk to him about growing up in Texas, which just made my mom thrilled.

[00:20:25]And then watching Marty come in onto set and he he’d come in and he’d just pick, she knew exactly how he wanted the camera, just watching somebody at that level and that genius level and observing that was really remarkable. We went to three different sets and one of the sets was a strip club.

[00:20:44]. I’ve never been in a more rowdy professional environment than that day. Uh, I called my dad and told him that you never believe what I got paid to do today.

[00:20:57] Dane Reis: [00:20:57] Amazing. I love that movie as well. It’s such a good movie.

[00:21:01]Bret Shuford: [00:21:01] It really 

[00:21:02] Dane Reis: [00:21:02] Yeah. Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And you know, it’s a weird time, right? We’re amidst this crazy pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:21:20]Bret Shuford: [00:21:20] Such a good question. Mostly I’m working on my own projects. I, uh, like I said, Steven and I have, once my husband, we have an Instagram account called Broadway husbands. That’s. Got a lot of followers now. So we blog and we have a podcast funny enough called the Broadway husbands podcast. And so we do a weekly episode of that through the Broadway podcast network.

[00:21:43]And so that keeps me busy, my coaching business. I do, like I said, I do private coaching, but then I also have the secure actor project, which we do weekly. Um, we do something every week to help support people through this time. And help actress feel more secure. So we interview people in the industry. I do mindset meetings.

[00:22:04]Um, we’re actually gonna offer a Stephen is, uh, my husband’s a ballet dancer with New York city ballet for a long time and on Broadway. So he’s offering a dance class to keep people moving and in shape right now. So we’re, we’re doing a bunch of things with that, which is really, I’m really proud of it.

[00:22:18] It’s been, uh, a wonderful way of helping people stay connected and positive and. Driving forward during this time, because I mean, at least for theater, I think theater is going to be a very slow comeback , I think theater is going to be much like how my career started. It’s going to start non-union.

[00:22:38]Outdoor theaters will come back for some regional theaters. I think touring we’ll then come back and then Broadway. I think it’s going to be a really long journey for probably to come back. And that’s my theory. Um, I don’t know that to be true, but it just, to me makes the most sense. So keeping people.

[00:22:56] The eye on the prize, keeping people creative, helping people navigate new paths to their creativity that can also pay dividends, I think is a great, it’s a great opportunity for you to just like, I, I always say always be curious, ABCs of acting. Just always be curious. What else can you, how else can you look at this?

[00:23:15] What else could you try? Is there a new way to explore? I mean, that’s, to me what this time is all about.

[00:23:21]Dane Reis: [00:23:21] Yeah, love that insight on this entire weird, crazy time in life. Very good. And it is time to 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.

[00:23:46] Are you ready?

[00:23:47]Okay. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:23:55]Bret Shuford: [00:23:55] My beliefs.

[00:23:57]Dane Reis: [00:23:57] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:24:02]Bret Shuford: [00:24:02] Um, I already said it, but I’m gonna say it again. You can have anything you want. You may just have to work harder to get it.

[00:24:08]Dane Reis: [00:24:08] Hmm. 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.

[00:24:18]Bret Shuford: [00:24:18] I’m staying consistent on social media and being of service.

[00:24:23]Dane Reis: [00:24:23] Great. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, maybe a YouTube video or a podcast or a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:24:38]Bret Shuford: [00:24:38] The secure actor projects.

[00:24:42] Dane Reis: [00:24:42] 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?

[00:24:57]Bret Shuford: [00:24:57] I would work on my communication a little bit better and not be so eager to give up on people that believe in me, just because I think some other path will move my career forward. I think there’s nothing more valuable than people that believe in you. And those relationships will last much longer than your career ever.

[00:25:20] Will.

[00:25:21]Dane Reis: [00:25:21] Oh, relationships are everything, especially in this career.

[00:25:26]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.

[00:25:36]Bret Shuford: [00:25:36] I would say bridging the gap between vulnerability and credibility and being able to merge those even, even with strangers is what I think gives you longevity in this career. It’s what allows people to connect to you.

[00:25:50]Dane Reis: [00:25:50] Oh, that’s such unique insight. And I really, really liked that. Brilliant. And to wrap up this interview, Brett, 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?

[00:26:07]Bret Shuford: [00:26:07] Oh, I mean, yes, please come follow me on Instagram at Brett Shuford follow Broadway husbands, uh, listen to our podcast. Um, and, uh, I’m on all the social I’m on YouTube, my Facebook , um, And I just love meeting people. So please, if you come over there and let me know how you found me, I’d love to meet you and see how we can support each other.

[00:26:28]Dane Reis: [00:26:28] Beautiful. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Brett just talked about into the description of this episode, so you can easily connect with him. Brett, thank you so much for being here.

[00:26:43]Bret Shuford: [00:26:43] Thanks for staying. This is awesome.