EP 13: Jason Kalish
Interview Transcript (autogenerated)
You booked it. Episode 13, Hey, entertainers and performers of the world. I’m your host, Dane Reis, and welcome to you. Booked it. Where I chat with inspiring entertainers, seven days a week by digging into their journey. We’re going to discover everything you need to do to be a successful entertainer, you know?
[00:00:25] Cause. Training, usually skips that part about how to actually make your skills work for you in the real world. Fellow entertainers, my drive here at you booked it is to share the inspiring and incredible journeys of successful entertainers. We are here to support your journey. So go to youbookeditpodcast.com and join the, you booked it, email community, where we dig deep into truly actionable things you can be doing right now to help you book that next audition, submission or gig.
[00:00:59] If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support and search for you. Booked it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app, where you can subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode, leave a rating and review and to show our appreciation for your fingers crossed five star rating and review. I will give you a shout out on an upcoming episode at now.
[00:01:22] Let’s do this. Oh, right. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Jason Kailash, are you ready for this, Jason? I am absolutely ready. Let’s do it. Brilliant. Jason has been teaching the art of American tap dance for almost 30 years. He’s also created a classy high energy tap dance act called style in grace with tap dance partner, Sarah Scola.
[00:01:50] That is perfect for corporate events. And private parties. His credits include dancing for postmodern jukebox, rockin Rio, Las Vegas, Rose rabbit lie. Larry King Snoop Dogg, Busta rhymes, Jamie Fox, Seinfeld Jason Alexander, Harry Connick, jr. Leann Rimes, the Eagles Frankie Valli, and the four seasons Huey Lewis and the news Jack Black Stacy Keach.
[00:02:16] Theodore Apoquel, Sondra Santiago, Gregory Hines, Tony Coppola, rhythm ensemble, Dean Perry’s tap dogs. 42nd street. Crazy for you. The FITA, the King, and I Camelot the Fiddler on the roof, Cinderella, the Nutcracker and just Zelle. Jason has also been an adjunct professor of tap dance at Kennesaw state university, and has also been with Hollywood connection since it’s inception.
[00:02:42] But above all, he is grateful for his opportunity. Perpetuate the art of American tap dance nation wide. Jason, 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, who you are, where you’re from, where you’re currently calling home and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.
[00:03:06] Well, okay then. That is quite a tall order, but I will try to, to, to fill that order. so, first also I’m located here with my wife, Laura, in Las Vegas and we have a newborn baby. His name is Larson and thank you very much. And we’re excited. I’m already working on his, his feet to two little tap steps is, sickening is that may be, I can’t help it.
[00:03:26] So, so assuming, but, Anyway. So my, my career, is interesting because it’s kind of a hybrid and it’s a hybrid into something that I didn’t think that I would be doing. you know, truth be told when I was in high school, I went to a magnet school for the performing arts, but that was mostly because I didn’t want to go to my local high school and I wanted something better.
[00:03:48] And I found a way to get out of that school system. By going to a County school instead of a city school. And so I went to a high school called Pebblebrook high school, which a lot of ’em fairly successful entertainers have attended and gone on to do have other careers in Broadway film and, some, some pop stars and that sort of thing.
[00:04:06] So a little school tucked away in the country. But when I was doing that, It was just to kind of pass the time, in high school to make that, to make life more fun and interesting than just a regular high school. I never thought that I would be doing this professionally. even though I had been professional as a younger man, I started her professional when I was 11, doing the King and I.
[00:04:27]I started teaching tap when I was 12 and then did 42nd street when I was just 16. but it, it was just something that was like a hobby. It was like a passionate hobby. And I thought too, I think I’m pretty good at this. It would be nice to get paid, you know, as like a part time, summer job kind of thing to pay for my car.
[00:04:46] So I could, you know, date girls or whatever. Right. But I, I never thought you could make a living at it because. Everybody was like, you can’t make a living in show business. There’s no money in that. That’s something you just do. Like in addition to your real job, you know, you just, you just wait tables or you go to college and you have a desk job.
[00:05:02] And then on the weekend you do some regional theater or something like that. Right. I just thought there’s no way that you can have enough money consistently to, to earn your living this way. So why even try? So I was going to be an engineer that’s I was like, I’m going to do math. I’m going to develop the next jet fighter for Lockheed Martin.
[00:05:18] And that sort of thing. Well, long story short, at Kennesaw state, I was, in my second semester and I was doing calculus two and we were studying derivatives. And while I was, doing derivatives or should have been learning, what derivatives are, I was daydreaming and going, gosh, I wonder what I could do with my tap dancing.
[00:05:37] I wonder if. If I could and you know, if I should lend value, if I could lend value to the American stage in any capacity. And then I was thinking about my son being older, like in my fifties or sixties, looking back on my life and not having that question answered on, can I do something? With my tap dancing.
[00:05:56]And that kind of really, really scared me more than anything, more than flunking out of college or not having money or anything else was the not knowing that having a big blank on that question and never, never knowing if I could succeed or fail, with tap pants. So at that time I was talking. Well by many Marcus offered, well known jazz teacher out of Chicago and then Atlanta retired now.
[00:06:18] But, the classic jazz artist, he had heard of a show called hot shot shoe shuffle out of Australia. I don’t think he knew that Dean Perry, but he knew of a hot shoe shuffle and that whoever was involved with that or someone that was involved in that had some new show that was coming to America, that hired tap dancers.
[00:06:36]and so I was like, wow, it was a show that could use this and tap dance talent. Let me, I want to know all about it. So, so I jumped on board and, try to, find out about this show. And one thing led to another and I kept calling the production agency in New York city and saying, do you guys have any auditions?
[00:06:55] I said, no, we’re not looking for anybody. I called them dozens of times. And I, I got on their nerves. They’re like, please stop calling us. We don’t have any auditions. We’re not hiring anybody. Thanks. But no, thanks. And goodbye. And I sent them my stuff and they I’m sure they threw it in the garbage. Anyway.
[00:07:10] I said, I’ve just got to go. I’m going to go to New York. And my friend, woman named Beth Moore, really talented ballet dancer. We said, let’s just start in New York city. And we bought tickets really cheap tickets to New York. And I called, on Sunday, I called up the agency again, said, Hey, I’m coming to New York city.
[00:07:25] Like we don’t care. And I said, Oh, but I’m going to, they said, well, what are you here for? So Monday through Wednesday, they said, well, you’re in good luck because we have an open audition on Tuesday. And so, it just so happened that the stars aligned and. And then I got a call back and blah, blah, blah.
[00:07:40] And then that’s how I wound up a touring with tap dogs at the age of 19, almost 20. That’s fantastic. I love that. Yeah. There you go. All right, well, let’s move on to the next section here. And look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What’s your favorite quote that you’d like to share with our listeners? Oh, I’m glad you asked this.
[00:08:01] I, so when I teach the kids, sometimes I teach them the history of tap dance. And I talked to them about bill Bojangles Robinson and without his career and his life. Most of us wouldn’t know attached shoes are. In fact, I’m not even sure they would have been invented as far as putting metal plates on the shoes.
[00:08:17] But, bill Robinson set in 1949 in his last televised appearance before he died, says to a young man who’s 17. I can’t think of the tap dancers name right now, but you could see this footage on YouTube, just type in, bill, the jingles Robinson’s last televised appearance. And he says to the kid, I may get it wrong, a word or two, but he basically says this.
[00:08:38] So the kid is just freaked out and told that bill Robinson is in the audience. And bill Robinson at that time was it’s famous is like Michael Jackson, that big of a mega star. And he was tops. He was, he was just, he was the man. And so this kid of course is freaking out he’s 17 and his idol is this, the superstar tab is there to see him dance.
[00:08:58] He’s just seen him dance is coming up on stage to talk to him. It says the announcer. And so he’s like shaking in his shoes. And, but what I’m thinking, it’s that there’s cause that’s okay. Cause the kid tries to talk his mouth falling off because that’s okay. You don’t have to talk. I just want to say that.
[00:09:11] You’re great. And I just want to tell you one thing. And this is very profound. Given the times that we’re in that bill, Robinson says this all the way back in 1949, he says to the kid, manners can take you where money can’t take you. No matter what color you are in America, manners can take you where money can’t take you no matter what color you are in America.
[00:09:37] And this is, you know, obviously African American band, who had lots of money. and fame and he had it all, but he didn’t say that fame and fortune can take you. He really stressed manners to this young kid. They had all the talent in the world and that just moves me and inspires me and inspires me as an American.
[00:09:54]and it inspires me as a tap dancer and inspires me as a gentleman and to be a better person. So that’s why I love that quote. I love that you’re right. It is so pertinent our times right now. And like you said, it was so long ago when he said that, but I guess how, how have you implemented that quote into your professional career?
[00:10:16] Yeah, so, you know, often it’s, it’s not the big things that get you a job sometimes a lot of times. You know, because you can do a gig, your talent can get you a job, but will it get you a second shot? Well, it gets you with third shot. Well, it gets you that second job again, will you be rehired for an additional contract?
[00:10:37] Will you be, you know, recalled back for this particular production company or agency, and that’s where manners really, really, come to play. Let me give you a small example of this recently, a recent example. So I was working at a Rose rabbit lie. I’m subbing out for, for the tap dancer, the regular on-call tap dancer.
[00:10:58] And, it blew my mind cause people were like, man, that is a upper level manager or somebody, you know, in charge of, operation center said to me, you know, this is, this is why I like you. This is why you’re so great. I mean, you cleaned up your space. Your little dressing area, you pushed into your chair, you threw away all your garbage, you know, you do, you kind of organize it.
[00:11:18] You’ve made it neat. You’d left it better than you found it. And, and that’s true when I do that, because that’s just something in my manners that, you know, leave it better than you found it. Whatever, leave it better than you found it. If you used something, did you leave it better than you found it or did you leave it worse than you found it?
[00:11:34] You know, that that’s a part of a part of a work ethic, you know, and part of wanting to be an avid professional. And, and again, going back to bill Robinson’s quote, you know, again, being, well-spoken being polite to people being applicable, being a gentlemen, This, this has a profound effect on people, whether they’re looking at your talent or not, because they go, this is a good person to be around this person.
[00:11:58] He exudes goodness and tries to be good nature towards others. I want to be around that. That’s a positive energy. There’s that positive energy. That’s probably gonna make our show better. So, so I, I really think it just pays dividends, not just to the entertainer that might utilize this quote, but to the people that are surrounded by someone who’s putting that out there.
[00:12:18] He’s putting out Goodwill through good manners. Okay. Absolutely. I like to say, be nice to everybody. Hmm. I think your, your quote about good manners is really goes hand in hand with the, be nice to everyone. It’s really just, they’re one in the same. They’re an extension of each other because by you leaving a place better than you found it too, to think about, Oh, Right.
[00:12:44] So of course there are people that are hired to kind of clean up this space to do that. There are people that are hired for that job, but if you can make their job a little bit easier when it really doesn’t put you out at all, makes a massive difference in that’s. What gets you called again and asked back because.
[00:13:02] Everyone wants to work with people that are fun and enjoyable to work with. And when you get into this industry, I’ve found that to find someone, to technically do the job, to sing the song or dance, the dance or whatever it might be, whatever the skill is. That’s, that’s quite diamond doesn’t for the majority of roles and the majority of needs for any.
[00:13:23] Production or gig, but it’s, it comes down to who you are as a human being and a person that really has big impact on whether or not you get asked back or get booked in the first place. Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, it also draws a line in the sand, so to speak of a distinction between. A very, very talented amateur and it professional and someone that’s an avid professional.
[00:13:50] There is more to their occupation and what they deliver when they go to work. Then simply their gift or their talent, you know, are they on time? In fact, are they early, are, do they do all their presets? Do they look people in the eye when they talk to them? Do they say, please? And thank you. do they just have it together?
[00:14:07] Did they do their homework? Did they rehearse? Are they prepared on and on and on? You know, do they deliver in rehearsals and not just in shows? you know, these other sort of, ethical things as an entertainer that really, really separate Someone that wants to be a professional from someone that is just a very talented amateur, because again, are there people that can tap dance better than me?
[00:14:30] Of course. Are there people that can sing better than you probably, you know, but are they going to deliver. That gift and that skillset and a package of professionalism. And I think people have to recognize that there’s a lot of power when you deliver yourself as a professional and what that entails.
[00:14:51] And that, that doesn’t just stop at professional grade delivery of a talent or a skill set, but it’s the whole thing. Your demeanor and your timeliness and your preparation and your sincerity and your commitment to the cause that you’re not like, you know what? I just didn’t feel like showing up today.
[00:15:07] So I didn’t come in, you know, that kind of thing. Cause there’s a lot of people that are really, really flaky and they keep wondering why they’re not making it in this business. Absolutely. I could not agree more. Yeah. Well, let’s move on to the next section now. So Jason, you’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer and I think you’d agree.
[00:15:26] That the entertainment industry is one of the most subjective. Brutally honest, personally, emotional industries in existence. And you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while of course, yes, there is an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being an entertainer being on stage.
[00:15:53] Okay. Our also our fair share of obstacles and challenges and failures that we are going to experience and inevitability, and we have to move forward through this if we want to continue being in this industry. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out better?
[00:16:17] On the other side, you know, there there’s, quite a few, there’s quite a few failures, but you know, failures, one of the best teachers and, you know, listen, there’s no business like show business. and if you’re an entertainer, you know that for the good and the bad of that, a whole thing. But you know, that being said, you know, I think for me, At first, one of my biggest failures that affected an audience specifically, not just me and being hired with other people was this difference between doing something really good. Yeah, and doing something for other people. And I didn’t start to get, what I would call genuine applause or clap for standing ovation or anything like that.
[00:16:58]until I learned the difference until I discovered that going out on a stage. Isn’t just repeating what you did and what you tried to perfect in a studio when you practiced, but that it’s something different, something extra special. And that extra special thing that I was not delivering on for a long time was I was not having an experience.
[00:17:19] I was simply doing a thing. Well, I was just, it was just repeating what I had practiced using my muscles. I was conforming if you will, with my muscles. And in doing so, I wasn’t really performing at all. I had no relationship, no rapport with my audience. So that started to change the, the pivotal moment for me, the biggest pivotal moment, was I was doing a one man show down in Mexico, in the Yucatan, in a city called medita and the D H, which is, kind of the arts capital of the Yucatan, if not, all of Mexico next to Mexico city.
[00:17:50] And they have some of the best artists from all over the world, all over South America, from Europe, from Spain, especially from ’em, What does Cuba coming over there? So insane levels of talent in so many art forms. And anyway, so the show that I did was sponsored by the local city government to pay me to do tap dancing and hip hop for an audience of about 600 people.
[00:18:13] In this little, city run theater. And, anyway, it was a two part show and I would do one number of tap, one number of hip hop, whenever a tap, whenever hip up, and then some students would come out and do part of the tap dance. Well, when it came to intermission, I was devastated because I didn’t get one smattering of applause, nothing, not a zero Zippo, nothing.
[00:18:35] I was totally bombing and I was like, wouldn’t get it. Why am I bombing? I’m so clean. I have such curriculums. I I’m, I I’m strong. I practiced a lot for this. I’ve been dancing for years. Why, why isn’t the applause? Automatic. They should be clapping for me. And that’s when I turned that on their head on the tennis that they should be clacking for me.
[00:18:58] W who and what are you telling me? They should be, wait a second, wait, I got it all wrong. They shouldn’t be clapping for me. I should be inspiring them to clap. I turned it on myself. I said, I have to give these people more than this is what I do with my body. Cause they were seeing through it all. It was an audience of, of some artists, but deep, deeply cultural people who love the arts, have that passion and love sincerity and have deep love for their family.
[00:19:26] So my getting out there and flexing my muscles with my feet. I wasn’t doing anything for them. They were buying it because it wasn’t sincere. It wasn’t genuine. It wasn’t, it wasn’t filled with soul. And so I got real vulnerable turn inward, cry my eyes out for about five minutes. Kind of got it together and said next number when I go out.
[00:19:44] Cause this was mostly all improvisation. The whole show was just literally just creating, you know, with the music in real time, both for hip hop freestyle and for tap dance improvisation. So yeah, the next number I went out and said, I’m going to give them me the vulnerable me, the real me. I’m not going to hide.
[00:19:59] Behind my talent hide behind my years and thousands of hours of practice. I’m going to let them all the way on the inside and show them what it’s like to be in love with the art of tap dance. And that’s what I did. And then the applause wound up coming because they said, Oh, this guy does mean it. He is sincere.
[00:20:16] And the applause came. That’s such a good story. And I think that is such a good moment of realization for you, but I think if we can even expand that realization to anyone that’s done a long running show, because it, it is hard if you’re in a show for a year more and to show up every single night and really.
[00:20:41] Go there in give all of yourself too the material and yeah. Give yourself to the audience. It’s. It’s exhausting to be Frank, but it’s also exhilarating at the same time. And I think there would not be a professional entertainer in the world that hasn’t phoned in a performance or two, you know? And you can really absolutely tell the difference when you were being honest with the work that you were giving.
[00:21:12] Yeah, no doubt. Yeah. There’s a huge distinction and something that I teach my students also is. You know, don’t, don’t be right in your dancing or in your performing. Don’t be, don’t be good at doing what you’ve been asked to do. Be great. Even through mistakes, even through exhaustion, be great. Do you want to create something wonderful or you don’t?
[00:21:34] I mean, it’s kind of, you know, either those two things, you know, w when I go out on the stage, I want to create something wonderful, because maybe it’s the last time I’ll ever dance. Maybe I die tomorrow. I don’t know. I don’t take, I want to take this life for granted. So I feel like, you know, the arts is a gift, it’s a gift to be returned.
[00:21:51] And then it’s a reciprocal thing that happens between this relationship between the entertainer and the audience. And there’s an energy there. And you know, it, when you felt it from some of the best entertainers, you know, that the world’s ever known Sammy Davis jr. A Gregory Hyatt, to Michael Jackson, to a lady, God, God, today.
[00:22:08]these people, they are great before they use their art form. And that ties into a quote from it. Tap master, named Chuck green, who said, tap dance. It starts with a personality. And then you add the tab. And I think that’s kind of true with all the arts. Give them, you give them the fullness of you. The art exacerbates that reality for the audience.
[00:22:32] Don’t hide behind the art. The art is like a magnifying glass, you know, to, to let all of your insights you can enjoy by ups. Absolutely. And I think you can, we can even go so far to say that when it comes to casting and booking, that is a major part of why people get booked or book consistently over other people.
[00:22:54] And because in the perfect world, when you should, in my opinion, when you show up for an audition and you can legitimately. Be considered for this, whatever it might be based on your skillset. It really, the fact that you can do the thing that they need you to do, singing, dancing, whatever it is is. Is given it’s already expected that you can do the thing.
[00:23:17] Technically of course, we don’t really care about that because you’re here, you should be able to do it. Right. What else, what else can you bring to this performance? And that’s what gets you booked? Yeah, for sure. And I think it’s a trap, right? Because. So, so often, especially with, not necessarily young amateurs, but anybody that’s that’s amateur or maybe is becoming professional or is wanting to become professionally kind of flirted with becoming professional.
[00:23:40] And they go to the audition to go, Oh, that person to hire because they’re better than me. They just do they just say that this is like, that person got her into they’re better than me, but are they better than you? Or are they doing something that you are not as, at a totally different perspective? And I think often the trap Dane is people.
[00:23:56]I, I, it, I’m experiencing this more and more. They’re projecting their technique. In other words, they’re using their skill and that’s all they’re using there. For example, it’d be like, you know, when you hear about singers and you go, gosh, you know, this person, they did all, these runs their pitches.
[00:24:12] Perfect. Their rhythm is great. But I’m just not feeling that they, when they sing the lyrics, they sing, you know, the lyric of like how much I’m in love with you. The same as they, you know, same lyric. I went to the club. I mean, so it’s not sentimental. It doesn’t move anybody. You know, you have to be feeling what you’re doing and you have to have a goal of inspiring people.
[00:24:32] And I think that in an audition, if you go there and instead of saying to yourself, I hope they like me. Right. And resting your opportunity there, go out there instead, say, it’s not about, I hope they like me. When I leave here, they will know that I love to perform. And they will know that I’m in love with whatever art form I’ve been doing.
[00:24:55] And if you, you know, leave them with that. And that’s the goal, that’s going to be a very different experience than the person that’s just doing the thing really well. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. Well, let’s move on to the next section to a time when you had what I like to call your spotlight moment.
[00:25:14] That one moment in time that 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. Yeah. So, it’s interesting. It’s, it’s kind of a two pronged thing, so. I did tap dogs for two years and I thought, gosh, you know, this is a, this is amazing, but that show, and it’s a glorious show.
[00:25:40] But honestly has to be one of the most brutal things ever for the human body to endure next to stomp and maybe, that’s why with art show up, moving out, you know, it’s just, it broke your body night after night. I mean, You know, here I was in my early twenties. Right. And, even just after a couple of weeks of doing it would wake up to go to the bathroom three, four o’clock in the morning and would literally like, almost be crawling to the toilet because, because your body, your muscles were so destroyed and devastated the inflammation and a brutal, and it’s nothing against hotdogs.
[00:26:16] It, there was no other way to do it. It was a show about, you know, blue collar construction workers in Australia who found the rhythm. of their life, basically in their machines and, and wanted to explore what might happen, with this construction fantasy come to life. That’s, that’s my interpretation.
[00:26:31] I was making sure Dean Perry would say, well, that’s not quite right Mike, but, but that’s my interpretation of it. So, but anyway, so it was just brutal. So I was like, well, I only want to do this for two contracts. And maybe do some industrials cause I wanted to be able to dance well into old age. And more importantly, I want her to be able to walk, because you know, there were, there were men in that show that during the course of the show had spinal surgery, there were others that in their early thirties had hip replacement surgeries.
[00:26:58] So these things were happening all the while. while I was in the middle of doing it. So I knew I wasn’t that for me. I wasn’t going to be able to last very long. if this was the only thing that I wanted to do. The other major side of my career was teaching. And I taught for a little, convention called Manhattan dance project.
[00:27:18] And that’s where I met Kimberly, lion Rhinelander, who was one of the owners along with bill bowl of Hollywood connection. And she asked me to come on board. with them, when I was 25 and that’s where I’ve been there ever since for 17 years, been there tap teacher and I kind of fell in love.
[00:27:35] You see, my career is kind of this duality of teaching and in teaching, it gives me inspiration to use the knowledge that I’m giving to my students to be a better entertainer. And then I entertain and I get more inspiration and more knowledge and wisdom with that experience to then go back and give to my students.
[00:27:53] So for me, it was after I’d say probably the second season of Hollywood connection that I was like, I want to be in this business. I can make a limit because I had just graduated two years after joining how the connection. I graduated with my business degree from Kennesaw state university. And again, didn’t think that there’d be enough money, to make a living, but they’re, they’re happy to be with us.
[00:28:15] Do dual career of teaching dance conventions. Teaching a bit in the studio and then entertaining. there, there was enough of an income to support a lifestyle that is, that is decent and enjoyable and provides some sense of security. So I’m very grateful for that. Very thankful. That’s fantastic. And let’s.
[00:28:34] Piggyback on that question. And let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the audition and callbacks. If those happen to be part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? It makes it your favorite book. A moment. Yeah. Favorite book did moment. you know, this, this one’s hard for me because, you know, I’ve never taken a booking for granted.
[00:28:56] When I, when I’ve done an audition, I’ve always been grateful. And been thankful that I got the job and that sort of thing, but, you know, I do think, the, if you want to call it being serendipitous or the, just the timing, if you will, this is the synchronicity of my doing tap dogs was very special in the fact that, you know, I, I made it, I made a very distinct goal before I even auditioned for that show.
[00:29:22] I was at the Fox theater in Atlanta because I grew up in Atlanta. and the Fox theater is a very beautiful old theater. just one of the most beautiful theaters in the country, if not the world, in my opinion. And they had a small little advertisement about the upcoming summer tours, the following year, like 10, 10, 11 months.
[00:29:39] Maybe it was longer than that. Maybe almost a year away and little tiny blurs, the tap dogs playing with this theater for this week here to there. And I just remember, I looked at that little advertisement of the upcoming theater schedule and I pointed at it with my finger. And I said it out loud. I didn’t keep it as much as I literally pointed at it with my finger.
[00:29:56] I said, I’m going to be in that show when it comes here, I’m going to be in that show when it comes here. That’s what I said that I, I was so determined to make that my destiny. And lo and behold that happened. And, you know, I think part of that persistence in show business, my buying the ticket, making the plans with my friend to go to New York, even though this casting agency had said no a million times.
[00:30:19] And then there just happened to be that audition. And then I booked the first round and got the call back and got that. And I went home and I, I, cause I was staying with my mom temporarily and I got out of the car and she came out of the front door. I barely just stepped out of the car, said. Get back in the car, you got to go back to the airport.
[00:30:35] They want you back in New York. And so, you know, so you don’t even get, come in the house cause they want you there. And, and so that was very special for me. That whole thing, I was like, wow, okay, I’m going to get my crack at this. Now what they wanted before. wasn’t to be in the show though, all they wanted me for was to train, to be a swing slash understudy.
[00:30:57] To train for six weeks and then maybe in one to two years, come back and swing or understudy the show. And so when I was in, when I was in the rehearsals, I was like, I’m not doing that. I’m going to go get my college degree. I’m going to move on to my career, whatever other opportunities. I’m not going to wait around for you to want to hire me.
[00:31:16] So that increased my resolve and my determination because there was somebody else who had already quote, unquote, gotten the job. Right. I looked at that guy and I pointed at him like I did at that poster. And I said, I’m going to take your job. Not in a mean spirited way. Not saying that he, he couldn’t also be in the show and, but I was not going to be left out, at least not without a fight.
[00:31:38] Yeah, so I was going to, so, so I went out of my way to just, again, preparation, determination, drive ambition, passion in my dancing, pursuing the act of giving them what it was they wanted in spades, you know, superseding expectations, not just meeting the expectations. And I worked so hard and it was, you know, I, I, it made me a better dancer, but I, you know, I was like, I’m not good enough to be in the show cause the talent.
[00:32:04] The talent was outrageous. a lot of people in the tap industry at the time, not to the show said, Oh, it’s just, it’s easy. It’s this it’s that? It’s not what I like. It’s to, you know, they had all kinds of criticism. But I’m going to tell you real deal, amazingly trained, handled, attain, tap dancers, gotten that show.
[00:32:19] And if it didn’t challenge them rhythmically, or technically it pushed their endurance to new levels. So, it was a very challenging show, but, but yeah, long story short, I, I just was determined to, you know, To, to book this job. And then when the producer that show Nigel triffitt took me aside and said, congratulations, Meda just made your life miserable for the next two or three years and offered me the contract.
[00:32:42] I was, I was beside myself. So it was, it was really wonderful. Yeah. Yeah, because that led to the dance convention teaching. It was, it was enough of a Mark on my resume of climbing up into the upper echelons of being a successful tap dance professional. That gave me, I guess the integrity, if you will, or the reputation of knowing something though, at least a little bit of what I’m talking about, you know, so, so validated that, you know, and I also have you done 42nd street.
[00:33:10] So I had significant correct things on my resume to increase my value, as a teacher and entertainer. Fantastic. Great story. So let’s talk about the present. Now. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And obviously we are amidst this global pandemic still. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:33:37] I mean, I, you know, I think that the best thing for entertainment is even in dark times, People have a demand for entertainment because that’s their escape, right. If they don’t do drugs or drink or whatever, you know, entertainment as their escape entertainment is what lifts up, you know, hearts and minds and spirits and that sort of thing next to church, I guess.
[00:33:55]so, I think there’s going to still be a demand for if not a greater demand. Now, is that going to change? What happens in a theater for the time being maybe, you know, audiences wearing masks and you know, entertainers? I don’t think you’re going to really be able to pull it off too well. because it was just be out of breath, but I mean, can you imagine singing in a mask?
[00:34:15] I mean, it might not sound so good. I don’t know, but all sound like Darth Vader maybe, but, you know, I think that it’s going to be this interesting hybrid thing where the online and digital representation of the art is going to start being, as prevalent as the live art. I think it’s going to be this tandem kind of thing.
[00:34:34] And in situations where it’s too dangerous, I can see, well, we’re going to do a filming. And then we’re going to simply release that in a theater or, you know, through streaming and that sort of thing. So I think there’s still going to be a huge demand for it. I look at the rise of tick tock, for example, and all these silly videos of people are looking for escape.
[00:34:53] They’re looking for distraction, they’re looking for fun and they’re looking to be moved. And so I think there’s going to be a great demand for that. Albeit it’s going to look a little bit different and become evermore digital, or at least digitally enhanced or digitally supported. Great. I love that insight.
[00:35:09] So let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview and I call it the grease lightning round. That’s right. I’m 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? Okay. Let’s do it. Alright. First question.
[00:35:30] What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer? I just didn’t think I can make it. There’s no way there’d be enough money in that to, you know, pay your rent. Great. Second question. What is the that’s the piece of advice you have ever received? has to come from one, a woman named Jenny King.
[00:35:50] Don’t be on time. Be early, early is on time. On time is late. Perfect. Third question. What is something that is working for you now, or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on pause? you know, I think, just reputation and showing your face and this, this hybridized thing of, Hey, I’m here in person, but look, I have an online presence too.
[00:36:17] But that’s just an online presence. I have a new person presence. I think this balancing act of in person and online was, was helping to promote the career. Great. Fourth question. What is the best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.
[00:36:39] Gosh, you know, I think just keeping abreast of what is going on and what people were doing. You know, you have to sort of contrast your own art with other people. It doesn’t mean to try to replicate that, but you’ve got to know what’s going on. You can’t live in a bubble. Great. 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?
[00:37:11] Would you do anything differently or keep it the same? yeah, I would do different. I would, I would focus much more. On making certain that I delivered my personality in the classroom and in the studio. So that, that translated more to the stage to the screen later on. Okay. Perfect. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry that you would like to leave with our listeners?
[00:37:40] I mean, really it comes down to, I would say managing your career. You know, are you, are you pulling the reins of your career? Are you just hoping to get left? Cause if you’re just hoping to get lucky, well, good luck to you. you know, you have to really, make sure you know how to handle your finances.
[00:37:56] Cause the last people, they make a great paycheck from a tour and they below it all. So being good with the money you make in this career is paramount. Wonderful. I’m so glad that you brought up the financial side of things. I’ve had a couple other guests bring that up as well. And I agree. I think the, the financial side of it, this industry, I mean, it’s show business.
[00:38:21] You got to do the business part too, and it’s so important. And. Most of us entertain us, are you are right brain. We don’t want to delve into that side of things, but it really does make all the difference. And really, I think, enables you to have longevity in your career. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you know, when I was doing tap dogs, there would be a gentlemen in that show that I’m not kidding.
[00:38:48] Instead of doing laundry, they would go to the mall and buy. A full new wardrobe and they would do that every single week. I’m not kidding. they would fly girls. I don’t say girlfriends, but girls and whatever, to city after city, after city, literally there were people who had no expenses cause they’re all our expenses were paid.
[00:39:07] And then there was pretty I’m on top of that, but they would spend 50 to $60,000 a year on themselves outside of their, their salary. Like they would blow their entire salary. And then they’d be like, Oh, I’m a hope I can do another contract. And then they get that contract and then they’d still be broke.
[00:39:24] So they were always broke in this perfect opportunity where they had no expenses to save money. You know, I think it happens sometimes the cruise ship industry, some people come off a ship and they’re ready to leave the ship. Some other people come off the ship, like got to go back to the ship because I’m penniless.
[00:39:37] I spend it all, you know, that kind of thing. So. you know, you just have to manage your money wisely. I mean, you can save a great amount being an entertainer if you use, you know, just a couple of pennies worth of discipline. Absolutely. And I think we are very fortunate actually in this industry as this career choice, that more often than pretty much any other career I can think of, we actually have opportunities and jobs and contracts and allow us to have.
[00:40:05] Next to zero expenses. Yes. And you can really stockpile some cash. Whether that means you’re going to stockpile some cash and save it up so you can give yourself a real red, hot go at doing New York and make sure you can train and make sure you go to every single audition versus working 60 hours a week.
[00:40:23] If that’s your goal, that’s great. Or maybe it’s cause you, you just want to create some kind of a passive income through. Buying some condos, you know, just be anything, having a conscious eye on the finances is like you said paramount. Yeah. I mean, you know, and if I was to give, you know, if there’s a young listener to this podcast, who’s maybe between the ages of 18 and 21 or 1823, and they’re like, I want to make it well, then I would tell them this, a get out of debt.
[00:40:51] B, cut the costs out of your career. Meaning is your rent too high live somewhere else? Are you spending too much money in transportation live somewhere else? You know, are you, spending all your money on alcohol partying? You know, every night, you know, maybe just go out drinking once a month or once a week maybe, or, you know, she just cut the costs, whatever the thing you’re like, gosh, I’m consistently blowing money this way.
[00:41:14] You gotta turn the fat or are you just, you know, you’re working to work at that point, you’re just working once. Absolutely. And I think you would also agree that when you do get the, when you are able to get some kind of semblance of control in order over the financial side of things, it really does. At least for me, it lifts a weight off my chest and it allows me to be more artistic.
[00:41:40] Oh, absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Because your, your emotions are more intertwined in the art and not the stress of Oh no. How am I going to pay the bills? How am I going to pay it? Yeah. Am I going to pay the rest? That kind of thing. Yeah, absolutely. For sure, man. Well, it’s time to wrap up this interview and that means it’s also time for you to give yourself we’ll plug.
[00:41:59] So where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote? I guess there is. So my, my tap dance act with my tap dance partner, Sarah solo. A very talented lady. We have a tap dance duet called style and grace, and you can find email@example.com. either on the world wide web, on Facebook and also on Instagram and YouTube as well.
[00:42:25] So yeah, please enjoy our videos. We’ve got. Five really well produced videos with vignettes that are all very, very different that show the different aspects that style and grace as characters and tablets entertainers, can affect, your lives and hopefully make you forget about COVID. So yeah, it please enjoy style and grace tap.com.
[00:42:45] Wonderful. Thank you so much for that, Jason. And thank you once again for being on this show and agreeing to this interview, it’s been fantastic having you. Thank you for having me, Dane. really appreciate it. My pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us today. My one call to action for you is to go to youbookeditpodcast.com and join our free email community.
[00:43:11] Where we dig deep into a continually growing resource of truly actionable things you can be doing right now to help you advance your entertainment career. Don’t miss an episode. We have a new guest, seven days a week search for you, booked it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app and subscribe today.
[00:43:34] All the best to you. We’ll see you tomorrow.