Stephanie Klemons

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EP 137: Stephanie Klemons (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 137. Okay. Oh, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Stephanie Clemens, are you ready for this, Stephanie?  All right. Stephanie is an award winning performer, choreographer and director who has worked on the pre Broadway and Broadway productions of Hamilton in the Heights.

[00:00:31] Bring it on. And if then she’s saying on the original cast albums of three out of four of those shows and got to perform in the now infamous. Tony performance with Hamilton as they performed Yorktown  guns. As a statement  against gun violence, her body of work can be seen currently on Broadway and around the world as the associate and a supervising choreographer of the smash hit Hamilton commercially.

[00:00:55] She has choreographed content. For Victoria’s secret Vogue Sesame street, the new Netflix series, the hunt, and was the choreographer behind the viral time of our lives. Superbowl Superbowl commercial, featuring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham activism, and philanthropy is hugely important to Stephanie. She recently became a certified 200 hour yoga instructor and she donates 50% of all of her profits from her yoga classes to charity.

[00:01:25] Of all that she’s done though. Stephanie is most of her nonprofit. She started 10 years ago, which connects kids facing life threatening and terminal illness with artists to collaborate on art, dance and music projects. And she’s always looking for more ways to give. Back Stephanie, 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?

[00:01:50] Fill in the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.

[00:01:57]Stephanie Klemons: [00:01:57] Oh, my gosh, I don’t even, that was such a thorough reading of me. Let’s see. I was born in New Jersey. I really like, um, egg salad. No. Um, let’s see, uh, fill in the gaps. So I am, I was really born in New Jersey. That’s a true fact. I went to Rutgers university for college. I double majored in genetics and microbiome research and modern dance, but I actually really just wanted to be on Broadway.

[00:02:21] So I moved to New York. By way of the Lincoln tunnel. And I am, you know, happy to say that I booked the show in the Heights. It’s um, about a year and a half into my time in New York. Prior to that, I did the first national tour of Bombay dreams, which was my equity card experience. That’s where I got my equity card.

[00:02:40] And, um, yeah. And prior to that, you know, I did a bunch of off Broadway shows. I backup dance for Donald Mar. At Madison square garden, I did a commercial with Sierra. Um, I did lots of cool stuff in between all the beautiful, brilliant things that you’ve read, but I’m sure we’ll get into a bunch of those things as we continue talking.

[00:02:59]Dane Reis: [00:02:59] . Great. And let’s get into this first section here and Stephanie, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?

[00:03:10]Stephanie Klemons: [00:03:10] My favorite quote. There’s so many good ones, you know, it’s funny. So I, uh, you mentioned in the intro that I just went to through yoga squat, and while I was. Studying on zoom. What I would do is if my teacher said something really amazing and brilliant, I would just write it down and just quote them. So I created this whole beautiful quote wall.

[00:03:31] And one of the quotes that I use today, um, in a yoga class that I taught was, um, if you force the body, it pushes back. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about force and how as a society here in the U S a lot of things, um, Feel kind of forceful, you know, there’s a lot of rules and regulations that require people to sort of fit in certain boxes.

[00:03:51] And how sometimes if you just allow yourself to do a little bit more listening, um, sometimes the action will happen on its own in an organic way. , um, so you get the same result, but without that, that word force. And so I’ve been thinking a lot about that quote lately.

[00:04:05]Dane Reis: [00:04:05] Yeah, I really like that quote in that you brought that up right now, because when you think about just the pure physical nature of that quote, when it was said, you know, with yoga or with performance or dance or what it might be. Yeah. That makes sense. It’s very applicable and very direct. Right. But I love that you expanded it further into, you know, the metaphor and how it.

[00:04:25]Impacts all of our lives as a community. And it’s so true. And I think we all need to take a moment to just breathe, relax, and look at everything the way it is and see what we can do about it. Is there an efficient way to do this instead of trying to just push our way through everything?

[00:04:43]Stephanie Klemons: [00:04:43] Yeah. And, you know, I ha I should say that the quote was said by my teacher, whose name was Kenny Frisbee. Um, and, um, you know, I have a toddler and he’s 17 months old. And I’ll tell you if, if there’s any. Human. That’s going to teach you about forcing and not forcing and how you really can’t force things.

[00:04:58] Sometimes it was, it’s a toddler. And, um, you know, um, you know, somebody times I realized like, when I want him to do something and I just like, I want him to do it right now. I want to force him to do it. And you know, my wife is so excellent at, at just like getting down to his level, literally like crouching down and just being like, Hey, we’re going to do this and then we’re going to do this.

[00:05:17] And then you’re going to get that thing. Okay. And he’s like, like, yeah. And I just am always so impressed. Cause it’s like she got the same result, but without a lot of the tears. And it’s like, if we would just put in a little bit of effort and do a little bit more listening, um, you know, two are like, it starts with you, right?

[00:05:32] So it starts with your body. And as a dancer and choreographer, that’s something that I hope to really expand into my work and, and, you know, having your dancers, not forced, not forcing your dancers to do things but helping them right. Develop and, um, discuss governor the thing that you want them to do without force, but it makes it more of a collaboration.

[00:05:49] And ultimately when you make people the source of their own creation. So when you allow people to source and be a part of the creative. Process it one, um, is beneficial to you because ultimately a, they remember the thing they created, right? So it’s not just memorizing someone else’s word or movement.

[00:06:08] And two, it allows them to really take ownership and it shows in the performance and it shows in the way, um, you know, the integrity of the piece as it’s being carried out.

[00:06:15] Dane Reis: [00:06:15] carried out. Yeah. Making it part of a collaboration. I love that. And I can absolutely relate to your toddler. Uh, we have a three and a half almost. Well Well she’s nearly four, I should say, but whew, there are those moments and you’re absolutely.

[00:06:33] My wife is much better at, uh, Communicating that, and I’m getting better at it, you know, but it’s challenging when you’re in the moment. Isn’t it. 

[00:06:39] Stephanie Klemons: [00:06:39] yeah. 

[00:06:40]Dane Reis: [00:06:40] Jeez. All right, well, let’s move on. So this next section here, and Stephanie, of course you are an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you would agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries in existence.

[00:06:59] 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’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being an entertainer, doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, failures that we are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through.

[00:07:23] 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.

[00:07:32]Stephanie Klemons: [00:07:32] Yeah. I used to tell this story a lot and I kind of have gotten away from it, but this question points to it. So directly when I was, um, very early on in my career prior to booking that Bombay dreams, you know, I was. Probably just 21 graduated college and in Manhattan pounding the pavement. And I had had a series of auditions for Oklahoma and casting director.

[00:07:56]Um, I’ll never forget. I don’t believe she’s casting anymore, but she, he was, um, cool little, you know, awesome woman. And she came out to me at the end of a call back and she had been there like three times and every time I got called back and she was accepted, listen, you’re not. Ethnic enough to be the token black girl.

[00:08:14]I’m not black, so that wouldn’t have worked. And she said, but you’re just not white enough to be in the show. I was like, wow. Like it had never, I’m just, I’m a Jewish girl from New Jersey and you know, you know, my whole life people. Always assumed that was Puerto Rican. And so I was, you know, and like that I was used to sort of being told that I was, you know, maybe not quote unquote, like your average white girl, but to sort of sort of have it said, like that, um, to sort of sort of understand.

[00:08:43] Ultimately that the world around us moves about because it’s able to quickly categorize things. And that I had never seen myself in this way. And this woman was sort of, you know, holding a mirror up to me. And I suddenly was like, Oh, I, I guess I’m, I guess I’m just not, you know, white. And I, I also know that I’m, you know, not South Asian or African American or any of these other, um, You know, at the time, uh, ethnicities that were really being like tokenized and exoticized.

[00:09:10] And so I had to find a way to break into the industry. And, um, I, I had an agent who I, you know, repeated that feedback and the agents said to me, well, Bombay dreams is having an audition. Why don’t you go in for that? I was like, Bombay dreams. Like I’m, I’m not, I’m not South Asian. I’m not from India. Like I’m not even remotely, you know, It just didn’t, it just

[00:09:29] Dane Reis: [00:09:29] Yeah, yeah,

[00:09:30] Stephanie Klemons: [00:09:30] to me.

[00:09:30] Anyway, 

[00:09:30] Dane Reis: [00:09:30] Yeah, yeah, 

[00:09:30] Stephanie Klemons: [00:09:30] to me.

[00:09:30] Anyway, I went to the audition and I booked the show. Um, and I know, you know, that was in 2008, six, you know, that’s 14 years ago and obviously times have changed now. And. There’s a lot of call for, um, you know, not appropriating and not, um, you know, uh,

[00:09:48] you know, misappropriating culture and, and I don’t know that that would have happened now.

[00:09:50] I don’t know that I would have booked that show, but at the time being in a room with all of those people who maybe looked different, you know, kind of like,  people always say to me, like, you know, I don’t like, what are you 70? What are you? You know, like they just didn’t and I would always say Jewish and, and they were like, What, like that’s not a nationality and, you know, you know, like people just didn’t understand, um, you know, the Jewish diaspora through time.

[00:10:10] And so that’s just, was not ever an answer that made anybody shut up. You know, it’s just, just a constantly have that question and, um, to be in a room with all of those people and the cast of Bombay dreams, and it was a mixture of people, right. There was like Hawaiian Americans. There were, of course, you know, South Asians FA people that were from India and, um, You know, people that were African American, it got thrown in there and it was really nice.

[00:10:31] It was really lovely to just be with a group of people that was, you know, all different ethnicities and to share in the richness of the stories that, that everybody had. Was it sort of like the first time I kind of felt like I belonged. And, and then I went on from that show to book in the Heights, I guess I sort of then felt the freedom to audition for things or, you know, quote unquote nonwhite, obviously.

[00:10:53] I think now this whole conversation beginning with what the casting director said to me would probably not be. Converse a PC conversation that people would have nowadays. But, um, but um, but you know, I feel like that was a difficulty only because when she first sort of said that to me, I just, I was taking it back.

[00:11:07] I was like, what does it matter? What I look like? Like you’re telling me I’m D I’m talented, I’m dancing while I’m singing well. And you’re telling me, like, I don’t, I won’t look right in the show. Um, and I’m glad that we’ve broken down a lot. Those barriers I’ve obviously have been a part of a number of shows that have helped that, um, But also it’s in support of the idea that, that we are more than what we look like, that there are stories that.

[00:11:30]Are capable of and worth being told. And, um, while of course it’s survival mechanism for humans to categorize, right? That’s how we sort of quickly shuffle through information. I recognize the importance of, um, that innate quality that we have. I have it’s, you know, knowing that where attention and conscious beings, it’s important to move, move past that and to, you know, maybe look a little bit deeper and I hope now that’s a time that we’re going through, we’re moving through that level of consciousness.

[00:11:56]Dane Reis: [00:11:56] , that is such a good story. And your challenges and your journey through that. But so great that you found your path and you’ve been able to be part of, like you said, so many wonderful productions that have really broken down any of those kinds of barriers and we’re moving forward.

[00:12:12]Right. Things are, things have a ways to go. Sure. But it’s got a spotlight on it now and we’re able to move in the right direction. I think.

[00:12:22]Stephanie Klemons: [00:12:22] Yeah, I hope so.

[00:12:23]Dane Reis: [00:12:23] Yeah. 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.

[00:12:46]Stephanie Klemons: [00:12:46] Oh, I have to say, I have kind of like, sometimes my memory is a bit odd, but not odd, but sometimes my memory is, um, like foggy. I don’t have like super clear memory, but I will say that I remember the very first time I was in like a talent show in school. And I was so terrified. I had like, you know, the biggest butterflies and stage fright, but I was performing a dance to Madonna.

[00:13:08] I can’t remember what right now. I feel like if I called my mom she’d know, but, um, so I was performing Madonna and I had, so I was so much fear and I was preparing for it and everything. And then I got on the stage and I did it, just the feeling that came over me as I began to perform. And I began to sort of take on this.

[00:13:25] Alter, you know, maybe not, I was super shy as a kid. And so being able to be on stage and be open and outward and emotive and connect with people ultimately, cause I didn’t really know how to do that verbally and sort of like through, you know, the not going, uh, and so. Just connecting with people for the first time in like that.

[00:13:45] And then of course, you know, when you’re done and the music stops and everybody applauds and like, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh. You know, you’re such a, such a great dancer. And, you know, hearing all of those, those things that people say can sort of, I was they’re addictive. And I was like, gosh, I want to do this for the rest of my life.

[00:13:58]Dane Reis: [00:13:58] ah, that’s so good. I can kind of kind of relate. I started performing obit later in life, mid high school, really? And I remember doing a talent show and I was a backup dancer for one of my friends and she was  doing a Brittany Spears song, you know, you know, and it was just, it was one of my first main or big experiences in front of a crowd.

[00:14:20]Right. And nervous, you know, don’t even hardly remember doing the actual number. Right. There’s no time for that. I was just so laser focused on just not screwing up, but you’re right. That is such a great feeling. And your story, just remind me of that. I haven’t thought about that for so long. Thanks for

[00:14:36] that. that. 

[00:14:36] Stephanie Klemons: [00:14:36] it’s so formative, especially, you know, when you’re a child, um, when you’re a younger it’s, it’s that experience really like, make some Mark on your psyche and then, you know, you’re kind of just like you kind of then stuck on just these like, Oh gosh, I have to make that happen. I want to do that.

[00:14:51]You know?

[00:14:51] Dane Reis: [00:14:51] Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I want to piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the audition and callbacks. If they happen to be a part of it, of what was going on in your life.

[00:15:06] And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite book moment?

[00:15:12]Stephanie Klemons: [00:15:12] Yeah, I think my favorite booked at moment is the call from Bethany Knox, uh, at Telsey and co yeah. Uh, when I booked in the Heights. So I had, like I said, been in Bombay, it was a 10 month tour and we were in our final city. So, yeah, So, yeah, Atul and I decided to a few, like two months back I’m Jeremy liner. One of my tour mates who I think is now like an agent or something.

[00:15:37]Um, we were sitting on a bus, we were busing it from. Houston to Dallas. It was like one of our only bus cities. We all have like prepped all of our, like activities. And he had this song on his, you know, playing on. I don’t even know if we had planned the phones at that time. I can’t remember what it was so long ago, hopefully braid songs on our phone or how we, how did we play songs?

[00:15:56] iPods? I don’t know. You know, he was playing a song on a music playing device, whatever that was 15 years ago. And he was like, you have to hear this it’s um, I know my, my roommate in New York, he’s an intern at a literary agency and they have this guy and he’s writing a musical and it’s going to be amazing.

[00:16:10] Listen to this music. And I heard Chris Jackson, I’m seeing Benny’s dispatch. And I was like, This is like this, this is the music. Well Well that was made for me. Like, this is what I’ve been waiting for. You know, I was like child of the rent era and, you know, you know, all I ever wanted to do was be in rent and rent is amazing.

[00:16:26] And I love Michael grief and everyone that created it, but it’s not like a super heavy, heavy dance show. Right? Like the dancing is beautiful and iconic. Um, but it’s not like, you know, like for a dancer I’m super heavy. And I just heard the music and I just saw like, Dancers all over the stage doing like movement that felt authentic to me and the movement that I grew up doing, you know, at home and in my neighborhood.

[00:16:46] And I was like, Oh my gosh, I have to be in this musical. And so we were flying to our fast forward. That was July fast forward to September. It was actually September 11th, 2000, I think in six or something. And I was supposed to be flying home, uh, flying back on tour. And so what I did was I sent my, my luggages on my flight at 9:00 AM and I did like a same day standby.

[00:17:05] And I went back into the city from LaGuardia and I did the open call and I went to the men’s call because I couldn’t stay for the female call. Yeah. So I went to the 10:00 AM. I like got my luggage on the plane at 7:00 AM. I went to the 10:00 AM call, Andy Blankenbuehler was like, All right. It was me and this other girl over there.

[00:17:21] He’s like, all right, you guys are fierce. You’re coming to the call back next week, but you have to bring heels. Cause you’re dancing with the guys stay. But next week we moved the girls and I was like, Oh my God. He said, I’m coming back next week. What am I going to do? I’m going to be in Seattle. You know?

[00:17:32]So I get the official phone call and the phone call comes in way longer story than you asked for. This is not the last day. I’m

[00:17:37] Dane Reis: [00:17:37] No, it’s good. It’s 

[00:17:38] Stephanie Klemons: [00:17:38] yeah. Cut all this out. So, um, So, um, so next time I fly back, you know, we have eight, so we have five show weekends, cause it’s, you know, your typical sort of like experimental tour contract, we go.

[00:17:49]I’m like, okay. I got to buy a red eye ticket. So I like asked my mom, like, do you think I should buy this? Do you think it’s worth it? You know, I’ve just started saving up money. And she was like, Stephanie, I was like, I know I can book the show. She’s like, you’ve got to buy it. So I buy my red eye. I go back the next morning and we’re having a dance call back.

[00:18:03] And it was one of the best experiences of my life. I won’t go into it. Because this story, this couldn’t take the full hour, but it was like offer Heinz was there on Nina love Fargo was there and like all these iconic dancers that I just, you know, now now know and love. And, um, and, and yeah, like if you learn like Lin Manuel Miranda and bill Sherman and outside Mara and Tommy Kaler sitting at the front of the room and they’re watching us all go through the dances and we did like five different dances and it was unbelievable day.

[00:18:27] Okay. So anyway, I get on the plane that evening. I go back to where I do my eight shows. Sure enough, Friday comes around, I get a call from casting. Like we’re going to have you back in on Monday for a singing call back. And I was like, Oh my God. So I, my friend Joseph Morales on tour, I was like, okay, Joseph, I gotta learn all these songs to me.

[00:18:41] He and I go into like a backup the space in the theater. We were performing in Seattle. And he like rehearsals all the songs with me. And when did I get on the plane? And I get off the plane at seven 40 and my calls at 1140. And you know, when you know, when you take a red eye, like 11:00 AM rolls around and you, and from like the West coast going that you’re just like shot.

[00:18:57] So I go into the call and I like my voice cracks and Bethany who knows me from like having a million rent call back. She’s like, Girl. I know you can do better than she got to pull through. And I was like, if you let me back in, they kind of like, kind of like, thank you. Okay. And I walked out and she like came out in the hallway and got me and she’s like, I need you to pull it through.

[00:19:12] So I came in, I sang everything. I know Mandy Gonzalez, like iconic song. And I think maybe Tommy Kail might’ve shed a tear. I don’t know. I don’t remember, but it was pretty emotional because I was pretty, I was like really meant it. And, um, Anyway, very long story long. Here’s my, my book. That story finally.

[00:19:28] So I go back on tour. It’s our final week I fly home. The tour’s done I’m in New York. I get a call, one final call back. Okay. In the callback is like the Karla Garcia and Rosie, Lonnie Fieldman and just like Epic people. They’re looking for only two spots. And so Andy teaches us all the numbers that we did before, and he’s like, like, I’m going to do one new number that we just choreographed this week at the dance workshop.

[00:19:52] And he teaches us the opening number. And, um, I’ve told this story a thousand times, so I won’t go into the story and. If anybody wants to know the story, they can listen to other podcasts. But basically what happened next is something that I don’t really tell. I left and Rosie fetal men, and I found it in the hallway and I was like, was that magical for you?

[00:20:09] She’s like, like, it was magical. She’s like, like, I really hope that we get this cause something special happened in that room. I was like, I agree. And until I leave and I’m like, just like thinking about this and it can’t even just say, I was like, you know, what, if nothing comes of this, that was a magical callback.

[00:20:24] And I’ve had four incredible weeks and I. Freaking made it through three red eyes and the end of a tour. And like, you know, eight shows a week, all these things. And I’m walking down the stairs of what used to be Mars 2112, which is now an Equinox at the bottom of the, you know, the top of the red, uh, one train, which used to be the one nine, um, at 51st street.

[00:20:43] And I’m walking down those stairs. And just before I enter the subway, my phone rings and I like, I’m like, Oh my God, this is Bethany Knox. I know this number. And I walked back to the stairs and she’s like, are you sitting down? I was like, Uh, Oh my God. So I sit down on the stairs at 51st street and seventh and Broadway, and she’s like, like, Stephanie, it was all worth it.

[00:21:03] You booked in the Heights. And I was like, wow. Oh my God, I can’t, I believe it. And I had said, you know, I was like, I would sweep the floors at the theater if they would just let me be a part of that show, it’s going to be so special. And obviously it ultimately led to me making my Broadway debut. Um, and that was definitely like the most Epic booked at phone call.

[00:21:21] I ever got,

[00:21:23] Dane Reis: [00:21:23] Oh, my, that is such a good story. Three red eyes, four weeks. Oh, that’s crazy. While being on tour, you’ve gotta be kidding me. That is. Insane. I love that story. So good. Thank you for 

[00:21:37] Stephanie Klemons: [00:21:37] amazing. Yeah. Of all the cities we could be to for coming from Seattle to New York, it was just

[00:21:42] Dane Reis: [00:21:42] you’re right. We got to go as far as possible. I love that. So good. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present.

[00:21:53] What projects are you working on now and what are you looking forward to? And, you know, it’s kind of a crazy time, right? Where emits this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:22:05]Stephanie Klemons: [00:22:05] Yeah. Well, Well, I hope we’ve learned a lot about, um, accessibility and, you know, it’s funny because like, I was just teaching a master class just before this tonight. And I was saying to the kids, like one of the kids asked me, like, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned during this pandemic about our industry.

[00:22:18] And I was like, what a crazy portion of. The world and market we were missing prior to the panel because like zoom existed before Google Hangouts exists before all of these means of connecting people existed. And yet we were never offering Broadway dance center classes to people in for Zyl. We were never offering that, you know, um, You know, any performer could be a part of a reading, even if they weren’t located in New York, because Zuma could happen.

[00:22:45] And a zoom reading of a new musical could happen. And I just feel like we were missing out on a, so much access and too, and be so much accessibility, like literally giving people opportunity that to take dance class or to see musicals, you know, like Hamilton on Disney plus like Hamilton was supposed to come out in theaters.

[00:23:05]You know, in a few years from now, for who knows how much theater prices, uh, ticket prices would be movie theaters, right? Like I know in New York, a movie ticket is something like $18 or something, and that’s not, uh, you know, family of four or five, six, that’s not super accessible. And yet now you can rent Disney plus, you know, for a month it’s six 99 and you can watch Hamilton.

[00:23:27] And so I hope that we maintain. That level of access. I hope that we continue to, um, innovate in that way. And personally, as far as what I’m working on, I’m working on creating a new musical. Um, it’s moving pretty slowly because I do watch speaking of pandemic, there’s not really very many child care options.

[00:23:46] So I watched my, my, my one year at my one and a half year old. And so my progress is slow, but steady learning to sort of breathe into that. Um, And I am doing a lot of work with my numbers, profit with Katie’s art project, where I connect to kids facing life threatening illnesses with artists. And, um, you know, we create original music and we have doing a lot of quarantine programming.

[00:24:07] Again, things that we didn’t think to do before to, um, you know, have people create dances or sing songs or give, you know, we you know, we had like a lion King sing along with Ronald McDonald house a few weeks ago, which was so special and so cool. Um, and we just had never thought to do that. You know, and just to be able to bring these cast members figuratively and virtually into the house, into the Ronald McDonald house and spend time with, you know, both fans and kids is so amazing.

[00:24:30] And, um, you know, I’m just really grateful that, um, maybe our eyes have been opened and I don’t think we’re ever going back to the old world where, you know, the only way to take a dance class in New York city is to show up in person. And I’m excited about that.

[00:24:42] Dane Reis: [00:24:42] yeah. The accessibility part that you brought up is it’s so true. And I really, really hope that it does stay around and the virtual you were so right. All of those platforms that did exist and  I mean, it was, it was an inevitability, right. That things would have eventually gone digital, right.

[00:24:57]More so on this level, but we’ve just. Been thrown into it. It’s an expedited it so much. And I think it’s for the better. Sure. We’re still ironing things out. Sure. But we’re there and so much is able to be created and the collaborations that are being made, it’s amazing.

[00:25:13]Stephanie Klemons: [00:25:13] Yeah, a hundred percent. And I feel like, um, you know, allowing more people to access musicals, art, dance, you know, you name it. It’s going to just create better art in the end, because it’s gonna bring more voices forth and maybe touch people that would not have otherwise been in contact with it.

[00:25:32]Dane Reis: [00:25:32] for sure. Right? Because like you said, he brought up the cost of a movie ticket in New York, in New York. It’s, it’s expensive. It’s a, it’s a big night out for something that’s kind of casual. Right. And I remember when. I was in university. I studied for a semester in Vienna, Austria, and I was studying music and we got to go to the opera where we can go to anything, the opera, the ballet, whatever, but as the best stuff in the world, the best opera stars in the entire world.

[00:25:55] And I wasn’t the biggest fan of opera, but I became one and we could go there for a year 50 for standing room tickets. Sure. You had to stand in line a little bit, but I love that it was so accessible and I’m so glad that now. In America it’s becoming, or the world, really some of the ,  highest caliber art and shows that we could find and experience are becoming accessible to everybody for very little money.

[00:26:21]Stephanie Klemons: [00:26:21] Yeah. And I imagine, you know, the community of people, that’s not able to go to college or be study abroad and

[00:26:28] experience those things. You know, things. You know, like that’s exactly the accessibility is tenfold for them. If those things are available virtually.

[00:26:36]Dane Reis: [00:26:36] absolutely. And let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready? All right.

[00:26:57] First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:27:03]Stephanie Klemons: [00:27:03] I really loved the idea of being a doctor and helping people in that way. And I was torn between the two for a long time.

[00:27:10]Dane Reis: [00:27:10] Ah, same here. I thought I was gonna be an ER doc,  and then didn’t do that clearly. And the second question, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:27:24]Stephanie Klemons: [00:27:24] Don’t listen to people’s advice because nobody’s path is your own.

[00:27:28]Dane Reis: [00:27:28] there we go. Third question. What is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.



[00:27:39] Stephanie Klemons: [00:27:39] What’s working for me is my weed-out hair products. I really liked them. And they’re. Really  

[00:27:45]Dane Reis: [00:27:46] and the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.

[00:28:00]Stephanie Klemons: [00:28:00] Honestly, Instagram hashtags, because you can find so much using hashtags. You can hashtag types of choreography. You can hashtag different types of dance styles. You can hashtag, um, you know, different help that you need specifically. And in the hashtags, you can look at so much content. And to me, it’s the fastest way to access the most content for our industry.

[00:28:23] Dane Reis: [00:28:24] That is such a good resource, because I think a lot of us will use Instagram just to passively scroll through and take in content, but to be really purposeful and be searching it, using it as its own kind of mini Google, right. Is amazing. 

[00:28:42] So cool. 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?

[00:28:55] Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:28:59]Stephanie Klemons: [00:28:59] Oh, my God. It’s such a good question. I’d be so tired. Cause I know how much work it takes to get 

[00:29:02] Dane Reis: [00:29:02] Yeah. 

[00:29:05] Stephanie Klemons: [00:29:05] Um, so I’d start by taking a nap. No, I’m kidding. Um, I would definitely. Say to myself Don’t judge what you think you can’t do. Just go out there and do the thing because other people are going to do plenty of telling you what you can and can’t do, but you have to put yourself out there.

[00:29:21] Cause I found that for me, I limited so many opportunities for myself. Cause I was like, Oh, I don’t really think I’m good enough for that. But like, then I’m here and I’m looking at what people do and yeah. I’m like, I absolutely belonged in that room and I just didn’t think I did. And so I would tell myself to just go for it, to go for all of it.

[00:29:40]Um, it’s hard enough to, um, you know, be judged constantly by yourself and, and, uh, just let that go do the thing and let the world sort of ping pong you around. Cause it’s going to do that anyway.

[00:29:52]Dane Reis: [00:29:52] , that is so good. And so insightful. You know, You know, I love it when guests like you, people like you come on the show and they say something that important that pertinent. Because it makes me go, Oh yes, this is why this podcast matters for our industry. Thank you so much for that.

[00:30:11]Stephanie Klemons: [00:30:11] Absolutely.

[00:30:13] Dane Reis: [00:30:13] Yeah. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career?

[00:30:21] You’d like to leave with everyone.

[00:30:22]Stephanie Klemons: [00:30:22] The golden nugget is that sometimes you’re going to knock on a door and you’re going to knock on it incessantly because people have told you that persistence is important and it is. And it’s also true that sometimes your hand gets tired and your head gets tired from banging and it’s also worthy and noble to stop banging on that door and look for a door that is open.

[00:30:48] And I feel like because as a youth, you know, one of the things that we say constantly is like, you can achieve anything and, you know, if you want your dreams, go for it, go for it. And that’s true. That is true. I’m not taking anything away from that, but there’s also an, a worthy path that looks like a lot of right turns and left turns.

[00:31:06] And for some reason we value people, um, you know, that. Say they’re going to do something. And then they do exactly that and more like, Oh see you reached your dreams, but I just did blah, blah, blah, fill in the blank as if it’s not worthy as if that’s not like a worthy life. And I just don’t feel like that’s true.

[00:31:21] I feel like there’s a lot of, a lot of ways to make a worthy life, you know, both in the arts and, and in any other industry. And I think that deserves to be valued because people deserve to be valued no matter what their choices are.

[00:31:32]Dane Reis: [00:31:32] Oh, again, thank you for that. So good, everyone. Please rewind that. Listen to that once or twice more. That was so good. Thank you, Stephanie. And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give yourself a plug. Stephanie, where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:31:56]Stephanie Klemons: [00:31:56] Well, you can find me on Instagram at dance, ism, dance ism, and my. Twitter handle is not that because there’s apparently a European DJ with that handles on Twitter. I’m at staff underscore Clem. And of course I have to plug in my nonprofit Katie’s art project. Cause we’re always looking for people, bull content donations, everything too.

[00:32:19] Keep this really incredible cause going and that’s www dot Katie’s art We’re also available on all the socials at Katie’s our project.

[00:32:29]Dane Reis: [00:32:29] Fantastic. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Stephanie just said into the description of this episode and to easily check out her nonprofit, go to you, booked it.

[00:32:43] forward slash Stephanie and that’s with an I E at the end. And also be sure that you share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, and anyone who, you know, you know, is aspiring to create a career in this industry. It is an integral part of helping them succeed because you booked it has become the number one largest resource of expertise on this subject.

[00:33:12] And if you enjoy this episode, please hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss an episode, Stephanie. Thank you so much for joining me today. It has been an absolute honor and a privilege to have you on the show.

[00:33:23]Stephanie Klemons: [00:33:23] Well, thank you so much for having me. It was wonderful. The questions were great. It was lovely to go back down memory lane with all that stuff, Dane.