Olivia Ashley Reed




EP 143: Olivia Ashley Reed (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it. Episode 143. Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Olivia Ashley Reed. Are you ready for this? Olivia? 

[00:00:16]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:00:16] Absolutely.

[00:00:18]Dane Reis: [00:00:18] All right. Olivia is a native new Yorker hailing from Nassau County, long Island. She grew up dancing first at age three, and then started taking voice lessons at age seven, from the get go.

[00:00:30] Olivia knew performing was what she wanted to do professionally with years of dedication and training. She has a career that she’s proud of and is excited to see where else the arts will take. Her theater has allowed Olivia to tour the country. Work regionally and travel internationally to South Korea.

[00:00:49] The greatest lesson she has learned being in this profession is that your dreams may not happen in the order in which you planned. However, The beauty, the beauty of life is seeing where your path takes you. What is for you? Won’t pass you, Olivia. 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.

[00:01:19]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:01:19] Absolutely. Well Well first, thank you so much for having me

[00:01:22] Dane Reis: [00:01:22] Thank you for being

[00:01:23] here. 

[00:01:23]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:01:23] yeah, I guess it, you know, it’s always good to start at the beginning. Right? So, uh, broke into theater when I was in elementary school. My first show was the wizard of Oz and I was Dorothy and my school kind of did this mashup of the wizard of Oz and the Wiz and.

[00:01:39] It was inspiring to have this lead role in fourth grade and teach to the stage and bring to life my dance training that I had, um, and to use my voice training that I had for a few years, my junior I’m like eight, but to kind of put it all together. Um, so that’s, that’s. Where it started for the stage of bringing dance and theater together.

[00:02:06] And from there, I just never stopped. Um, my schools, uh, girling up had really great theater programs. So I was very fortunate to be immersed. In theater and dance and, uh, voice and acting. And, um, I went on to college and studied, studied all of this, and I got my bachelor’s in music from the Catholic university of America in Washington, DC.

[00:02:33] And once I was in college, I started to work professionally and just really start to fine tune who I am as a performer. Um, Start to understand who I was as a performer, as an individual and what I could bring to the table. So yeah, since I’ve graduated, I’ve been able to work consistently and. I learned that that’s the goal to work consistently.

[00:02:59]I mean, you can have a lot of goals. Of course. Uh, you can have your major goal, but I’ve just learned being an adult in theater. I want to work insistently. I want to do meaningful work and I don’t want it to stop.

[00:03:14] Dane Reis: [00:03:14] Yeah, absolutely. I have a talk where I go into different schools and training programs. And one of the things that I say, I say, it’s one thing to book your first contract. It’s another thing entirely. To book a career’s worth of contracts, right. And clearly that’s what you’re doing. And I’m so excited to get into this interview and hear all the things that you’ve done and that have helped create your career for yourself because that’s really the name of the game.

[00:03:39] Isn’t it to be a true professional in this industry.

[00:03:43]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:03:43] Yeah, the, the grind, the hustle, it, it never ends. And you learn how to make that hustle your own. And, um, that’s why I really love that saying what’s for you shall not pass you because what somebody else is doing is wonderful for them. But that doesn’t mean that that same trajectory is going to be yours.

[00:04:06]You know, so you have to find who you are and what you bring to the table as an artist so that you can be successful. And your definition of success is going to be different than the person to your right and left,

[00:04:17] Dane Reis: [00:04:17] Hundred percent. And with that, let’s move on to our first section here and look, Olivia, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?

[00:04:32]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:04:32] My favorite quote is actually from Proverbs in the Bible. And it is, she is clothed with dignity and strength and laughs without fear of the future.

[00:04:42]Dane Reis: [00:04:42] that’s great. Can you. Expand on that, on how you’ve applied that to your life.

[00:04:48]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:04:48] Yeah. So two years ago I had my son and my mom. Yeah. Thank you. My mom shared this, this quote from the Bible with me, because needless to say, I was very excited, but also overwhelmed, um, to be bringing a child into the world and bringing a child into the world as a performer, uh, because we don’t really. We’re not really taught what it’s like to be anything other than a performer, right. We’re not really taught how to marry our personal and social lives with performing. So I was very overwhelmed with how I was going to balance all of this. And my mom shared this quote because we walk through life as people.

[00:05:34] But for me personally, as a woman, And I am embedded with this strength that I will be able to pull upon in times of need. And it’s a strength based in my faith and based in the people around me. And instead of worrying about what I don’t know, I’m so grounded and rooted in what I do know that I’ll be able to look to the future without fear.

[00:06:02]You know, without this sense of panic, because I’m rooted in something that is so strong. it was really helpful for me to receive that quote from my mom because. It was her way of saying, Hey, you got this, you have all the tools and any tool that you need, you know how to develop them. You, you have, you have all the skills to make it as a performer, as a mom, as a significant other, you have what you need and you don’t need to be fearful of the unknown.

[00:06:34]Dane Reis: [00:06:34] , so well said, and you’re right. It is no joke having children, right. My wife and I have a, well, she’s going to be four next month. I can’t believe it, but we are both professional entertainers and it’s a trip, you know, trying to make that happen. It’s hard. It’s really hard. There’s no real consistency.

[00:06:53] You schedules get out of here. No, we don’t. I can’t give you my schedule. I can give you a schedule maybe for the next handful of days or a couple of months maybe, but not really, you know, it’s, it’s just a challenge that you do and you’re right. I like how you said. You know, you have all the tools that you need.

[00:07:09] That’s not to say you’re going to want to have to use them, but they’re there and you know how to develop it and do what you need to do.  

[00:07:17] Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:07:17] being able to adapt is been. It’s always been vital as a performer. Um, be it, Oh, I’m going to live in East Harlem for this six months, and then I’m going to live in Maine for this four months, you know, or being able to adapt to. Wow. Now I’m getting older and I want to have a family. Okay. How do I manage that?

[00:07:39] How do I manage? Like we said earlier, working consistently, because now it’s not just to work consistently for my own personal satisfaction. It’s need based. I need to work consistently to support my family.

[00:07:54]Dane Reis: [00:07:54] Yes for sure. And let’s get into this next section here. And Olivia, of course, you’re an entertainer, I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that 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 create and have yeah.

[00:08:18] The successful career in this industry, like you’re having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being an entertainer, there are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through.

[00:08:37] 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.

[00:08:46]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:08:46] So when I was 16, I auditioned for the revival, the first revival Westside story on Broadway. And this is the one that Karen Leibow wasn’t and I was of course, so excited to go in. And I had an appointment for Maria and the casting director said, you know what? I want you to come in and dance for a Nita slash shark, you know, shark girl and 16 year old me.

[00:09:17] Oh, shoot. 28 year old me would be a static for this, but I was like, wow. Oh my gosh, this is becoming so real. So my parents took me into the city for this, uh, second audition callback, you know, one in the same. And I go into the audition room. And I’m surrounded by young women who seem so comfortable in this space and I am not.

[00:09:44]Um, and it, it dawned on me in that moment while we were learning the dance throughout the audition process, that one day I would be like these women, you know, in my mid to late twenties. Auditioning with some newcomer, 16 year old and having to prove myself essentially. And that realization of it never stopping was very daunting to me.

[00:10:12] It’s almost like when you grow up and you think I want Broadway, or I want, you know, this one thing or your TV film, whatever it may be. You kind of think, well, at least I did. I get there, I’ve gone there.

[00:10:25]Dane Reis: [00:10:25] right. right.

[00:10:25]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:10:25] did it. And going into that audition at such a young, but um, mature age, I realized it never ends. And I had, I left that audition and I said to my parents, I was like, I don’t think I want to do this anymore.

[00:10:43] I was like, I don’t want to be, uh, you know, 24 and still auditioning like this for, for a role. , I don’t, I don’t know that I want that. And my parents gave me some, they were, of course dumbfounded what you’ve literally been doing this your entire life. What do you mean? You don’t want this? But they were like, okay, Olivia, you know, all right.

[00:11:04] And they just gave me my space to. Feel how I felt. I’m also, I think as most artists are perfectionist in certain ways. So, you know, upset that I didn’t do the very best I felt I could have done on this dance and you’re going through everything that happened in that room. And then you’re like, wait, and I have to keep doing this, you know, Like throughout my whole career.

[00:11:30] Yeah. I don’t know, man. And, um, I think after some time to just sit with the experience I realized, okay, wait, no, I do want this. And I, I am willing to put in all that work, but that, that was a huge, huge moment in my life because I almost walked away from it all.

[00:11:51]Dane Reis: [00:11:51] . Thank you so much for bringing that up because it’s so important that kind of, that wake up. Call of wait. This is. A job. This is a career, a profession. It’s not it’s that switch as well. When you go from, I’ve been doing this for fun too. This is what I do for income and my life and my livelihood.

[00:12:11]That’s, that’s a weird relationship with anything, even if you were say a streamer with video games, people like playing video games, but then when you make it, when you make that switch to, this is how I make money, it’s very different or YouTube or anything like that. Your mind has to switch and that’s daunting.

[00:12:26] That’s crazy. And you really do have to.  you really have to sit with that and go, wow, is this what I want? And it’s okay to have, you have to have those really deep introspective questions with yourself. And I’m so glad you brought that up because this podcast is allowing people to get such a refined resource of insight and information like this.

[00:12:49] I don’t know if there’s anywhere. Right now in the world that has this much information  on this subject, because it’s so important for us to know, because these are the things that are so important  before you even choose to make this your career. You know, and so many of us don’t have these questions until we are in the middle of it.

[00:13:05] And we’re like, Oh my God, if I would’ve known that five years ago, 10 years ago, How much easier would, if things have been, you know, or my career could have gone a different direction. So thank you for sharing all of that with us, and really just, it keeps blowing my mind, how valuable this podcast is becoming for professionals and pre professionals in our industry.

[00:13:26] Thank you. Great. 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 in the entertainment industry. Tell us about that.

[00:13:51]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:13:51] Hmm. So my spotlight moment. Uh, maybe ironically didn’t happen on stage. I was actually having a voice lesson and I’m in elementary school. I’m talking if I started voice lessons when I was seven, I feel like I was maybe eight or nine. So that’s like third or fourth grade and I was having a voice lesson and.

[00:14:13]I don’t remember what prompted me to say this to my voice teacher, but yeah, I told him, I don’t think I can be on Broadway. And he was like, why? Why not? And he said, well, I don’t belt. And I really don’t know where I got that from. I don’t know how I really knew that terminology. I I’m not too sure, but I just knew that I didn’t have a voice like that.

[00:14:38]Um, you know, I was training as a classical soprano and I was like, I can’t do that on Broadway. So I guess I, I can’t be on Broadway. And he told me,  of course you can, because every voice is different on Broadway. You don’t have to sound like one thing to be on Broadway. You sound like you. And of course in paraphrasing now, but it was something to that effect.

[00:15:07] And the minute he almost gave me that permission to be me to sound like me, I was like, Oh, alright, well, Broadway is back on the table. I was like, okay, we can go on with the lesson, mom, dad, don’t worry. You know, is it. But that, that was my, that spotlight moment of. Oh, as long as I can be me hands down.

[00:15:32] This is it. No, I never up until, the next time I questioned this career was 16 at West side story. So I went so many years knowing this is what I’m going to do, but it was in that moment when I was told that I can. Be the kind of performer that I am and not what I think I have to be, , I was given the green light.

[00:15:58]Dane Reis: [00:15:58] you said as long as I can be me, I can do anything. That’s so good. And it’s so true because. It’s no good trying to emulate or be someone else or try to be someone else. You have to be you. And that’s the beauty of this career is that that’s what everyone wants. When you go into a room, they want you to be you and it’s celebrated.

[00:16:19] , so good. And I want to 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.

[00:16:40]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:16:40] So my favorite book did moment is when I booked the national tour of mamma Mia, right before he graduated college. And I had a really rough senior year personally. And. Receiving that call from casting that I had gotten the role, Lisa and mamma Mia was such a relief because everything I had sacrificed my senior year of college in particular, everything I had sacrificed my whole life was now not in vain.

[00:17:15] It was all, it all was worth it because see, I can do it and not so much. See, I can do it. Like I’m saying that to other people, but to myself, see, you can do it. You have the talent, you are able to book something and book something substantial right out of college. Um, and allowing myself to feel proud of that. Really helped because I think it can be easy to say, Oh, well, it’s not this, it’s not a production contract. Oh, well you didn’t book so fee. Oh, we didn’t know. I was so proud that for where I was in my life, I booked something that was like I said, substantial, and I had a role and it was really comforting to know that.

[00:18:03] I can do this. I have a shot at this. Uh, that, that will always be such a special book DIT moment for me, because like I said, I was in college still, so I’m going up. I did up. Does. And I auditioned for joy doing casting and got some callbacks, but had to do that in New York. So I remember being in class in D C getting on a train, doing the call back, getting back on a train back.

[00:18:29] Down to school only to get an email or maybe a phone call saying, Hey, we want you to come up for another audition. Like in two days, and me having to get clearance from my teachers and one teacher was like, are you kidding me? Get back on a train up there, do not miss this call back. Like you will figure out the schoolwork later.

[00:18:50]And, and so I was like, okay. And then like a day turned around, went back to New York. And I thought that I. Was doing a lot of back and forth and, you know, whatnot. And I learned from some of the other people who are auditioning that they had been going through this audition and callback process for weeks.

[00:19:08] And I was like, Oh, I guess I shouldn’t complain. I’ve just been doing this for like a couple of days. And you know, so these people have had to rearrange their lives for weeks and. So to, to go through all of that back and forth, you know, physically, and then emotionally what’s going to happen. And then to get back down to school and get the call.

[00:19:30] Yeah, it was, um, that, that will always be a special moment.

[00:19:34]Dane Reis: [00:19:34] Aw, that’s such a good story. Love that. Yeah. And, Oh, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And it’s a weird time, right? We’re amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:19:57]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:19:57] So I was thinking a lot about this question because I’ve been in such a long since COVID and quarantine, and it’s been really hard to. To stay motivated almost and focused like you once were on the arts when it just has disappeared. And the truth is, is that it hasn’t disappeared. Our art lives within us.

[00:20:25] We just have to trust ourselves and our instincts too. Follow that other dream of, Hey, I like to write or, Hey, I like photography or I’ve always wanted to start my own cabaret series. We have to just follow that, that instinct. But my project uh, over the last seven months has been myself, you know, listening to myself, what do I need and what do I want to do?

[00:20:48] And how do I make time for that? Uh, so I’ve been taking voiceover classes and really trying to develop a new skill. I think that’s been really helpful for me because it’s a little, it’s a little tough when you don’t have the available space and resources to sing and dance like you used to. And it’s a wound, right?

[00:21:14]When your thing, quote, unquote has been taken away.  like, you kind of want to go in a corner and lick your wounds for a while a little bit, but when you’re done doing that and you need to figure out, okay, what else can I do? So if another pandemic comes around, I can still be working consistently the way I can do that.

[00:21:33] Voiceover or print modeling or commercial, you know, so my brain just eventually started to go from licking my wounds to how do I be proactive. Um, and so that’s kind of where I see my career going over the next few years, uh, because. I never thought that theater would go anywhere. I don’t think, I don’t think anybody did.

[00:22:00] So I’m trying to see where else I fit in the entertainment world. And so that’s why I would say, you know, the project I’ve been working on is myself.

[00:22:12]Dane Reis: [00:22:12] I think that’s huge. And I think it’s such a, it’s such a blessing in a lot of ways that we’ve got all of this time right now, yes. There’s a big negative aspect of it. You know, everything shut down.

[00:22:24]Crazy things, whatever. But we also have this time where we can flip the script on it. And the other side of that coin is that now we have time  unprecedented amounts of time for us to be introspective to figure it out what it is that we want. What is it that is fulfilling us? Can we find that fulfillment elsewhere?

[00:22:43] If so, what do we need to do to create it? You know, these are lots of questions that we’ve  never had the necessity to ask ourselves or really be clear with. Yeah. So that’s, I

[00:22:52] Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:22:52] I agree with that. You know, having this, this time that we didn’t ask for is it forces you to look in the mirror and, um, Explore your creative, creative side. And, what I’ve realized is that it’s okay. If you don’t have the answer right away, it’s okay. If you don’t know what else you want to do or what else you’re good at, even because when you’ve been trained to master what you can do. You might not have really explored anything else. So it might take a moment to figure out, Oh, Oh yeah. That interest I had like two years ago now might be a good time to bring that out, but it might take you a couple of months to even remember it or build the courage or motivation to explore it.

[00:23:42]Dane Reis: [00:23:42] for sure. And how do you see the entertainment industry moving forward?

[00:23:47]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:23:47] I don’t think I have a clear sight of what it will look like given her current circumstance. I do, however, have a lot of faith that our actor’s union will do everything it can do to provide safe. Um, Environments for us to work in. I, I think that once there can be some assurance on backs scene or certain protocols for Hersel’s certain protocols for putting on a show, certain protocols for audience members coming in.

[00:24:24] It will be different, going to work will be different, but I think  theater we’ll find a new normal. I think the beauty of theater is that we know how to adapt. We know how to put on a show regardless of what’s going on around us. So I don’t really know exactly how it will work or what it, what it will look like because.

[00:24:50]obviously we’d never experienced anything like this before. It’s a little hard to imagine the unknown, but I’m so confident that theater makers will be able to adapt and put on great work.

[00:25:06]Dane Reis: [00:25:06] Great. Love your insight. Thank you for that. And let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening 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.

[00:25:25] Are you ready?

[00:25:27] Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:25:27] I’m ready.

[00:25:28] Dane Reis: [00:25:28] All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:25:34]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:25:34] that? I didn’t sound like everybody else.

[00:25:39]Dane Reis: [00:25:39] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:25:43]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:25:43] No matter what role you have make it, the biggest role you possibly can without pulling focus, but make that role important. Because if you’re on that stage, no matter what role you have, you are important.

[00:25:57]Dane Reis: [00:25:57] well said.

[00:25:59] 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.

[00:26:09]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:26:09] Something that’s working for me right now is taking the time and initiative to develop a new skill like voiceover. Like I mentioned before, that’s been really enlightening and exciting to learn something new.

[00:26:23]Dane Reis: [00:26:23] for sure. 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.

[00:26:37]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:26:37] Okay. Actor’s connection has been immensely helpful. I’ve taken all of my classes through them. And Netflix has been really helpful because I don’t just watch TV to watch TV. I watch TV to learn and see what the actors are doing. See what I like, see what I don’t like. So thank you to Netflix.

[00:26:58]Dane Reis: [00:26:58] Beautiful. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:27:14]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:27:14] I would keep everything the same, except for, I would start a career. In commercial TV, print, and voiceover a lot sooner,

[00:27:27] Dane Reis: [00:27:27] .  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 our listeners.

[00:27:38]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:27:38] it would have to be that. There doesn’t have to be an end, all be all to your dreams. I think it’s a beautiful thing to aspire to be. Let’s just say on Broadway or, a lead role in a feature film. I think those are wonderful aspirations, but you don’t have to close yourself off to just those things.

[00:28:04] It’s okay. To develop other skills along the way. And it’s okay. If you are a path goes a different way and it’s okay if you don’t make it in that movie. And if you don’t make it on Broadway, because what is important is if you are proud of your career and if your career fulfills your definition of successful.

[00:28:30]Dane Reis: [00:28:30] yeah, it’s all about the journey. Hey, yes. And to wrap up this interview. It is time to give your self a plug. Olivia, where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:28:48]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:28:48] Yes. Uh, so people can follow me on Instagram. At live read L I V R E D 26. And I also have another page that I started. This is, um, one of the projects that I found when I took some time to be very introspective. Um, I started a blog and I have an Instagram account, uh, for that page as well, which is called chats with Livy, C H a T S with Livy, L I V Y.

[00:29:18]So. It’s a bit of a passion project for me right now. And it’s just a platform where we can talk about anything and everything that causes some turn of internal conflict conflict within ourselves.

[00:29:31]Dane Reis: [00:29:31] Great. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything Olivia just said into the description of this episode. So you can easily connect with her and also be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, educators, anyone in the arts entertainment industry, as well as anyone aspiring to create.

[00:29:55] A career in the entertainment industry, you booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career. It is integral to helping them succeed and helping you create a better, more fulfilling career in this industry. Olivia, thank you so much for taking your time to be here today.

[00:30:19] It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you.

[00:30:21]Olivia Ashley Reed: [00:30:21] Likewise. Thank you so much for having me, Dave.