Nicholas Cunningham



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EP 159: Nicholas Cunningham (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it. Episode 159.

[00:00:05] Okay, let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Nicholas Cunningham. Are you ready for this Nicholas? Brilliant. Nicholas is an Australian dancer and choreographer. Who’s been living in New York city for 10 years. His career started with a move to Paris to work at the Moulin Rouge.

[00:00:28] From there. He has worked around the world, including London’s West end and on Broadway. Nicholas is the head of dance at the Institute for American musical theater and currently working towards a BFA specializing in choreography. Be at the Western Australian Academy of performing arts, Nicholas. 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.

[00:00:59] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:00:59] Yeah, absolutely. So I am from Brisbane, specifically in Australia and I moved to New York after I was in London for five years. And I moved here with a show called  fall. I was the associate choreographer on that. And that was when I made my big move to fulfill the biggest dream that I had, which was moving.

[00:01:23] To New York to perform on Broadway. And then after 10 years of living here, I have decided to, uh, fulfill my dream and, uh, doing choreography and I’ve taken myself back to school and I am looking forward to seeing what the horizon holds.

[00:01:41] Dane Reis: [00:01:41] yeah, brilliant. Such a good adventure. And was it Moulin Rouge? That that’s what originally brought you over to Europe.

[00:01:48] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:01:48] That was, yeah, that was my first move. I was living in Perth and I auditioned for the Moulin Rouge in 2004. And then I started my contract over in Paris in 2005 and I was there for about a year. And then I got a job on West end. Actually, I auditioned for a show called moving out, uh, which was choreographed by Twila Thorpe and to the music of Billy Joel.

[00:02:14] And then I went over there and started performing on West end. It was really quite amazing. Actually. I was, I was, I was very lucky to have that opportunity.

[00:02:23]Dane Reis: [00:02:23] Yeah, fantastic. And move on to just such a beautiful iconic show. Isn’t it? My, yeah. My wife actually performed in  just down

[00:02:32] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:02:32] Oh,

[00:02:32] wow. That’s awesome. 

[00:02:34] Dane Reis: [00:02:34] So yeah, small world hang

[00:02:37]beautiful. And let’s dig in to this first section here and Nicholas, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote?

[00:02:48] You’d like to share with everyone?

[00:02:50] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:02:50] Wow.  well, I have two really good quotes that I like to  like live by. Uh, the first one would be a life lived in fear is a life half lived, which is by a gentleman called basil lemon. I, um, So strictly ballroom, which is what it’s from my soul strictly ballroom when I was about six years old. And, uh, they have that as their main sort of title just under strictly ballroom.

[00:03:16] They have the, the court, a life lived in fear has a life, half lived, and something just rang really true when I, when I first read that and, um, I. I’ve found it a little difficult to, you know, implement it into my life every single day, but it’s definitely something that’s I, that I have really, you know, you know, such to be more like, um, the other one is, uh, a vulnerability.

[00:03:38] Is our most accurate measure of courage, which is by a wonderful woman called Brenae Brown. And I think it’s a really important thing to be able to be vulnerable in many aspects of your life. Um, and it just kind of is such a special feeling, you know, to have when you, when you finally access that vulnerable spot in your, in your life, cause you really can find a authentic way of living.

[00:04:03] I feel.

[00:04:04]Dane Reis: [00:04:04] For sure. And I also find it’s very empowering as well because you realize the world’s not going to fall apart when you put everything out there. Right. Right. And you’re not going to fall apart that you can do it.

[00:04:14] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:04:14] right. right. Yeah, definitely. And I think it’s so funny. Cause I was thinking about, um, those things recently and uh, about fear and vulnerability and how those two can connect and you kind of kind of have to get over that, those fears to become vulnerable, um, and to have. Courage to also be vulnerable. It’s kind of all this into twining, uh, emotional field that we kind of have to challenge ourselves to do every day.

[00:04:37] Dane Reis: [00:04:37] for sure. It’s certainly a challenge. It’s much easier, you know, to read a quote or to say it than to practice it obviously, but it’s also one of those things that is also kind of kind of a muscle, you know, in the sense that the more you do it, the more times you break through your fear, the more times that you.

[00:04:54]Put yourself out on the line and you are vulnerable, the easier it becomes to do it again.

[00:05:01]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:05:01] Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it’s really important that you kind of find out those things earlier on in life, which is why I always encourage the people around me who are ever, you know, younger than me. I’m always telling them to kind of try and be their most authentic self and, and be vulnerable. And they’ll find really good experiences come out from it.

[00:05:20]Dane Reis: [00:05:20] Yeah. Great. Really liked those two quotes. Thank you for those. And let’s get into this next section here. And Nicholas, of course you are an entertainer. I’m an entertainer. And I think that you’d agree that the entertainment industry is. One of the most subjective, brutally, honest and personally emotional industries in existence.

[00:05:43] And you know, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like your having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while yeah. There’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures.

[00:06:01] We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:06:14]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:06:14] Oh, gosh. Wow. One key challenge. I

[00:06:19] Dane Reis: [00:06:19] I know, narrow it down, right?

[00:06:22] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:06:22] I think in this career, it’s like you’re battling things every day. Like, I mean, I even just said to you about vulnerability and fear and courage and trying to find all those things. I think the biggest thing for me. The challenge that I have and a lot of my life, and I still do it to this day is comparing myself other people and other people’s careers.

[00:06:43] And I think that’s the biggest obstacle that I’ve had, um, which really leads to, you know, believing in myself. And I found that when I was growing up, it was more often, you know, in the studio or in an audition room. And then. Social media came around and it does have a good side to it, but I think it also is a, uh, it can be a little bit toxic sometimes if you don’t quite have your battle armor on.

[00:07:13] Uh, Uh, so I’ve just been, been careful to, you know, uh, check myself every time that I go on social media now and just make sure that. I’m actually supporting people and thinking, no, you know what good for you are? And listening to myself when I, when I really get upset or if I feel that I’m not doing enough for anything like that.

[00:07:32] And I think performers really do feel like they’re not doing enough most of the time, uh, which has been really difficult during COVID and the pandemic and everything, because we’ve had to. Stop and take a breath. So it’s been a really lovely time to self-reflect and realize that, you know, most of the time I’m enough.

[00:07:53]Dane Reis: [00:07:53] I am so glad that you brought that up, but thank you because the, the, the challenge of comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we’re enough has come up. So often on this podcast with other guests too, like yourself have had incredible careers, right? A lot of people think, look, I’m going to get to Broadway.

[00:08:16] I’m going to do this. I’m going to achieve whatever it is that is in my head for my goal of life. They achieve it. And they think that that’s it. That you’ve made it you’ve arrived. It doesn’t stop there. We always continue wanting to grow and we always are looking around to see what other people are doing and it’s okay.

[00:08:33] Like you said, I love that. You said, Hey. When I’m on social media, I’m there to support people to encourage them and to not , you know, flip it to being negative and being toxic because it’s so easy to do. And it’s so easy to get caught up in that. And that you also said, look, I purposely, when I go on social media, I’m checking myself.

[00:08:51] I’m consciously consuming content in not just. Going down rabbit holes that make you feel awful. And it’s so important that everyone listening that you really take note of what Nicholas just said, because like I said, this, this has come up a time and time and time again, this is clearly a fundamental of what it takes to create a successful entertainment career.

[00:09:11] It’s something that is a challenge for everybody in this career and to pay attention to that because that’s, what’s making this podcast  such a. Fantastic resource for all aspiring entertainers and those of us that are in, in amongst the meat of our careers. This is something we all deal with. And thank you, ,  Nicholas for, for bringing that up.

[00:09:33] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:09:33] Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s really important to not only, you know, check in with yourself when you’re scrolling through social media or looking at what other people doing and remembering that that is the most positive part of their lives. And they’re wanting to share, you know, what they’re doing at this time in their lives, because we don’t have a theater and things like that, but it’s always good to.

[00:09:56] Check yourself when you’ve put your phone down or you’ve gotten off your computer, it’s always really important to, to see how you feel. And I’ve always thought that it’s a really important way of, of testing your, uh, emotions at that point. Cause sometimes you come off social media and you’re like, Oh, like I’m not too bothered about that.

[00:10:12] Or sometimes you come off it and you’re think, Oh, I’m not like doing enough. Or then other times you actually don’t think about it at all. So I think that’s. A really good, uh, test to check in with how social media makes you feel.

[00:10:25]Dane Reis: [00:10:25] 100%. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized that 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.

[00:10:49]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:10:49] Mm, that’s such a good question. I think my spotlight moment would have been when I started watching MGM musicals, I think. That was the moment when I thought this is what I want to do. It wasn’t a Mar a moment when I embodied it. So I wasn’t actually dancing when I felt like I need to need to do this. It was more of.

[00:11:19] Watching, you know, Bob Fossey and Anne Miller and Tommy Raul and Bobby van and, uh, Eleanor Powell and all those incredible performers in those MGM musicals. And just watching those numbers just come alive and watching their costumes. 12 and all those fabulous things about those films that, you know, we don’t really see these days anymore, but I just had a really great mom who, uh, I just had this knowledge and sh I mean, she’s, uh, a nurse, she was a psychiatric nurse, so she wasn’t even in the industry.

[00:11:52] And she just, I think she had a fondness to it as well. And we were watching them and I just thought, this is what I want to do. And I think that’s kind of where I. Began my career was watching those films.

[00:12:06]Dane Reis: [00:12:06] yes. All of those MGM movies. Love them so much and you’re right. We don’t see that anymore. Right. Right. And Oh, you know, I, what is, I’m blanking on the same, but, uh, I guess how about this? It sums it up in so many scenes is how they, how long they’ll go with these one single shot scenes. Right. Right. And just the perfection 

[00:12:26] that they 

[00:12:28] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:12:28] that thousands of times, you know, well, you know, well, maybe not thousands, but they did it a lot a lot and they probably had many takes and things like that. But I know absolutely what you’re talking about with those sort of long takes. And you just think, how on earth are they sustaining this?

[00:12:43] And it, yeah, it was fantastic.

[00:12:45] Dane Reis: [00:12:45] yeah, just on another level. And part of me is really hoping that through this COVID time, when every, this whole industry is kind of getting really digitized again, it’s that we have more of that start to happen.

[00:13:00] That we, yeah. That we see more of that MGM movie kind of kind of feel again, that’d be really cool.

[00:13:06] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:13:06] Yeah. I mean, I think, uh, I did film long time ago with Rob Marshall. Uh, the film nine with Daniel Day Lewis and we were in a big number, cold cinema Italiano. And I think Rob does a really fantastic job of bringing. That MGM feel up to the, you know, 21st century, especially when he did Mary Poppins returns and Chicago and those sort of films, but it’s pretty hard to replicate that, that dynamic as performers.

[00:13:34] And I think it’s, uh, interesting when they. When they costs certain people in roles. And I, I get a bit frustrated sometimes because I know that there are people that do all three, eight times a week on Broadway, but, um, sometimes you have to pull a name to make a film work. So it’s just interesting how the industry turns sometimes, but I, I do hope to see more of it.

[00:13:56] And I’m so glad that, you know, independent choreographers are really going for it with their creativity and expressing themselves and letting. Uh, other people know what they’re doing via, via the internet and technology. It’s fantastic.

[00:14:11]Dane Reis: [00:14:11] , for sure. And let’s piggyback on all that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and callbacks. 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 book? That moment?

[00:14:33]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:14:33] Mm. Mm . It brings back so many good memories. I mean I mean also terrifying memories because there’s those moments in life. You’re, you’re kind of hanging on a, on a edge and you’re just hoping that things go right. I, I think I have one that would possibly top all of the moments that I’ve had in my life.

[00:14:48] And I’ve had some really special moments and I’m very grateful for them, but this one specifically, Stands out because it was at a time in my life where moving out had closed on West end abruptly. Uh, it didn’t, it wasn’t received well in London. And we only were performing for six weeks. I think it was at the Apollo Victoria and then wicked moved into our theater after that.

[00:15:16] And after that, I felt pretty down on myself and I was a bit upset. About what was happening with my career. And I thought it was going to kick off and all those things, but I started auditioning again and it was audition after audition, after audition, after audition, I kept going and going and going. And I probably auditioned for about 20 different things in about.

[00:15:41]Six months. And I was getting callbacks and then not getting callbacks. And I hadn’t really moved forward and I was working on a small gig cause I was really looking forward to like getting another show and I was picking up small work here and there and I was working on this McCain’s frozen chip advert, and we were.

[00:16:04] Doing a very musical theater chips, glorious chips to Oliver’s food, Laurier food. And I can remember that we were doing yeah, a performance on the set and I met this woman. Her name is Isabel Mortimer, and she had danced with Matthew. Borns company, which is a very well-known company in England. And she was talking to me and she said that there was auditions going around for Swan Lake Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, which is the all male version of Swan Lake.

[00:16:35] And she said, you’d be fantastic in it. She’s like you should go in and audition. They have auditions this Sunday or whatever day it was on the weekend. I think it may have been Sunday and. I was like, yes. Great, fantastic. I’m going to go. And she said, just go and enjoy yourself. I didn’t know. At the time that she’d already been in like three of his shows.

[00:16:53]Uh, so it was interesting to kind of look back and like I am now, it’s just interesting, kind of funny, but, uh, when I went. I was doing the audition and everything. And we, we had a call back the next day and I got a call back and I was super nervous because I knew that Matthew was going to be there. And it was that, that point.

[00:17:12] I was like, well, you know, I’ve been in for all these shows and I really have nothing to lose and I’m just going to enjoy myself. And if I don’t get this, I’m probably gonna move back home and. And stopped dancing. Cause I just, I can’t really continue on this path of disappointment. I really was thinking that it was, you know, all or nothing.

[00:17:31]And then during the audition, there was this bit that we danced to called the nines, which was this part in act two, which is the Swan act. And we were auditioning it and I. Could not get the timing to save my, like I could not get it at all. And Matthew born was sitting at the front of the room and he stopped the audition.

[00:17:54] There was probably about 50 guys in there. He stopped the audition and he looked at me and he was like, Nicolas, you go outside right now. And you figure out what this timing is. And then you come back in here and show me what it is. And I just feel like, like, Oh my goodness, I just kind of like, the color just went completely, really out of me.

[00:18:13] And I was like, Oh, I feel sick to my stomach. And I was like, okay, if I don’t figure this out, this is, I have a feeling this is going to be a make or break moment. So I went outside and I took like some serious breaths and just focused as much as I. It’s never been more focused in my life probably. And I went back into the room and he made me do it by myself and buy some, you know, you know, universal fortunes.

[00:18:37] It’s like pops down into my brain. I managed to do it. And he just kind of kind of looked at me and, you know, you know, gave a little smirk. And then I just kind of kind of went to the side and dripping with sweat anxiety. Um, and then after that he, they made cuts and everything, and I made it through the next round. They made another cut and then they sat us down after that cut.

[00:18:59] And they. Said that the tour was going to go to Australia for four months. And I was just so excited to even think that I was still in the room when they were talking about whether Tura was going to go. And then I finished for the day. Went back to the McCain’s chip as, so Isabelle she’d found out that night that I booked the job, but she couldn’t say anything to me.

[00:19:27] So she was, I was at work going, Oh my goodness. It was so horrible. I think I didn’t, you know, do this and didn’t do that. And she was like, you need new, you need to calm down. Like. Just take a breath. Um, Um, because she knew that I had the job and then three days, three or four days later, uh, Matthew called me and he said he would like to bring me on the tour.

[00:19:46] So I think it was a very interesting, stressful, also like eyeopening. I felt defeated before I went in because of all those auditions. And then I booked it and then it was like, it was such a gift because then I got to go home and perform in this, you know, now like world famous show and I got to perform for all my family and friends and everything and go home to Australia.

[00:20:15] So it was like, It was like a double whammy. It was like, I got to go on this amazing tour that went home to Australia. Plus I got to be in this amazing company and the show really changed my life. So that is definitely my number one book at moment.

[00:20:29] Dane Reis: [00:20:29] Oh, that is so good. I really liked in the beginning you said, you know what? You’d had all of these. All of these auditions and call backs that just weren’t working out. Right. Right. And you said, no, what? I’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s go out there. And that, the key part of  that as well has come up so many times in people’s booked at stories is they go into the room and they had, they got over it.

[00:20:52] They said, you know what? I’m tired of feeling nervous and overwhelmed. Just, I’m just going to go in there, just do me and let’s see what happens. And it’s that state of mind that we’re finding as well is truly a fundamental to getting booked.

[00:21:08] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:21:08] Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I was listening to, uh, your interview with Christine Cornish Smith and she’s a good friend of mine, and she also had the same experience with, you know, just saying, you know what, I have nothing to lose. I’m just going to go for it. And the more you’re yourself, it just makes so much of a difference.

[00:21:27] And from being in the business this long now, you know, I’ve nearly been working for 20 years and it just really shows because I’ve been on the other side of the table now I’ve not only been auditioning, but I’ve been an associate choreographer on, you know, Broadway show. And it’s really interesting because you.

[00:21:48] Being on that side of the table, you want that person to be themselves and do the best that they can do. We don’t expect people to be awful or anything like that. We want to find incredible people. So if you bring that authentic self to the room, that’s the most important thing, because if you apply like some strange person that you think.

[00:22:08]Should be in that room. It just doesn’t, it’s not the same. And, uh, that’s, it’s really important. It’s hard to apply, but it is really important.

[00:22:17]Dane Reis: [00:22:17] absolutely. And like also in the, in the audition, you said there’s, this part could not get the timing. I’ve had so many instances where I feel so. Uncoordinated. And I’m like, I swear to God, I can dance people, but for whatever reason, it’s like this little things, everyone, once in a while, just nothing computes.

[00:22:36] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:22:36] I 

[00:22:36] Dane Reis: [00:22:36] It’s the weirdest thing. But then when it does click, you’re like, Oh, there it is. I don’t know why I was

[00:22:41] struggling. struggling.

[00:22:43] Uh, loved those moments. Well, not in the moment, fun to reflect on them, but

[00:22:51] brilliant. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And it’s 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?

[00:23:10] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:23:10] Oh gosh, I eat, you know, I’m working on. Like you said in my introduction, I am working on my BFA in fine, not well, sorry, but bachelor in performing arts, we call it in Australia. But over here it’s called a bachelor of fine arts and I’m specializing in cardio graphy. And I decided to do that probably around August.

[00:23:33] I just decided to enroll back into my university that I graduated from in 2004. But I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time and. I have decided that that’s kind of, you know, a really good realm for me right now, which has really helped me explore my movement for Nat killer as a choreographer.

[00:23:52] And it’s made me sit down and really think about my practice and who my inhabitants are. And. I’m researching. What is the space between an idea and creation? How do we come up with ideas? And I thought it was a really good time. Like a lot of people, you know, to go back to school and use this opportunity to.

[00:24:13]Be able to improve myself as a creative and an artist and really work towards honing my craft as a choreographer. So, So, you know, I’ve been doing a unit in that, which is self. Made and you just can kind of choose what you want to do. And I’ve been doing a project and being able to work in a studio with one other person, you know, socially distanced and everything, and making sure that we’re safe and feel comfortable and being able to be in a space with someone and choreograph has just been such a, a, a gift in this time, uh, which is.

[00:24:48] Mostly, uh,  uh, my school has been the place that has given me the space to be able to do that, which is the Institute for American musical theater. So I’ve been using their space and being sure that I’ve, uh, widen my scope with, uh, uh, choreography, but I think I’m most looking forward to is like, Creating, I just love making things up and making art and continuing to contribute to the world in whatever way.

[00:25:16] I know how I feel that a lot of artists should do that because that’s the way that you feel your self worth fill up. And, um, yeah, I think the industry. It’s it’s sad. You know, it’s really sad and we’ve been through such a difficult year. And I think the one thing that’s most incredible about New York is that it’s resilient.

[00:25:36] It’s just such a resilient city. And even when we are having our moment, like we are now with just a downtime or something, it’s just, I know that the industry will come back and it will be. Different, but I think it will be extraordinary to watch evolve. And I I’ve been saying that I want to be here when it happens.

[00:26:00] I want to be in the middle of it. I want to see how theater takes a ton. I want to see how people create and how we evolve into this new, new era of what theatrical can be. It’s it’s really exciting. And I feel it’s going to be. A bit complicated at the beginning, but I think once you find your feet, it will become more natural.

[00:26:21] And then all of a sudden, you know, we’ll find maybe in a year or two, after things have, have turned around that we might be able to go back to theaters being at full capacity and whatnot, but it will be different, but. Performing artists are resilient. You know, You know, we have to be as, as we get knocked down every single other day or auditioning and doing things.

[00:26:43] So I think without backbones and our, you know, armor that we battle every day with, to go into this business and the, the thick skin that we’ve built, I don’t think a pandemic is gonna hold. 

[00:26:58] Okay. 

[00:26:58]Dane Reis: [00:26:58] no, I love your optimism and insight on that. Thank you for sharing.

[00:27:04] And it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another.

[00:27:19] Are you ready?

[00:27:21] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:27:21] am ready. I love this stuff.

[00:27:22] Dane Reis: [00:27:22] Brilliant. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:27:29]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:27:29] Believing in myself.

[00:27:31]Dane Reis: [00:27:31] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:27:36] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:27:36] Ooh, you don’t have to be the absolute best at what you do to be successful, but you have to want it the most, I think. Or you can be absolutely terrified and still be brilliant yet.

[00:27:54]Dane Reis: [00:27:54] Oh, absolutely. True. 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.

[00:28:07]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:28:07] Hmm, I think I’m going to go with something that’s working for me now. And that would be practicing compassion, having less judgment. 

[00:28:18]Dane Reis: [00:28:18] do you mean generally speaking for yourself for 

[00:28:20] others? 

[00:28:21] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:28:21] for, for my self mainly. And I think I’ve been encouraging people around me to have more compassion with themselves, especially during this time, because everyone, especially in the business is saying that they’ve taken a step back or you know, that they’re going backwards and I’m like, well, if you’re taking a step back, it’s a step back, just take in perspective.

[00:28:41] And I don’t think now’s this time to be over critical about. Certain things and just to practice a little bit more compassion and in turn, it’s made me reflect on myself and just have less judgment about myself. Yeah.

[00:28:56] Dane Reis: [00:28:56] take a step back. Because you’re taking perspective. That is so well said. 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 you found is helping your career right now.

[00:29:16]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:29:16] Hmm, Brenae Brown. I said a quote about her and I always go back to a Brenae Brown book. She is like such a good human being. And she is the queen of compassion and less judgment and being vulnerable and having courage. And she says, if you’re not in there, Rena, she doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, you know, you know, turning up, making sure that you’re challenging yourself every day.

[00:29:38] I think she has. You know, she’s got fantastic books, but she has some really, really good interviews online and YouTube and all those things. It’s such a, a great gift to hear what she has to say. And she’s a professional as well. She’s not just kind of regurgitating what she’s heard. She’s actually researched it for a long time.

[00:29:56] So I have a lot of faith in her.

[00:29:58]Dane Reis: [00:29:58] . Great. She is fantastic. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:30:16]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:30:16] I’ve had to actually stop my career again in three different countries, uh, in three, cause I’ve started in Paris and then I started in London and then I came to New York and started again. And both, you know, there was a little bit of a connection. Uh, so it’s not really that new for me, but I think. The main thing that I would have changed is to be more present.

[00:30:39] I was always looking for the next thing and I was in a show and I was looking for the next thing and I was wanting to book the next gig and I was searching for, and we have to be a little bit forward in our careers to do that. But I also think it’s just as important to. Be present and make sure you’re enjoying the moment.

[00:30:59]Um, it’s really hard, but I think I’m going to work a bit harder to change that narrative. Yeah.

[00:31:05]Dane Reis: [00:31:05] Yeah, I completely agree with you. I was also for the vast majority of the beginning of my career was that, you know, and I really wish I would have been more present. And currently right now I am re listening to, uh, the power of now, have you read that book?

[00:31:21] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:31:21] amazing. Eckhart Tolle. It’s so good.

[00:31:24] Dane Reis: [00:31:24] It is. And it’s yeah. I mean, it’s mind blowing when you, you just have to sit with things for a while. Don’t you, it’s kind of a mind trip, but it’s Oh, good.

[00:31:31] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:31:31] Yeah, it’s 

[00:31:32] so good. And I, 

[00:31:33] I,

[00:31:33] I, yeah, I think it’s, it’s so important and I think probably both you, and I know that when you do, when you do get to a later stage in your career, you look back and you think, Oh, you know, like I performed on the attorney awards, but it just, I didn’t take it in, you know, and I look back and I’m like, Oh, I wish I would have enjoyed that.

[00:31:51] That moment, a little more, rather than been stressed out about, you know, the way that my costume was fitting or if I didn’t look good, you know, as opposed to just really enjoying the moment. Um, yeah.

[00:32:03]Dane Reis: [00:32:03] , uh, uh, greed. 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.

[00:32:15]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:32:15] That is such a good question and it is very, very hard to

[00:32:20] answer, 

[00:32:21] Dane Reis: [00:32:21] a lot of pressure.

[00:32:23] Nicholas Cunningham: [00:32:23] I will say the one thing is to listen is to really listen to the people around you. It’s really important when you’re. Learning when you’re at school, when you’re booking your first job, when you’re going into that first rehearsal, if.

[00:32:43] Even later on in your career a bit more so at the beginning, and I learned this, I don’t know where from, but I, I made sure that I listened to the people that were around me that knew more than me, you know, and I respected that and made sure that I was soaking every little bit of information that I possibly could up because these people that you work with that are, may have more experience in stuff, they have been doing what they have been doing, you know?

[00:33:08]So I think that’s a really. Good golden nugget is to listen, uh, all the time. Make sure that you’re very, very active at listening.

[00:33:17]Dane Reis: [00:33:17] Yes. Very well said and do wrap up this interview, Nicholas. It is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:33:33]Nicholas Cunningham: [00:33:33] Yeah, I have an Instagram, which is Nicholas Louis Cunningham. And the next one that I have, it’s like my creatives prey page, which is Cunningham creatives. And then I would always love to shout out to my school, which is the Institute for American musical theater, which has been running. Live classes for the past 12 weeks actually.

[00:33:56]Uh in-person and we’ve done an incredible job at keeping covert protocol at a high, high, high, high, high level. And we’ve done a fantastic job and we’re actually going into where I went to showcase. . 


[00:34:08] Dane Reis: [00:34:08] Yeah, brilliant. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to all of Nicolas, to social media and you can go check it all out and also. Be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, arts, and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know, you know, aspiring to create a career in this industry.

[00:34:34] You booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career. And it is integral to helping them succeed and helping you create a better, more fulfilling career in this wild and crazy industry. Nicholas. Thank you so much for being here today. It’s been so great to talk with you and spreading your knowledge and wisdom