Austin Sora


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EP 190: Austin Sora (autogenerated)

Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 190. Okay. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Austin Sora. Are you ready for this Austin? Brilliant. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Austin was most recently seen in the North American tour of the Phantom of the opera. Prior to that, she was a company member with Bruce Woods dance for three years.

[00:00:30] Other credits include a chorus line, but GLISI dance theater as well as a pre-production for the public theater and Disney cruise lines. Austin began her professional training at Canada’s national ballet school  and earned a BFA in dance from Marymount Manhattan college, , where she also minored in arts management, outside of performing austin is the development associate at artists striving to end poverty, a New York city based organization that connects visual and performing artists with children in under-resourced communities, teaching important life skills through the arts Austin. That is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done.

[00:01:11] But why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself? Fill in the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in. The entertainment industry.

[00:01:21]Austin Sora: [00:01:21] Of course, thank you so much for having me. Um, like you said, I’m from Toronto originally. Um, I am a dancer. I started out as a ballet dancer. I kind of ballet dancer turned modern dancer, turned musical theater dancer. So I’ve kind of explored quite a few different avenues of the performing world. Um, and I love I’ve loved every step of the journey.

[00:01:40]Um, I’ve been based in New York on and off for the past 10 or 11 years, which I can’t believe the time just kind of flies by. Um, but I’m currently staying in Toronto with my parents. Um, During COVID times. So, um, it’s been, it’s been nice to spend some time with them, but I’m definitely eager to

[00:01:53] get back to New York.

[00:01:55]Dane Reis: [00:01:55] yeah, absolutely. Everything’s kind of kind of been thrown for the loop , uh, during this entire time. well, well, that’s it. Kick it off, straight away and get into this first section here. So Austin, of course I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?

[00:02:14] Austin Sora: [00:02:14] My favorite quote and the. Uh, it’s, I don’t know who originally said it. I can’t find it anywhere, but it is proceed as if success is inevitable.

[00:02:23]Dane Reis: [00:02:23] Oh, I really like that. I’ve heard, I think variations of that and I don’t know if it’s ever been on the podcast and I think that’s so good. Can you expand on that a bit on how it’s worked its way into your career?

[00:02:35] Austin Sora: [00:02:35] Yeah, definitely. Um, I found that in my career , um, I tend to get really in my own head and I’ve realized that the biggest limitation in my life has been myself and the limitations that I’ve put on my mind. Um, and so if you just think about. Um, approaching anything in your life, whether it be an audition or an interview, or even just, you know, an interaction with a person.

[00:02:55]Um, if you, if you approach it, thinking that you’re going to fail or it’s going to be difficult and hard , um, you’re going to approach it with negativity and fear and doubt. And if you approach it. On the flip side, I’m thinking this is going to be successful. It’s inevitable. Um, you just open yourself up to have fun, to enjoy the process and just to receive so much more positive out of the situation.

[00:03:18] So I think that’s just such a great way to go through life, just to proceed as if. Success is inevitable and good things will happen. If you believe that good things will happen, they will. And I, I just think it’s a great way to live your life. So I’m trying to adopt it every day.

[00:03:33] Dane Reis: [00:03:33] Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s certainly times in our lives when it’s easier said than done. Right. And I think we all get that, but I agree with you. Why. Why embark on something or think you want to do something and immediately put a mountain in front of yourself, right. Just, just start doing the thing.

[00:03:48]Right. And the time is going to come. The time’s going to go, something’s going to happen. And you’re going to have really very little control on a lot of the circumstances. So don’t worry about that stuff. Just keep moving forward.

[00:03:59] Austin Sora: [00:03:59] exactly. Yeah. I think it’s so important in mindset is such a huge, huge thing that I’ve just been, trying to focus on lately and it really truly can change your life. So, um, yeah, I think if you move forward as if success is inevitable, it will be inevitable. So I think it’s, it’s been really helpful for me.

[00:04:14] Dane Reis: [00:04:14] I agree. And let’s get into this next section here in Austin. Of course you are 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 and personally emotional industries in existence. 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.

[00:04:41] Of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, there is an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do being on that stage. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.

[00:05:07]Austin Sora: [00:05:07] Yeah, I think that one of the hardest things that I’ve experienced just kind of on an ongoing basis is the trap of comparison. Um, and I think it’s, it’s common among performers. And to be honest, I thought I was the only one I struggled with this because everyone, you know, you, you don’t know what anyone’s thinking, and everyone comes across so confident and they’re performers.

[00:05:27] That’s what they do. And so I was just, you know, when I started auditioning, I was like, how are these people so good at this? What is wrong with me? Um, and that, you know, I, I would see people doing. Crazy tricks and turns and have these, you know, extensions for days. And I, that’s just not necessarily things that come easily to me and I would think, Oh my gosh, I can’t do that.

[00:05:46] I’m not good enough. This is look at all these people. But what I forgot was that I bring something unique, um, in my own, right? And that every single person has strengths and weaknesses. And you can’t dwell on the weaknesses and compare yourself to. To others. Um, and I think I just, I’ve just , um, started to really focus on my strengths and what I uniquely bring to the table.

[00:06:08] And that has really helped , um, helped me overcome the comparison trap. And I mean, it’s something that sneaks in here and there all the time, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better at managing it and recognize recognizing when it’s happening. Um, So I can say, no, we’re not doing that today and moving on from that.

[00:06:25]So, yeah.

[00:06:26] Dane Reis: [00:06:26] Exactly. I’m so glad that you brought up the comparison trap as you called it, because like you said, I thought I was the only one we all as performers for whatever reason, it’s like this. Thing that like, it’s like this dark secret, no one wants to talk about. Right. Right. But we’re all experiencing it. And it’s, I’m so glad that you brought that up because it’s come up multiple times in this podcast, but it’s also because it keeps coming up.

[00:06:51]it keeps reinforcing. Hey everybody, we are all quite literally the same in this regard. We’re all battling with this comparison thing and that. You need to talk about it. You need to realize that it’s a real thing and that it also is a detriment to you as a performer, trying to do your best work.

[00:07:10]Um, it’s okay to strive for things and get inspiration from things, but there it’s a slippery slope, you know, and it can get , uh, on the negative side of things and detrimental side of things pretty easily. And I think. In today’s world with social media, it makes it even that much easier to go down those comparison rabbit holes, because it’s quite literally a never-ending stream of people being amazing at whatever it is that you do.

[00:07:37] You can always find that person that. Can do something better, right? You’re never the pest person and , you have to be really careful. Like I said, use it for, use it for inspiration and motivation, but be very conscious and aware of when it starts taking that, that negative turn

[00:07:53] Austin Sora: [00:07:53] Absolutely. Yeah. And especially with, with social media, because it’s such a platform for people to share, essentially their highlight reels. And it’s a very curated, edited version of what everyone is going through. So it’s not the full picture and you have to it’s, it’s important to be mindful of that. Um, so yeah, you know, everyone, everyone has.

[00:08:12]Um, doubts everybody is self-conscious about things and everyone , um, has weaknesses and, you know, everyone’s human, I guess that’s all it comes down to. So I think it’s important to talk about it because like I said, I thought I was the only one who was experiencing that. And , um, it’s definitely not the case.

[00:08:28] So I think that the more that we talk about it, the more that we can bring, bring light to the issue. And, and yeah, I just think it’s important to remember that you bring something unique. To whatever room you’re walking into. And I think it’s important to own that and know that that makes you special and that , um, people will be excited to learn what that spark is in.

[00:08:46] You.

[00:08:46]Dane Reis: [00:08:46] 100%. Thank you so much for that. And let’s move on to a time that highlight 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.

[00:09:10]Austin Sora: [00:09:10] Yeah, for sure. So what’s really funny is I started dancing when I was very, very little , um, I asked my parents when I was three years old, if I could take ballet classes. So they signed me up and after my first ballet class, I said, this is way too hard. I can’t do what I want to quit. And they said, okay, you can quit, but you need to finish the term first because you’ve committed to this.

[00:09:29] And, you know, they were teaching me that lesson. So I said, okay, sure. And I finished the term. And by the end, I said, I don’t want to quit. I love this. I’m going to do this forever. So that was kind of how it got going. But , um, so I’m grateful for my parents that they, they didn’t let me quit after that first class.

[00:09:45]Um, but, but further down the road, I think the moment that I really, really, that just really stands out in my mind is I did a summer intensive at the Ailey school in New York. When I was going into my senior year of high school. And I just completely fell in love with the energy of the city and all the possibilities there and just how many opportunities there were.

[00:10:07]Um, and I had never seen anything like that before, and I just. I said, I need to live here. So it was kind of less, less so about. I need to be a performer, but more so I need to perform in New York. It was very specific for me. Um, so yeah, but it was just, I just remember that time in my life was so magical and full of inspiration and I, yeah, it was just a great time.

[00:10:28] Dane Reis: [00:10:28] Oh, so good. I love that New York. There really is nothing like that place 

[00:10:33] Austin Sora: [00:10:33] It’s true.

[00:10:34] Dane Reis: [00:10:34] Yeah, love New York city. And let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life?

[00:10:50] And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.

[00:10:55]Austin Sora: [00:10:55] For sure. Okay. So I think it’s definitely , um, when I booked the Phantom of the opera, that was an absolute dream come true. And it was a long time in the making. So I’m going to try to be as concise as possible, but I had been auditioning for this show for years. Um, so basically the year that I graduated from college, I was auditioning for everything, for commercial jobs, for concert dance and for musical theater.

[00:11:18] And I was just, you know, going to everything and. I really, really loved , um, musical theater.  , um, but I ended up getting a job with Bruce Wood dance in Dallas, Texas, which is a modern dance company. And I absolutely loved it there. Um, so I moved down to Texas and our contracts were three or four months at a time.

[00:11:36]So between contracts, I would always come back to New York and motor the auditions and still, you know, keep my foot in the door. Cause I knew that one day I wanted to move back. So. I want it to still be familiar to casting directors and such. So, um, I, every time I came back to New York, I would audition for Phantom and they always seemed to really interested.

[00:11:53] I would always make it through the dance cuts and then sing. And AF every time after I sang, they would say, great, what is your availability like? Um, and I would say. Um, so I’m, I’m with the dance company right now. I’m contracted for the next few months, and then I could be available and they would always say, okay, cool.

[00:12:08] We actually are looking for an immediate replay replacement, but we’ll keep you on file. And this happened for three years. Um, So when the time came that I was, you know, leaving the company and I decided to fully move back to New York, I thought this is so great. There’s a Phantom audition coming up. I know they’re interested.

[00:12:24] And so I went to the audition and I was so excited that I could finally tell them I’m available. And so I went to the audition and I danced and I got cut. And I thought , well, maybe I waited too long. Maybe they were mad at me, all of these things in my head. And I later found out that , um, because I’m Canadian, they thought they, they kind of learn more about me and they learned that I was Canadian and they thought that I couldn’t join equity.

[00:12:48] So they, they cut me for that reason. And it turns out they were right. That I, on my visa, I couldn’t join equity. So I did a bunch of research. I ended up joining the, joining the union in Canada, and it was an  deal that took months and months. And I told my agent, okay, I have joined equity in Canada at their sister union.

[00:13:07] So now I’m eligible to join the union in. The U S and so my agent told Tara Rubin casting and they said, okay, great. Um, when, when there’s another opening, we’ll call her in. So that was great. And I was so fortunate because a few months later, another dancer ended up leaving and they called me in , um, just to sing because I had seen me dance so many times.

[00:13:28] So they called me into saying, and I sang. And then about a week later, my agent called me and said that I had booked the job. So. Yeah. It was a very, very long process and something that it was a complete dream come true that I thought wasn’t it wasn’t going to be possible. And then it turns out it was going to be possible.

[00:13:43] And then it happened. So it was such a long journey, but it was all the more fulfilling when it actually happened.

[00:13:49] Dane Reis: [00:13:49] Yeah. Love that story. Yeah. The visa situation that is no. Joke it is, it can make things so tricky. It can be so expensive. It can take so much time. And you’re really just at the mercy of submitting paperwork and waiting. Um, yeah, my wife is Australian and we, you know, did all of the paperwork and things like this for , uh, getting her over to the States and being able to legally work and green cards and passports.

[00:14:14] And it’s, it’s an Epic thing to

[00:14:17] Austin Sora: [00:14:17] Yeah. It’s a 

[00:14:18] Dane Reis: [00:14:18] I totally get there. 

[00:14:19] Austin Sora: [00:14:19] Yeah, but I will say, I think that , um, through my visa applications, because you have to. Prove that you have worked lined up and you have to prove that you’ve done these shows. And, you know, I, I think that it’s been so helpful, helpful for me to , um, to push myself outside of my comfort zone, to network and to , um, to really put myself out there because I am naturally a pretty introverted person.

[00:14:41] And I don’t know that I would be as willing to. Um, put myself out there as much if it wasn’t so high stakes, because it was basically like, I need to do these things to stay in the country. So, um, I dunno, it just seems like extra motivation for me. So I’m grateful for that.

[00:14:54] Dane Reis: [00:14:54] yeah,  totally agree with that. Very cool. And being on that tour, were you on the same tour as Jordan Craig?

[00:15:03] Austin Sora: [00:15:03] It was, and

[00:15:03] Dane Reis: [00:15:03] Okay, cool. Oh, right on. He just popped into my head when you were, when I was reading your bio and I was like, Oh, I wonder if they were on the tour. Very cool. That was a, he’s a great guy as well.

[00:15:14] Austin Sora: [00:15:14] yeah. He’s awesome.

[00:15:15] Dane Reis: [00:15:15] Very cool. All right. Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And look, it’s kind of kind of 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?

[00:15:34]Austin Sora: [00:15:34] Yeah, definitely. These are all great questions. Um, so right now I actually started my own project called studio a because I realized that there are a lot of resources out there for dancers to teach dancers how to dance and how to, you know, What to do in a rehearsal, but there are such limited resources in terms of walking them through the logistical side of the business.

[00:15:56]Um, and I’ve just learned so much coming from the ballet world and then going into musical theater and having been in the concert dance world. And they’re all. They all require such different things. Um, outside of just the, just being in the studio. So I’m trying to share my knowledge , um, as in order to help people as much as I can.

[00:16:13] So I’ve started that project. It’s currently , um, an Instagram page and a blog. So, uh, that is at studio, a dot dancers is where you can find that, but it’s been, it’s been a lot of fun , so, and it’s also been so great to see how other performers have kind of. Pivoted and shifted , um, during this time. So, um, to answer your second question, I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else continues to do and create.

[00:16:34]Um, and I’m just looking forward to the theater industry, opening up again and, or sorry, live theater opening up again. And just to being able to see shows and, you know, be in a theater with people and have that shared experience , um, And I hope that , um, as it begins to open up and shift, I think that what’s been really exciting is to see how technology has allowed us to stay connected during this time.

[00:16:58] And I hope that that will allow the industry to be more accessible to both audience members and to performers. Um, audience members in the sense of , um, we saw how successful Hamilton was on Disney Disney plus. And if, if there’s a family in a very rural area who doesn’t have the means to travel to a big city and get tickets for their family, that’s such a great way to be able to introduce them to theater and allow them to experience that.

[00:17:23]Um, and to just, you know, share these stories on a, on a broader scale. And then on, on the other side of it, I think that now with auditions being virtual, I think that opens up opportunity to people again, who may not live in a hub like New York or LA, and you can audition from wherever. And so I think it, it opens up, it breaks the geographic barriers that were so prevalent before COVID.

[00:17:49] So I think that I hope that it will be more accessible moving forward, and I’m really, really excited to see what that looks like.

[00:17:56] Dane Reis: [00:17:56] yeah. And in regards to auditioning it also, it’s not just the geographic barriers. It’s the economic barriers because it’s expensive too. Audition, you know, if, if you’re going to live in New York, that’s expensive and to just be there. But even if you don’t, you’re like, you know what, I’m just going to, there’s a, there’s a handful of auditions I want to do.

[00:18:14] I’m going to fly to the city. I’m going to do that. Well, that is also a huge investment in yourself to get plane tickets, to get Airbnbs or whatever you’re gonna do. And then food and travel, like all of that stuff, it all adds up. And there’s just a lot of people , that’s just not something viable that they can really do.

[00:18:30]Um, And with the online world. 

[00:18:32] Austin Sora: [00:18:32] Yeah.

[00:18:32] Especially for people who are just starting out in their careers and it takes time to build relationships with casting directors and choreographers and whoever. So, um, I think it’s, it’s going to be so much easier to put in that time and to build that relationship virtually.

[00:18:48] So I think that’s such a great opportunity. That’s coming up.

[00:18:51] Dane Reis: [00:18:51] for sure. I agree. And it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening around. Hi, I’m going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:19:11] Austin Sora: [00:19:11] I am ready.

[00:19:12] Dane Reis: [00:19:12] All right. First question.

[00:19:14] What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:19:18]Austin Sora: [00:19:18] Hm, this is a great question. I think, I don’t think there’s anything holding me back to committing to a career, but I think again, that comparison trap was definitely holding me back from doing my best.

[00:19:29] Dane Reis: [00:19:29] Yes. Yes. Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:19:36] Austin Sora: [00:19:36] So my mom used to always say to me, If I was going into any new situation and it, your school or a new grade, she would always say, be a sponge, be a sponge. So enthusiastically , um, just, and she means just like absorb everything and just make every experience something you can learn from. And I think that is a great piece of advice.

[00:19:54]Dane Reis: [00:19:54] I think that’s fantastic advice. And it reminds me of that book, the power of now uh,, uh, with a car, a toll toll toll, they, however, I’m not sure how you pronounce his last name, to be honest. Um, have you read that book?

[00:20:05] Austin Sora: [00:20:05] I have. It’s wonderful.

[00:20:07] Dane Reis: [00:20:07] but that’s, I mean, by being present, it allows you and enables you to be a sponge. And when, and I guess it even ties it back to the comparison game.

[00:20:17] If you’re, if you are stuck in this feedback loop of comparison, it’s hard to be present. And to then be that sponge to then move forward.

[00:20:26] Austin Sora: [00:20:26] Yeah, exactly. If you’re, if you’re thinking about what that other person is doing, you’re definitely not thinking about what you’re doing, so that just assign that you’re not present. So that’s, it’s a great reminder to kind of, you know, just be mindful of that.

[00:20:38] Dane Reis: [00:20:38] Yeah, for sure. And the 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.

[00:20:50]Austin Sora: [00:20:50] I have been trying to go on daily, walks around the neighborhood, and that has been such a lifesaver for my mental health, just getting outside and getting moving. Um, and I guess not having it be attached to any sort of. Um, dance class or I don’t know. I just think it’s so nice to take myself out of my environment and just shake things up a little bit.

[00:21:10]Um, that’s been really great.

[00:21:12] Dane Reis: [00:21:12] yes. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or piece of technology you found is helping your career.

[00:21:24] Austin Sora: [00:21:24] Yeah. So this is actually going to be maybe a little bit of an unexpected answer. Um, but Instagram, I have such a love, hate relationship with social media, but. Instagram has been such a source of connection for me this year. And I’ve, I’ve been able to make connections with dancers who I had never met before.

[00:21:43] And we have had conversations on there. I’ve learned so much on there. I’ve, it’s been such a source of inspiration to see other people’s performance videos or to see what people are creating right now. Um, and just to feel like I am in touch with people and I mean, yes, there’s definitely the flip side of that coin.

[00:22:00] Which is the issues that we talked about earlier about it being, you know, not a true representation of people’s lives, but I’ve really, really been grateful for the platform during this time. I think it’s been wonderful in terms of , um, feeling connected with people.

[00:22:14] Dane Reis: [00:22:14] yes. And that’s how we met each other and 

[00:22:17] Austin Sora: [00:22:17] Exactly. 

[00:22:19] Absolutely. Yeah. Great example.

[00:22:21] Dane Reis: [00:22:21] Yeah. 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?

[00:22:37]Austin Sora: [00:22:37] I think that I would have started taking voice lessons sooner. Um, I didn’t ever expect to go into musical theater. I always just wanted to be in a ballet company and that was kind of the end all be all goal. And I think I wished I had have known earlier to be more open to other opportunities , um, and musical theater being one of them.

[00:22:57] So I th I wish I had have taken voice lessons sooner.

[00:23:00] Dane Reis: [00:23:00] yes. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge you drop? You’ve learned from your successful career in the industry? You’d like to leave with our listeners.

[00:23:10]Austin Sora: [00:23:10] I think the biggest thing is just to remember, to always believe in yourself and to trust that you are exactly where you need to be. Um, that’s just, you know, it comes back to what we were saying about the comparison trap and , um, looking to your right and left and seeing maybe people are doing things that you wish you were doing or booking jobs.

[00:23:26] Before you, or, you know, whatever it is. I think it just comes down to believing in yourself, knowing that you have something unique in, in your own abilities. Um, and just trusting the process because what is meant for you will not pass you by. And that’s another one of my favorite quotes. So I’ll just, I’ll just drop that in here as well.

[00:23:45] In case people need a reminder of that, because it’s so true, like you’re on the right path and the good things are coming.

[00:23:52]Dane Reis: [00:23:52] yes. Trust the process. That’s it. Right. Beautiful. And to wrap up this interview, Austin, 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?

[00:24:09]Austin Sora: [00:24:09] Yeah. So as I mentioned, I’m on Instagram. My personal page is Austin dot Sora. I’m also on tick-tock, which is. Really funny to me because I feel very old on there, but , um, yeah, I’m on there. Both of them, Austin dot Sora. I also have my website, Austin And as I mentioned earlier, my project that I’m working on studio a is also on Instagram, which is studio H dot dancers.

[00:24:33]Dane Reis: [00:24:33] beautiful. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Austin 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, arts, and entertainment educators, and anyone, you know, you know, aspiring to create a career in this industry.

[00:24:57] You booked. It is the number one resource of expertise on how to actually create a successful entertainment career case. In point, everything. Austin just gave us throughout this entire. Interview everything about the comparison trap. Rewind, listen to that. And if you enjoy this episode, please hit that subscribe button.

[00:25:16] So you don’t miss the next guest, Austin. Thank you so much for being here today. It’s been so wonderful getting to know you 

[00:25:24] Austin Sora: [00:25:24] yeah. Thank you. This has been so much fun.