EP 32: Holly Lauren Dayton (autogenerated)
Dane Reis: [00:00:00] You booked it, episode 32. Hey, entertainers and performers of the world. I’m your host, Dane Reis, and welcome to you. Booked it. Where I chat with inspiring entertainers, seven days a week by digging into their journey. We’re going to discover everything you need to do to be a successful entertainer. You know, cause training usually skips that part about how to actually make your skills work for you in the real world.
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[00:01:22] Let’s do this. Okay. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Holly Lauren Dayton. Holly, are you ready for?
[00:01:34] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:01:34] I am ready, Dane. Let’s
[00:01:36] Dane Reis: [00:01:36] do it. Alright. Hello really began performing at the age of eight training in all disciplines of dance and piano. She graduated from Florida state university, double majoring in finance and entrepreneurship.
[00:01:51] She has performed with the national tours of elf, the musical and the elf on the shelf. Musical regional credits include a chorus line, Chicago. Crazy for you. Oklahoma beauty and the beast. Mary Poppins, seven brides for seven brothers, mama Mia and Footloose. She was featured with lady Gaga in the Sinatra, 100 CBS special and Steve Wynn’s showstoppers in Las Vegas.
[00:02:17] She gives thanks to God for providing a path to pursue her passions every day. Holly, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, fill in the gaps, who you are, where you’re from, where you’re currently calling home and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry,
[00:02:40] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:02:40] Dane.
[00:02:41]so I am an artist, a performer. And I originally am from Atlanta, Georgia. and my family actually is in Jacksonville, Florida. We moved there when I was eight. So about half my childhood was in Atlanta, half in Jacksonville. And my home is in a story New York. I’ve been in New York city for about three and a half years now.
[00:03:02] I moved from Vegas to New York. But currently I am physically in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’ve been here since the beginning of February. I was doing a chorus line at Seacoast repertory theater. And when the pandemic started, I decided to stay in Portsmouth versus venturing back into the city. And as far as.
[00:03:27] Yeah. Yeah. And luckily I was surrounded by really gracious, loving human beings that, are still housing me and, and allow me to be here. So a huge gift during this trying time in the world. and I’m currently teaching livestream fitness and meditation and flow classes with the theater. They also do some live cabarets and a not so tiny desk concert.
[00:03:51] So, I feel really blessed to still be performing, you know, via live stream.
[00:03:56] Dane Reis: [00:03:56] Absolutely. That’s fantastic. I’m glad you found a nice niche in a, in this crazy and trying time.
[00:04:03] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:04:03] Yes, definitely.
[00:04:05] Dane Reis: [00:04:05] All right. Let’s move on to the next section here. And Holly, look, I’m a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote?
[00:04:13] You’d like to share with our listeners?
[00:04:15] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:04:15] Definitely. So I think I came across this quote in high school. I believe it’s by Erma Bombeck. And it States, when I stand before God, at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say I used everything you gave me.
[00:04:32] And I think, from an early point in my childhood, I was like, man, like that, I want my life to ring true to that quote. I want. To use every bit of resource and talent that I have. I don’t want to look back on anything with regret.
[00:04:46] Dane Reis: [00:04:46] Yeah. I love that. And I mean, just knowing the work that you’ve done and when we met in Vegas, in old dancing queen,
[00:04:54]Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:04:54] I
[00:04:54] Dane Reis: [00:04:54] feel you’ve truly, truly embodied that you are so inclusive of whatever community that you are part of and you make.
[00:05:04] Fantastic. Things happen all the time, all around you. And to be Frank, I’m quite an all of it. And I’ve always been that way. So I’m so glad that that is also a quote that rings true for you and you really living up
[00:05:17] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:05:17] it. Nah. Well, thank you, Dane. That means a lot to me.
[00:05:21] Dane Reis: [00:05:21] Yeah. All right. Well, let’s move on to this next section and Holly, of course, you’re an entertainer.
[00:05:27] I’m an entertainer. And I think you’d agree that. The entertainment industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest and personally emotional industries, either of us have probably experienced. And you know, as well as I, that in order to create and to have a successful career in this industry, like you’re having now takes a lot of dedication and hard work.
[00:05:53] And while of course, yeah, there’s an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing our art, performing, being on stage. There is. Also going to be our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to inevitably experience and have to move forward through and grow 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?
[00:06:22] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:06:22] Sure. definitely just to, to echo what you just said, I. I think, especially since I moved to New York work realized how brutal our industry is and how, you know, it takes so much to be vulnerable and even show up to an audition or to even pursue the craft. And to face rejection. So definitely agree with, so everything that you just said, the funny thing, so I think the biggest challenge obstacle that I faced was really, really early on in pursuing dance professionally.
[00:06:53] And so I had made the decision to go to Florida. State’s luckily in Florida, there’s so many great academic scholarships and Florida bright futures. And so. That decision was kind of an obvious one for me. And at the time I wanted to be a dance major with the school. They have an amazing dance program and I also wanted to be on the Florida state golden girls dance team.
[00:07:15] So those were aspirations. I had, my junior year of high school and started prepping for those auditions my senior year. And, I first auditioned for the dance department and the audition went fairly. Okay. But it definitely was my first taste of. A professional audition. And I just was, not really trained to know, even handle an audition.
[00:07:37] So it was like, okay, I’m going to learn how to do all of this just by, by diving right in. And I was not selected for the program. And so that was pretty challenging. And I immediately kind of rerouted my dreams, aspirations and thought, you know, I’ll study business, I’ll study entrepreneurship and finance.
[00:07:55] I have this huge, strong desire. To start a nonprofit for artists and I always have, and so I, in my head thought, you know, that’s a great route to go and I can still pursue dance on the side, but that’s, you know, ultimately where I want to end up. And so then maybe a couple months after that audition audition for the dance team and half the tell you that audition is probably goes down and Holly’s history of additions as like probably one of the worst auditions I’ve ever experienced.
[00:08:25] I had so much fun. My parents were there. They were supporting me, loved the dance combination. And I got out on the floor. It was held at the, like the basketball gym and. Just forgot the whole combo, like definitely had a blackout moment and it was terrifying and it was awful. And that was my first experience, really having that happen.
[00:08:45]so I had to grow up very quickly after that experience. and I thought, you know, I’m still going to Florida state. I still want to dance. And so I just researched any and all programs and club teams that they had, which luckily sorta state has. Just a wide variety of culture and arts within, you know, the group of students that they have there.
[00:09:09] So I joined audition for like a hip hop dance team, salsa dance team, and then a club dance team that was very similar to the school sponsored team. And then I also took on extra dance elective classes. So I loaded my schedule, which again, luckily due to scholarships, I could do that and not take on extra debt or anything, but.
[00:09:30]I worked really hard. I was surrounded by amazing people. So I would say like, even though I had trained dance since I was eight, I learned a lot, those four years of college. so yeah, that was the hardest challenge was that, that freshman year entering into the university and like having all of these aspirations and none of them come to fruition in that moment.
[00:09:52] So the that’s, that would be my answer for that.
[00:09:56] Dane Reis: [00:09:56] I love it. And clearly you doubled down on everything you saw, you know what this is, it wasn’t necessarily the, the dancing part of it necessarily, or the, or your passion for what you were doing is what I’m hearing. But it’s, you just had not experienced that side of things that the audition and the pressures that that comes within.
[00:10:14] I love that you just took it head on and you said, you know what? I’m going to figure this out and I’m going to make self better. And it’s clearly paid off throughout your entire career.
[00:10:23] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:10:23] Yeah, I’m definitely grateful that I like it’s so easy to give up. Right. Like when we face a face, the unknown face our fears, and I’m so glad that that didn’t happen.
[00:10:34] And I actually, waited until my senior year and I re audition for the dance team, like the school’s official dance team. And. Got on the team. And I have to say like my senior year was incredible, for that reason. And so I’m glad that it took me a few years to get the courage, to like go back to that same, you know, audition scenario.
[00:10:53] But. It was so worth it. It was so amazing. I learned so much from the girls that were on that team, so grateful for the path, however it looks.
[00:11:03] Dane Reis: [00:11:03] Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Well, let’s move on to the next section now and to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time that you realize, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was yes.
[00:11:23] This is what I need to be doing as an entertainer. Tell us about that.
[00:11:28] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:11:28] Definitely. so I am pretty evenly split between my left and right brain. I would say I’m pretty logical person, but then at the same time, like loves the arts love creativity. And so I kind of was in this constant struggle with myself during college of.
[00:11:46] Discovering that I love to dance and performing to an even greater degree, but then studying business and thinking, and always hearing that voice of like, you can’t make a living out of this. Like, you need to be practical. You need to use your degree. You need to like, this is the past needing to go. and so this kind of continued this theme throughout college.
[00:12:04] And then my senior year, I had gone on several interviews for. A couple of different positions like buyer positions or attract to becoming a buyer for Macy’s and target and received a few job offers. This was like maybe a month before I was graduating college. And they were both in South Florida, different cities in South Florida.
[00:12:26] And as I was trying to decide to hear out which one to take, I realized want either of these jobs, like I am not happy. This is not. I do not feel like this is my calling. So it was a really weird, like self introspection time. And so I spoke with a mentor who actually was like our assistant dance team, coach.
[00:12:52] And. She spoke very frankly with me and said, you know, number one, life is too short. You can’t just do something because you feel like it’s the right thing to do or what, you know, according to society is the practical or right thing to do.
[00:13:05] Dane Reis: [00:13:05] Right. Or follow the paycheck.
[00:13:07] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:13:07] Yeah. And so she, she recommended auditioning for a cruise ship.
[00:13:11]she said, you know, give yourself some time, maybe if you can get a contract and then you can kind of figure out what path you want to go from there. and so I actually traveled down to Miami audition for Royal Caribbean. It was like the only audition I went on. So I think back to that moment that if I hadn’t booked that job, you know, where would I be?
[00:13:30] Would I be, you know, in Orlando working for Macy’s. and it was just incredible, like that one door then opened many other doors, you know, for years and years later, but that was like the moment of saying yes to performing and. Saying no to these other opportunities.
[00:13:49] Dane Reis: [00:13:49] Yeah. Great. Well, let’s piggyback on that question and let’s talk about your number one moment.
[00:13:58] Walk us through that day, the auditions and callbacks, if those were part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite moment?
[00:14:10] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:14:10] Sure. so I am going to journey back to when I was living in Vegas at the time. And actually this would have been, I think, six months after we had been in dancing queen, together, which is cool that that’s like kind of all connected.
[00:14:25]and at that point in my life, I was planning on moving to New York. I had this. Desire and interest to pursue musical theater. I had started taking vocal lessons a couple of years ago or, and thought, you know, I think grow more. I want to step into that world. and so I kind of started to make preparations for moving to New York and then announced, auditions for Steve Wynn’s showstoppers, which was going to be a new show at the one, musical theater, Broadway review type show for those that don’t know it.
[00:14:56] And. This was, you know, maybe a month before I was going to move. I thought, you know, I’m going to go, like, what do I have to lose? It’s a shot. I’ll just try. and there were about, I would say like 75 women there. When I showed up, I knew a brief background on, Marguerite, derricks and Philip McKinley.
[00:15:16] Although I’d never worked with them before I knew their work and what they had accomplished. And I will be fully honest with you that I was, Fearful and intimidated too into this audition room because it was a job that I cared so much about. I think as performers, we always have those moments where like, man, I really want this.
[00:15:35] And therefore the stakes are so high right now and so hard. and it was interesting. So I, I don’t have a background in musical theater, so it’s even kind of funny that I, you know, wanted to move to New York and pursue musical theater because it’s not like I even grew up with it. And this was my first audition that was tiptoeing the musical theater world.
[00:15:55] And we learned a combo to cellblock tango, and they sell, had asked us, you know, sing out loud while you’re dancing. So I was like my first time doing both things at the same time in terms of like musical theater. and I loved it. And there was a moment I remember in the combo where we turned around back from, you know, going upstage to downstage and.
[00:16:17] He said to us, he was like, you know, why are you turning around? Like there has to be intention and every single step two, you’re telling a story like this is not about dance choreography. And I think that’s the first time I’d been to a dance call where somebody was really diving. Deeper into the steps.
[00:16:34] And I know like that sounds like such a simple statement, but for me, I was like, Whoa, like there’s a reason why I’m turning around what? and it was cool. It just felt, I mean, Chicago is such a powerful show and that, that number in particular, which it’s nice that now since then I’ve done the full musical, but you know, that number is just so powerful.
[00:16:56] And so I just remember feeling. Really strong and really confident. but still had that voice in the back of my head of like, you’re never going to book this, like, this is, there’s no way this is, and you’re moving to New York. It’s okay. and so we went throughout the day, we learned under the accommodation from a song from cabaret, and then we all had an opportunity to go in and sing in the room.
[00:17:17] And luckily I had been training with a teacher, and specifically prepared, you know, a song for this audition. So I went in. Singing wise, feeling like secure and okay. Okay. And so we make it to the end of the day, they had like cut down several times throughout the day, took our measurements and then left.
[00:17:37] And it was funny cause I, I left that audition feeling really good, but still not feeling like, you know, anything was going to come from it. And, a few days later I actually received word that I was going to be offered a contract and. that that show was really special to me because it, the cast that they hired, they hired some people from New York, from LA and then some from Vegas.
[00:18:02]everybody was just so polished and professional, and I feel even being on the stage with the people around me, I learned so much from them and I had a really close, close knit community. And that show, was in it for two and a half years before it closed. And then. Literally like five days later, I moved to New York.
[00:18:21] So that show and those people hold like a really special place in my heart because I feel like they helped me grow both personally and professionally, and then also really supported me and then making a move to New York. So it was a really special time in my life.
[00:18:38] Dane Reis: [00:18:38] Absolutely. And I loved that show. It was on top of it being entertaining and fun to watch.
[00:18:44] It was super classy. The talent was. Bar none. It was one of the cleanest sharpest shows I’ve ever seen. It was amazing to watch. And plus that my God, that that curtain looked like gold. I mean, I don’t even know where you found something like that, but it was, amazing. I love that show.
[00:19:05] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:19:05] I was going to tell you, cause I mean, I, you are well aware of this being a performer and being so involved with everything.
[00:19:12] The thing that I found interesting too, is. As I ventured the musical theater world in New York. There’s so many musicals that actually don’t have that much dancing. So it’s been this journey of finding musicals that speak to me and have a lot of dancing within the ensemble work or whatever role it is.
[00:19:29] And so it’s made me appreciate showstoppers even more. And Margaret Derek’s work because it was so dance heavy and was the beautiful thing about it. Similar to like what I think Andy Blankenbuehler does with his musicals, where. The ensemble was just so relevant and so much in the forefront of that show.
[00:19:50] And I think sometimes that’s hard to find and musicals. So I think now being in the musical theater world, I even appreciate the show more so than, you know, when I was even in it.
[00:20:01] Dane Reis: [00:20:01] Absolutely. Well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to?
[00:20:10] And of course, It’s a weird time and global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:20:21] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:20:21] Definitely. So I’m the one saying that I was like my passion project when I had lived in Vegas before was doing art showcases with look here. And it was a really cool project that I think.
[00:20:38] You know, the Vegas community is already so beautiful and so close knit, but it, I, I really enjoyed bringing the different casts and different artists together and really supporting each other, having these events where we could all just create what was on our heart and share it with each other. And so I actually, can you do that in New York?
[00:20:58]add and hold showcases since the pandemic has started, but definitely, you know, still have that desire to have a nonprofit to support artists. And so I’m trying to still make steps towards that even during this time of pandemic. And then when returning to New York, you know, still holding those showcases.
[00:21:15]and then as far as here in Portsmouth, I have, like I had mentioned earlier teaching livestream classes, a fitness class and then a meditation and flow class with Seacoast repertory theater and being a part of their. Friday night cabarets and tiny desk concert so that they have on Wednesdays. So that’s been like my main focus and purpose, and they actually just got the green light in New Hampshire to start reincorporating live audiences again, and our theater, which they’re super responsible.
[00:21:47] They’re going to start off very, very small, social distancing to seeds. so that’s kind of all in my near future as far as performance work and. Definitely looking forward to when like in NYC has been hit obviously really hard with the pandemics. So I’ve been praying a lot for the city and cannot wait for the day when classes can resume and auditions can happen again.
[00:22:14] And I, I’ve been thinking a lot about this past couple weeks, you know, with black lives matter. And then also with the pandemic, you know, the world has been facing so much grief and so much pain and. I do see, you know, tiny steps being made to a better tomorrow, you know, after we get out of all of this and on the other side.
[00:22:37] And so I’m holding onto that hope and excitement for when the industry, you know, has taken seriously, the black lives matter movement. And then also the changes that obviously have to be made from this pandemic. And I. I’m excited for that day to see all of that kind of come to fruition, knowing that there is a purpose, you know, in all of this that we’re experiencing right now,
[00:23:02] Dane Reis: [00:23:02] for sure.
[00:23:03] And I agree with you and yeah. Thank you for sharing your insight. I think that’s really, it’s really great. And let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning
[00:23:17] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:23:17] round.
[00:23:19] Dane Reis: [00:23:19] 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.
[00:23:27] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:23:27] you ready?
[00:23:30] Dane Reis: [00:23:30] All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?
[00:23:37]Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:23:37] too much humility. I think that just feeling not talented enough or not good enough, a lot of times held me back. and I think that was just from growing up in a Christian home taught to be humble, but I think I took it a little too far sometimes, but realizing my worth as I’ve gotten older.
[00:23:54] For sure.
[00:23:56] Dane Reis: [00:23:56] Fantastic. And the second question, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
[00:24:03]Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:24:03] it was from by work Lee. I had the privilege of getting to learn one from her from a chorus line. And she said to us, get out of your own way. And I feel like fireworks went off light bulb went off in my head when she said that I realizing so often we’re the only ones, you know, standing in our own way.
[00:24:24] Dane Reis: [00:24:24] Absolutely. I think that happens all the time. It’s such a common thing. I think with us entertainers and letting it go and just letting what we have on the inside being relaxed and letting our talents and trusting our skillset to get us through that. So we can concentrate on the emotional side of things is huge, but you, but you do, you have to get out of your way so you can tap
[00:24:47] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:24:47] into that.
[00:24:48] Yeah. And so true.
[00:24:50] Dane Reis: [00:24:50] All right. And the third question, what is something that is working for you now, or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.
[00:25:02] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:25:02] Sure. so I have been really diving deep into what scares me, what new thing can I do or attempt or try or fail at.
[00:25:12] And I love teaching fitness classes and I love teaching yoga classes and it was something I had never done before. And I, especially with dancers like helping specifically dancers, learn to build strengths. And then also helping people find their center and that ability to be calm and focusing on their breath when there’s chaos in the world, it has just been so much fun and I’ve realized how much I enjoy it and how passionate I am about it.
[00:25:44] I love that.
[00:25:45] Dane Reis: [00:25:45] And the fourth question, what is the best resource, whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right
[00:25:58] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:25:58] now. Definitely. the larger answers to the question, I would have to say Bernay Brown. she is such an amazing writer.
[00:26:07] Speaker, researcher, storyteller. I’ve read, I think all of her books, and she has a podcast that actually, she started recording, I think, close to when the pandemic started, it’s called unlocking us. And she dives into every single topic you could think of things that we’re facing and then also other, a wide variety of subjects.
[00:26:29] And it is so uplifting and insightful, highly recommended to anybody who’s looking for a good podcast.
[00:26:36] Dane Reis: [00:26:36] Fantastic. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do?
[00:26:50] Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the
[00:26:53] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:26:53] same? I think I would have taken up more space, listened less to fear and settled less. I think. I’ve learned a lot as I’ve gotten older and I’m getting to a really great place of security and who I am as an artist and as a storyteller. And I think I would love to start my career over again, if I could with, with that security.
[00:27:20] Dane Reis: [00:27:20] Absolutely. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you learned from your successful career in the industry that you’d like to leave with our listeners?
[00:27:33] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:27:33] Definitely. I think I would say except and love yourself for exactly who you are. don’t wait for the approval of others.
[00:27:43] And you are worthy of taking up all this space and deserving of being in the spotlight.
[00:27:50] Dane Reis: [00:27:50] I love that incredible advice for anybody. And let’s wrap up this interview and that also means that it’s time for you to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?
[00:28:07] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:28:07] Well, definitely with the theater that I’m at currently, we have a wide variety of shows and classes and with the classes it’s actually a dollar donation gets you into the class. So they’re super affordable. and that information can be found on www dot dot org. And it would be just fun to have more people to connect with through those classes.
[00:28:31]and then outside of that, I actually use my Instagram as like my main business tool, which is at Holly day two 18. and I love. Hearing from people and being able to answer questions or help people out with whatever they’re they’re dealing with as a performer. So I’ve really been using that when I teach class, especially with students letting them know they have the open door to reach it out.
[00:28:56] Dane Reis: [00:28:56] Yeah. Wonderful. Holly, it has been fantastic to have you on thank you so much for joining me
[00:29:02] Holly Lauren Dayton: [00:29:02] today. Thank you so much for having me. It was so fun to get to connect and talk about all of this.
[00:29:10] Dane Reis: [00:29:10] Give it up for today’s five star reviewers, yellow lead better 1989, Jay Baker and naturally Brown. Thank you so much for your support.
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