EP 41: Lauren Lukacek (autogenerated)
Dane Reis: [00:00:00] You booked it, episode 41. 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. All righty. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Lauren Lucas. Sec, are you ready for this Lauren?
[00:01:34] Lauren Lukacek: [00:01:34] Yes, I’m excited.
[00:01:35] Dane Reis: [00:01:35] All right. Lauren is a New York city based actress and singer originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lauren earned a BFA in musical theater from the Boston conservatory.
[00:01:49] Lauren recently appeared in the original company of the first. National tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s love never dies directed by Simon Phillips. She spent 2015 and 2016 on the road with the first national tour of Roger and Hammerstein Cinderella, where she understudied Marie, the fairy godmother. She also the role of Eliza little while on tour with my fair lady from 2011 to 2012.
[00:02:18] Lauren has appeared regionally at North shore music theater. A gun quick Playhouse gateway play house and the John w Angerman theater while playing Maria in the sound of music at Colorado Springs, fine arts center. It became the highest selling show in that theater’s history. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her fiance and their corgi, where she surprises her neighbors with delicious baked goods.
[00:02:45] Lauren also creates videos on how to live a more sustainable eco-friendly life. Lauren. 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, and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.
[00:03:05] Lauren Lukacek: [00:03:05] Thank you for that gorgeous intro. I really have a big head. No, I’m a musical theater performer and an environmental activist. as you said, I went to the Boston conservatory and got to be a fan of musical theater with you. And then I moved to New York city a month after I graduated. And I’ve been here for 11 years now, mostly performing on national tours and regional houses.
[00:03:29] I love to bake, like you said, and I love vintage dresses. And I’m happily living in Brooklyn with my fiance. So waiting out the pandemic right here in the heart of it.
[00:03:38] Dane Reis: [00:03:38] Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, let’s move on to our next section here. And look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote you’d like to share with our
[00:03:51] Lauren Lukacek: [00:03:51] listeners?
[00:03:52] This one’s at the bottom of all my emails that I sent it’s from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And this is the quote. Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. I
[00:04:08] Dane Reis: [00:04:08] love that. I’ve never heard that, but it’s fantastic. And how have you applied that quote to your daily life?
[00:04:15] And your career besides the signature of your emails?
[00:04:21] Lauren Lukacek: [00:04:21] Six years ago. I like, I wasn’t where I thought I would be in life. You know, I hadn’t been on Broadway. I hadn’t wanted Tony. I wasn’t at the time in a lasting relationship and I was depressed about my birthday. That was coming up. After a lot of feeling, very sorry for myself.
[00:04:38] I realized that I was only thinking about myself and I realized that I hated that. So I turned the story around and started to brainstorm how I could help others. On my birthday. I brought a friend’s idea of rejecting birthday presents and instead asking for acts of birthday kindness from all my friends, I decided to dedicate my birthday to doing random acts of kindness all over the city.
[00:05:02] It completely changed my outlook about my birthday. I got messages all day from people doing wonderful things in my name. And I spent the day doing wonderful things for other people. So now I look forward to my birthday every year. I used to believe that I had to do something big to change the world in a positive way, but as I’ve gotten older, I realized that those tiny things that we do create a ripple effect.
[00:05:24] Something small, like holding the door open for someone, or even making eye contact with a person experiencing homelessness. Who’s asking for money or checking in with a friend who’s hurting. It’s like those little things can turn someone’s day around so that they can be compassionate to someone else.
[00:05:38] And then the positive cycle just continues.
[00:05:41] Dane Reis: [00:05:41] Absolutely. And I think even beyond all of just life and being a good person, I think there’s a lot to be garnered from that, that the little things make. The big things happen in our careers professionally as entertainers,
[00:05:55] Lauren Lukacek: [00:05:55] a hundred percent. Actually my acting teachers says that all the time, Rob McCaskill here in New York city, I take his class weekly and.
[00:06:04] We have to celebrate the small victories in class. We go around at the beginning of class and everyone has to say what their small victory from that week is, and it doesn’t have to do with performing. It can, or it can just be something like I went to the gym three times a week and he says that the little small victories build momentum to the big victories, which I truly believe in.
[00:06:27] It’s really amazing.
[00:06:28] Dane Reis: [00:06:28] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, you know, when we’re. We’re kids. We all kind of know that we understand that looking at kids, I’m thinking about my three-year-old and how minor little things are. And then they start compounding and building on top of one another. And then somewhere along the way of growing up,
[00:06:45] Lauren Lukacek: [00:06:45] we
[00:06:45] Dane Reis: [00:06:45] forget that learning is a process and a journey, and that we just think that we should immediately have the end result.
[00:06:53] And I think that’s a very common thing with a lot of people, but especially in the entertainment industry. A hundred
[00:06:58] Lauren Lukacek: [00:06:58] percent. We also, we tend to look at people’s end results and think that we should be there at the beginning. And if we’re not, then we’re failures, especially with social media. I mean, God bless social media.
[00:07:12] I’m so glad we weren’t growing up with social media because I don’t know how these kids do it today, but you look at all those things and you don’t look at the tiny little dots along the line that got them to a certain place. Then you just think. Oh, well, I didn’t do it perfectly the first time. So clearly I’m never going to do it perfectly, but that’s not the way it is.
[00:07:31] Dane Reis: [00:07:31] Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Everyone has theirs is a very rare that someone just shows up on their first go and gets everything they want short. It happens, but
[00:07:39] Lauren Lukacek: [00:07:39] it’s usually a coincidence.
[00:07:41] Dane Reis: [00:07:41] Yeah. All right. Well, let’s move on to this next section here. And Lauren, of course, you’re an entertainer. I’m an entertainer.
[00:07:50] And I think you’d agree that this industry is one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally emotional industries, either of us have 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 in while.
[00:08:13] Yeah. There is an outrageous amount of fun and excitement being an entertainer being on that stage. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to inevitably experience and we’re going to have to learn how to move forward through these. If we want to continue doing this.
[00:08:32] For our life and our career. 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? Well, you’re
[00:08:44] Lauren Lukacek: [00:08:44] right about it being a very, very tough industry. Very brutal. It sort of eats up the week and strengthens a lot of people.
[00:08:53] I definitely got out of school thinking that I was going to be on Broadway within a year. And. Obviously that was not the case. In fact, I didn’t even get an agent from showcase. I think maybe only a few people did from our class anyway, but I had to find a resilience within me that said over and over, this is what I want to do and recommit myself many times.
[00:09:18] And you know what, I’m still recommitting myself even as we speak. one of the most challenging parts for me was joining a union. Because I got out of school and I was completely non-union and for non theater performers, actors equity association is our theater union. And joining it. You have to earn weeks to join it basically.
[00:09:41] Or you get offered a, an equity contract through a show, and then you just get your card and pay the, pay the dues. And you had your union card. However, I was going to these union calls as a nonunion performer and not getting seen and showing up at 6:00 AM. Just getting, let go. So I finally got. A break because a girlfriend of mine knew someone who knew someone who knew someone that was looking for a nonunion actor.
[00:10:12] And that’s how I got my job at North shore music theater. I just emailed them basically and sent a little clip of me singing and my headshot and resume. And they hired me, which is hilarious. So, but before, and I was still nonunion then, but I that’s how I got my first EMC points, which is sort of how you earn your way to the union.
[00:10:30]but when I was non-union even getting cast, I was making less money per week, but I definitely couldn’t live on, I had no health insurance, and things were just much harder. And plus coming from Boko, which I think you would probably agree with, I kind of felt like a failure. They were very focused on success.
[00:10:50] And so the fact that I was non-union made me feel like I had sort of failed. But I got a break in October of 2012. I booked a regional job playing Betty and white Christmas at surf flight theater in New Jersey on long beach Island. And I was going to get my equity card from it. Basically they were giving me a nonunion contract, but the last two weeks they were going to give me an equity contract so that I would get my card from that.
[00:11:18] But they didn’t have to pay me yeah. Or union wage the whole time. Right. So that was their way around it. And, that was 2012 and October on long beach Island and hurricane Sandy hit. And I like to joke that it blew the theater away, but in actuality it severely flooded the theater. It kind of decimated that whole community.
[00:11:43] No one was going to see theater and there was no theater really to go to because everything was ruined. and so they waited until the first day of rehearsal because they kind of thought they could clean it up. I think they waited like a week and they changed rehearsals to New York city instead of being in New Jersey.
[00:12:00] And so similar to it’s kind of drawing parallels to the pandemic. Now we kind of thought, Oh, it’ll be fine. And a little bit, they, I realized how bad it really was. And on the first day of rehearsal, they came in and canceled the show.
[00:12:10] Dane Reis: [00:12:10] Oh, no,
[00:12:12] Lauren Lukacek: [00:12:12] which was pretty good stating, cause we were already all there and ready to work, you know, and I had worked on my script and I was the only non-union principal.
[00:12:22] So it meant the most to me and the ensemble had been rehearsing for three days already. So they were. Oh, God bless. They were in the hallway, rehearsing their tap numbers and people were on the phone calling different theaters, trying to see who would take us in which no one would, because everyone had had their already had their own casts for Christmas shows.
[00:12:43] So I remember calling my agent and she was like, Oh, well, honey, I’m so sorry. And there’s nothing we can do as an act of God. Like the contract was just null and void. So I had no equity car, no job. No day job because I’d quit on my day jobs in preparation for that doing the show. And I had subleted my apartment.
[00:13:01] So I just went home to Wisconsin and spent a couple months there. And it was really, that was a hard, that was a really hard time. Cause I kind of felt, it felt hopeless. You know, when I was back in Wisconsin and I felt like, what am I doing here? It took me another four years to get my equity card. So three, three and a half years later, I was still nonunion.
[00:13:24] I was still auditioning. I had done some non-union shows at that point. I’d worked a lot at regional theaters where I was, I was non union, but the house was union and I was earning some EMC points and I wanted to start playing principles. So I started working at nonunion houses, playing principles, and ironically, I was playing Betty and white Christmas at another show at another theater in Kentucky.
[00:13:48] And I, the man, one of the men in the show was probably in his sixties and somehow I don’t remember how I found out that he was making also making like three or $400 a week. And at that point I was 27 and I thought, Oh my gosh, is this going to be the rest of my life? Like, am I never. Am I never going to have a higher pay rate than what I currently have.
[00:14:08] Like maybe I’m just not cut out for this. Maybe I’m not good enough. And maybe wanting it badly enough, just isn’t enough. And maybe having the school on my resume isn’t enough. And that was really a sobering thought. So I took a step back. I took this full time nannying job and I took a step back and I thought I’m just not going to audition for anything.
[00:14:30] If something comes to me, I had an agent, something comes to me. I’ll take it. And my agent called me in, and this was, so this was spring. This was like January through may. And sometime I think in April, my agent called me in and said, you know, you’re still non-union and what are you doing? What steps are you taking to, to become union?
[00:14:54] At this point, we thought you would be, and the higher paying gigs are through the union. And you know, you’re not ma they weren’t making a lot of commission from these little jobs that I was getting. If I was making three or $400 a week, it really making 10%. So they kind of, they sort, I mean, I love my agents.
[00:15:11] I’m still with them, but they sort of said like, what’s going on? Why, why is this happening? And I was like, I know me too. I don’t know why I go to classes. I’m trying, I’m trying. And, shortly after that, which I’ll talk about later, I, I got my card, but I was I’m grateful for that time because there were so many years and months where I had to recommit myself.
[00:15:32] And even during that time, I said, no, I still want to be a performer. I’m just not going to be. Spinning my wheels chasing after it. I’m going to wait for it to come to me. If it’s truly meant to be. At this point, I’ve done enough that the universe knows what I want and it did. It did come to me. And once I had that job, I was the most grateful person on the planet.
[00:15:49] I think I woke up every day, literally every single day I woke up and breathed a sigh of relief that I was a union member working because the job that I got was a tour. So I, thankfully I had a job for a year after that. Then I’ve, I’m so grateful for that time because it really centered me and it made me realize how.
[00:16:09] How, where I could be whenever I have a job, if I feel like complaining, I realize, you know what, I remember where I was and how bad it can be and, and how much I can want it.
[00:16:20] Dane Reis: [00:16:20] Absolutely. And you did mention about how, you know, at the conservatory and they, they have, they’re quite single-minded, I should say about the entertainment industry.
[00:16:32] I mean, after all it doesn’t musical theater degree, so they’re teaching musical theater, but. It’s all Broadway, Broadway, Broadway, Broadway, or bust. Right.
[00:16:41] Lauren Lukacek: [00:16:41] And it’s, yeah,
[00:16:43] Dane Reis: [00:16:43] that’s a fine mentality to have, but there is so much more to this entertainment industry that we were never really even educated on, or even didn’t even drop a hint that anything existed outside of Broadway.
[00:17:00] So it does make it difficult to show up in that city and go, gosh, I didn’t get this then. What was that for? What’s all this education, what’s all this training
[00:17:08] Lauren Lukacek: [00:17:08] for. Yes. I’m actually very involved with the alumni affairs department now. And I’m trying to change that mentality, which I think already has taken a, a Swift turn.
[00:17:21] So I’m super happy about that because I agree. I think it’s really detrimental for a young performer to go on to New York city and only see themselves in one way and not be flexible. To, to change and grow and figure out where their niche is because there’s so many different ways that you can express yourself through art and just being on Broadway and musical theater shows is not the only way at all.
[00:17:44] Dane Reis: [00:17:44] No, absolutely not. There’s so much out there. And by making yourself open to it, you just might find something that you’re actually more passionate about.
[00:17:52] Lauren Lukacek: [00:17:52] Exactly. Yeah. Go and get whatever you want. I mean, we actually, I’ve, I’ve just put together a, a mentorship program with the conservatory. I organized it with my friend Maya Keller.
[00:18:04] Who’s a graduate 216. And because during the pandemic, we just thought people are graduating. The typical opportunities, even of auditioning are not happening right now. So where are they going to, what are they going to do? How are they going to keep the fire lit under them? When this stuff does come back, what are they going to do to fill their time and to fill their, their bucket of artistic creativity when everything is shut down.
[00:18:32] So we created this mentorship program, we kind of set out like to match grads with alumni. And just have someone that can guide them through, you know, these next couple of months. And we were getting these, these, the surveys that we had them fill out the new ones, grads, and they were asking, it was so amazing Dane because none of the people, there were so many people I had to look for because nobody from our class fit, what they want.
[00:18:55] It, they were looking for drag performers and, you know, people creating their own work and, you know, All these different little niche things, clown, enthusiastic people who knew how to clown and things that I would never have thought of when I was 22. I applaud them for thinking outside the box. And it’s just something that we weren’t really exposed
[00:19:18] Dane Reis: [00:19:18] to.
[00:19:19] Absolutely. And that’s really good to hear and encouraging to hear that that’s what’s up putting now.
[00:19:23] Lauren Lukacek: [00:19:23] Yeah.
[00:19:24] Dane Reis: [00:19:24] Well, let’s move on to this next section now to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer.
[00:19:44] Tell us about that.
[00:19:46] Lauren Lukacek: [00:19:46] I grew up. I, so I grew up singing with my mom who also sang and music was always very prevalent in my house and my voice happened to be naturally operatic. So I kind of thought my only option to be a performer when I was young, was to be an opera singer, which I wasn’t really interested in.
[00:20:03] I was interested in being an elementary school teacher. I was that kid who would stay at recess. I would stay in the classroom and ask the teacher if she needed any help or he, and I would get copies of worksheets and go home and play school with my friends. And I even got. I got an overhead projector, one Christmas from my parents, which makes me laugh so hard.
[00:20:26] I don’t even think they use overhead projectors anymore, but I would
[00:20:29] Dane Reis: [00:20:29] be very surprised if they did
[00:20:31] Lauren Lukacek: [00:20:31] right. It was like my dream to have an overhead projector that I could, like, I don’t even know what I did with it. I think I just pretended I had a, you know, A classroom full of students. So I was very into this and I had very much set in my mind, you know, when I was probably 10, 11, 12, that I was going to stay in Wisconsin, probably marry some guy that I went to school with, have a bunch of kids and beat elementary school teacher, probably in the school that I, that I attended when I was growing up.
[00:20:57] And I also danced at a company in Wisconsin and we went to national competitions. One year. We went to New York city when I was 14. And on one of our days off, we went to see the music man on Broadway, which Rebecca Luker was starring in. And I’d never heard of her before, but I sat down in the chair and when I started to hear her sing, I realized that operatic singing like that, wasn’t just for opera.
[00:21:25] But that there were these other wonderful performers that were doing musical theater shows that were singing in English that were doing the same thing that I wanted to do. And I, it sort of opened up my eyes to a whole nother world. And I, Oh gosh. When I heard her sing my white night, which, you know, Dane, because I sang it all the time in school.
[00:21:45] I mean, I don’t even know I’m now even thinking about it. I’m kind of getting chills because it was such a transformative moment for me as a 14 year old. And I, and I, it just clicked. I thought, this is what I want to do. I want to be a performer. And so the, you know, the show finished and the curtain went down in my, I turned to my mom and I said, I want to be on Broadway.
[00:22:01] I would like to be a singer on Broadway. And she was like, you’ve always talked about being a teacher. And I said, no, this is what I want to do now. I was very mature. Yeah, exactly. Just keep my mind. So thankfully she was very encouraging, you know, she said, do you want to go to a performing arts high school?
[00:22:17] Or, and I kind of had my heart set on going to the public high school, which had a great arts program as well. And all my friends were there and that’s where my dad went to school when he was growing up. And so I thought, no, I just, I think I want to do a more structured thing in college. And instead in high school, I’ll do the musicals in high school and I’ll kind of figure out where I want to go from there.
[00:22:36] So they said, okay, great. And that’s kinda how that, that’s what brought me to the conservatory. But my, my amazing full circle moment happened in February because I met Rebecca Luker and, and it totally out of context, not even with performing was a totally different thing and we sort of exchanged numbers and yeah, we text a little bit now, so it just makes me laugh when I think back.
[00:22:56] Oh my gosh. I saw her, so, Oh my gosh. So many years ago it was like 2001. And she totally changed my life. She’s no clue. I never told her that because I didn’t want to fan girl out on her books. That, that moment I’ve always held her up in a pencil. It always makes me laugh when people are like, who are you talking about?
[00:23:10] People in musical theater world now, but you know, she’s not world famous or anything, but she changed my life.
[00:23:15] Dane Reis: [00:23:15] I love that. That’s such a good story. And I want to piggyback on that and. Let’s talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the audition, the callbacks. If those happened to be a part of it, what was going on in your life?
[00:23:31] And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite moment?
[00:23:38] Lauren Lukacek: [00:23:38] Well, this is kind of a continuation of the last story, the equity card story, because right after I had that meeting with my agent, about a month later, I got an appointment for the national tour of Cinderella. Which when I booked that show boiler alert, that was my number one book that moment.
[00:23:55]but to go back just a little bit to sort of explain to people that haven’t gone, the process, how it happened was that in December. So I booked, I booked the tour in June of 2015. So December of 2014, I was doing that show white Christmas, in Kentucky. And I got an appointment for the first national tour.
[00:24:17] Of Cinderella and I was freaking out, I had never gotten an appointment for something that big and it was right during that time when I was thinking, am I going to be nonunion for the rest of my life? It’s just, and so when I got that appointment, I was like, of course, I’m in freaking Kentucky right now.
[00:24:33] And I can’t go to New York city and audition for this thing because I’m in this nonunion show. And so my agent said, well, let me see if I can get you to send a video. And so I did, I, they said, yes, I did decides in the songs. And they said, can you send in a dance tape because it’s very important that you be able to dance.
[00:24:52] And ironically, someone in the cast of that show had been to a bunch of Cinderella dance calls and said, she thought she could piece it together, but the combo, like the audition combo and she could teach it to me and film it for me. And she had that music too. I don’t even know how this happened, but I said, great, thank you so much.
[00:25:08] So I wrote the Casper people. I said, I have someone that knows the combo. Would you like me to put it on tape? And they said, that’s great. So I did this. I mean, this video is hilarious. Now looking back at it, it’s really funny. you know, I’m fine in it, but I’m just like, wow, I can’t believe they continue to speak to me after that video.
[00:25:26] They said, what are your measurements? We’re trying to fit this. It was a replacement for a tour. So they were trying to fit someone into a preexisting costume. So I thought, Oh my gosh. Okay, well, I’ll have to be honest about my measurements because that’s going to be real. If I get the job, I can’t lie or something.
[00:25:40] So I gave him my real measurements. They said, great, perfect. And then I sent it off into the universe and I didn’t hear about it for a couple of days. So I heard back from my agent and they said, you didn’t get the job. They forwarded me the email that said we loved her. We thought she was great. However, we just need to see someone in person to know for sure.
[00:25:57] And there was a woman that was in person that we liked and we chose her. I thought, okay, well, it wasn’t meant to be, but I put my full effort into it and that’s all you can do. So then cut to six months later. Now I’m sort of in this. Weird place where I’m nannying full time. I don’t even know if I’m going to be a performer and I get this appointment out of the blue.
[00:26:16] So now I’ll walk you through this day. And this time they were looking for a fairy godmother cover, and also someone who could play, who could cover the stepmother. So it was an ensemble track. So you had to waltz in a 25 pound dress, right? Believably and partner with someone. And then you also had to believably play.
[00:26:37] This fairy godmother. Who’s very, you know, if serial and, loving and wise, and then you also had to cover the wicked stepmother who both of these women were, that were playing the roles were in their fifties, but they had to have someone who was younger too, to do both, to be able to fit into the ensemble and keep up with the fast pace of the show eight times a week, but then also be able to step into these other roles.
[00:27:00] Right. Which is kind of what I found out was my niche. Through this whole process. So, let me walk you through the day I went in on Monday and, and I was late. I was running late because the seven train wasn’t working. So I had to flag down a cab, although, because the train wasn’t working, everybody else was running for cabs.
[00:27:19] I shared a cab with this other performer. She happened to be in beautiful, the musical. We kind of chatted in the cab. And I was just praying that I would get there on time. I remember walking in to Pearl studios, going up the stairs, sitting down. I was maybe three minutes late for my appointment time. And then the door opened and the woman came out the monitor and said, Lauren Lucas.
[00:27:40] And, and I was like, yes, I’ll go in. So I had no time to be nervous because I was just thinking, you know, I was here. They didn’t notice that I was late. And I think that helped. I didn’t sit there and just overthink everything. I was just worried about getting there. So I went into the room and it was Adam Caldwell was the casting director was just sort of a preschool prescreen, too.
[00:28:03] Before they brought in the creative team to see if you were right. And I remember he gave me some notes and I came out of the room and I wrote them down in my iPhone phone because I thought, okay, I’m going to study these. So in case I get a call back, I know exactly what he said. And I remember there were girls that were talking that I listened to.
[00:28:18] I was overhearing some girls and they said, gosh, I’ve been in for this tour so many times they never catch me. Why am I even here? And so I thought, no, I’m going to stay positive. Like these women have been here a bunch of times. They haven’t seen me yet. So, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to stay positive.
[00:28:33] And I may remember visualizing getting called back. I, and I imagined getting the call and I did all this digitalization work and I went home and my agent wrote me and said, you have a call back on Wednesday. So that was Monday, then Wednesday to call back with the creative team. So I went back. And did the material.
[00:28:52] I remember the director, Mark Brokaw came out from behind the table and shook my hand. And he was doing that to everybody in the room, which really set me at ease, made me feel so comfortable. I felt like I was an equal to him. And so when I did the scenes and sang the songs, I felt. I felt like, you know what?
[00:29:08] I got this, like, I can do this. I did a good job already. They’ve already said yes to me to show these people. And I’m just going to continue doing what I was doing. And I remember I got some notes from Mark and applied them and he said, you know, that’s perfect. That’s exactly what I wanted to see. And so I was thinking, Oh my gosh, I’m golden.
[00:29:23] I’m great. So they call me back later that day for the dance call and Josh Rhodes and was the choreographer and his associate choreographer who also has husband Lee Wilkins. Was there and they taught us first. They taught us, the Prince is giving a ball, which is sort of a, you know, it’s like the peasants coming out to dance and, and it’s more grounded and, you know, pedestrian dancing and, and they did a cut after that.
[00:29:48] And I got through that cut and then they wanted to see if you could waltz. So they taught us a little waltz combination and Josh and Lee were our, I mean, there were four girls left at that point. Josh and Lee were our partners. When we performed them, they sort of. You know, put a video tape up video camera and we’re taping it so they could watch it later, I guess.
[00:30:07] But it was, you think that you’d be more nervous dancing with the choreographer, but he was so at ease because he was, he wanted you to be at ease. And I remember there was one point where I forgot what was next and he just sort of, he led me there in the dance and didn’t even say anything. And we looked at each other and it was such a great audition.
[00:30:26] And so. Such a great environment, really kind and loving and warm. And so I left kind of thinking, well, I did every single thing I could do and everything that was in my control, I did a great job and I’m proud of myself. And they said, okay, we’ll let you know by Friday. So Thursday was maybe the longest day of my entire life.
[00:30:48] I could, I mean, I couldn’t sleep that night because I thought this could change, change my whole life. I mean, everything I know will be different if I get this and if I don’t get it, I really will be disappointed. It’ll really like send me into it. I remember getting up at four in the morning and journaling, because I was like, okay, just picture.
[00:31:07] I was so into the visualization. I was like picture getting called picture, being on her, picture, everything. And so that I was still nannying. And so I was picking up, this little girl from kindergarten at like three o’clock and I was waiting for her. It was, it happened to be the last day of school.
[00:31:22] This was the beginning of June. And I was watching her say goodbye to all her friends. You know, she was going to see them. After summer and my phone rang and I looked at it as my agent and I picked it up and my agent said, you Cinderella, you got it. You did it so many years of work. You finally did it.
[00:31:41] You know, they’d been with me for, I gosh, like five years at that point. And, Yeah, it was amazing. It was such a wonderful, wonderful day. And I just, I spent that whole time. I was with her. I remember I brought her to, like, I brought her to a birthday party or something. I was just on the phone the whole time.
[00:31:54] I was just go. I was like, I didn’t care about this anymore. I’m just calling all my friends on my family. So then I left next. The next that was on Friday on Tuesday, I left for a year. Oh, wow. That was on tour. Yeah. It was like really quick turnaround. And I just pinch myself every day. I mean, it was like the most incredible thing that could’ve ever happened to me, which, which is so funny because it wasn’t a Broadway show.
[00:32:14] You know, I always thought, Oh, well, this is how I’m going to feel when I get into a Broadway show, but I was a raccoon puppet for part of that show. And I was. The happiest raccoon puppet that you would ever seen. I mean, I was just thrilled to be in that show.
[00:32:27] Dane Reis: [00:32:27] That’s a good story. And I love that it was such a memorable and such.
[00:32:31] You said a warm audition experience. I love it when there are directors or the creative team that have that mentality because. There’s really no need for an ego in those situations, because you might be choreographing. You might be directing or producing a show, but you can’t do any of those things unless you have good people to work with.
[00:32:54] So everyone very important in their own way. And it’s, it’s a collaboration. It’s not this traditional, you know, boss and employee situation, even though maybe they are paying your paycheck, but it’s, everyone needs to work together if anything’s going to succeed. And I love that they really, that creative team has embraced that and
[00:33:12] Lauren Lukacek: [00:33:12] we’re warm.
[00:33:13] It’s so true. You really do have to, I mean, you have to think of yourself as someone the director is looking for and you’re doing them a favor by being the person that they’re looking for, because they didn’t have to look anymore. And, you know, bringing that mentality into an audition room, even if they’re not giving you the warmth, obviously it’s much easier if you have a wonderful team like that.
[00:33:34] That is just saying, you know, we want you to do well, but most of the time. Any Cason director class I’ve been to, or any creative team member that I’ve talked to after I’ve been cast, they always say, we want you to do well. Like we might be tired behind the table and not showing it, but we are. So every time someone walks in the room, that’s a chance for someone to blow us away.
[00:33:54] And so when you kind of think about it from their point of view, they’re cheering you on. So there’s no need to be scared because they want you to do well.
[00:34:01] Dane Reis: [00:34:01] Yeah. And if you had, have had the opportunity to be on that side of the it’s exhausting, it’s tiring, it’s expensive. And it’s in a perfect world.
[00:34:12] Someone picks up the phone and knows everyone that they want to cast for a show and they just cast it by phoning their friends. That’s the ideal scenario, right? Because. Auditioning is hard and it’s long work and you just want to work with good people. And if you know all those people, that’s what you’re going to do.
[00:34:31] Right. Exactly. It’s just not a possibility. So yeah, you have to have auditions. You have to go, you know, market yourself to the rest of the world. So you can get people to show up and show what they got.
[00:34:41] Lauren Lukacek: [00:34:41] Exactly. Yeah, and be competent enough to say, this is who I am. This is what I have to offer. And if it’s not what you’re looking for, then that’s fine.
[00:34:49] You know, we’re not going to be a good match then, but I know that I’m good enough. And you know, that’s like such a hard adjustment to think of. I have something to offer you.
[00:34:58] Dane Reis: [00:34:58] 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?
[00:35:06] And of course we are amidst a lot of stuff in the world right now with this global pandemic, with all of the racial injustices that are happening. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:35:21] Lauren Lukacek: [00:35:21] Well, to answer your last question first, this is something I’ve been thinking about.
[00:35:26] A lot and. Especially having so many friends who are currently in shows that we’re running and, you know, and on the creative side of shows that we’re running, they’re all saying that it’s going to be at least until January of 2021 until Broadway comes back. So then that makes me kind of think, okay, well, regional theaters.
[00:35:48] Well, will they be following after or will they, will they be quicker because they’re smaller houses, smaller markets. I’m not exactly sure. Right now the union has to approve. If it’s a union theater nonunion, I might just move forward on its own. I’m not sure how that’s going to work. But, but union theater has to be approved by the union.
[00:36:08] And right now they’re not approving really anything that I think until there’s like a vaccine, I’m not exactly sure, but they’ve laid out this plan. And I know that there was, I have one girlfriend who was out at two ICAN out in Utah and they flew her out there. And then she kind of sat there for two months because the union couldn’t agree with the theater’s plan.
[00:36:27] So. I’m actually not sure, but I, what I do hope is that when we do come back, whenever that is that there are major changes in the way that theater is produced. And like you said, with all the racial injustice, that that is only being brought to our attention now, but has been happening for 400 years. You know, we, why, why do we not have more black and Brown?
[00:36:46] Yeah. Voices on the creative teams of these shows. Why is there no, you know, black PR we, I can’t think of one black producer. There’s maybe two who black casting directors and. They’re you know, up and coming and, you know, we need more, we have a lot of black directors that aren’t probably doing these big shows.
[00:37:05] You know, they’re not being asked to black choreographers, socio choreographers, playwrights, costumers, makeup, and hair people, technical crew, you know, it’s such a white industry. And for that change to happen, we have to highlight those black artists that should be employed more. I just think it’s so necessary.
[00:37:21] And it’s about time. one of the things I’m doing. On that end is I have a friend who is a very successful actress and has a lot of followers. And she kind of put a call out on Instagram for people to, to tag their favorite black directors and choreographers. And she, her idea was to put together a spreadsheet of these people so that we could predict where she could present this list to industry professionals that make the decisions.
[00:37:51] However, I’m hoping that. Soon, we have black producers that are also making these decisions, but I’m, I’m helping her with that. So I’m collecting, I’m basically, you know, kind of assisting on that. She did all that work and now I’m collecting all the names. we have, let’s see 360 names that I’ve written down and I’m slowly working through them, putting down like their website and, you know, what they consider themselves to be like what their titles are, what their specialties are.
[00:38:17] How to contact them all that, and then she’s going to put it yeah. Out there in the world. She’s going to put it on her page and, and hopefully get it into the right hands of some people that can actually make some changes because it, it just needs, we need to have more representation of black folks because for the theater landscape to eventually become truly equal.
[00:38:33] Dane Reis: [00:38:33] Absolutely. I could not agree more with that. And remind me, after, after this interview or done talking, I have some names for you.
[00:38:41] Lauren Lukacek: [00:38:41] great. I would love that. Besides working on that list in February, I started a YouTube series called sustainable swaps. Which are short videos, mostly one minute that outline a more eco-friendly product to swap out with your traditional product.
[00:38:56] And I’ve mainly focused on plastic free vegan and cruelty free products from small businesses, mainly female owned, and now I’m seeking out more black owned businesses and products, and I’m just trying to keep it fun and easy because I want a more sustainable lifestyle to become better norm. And I want to encourage people to try new things.
[00:39:14] And it all starts with small changes in your daily life to reduce your trash. And I think if people saw it as not such a big undertaking, that they would make these small changes and people already are for sure. And, I’d love to help kind of with that revolution. I mean, I, in addition to that, I really believe that the environmental importance of a plant based diet is.
[00:39:35] Huge. I mean, there’s like, there’s so many different studies out there, but one of the studies that really stuck with me was this Oxford university study that happened a couple of years ago, where they basically said that a vegan diet reduces your food carbon footprint by something like 73%. Which is crazy, even just if you don’t want to totally become vegan, which I’m not preaching that at all.
[00:39:56] I think if you want to eat meat some days, you know, great. If you just cut back on your meat or cut back on your dairy or your eggs or whatever it is, that is so huge as well. And so I’ve been wanting to show people that a vegan diet is good for the planet and it’s delicious. So I started at another series.
[00:40:14] That’s also in the same YouTube channel right now. It’s called vege out. And I basically go into vegan restaurants or restaurants that have vegan options and they taste, test those menu items. And eventually I’d like to do sort of a vegan, diners drive ins and dives I’m guy Fieri. And I go into the kitchens of the chefs who create these delicious dishes and kind of film how they’re made, because I think there’s just a lot of like, Questions about vegan food from people that have never tried any, anything.
[00:40:41] They just think, Oh, salads, tofu, bland. It’s disgusting. And it’s just become so much more intricate now. And my non vegan fiance eats mostly vegan now because I showed him how delicious it can be. Of course there’s junk. So that’s vegan, but you know, so we can pick out on stuff too sometimes, but. yeah, that just, that’s been kind of my mission as well.
[00:41:00] And to adapt to the pandemic recently, I’ve been getting vegan takeout, food, and, and, or like frozen meals that vegan places deliver. And then just doing like a review in my house. So I have a couple of those on doc that I’m editing right now. I’ve learned how to edit, which is hilarious. And so one day I hope to, you know, kind of expand upon it, like create a website and get a blog going about like sustainable fashion and thrifting and all the beautiful stuff that goes along with that.
[00:41:27] Dane Reis: [00:41:27] I love all of that stuff.
[00:41:29] Lauren Lukacek: [00:41:29] Well,
[00:41:30] Dane Reis: [00:41:30] yeah. And let’s move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?
[00:41:48] Lauren Lukacek: [00:41:48] Oh yeah, I got it.
[00:41:49] Dane Reis: [00:41:49] Let’s do it. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?
[00:41:57] Lauren Lukacek: [00:41:57] I’d say not having enough knowledge when I was 14 to understand, there are many different kinds of performance in theater and that there was room, there was room for legit singers like me.
[00:42:07] Dane Reis: [00:42:07] Yeah. And the second question, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
[00:42:15] Lauren Lukacek: [00:42:15] Remember who you are. My mom always said that to me. Her dad said it to her whenever she left the house. And it’s just a reminder of my worth that I should stand up for myself and to remember the values that I was raised with and to treat others with kindness.
[00:42:26] Love that.
[00:42:28] Dane Reis: [00:42:28] 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
[00:42:38] Lauren Lukacek: [00:42:38] right now, reminding myself that I am the one I’ve been waiting for. That’s a quote that I, that I recently got from an amazing speaker, Reverend Jackie Lewis of middle collegiate church, which I’m not religious at all, but she and speaker, and those words stuck with me from this anti-racism seminar.
[00:42:54] She led, but basically artistically, if I want something, I don’t need permission from anyone else to do it, it’s on me. And you know, if there’s something that I see that’s wrong in the world, I have the power to change it. I have the power to do something about it.
[00:43:07] Dane Reis: [00:43:07] I love that end in regards to that, that quote and with the arts and creativity, it’s actually been coming up quite a fit recently in some of these interviews that I’ve been doing, that people are realizing because of this pandemic, because everything’s just what stopped that realizing we can actually control our creativity and our art, which is, seems quite obvious, but it’s so easy to.
[00:43:36] Equate being creative and being artistic with that gig or that show or the contract in making it in, monetizing it or making it part of our lives, which is great. Those are all good things. But to realize now that we’re in control of that.
[00:43:51] Lauren Lukacek: [00:43:51] Yep. And it’s right at the, I mean, we have so much technology just do it ourselves right now.
[00:43:55] So why not do it? Why not try it?
[00:43:59] Dane Reis: [00:43:59] And the fourth question, what is the best resource? Whether that’s a book, a movie, a YouTube video, a podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career. Now
[00:44:11] Lauren Lukacek: [00:44:11] the teachings of my coach, Jen Waldmann, she has a blog on Jen waldmann.com/blog and a podcast.
[00:44:18] Like yourself called the long and short of it. And it’s so helpful for actors who want to buck with tradition, take ownership of their careers and live a life of service that they’re proud of. She’s so inspiring. She also has online classes right now. I’m highly recommend her. She’s changed my mind about so many things in the industry that I thought I didn’t have control over, which it turns out I didn’t.
[00:44:38] Dane Reis: [00:44:38] Yeah, I love it. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch. But still have 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?
[00:44:57] Lauren Lukacek: [00:44:57] My first instinct was, maybe I wouldn’t have gone to college for this, but I do, but I do love my college experience and I’m very proud of where I came from, but it was very expensive.
[00:45:08]I probably would have spent more time after college, continuing to train, which is something I kind of didn’t think I needed because I already have a degree from the Boston conservatory. So why do I need to keep training? But I, now I realize that you have to go to acting class still. You still have to go to dance class.
[00:45:21] You know, I get coached before every audition still. And there’s no shame in that. It’s just part of being an actor.
[00:45:26] Dane Reis: [00:45:26] Yeah, love it. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in the industry that you’d like to leave with our
[00:45:37] Lauren Lukacek: [00:45:37] listeners? I would say stop comparing yourself to others.
[00:45:41] And instead, focus that energy on becoming the best artist. You can be, spend less time on Instagram and just know that everyone has their own journey that has ups and downs that you never see.
[00:45:52] Dane Reis: [00:45:52] Absolutely. That is incredibly sound advice. And to wrap up this interview, it is time to give yourself a plug.
[00:46:01] Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?
[00:46:07] Lauren Lukacek: [00:46:07] I’ll just repromote you can find sustainable swaps and veg out on YouTube under sustainable swaps with Lauren Lucas, or you can go to my website, www dot Lauren Lucas, sac.com. And I’m also on Instagram a lot.
[00:46:20] Probably just to take my own advice. My name is at Lauren . Kay. And if anybody out there has an idea, first of all, if you have a black director or preferred choreographer or someone that you want to, you know, get on that list, please DM me on there. But also if you have a sustainable swap, something eco-friendly that you use in your house or any questions, feel free to write me.
[00:46:39] I’m super open book and thank you so much for having me, Dave.
[00:46:43] Dane Reis: [00:46:43] Oh, thank you so much, Lauren, for being here and joining me, it’s been wonderful to have you. Thank you so much for joining us today. My one call to action for you is to go to youbookeditpodcast.com and join our free email community. Where we dig deep into a continually growing resource of truly actionable things you can be doing right now to help you advance your entertainment career.
[00:47:11] Don’t miss an episode. We have a new guest, seven days a week search for you, booked it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app and subscribe today. All the best to you. We’ll see you tomorrow.
[00:47:32] Lauren Lukacek: [00:47:32] Do you think that everybody should know that we sang our duet together for showcase?
[00:47:37] Dane Reis: [00:47:37] Yeah, I’ll put that on the I’ll I’ll tag that at the end
[00:47:42] Lauren Lukacek: [00:47:42] because of you that I’m here in New York.
[00:47:46] Sorry. I’ll let you do your little outro.
[00:47:48] Dane Reis: [00:47:48] No, that’s it. We’ll we’ll cut there. I’ll I’ll clean it all up. It’s gonna be great.
[00:47:51] Lauren Lukacek: [00:47:51] Great.
[00:47:53] Dane Reis: [00:47:53] Okay. Promise. We’re all done now to the sound effect.