EP 92: Jayson Michael
[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it, episode 92.
right. right. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Jayson, Michael, are you ready for this, Jayson?
[00:00:13]Jayson Michael: [00:00:13] Let’s do it Dane.
[00:00:15] Dane Reis: [00:00:15] All right. Jayson is originally from Mechanicsville, Virginia, where he received his BFA in dance and choreography at Virginia Commonwealth university. After college, he was offered a position at Walt Disney world. During that time he had the chance to work on many projects, such as Disney’s festival of the lion King and Disney’s beauty and the beast where he became a member of the actor’s equity association.
[00:00:38] Soon after Jason set sail with Royal Caribbean international, once he felt his time at sea was done, he flew East to perform at universal studios. Singapore. Now he holds residents in Los Vegas where you can catch him at the Rio as the MC host of Chippendales. Other Dan’s credits include Vegas, the show and zombie burlesque Broadway, national and international tour of bring it on the musical. Jessica Suda from the pussycat dolls, Miley Cyrus and Sofia Carson.
[00:01:08] Jason, 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.
[00:01:24]Jayson Michael: [00:01:24] Yeah, totally.
So, I mean, that was a pretty fantastic synopsis. Thank you, Jane.
[00:01:29] But yeah,
I mean, um, small town boy that grew up in a very small town of Mechanicsville, Virginia. And this was kind of something. I feel my career. Was kind of set up for me, you know? My dad was a huge, like, Advocate of the arts. And I feel like that’s where a lot of like the love and passion came in for me to be a performer, you know, um,
[00:01:50] One of my dad’s biggest,
like. Um, people that he looked up to was bill Bojangles. And so growing up as a kid, my dad would always like, You’re like, I want you to learn how to tap up and downstairs. Like bill Bojangles, dead. And I mean, I think that’s kind of what sparked this whole thing. And I feel like any male dancer we’ll know once you get into like a dance class and you’re.
[00:02:12] The girls and the teacher sees that you’re actually good. They’re like, you should really do. this, you should stick to this and that’s
kind of how it will happen, you know, and, you know, I kind of just got swept into it and got swept away. And, you know, once you put so much time and effort, just something and you find a love and a passion for it. I just kind of
[00:02:29] stuck to it. And
so. Decided, this is what I was going to do, went to college forward and then religious started to produce and develop my career from there. And like you said, from, uh, my first contract that I took at Walt Disney world accepting my equity card too. Working on Royal Caribbean cruise lines, um, assisting an opening universal studios, Singapore.
[00:02:48] Then from there. My first Broadway and international tour. And dancing with many artists and now just
kind of blending myself here in Vegas and really loving it and enjoying this entire ride.
[00:02:59]Dane Reis: [00:02:59] Yeah, I love your journey. That’s so great. And you’re right. I can absolutely relate to being that guy in the desk. That’s cause there’s one of me.
[00:03:08] Jayson Michael: [00:03:08] Let’s see, there’s one in every studio, man. Maybe two, but there’s one in every studio you get there. And the teacher’s
like, Oh, you should say, because of course every student wants that boy for their jazz number or their tap number. And then you start getting good. Yeah, exactly. And then he started getting good and you start building this kind of relation with the arts and you’re just like, Oh, this is fun. This is cool. And then you’re also, you’re getting idolized by every dance mom and every girl in the studio. So that’s not a bad thing either.
Uh, and then yeah, it just kind of totally sticks and takes off.
[00:03:41]Dane Reis: [00:03:41] Yeah, absolutely. Well,
Well, let’s move on to this next section and Jason, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?
[00:03:52]Jayson Michael: [00:03:52] Okay, I’m going to keep it super real. I’m not gonna play it cute. It’s always kick the girl. Who’s better than you down the stairs.
[00:04:01] Dane Reis: [00:04:01] Oh, No.
[00:04:03] Jayson Michael: [00:04:03] I’m totally kidding. I’m totally kidding.
Um, honestly, if I had to pick a quote that , Really resonated with me. And I think it’s something that has become very redundant in my life and in my career. Because I think, um, honestly growing up, um, as, and figuring myself out and becoming part of myself as a gay man and really finding where I fit into this world and like,
[00:04:25] What my career was going to be. I honestly would just say, it’s just stay true to yourself. Love yourself, and know that you are going to be the best version of you that you
possibly possibly can be no matter what. Anyone else thinks.
[00:04:40] Dane Reis: [00:04:40] I love
[00:04:41] Jayson Michael: [00:04:41] I would say it was something that like,
[00:04:44]When I came out to my parents, it was something that. They would always tell me and resonate me. I wouldn’t even know if it’s exactly a quote, but it was something that I constantly heard in my life that kind of really drove me and pushed me and. Resonated with me because. It was something so strong that I also had to figure out within myself,
you know, to just stay true to me. And that honestly, that there’s only one of you and people are gonna love you for you. And if they don’t then.
You know, You can’t expect everyone to have the same interpretation or impression of you. So being able to like know that and trust that in, find it in my heart to trust. That was something that I kind of just really strived for in my life and stuck by my life.
[00:05:25] Dane Reis: [00:05:26] Yeah, I love that. I love your quote.
I mean, the showgirl one was funny, uh, but the actual one. But the, but the fact that, you know, that’s true and that you’ve really embodied that. And it’s, and it’s not necessarily, it’s certainly not a quote that you can just say, and that’s what it is. You.
[00:05:39] You’ve worked on this throughout your entire life, throughout your entire career, and it’s become part of you and it’s helped shape who you are. And I love that.
[00:05:47]Jayson Michael: [00:05:47] Yeah, totally. And.
I mean, because you know, we’re in an industry where we are so. I would say like nit picked up on and you know, where it’s all about your body image or what’s your hair color? Is there what’s your facial features are . Or what you look like, you know, and it can be scary and it can be very damaging and it’s fearful. And I think for most entertainers, you know,
[00:06:08] It takes a moment to just be able to look at those comments and accept those comments and be like, Hey, listen. I know my worth and I know what I’m capable of, and I know why I do what I do,
you know, to be able to accept that. And to be able to continue to stride in your career. Is something that I think is very empowering and powerful, you know?
So, yeah, it was something that, I mean, it took me a long time to learn a long time to accept, but once I finally figured it out, it was something very special to know that. I could do and have to use in my favor in my career.
[00:06:45] Dane Reis: [00:06:45] Yeah, absolutely. Well,
Well, let’s move on to this section here. And Jason look, of course you are an entertainer. I am an entertainer, and I think that you would agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally honest, a 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 your having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while yeah, sure. There is no radius amount of fun and excitement being onstage, doing what we do.
[00:07:20] 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.
[00:07:38]Jayson Michael: [00:07:38] When it comes to failures.
I mean, I think anyone in this industry will realize that. You will hear a thousand times now. You know, we’ll hear a thousand times. No. And. The best thing we can do is obviously again, show yourself that self love and know what your value and what your artistry is. But I would definitely say something that I came across in my career as an obstacle was, um, when I was working at universal city of Singapore.
Um, one of the biggest obstacles was realizing that different cultures work in different ways. And they’re not always going to abide by some of the ways that we have worked, uh, say in the States or wherever, you know. And so one of the biggest obstacles that I think I’ve really had to endure was learning to adapt to different cultures. And I think I’ve learned a lot of that on cruise ships as well. You know, , we get so comfortable in like the artistic, um, and professional scene that we have in the States.
[00:08:35] That you may not really realize that when you do take a job overseas, how different it may actually be or what the demands that they may have from you and that standpoint. And so that was one thing that I really took on very differently because I didn’t understand it again. When I took that contract in Singapore,
I was, I was younger. I was in my twenties.
[00:08:56] And I was like, Wait a second. It
kind of like threw me for a loop a little. I was like, This is, this is not how I’m used to operating, you know, ad again, like you, it was definitely like an awakening for me to realize that different cultures work in different ways and you have to respect. Those cultures in those guidelines and what they’re putting forth to the table and what they expect of you. And it may not be something that you’re used to, and I think I can go to anywhere actually, you know, it may happen in the States or whether it be a different production company or a different producer or whatever it may be.
[00:09:27] It’s I think it’s maybe just being able to adjust and accommodate , and realize that everyone is not the same and that not every production is going to be the same and not every producer is going to be the same and not every stage. Or show is going to be the same, but I definitely think that was something that caught me off guard when I was working overseas.
kind of the standard of what they like and what they want and how they operate, which was so different than what the States was.
[00:09:55]Dane Reis: [00:09:55] Yeah, absolutely. I’m so glad that you brought that up and that’s also why I am such a massive advocate for, especially when we are in the beginnings of our careers, especially is to go out and do some of those international contracts go out and
[00:10:11] get yourself on a cruise ship experience, the world experience different cultures because you’re right.
[00:10:16] Everyone has a different way of doing things. And I think cruise ships, you said
it it’s just as crazy melting pot of
[00:10:22] cultures and it really teaches you how to adapt and learn how to interact and be. A good person. Around many different cultures and not get offended by some people when they don’t culturally respond the way you’re expecting them to. And you’re right. And then you even expanded that into,
you know, when you come back, when you’re going, . Into any production say back home in the States or wherever you’re from that. All those skills that you’ve learned with all of these different cultures help you to navigate all of these different scenarios. That you’re going to be an , even though many of them might be very familiar. You now have such a tool belt and an arsenal of experience too.
[00:11:02] To pull from. So you can be relatable. You can be a likable and you can understand and be empathetic with whatever that producer, whatever that company, whatever that cast mate might need from you.
[00:11:12]Jayson Michael: [00:11:12] Yeah, totally.
Like, I mean, like when I got through into that situation in Singapore, like I was, I had worked for universal studios prior in Orlando and I was like, Oh, it’s going to be very similar to this. But then when I got there, Yeah. And then, you know, I had to realize that this was based was under a blanket where it wasn’t owned by the universal company. So this was a third party brand running a universal brand. And so basically it was their roles and how they wanted to run things, you know, and this was a 14 month contract and I was at.
[00:11:42] Okay. This is what I’m getting myself into. I need to be able to adapt and prepare myself, not only physically, but mentally for what now they’re expecting of me as an entertainer to give them what they expect.
[00:11:56] Dane Reis: [00:11:56] Yeah. Absolutely. And that’s Sentosa is that correct?
[00:11:59]Jayson Michael: [00:11:59] Yeah. Yeah. Resorts what’s in TOSA.
[00:12:01] Dane Reis: [00:12:01] Yes. All right.
Well, let’s move on to this section into 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 living or maybe it was yes. This is what I need to be doing as an entertainer. Tell us about that.
[00:12:24]Jayson Michael: [00:12:24] I would like to take it in two different directions. So I’ll say I would definitely say like my spotlight moment honestly, was just when I was a young kid, I was always that sibling that was different. Mike, my brother grew up to be a nuclear engineer. My sister is a surgical technician, but I was always the kid that was running around the house of my tap shoes on scuffing.
My parents, my parents ceramic floors.
[00:12:49] I knew I was always going to be that artsy creative performer.
Like, I always knew that that was in my blood. And again, it stand so far back too. My dad being so involved in the scene of what bill Bojangles was and that African American scene of like tapping and things like that. And that he was so involved in. So intrigued by that really kind of rubbed off on me that he was like, Oh, I would love for you to be able to do this. So I just knew.
[00:13:23] Growing up that this was always going to be a part of my life.
Uh, but if I have to say like one big like aha moment that I felt that I was like really doing something in my career that I know I was supposed to be doing. Um, I would say it was when I booked, um, bring it on. Because I felt that was the one point in life where I got to merge two points of my life and bring them together.
[00:13:49] Because it’s,
um, part of my training is like I grew up, um, dancing 40 hours a week at my studio, but then I was also doing competitive cheerleading. So when I auditioned for that show, or when I briefly saw that show with Lin Manuel Miranda, who created that entire show. You know, which was again, mind blowing to be able to work with him.
[00:14:09] And she, everything that he’s done now, from this point on, I knew I had to be a part of that show because I was like, This merges two major loves of my life, which was cheerleading and musical theater. And so when I heard they were auditioning, I was like, I have to go, I have to go. And it was right after I got back from Singapore. And,
um, I went to my agent MTA with Jim Keith in LA and I was like,
[00:14:34] I need to get an audition for this musical. I have to do it. And. They made it happen. And
I mean, it was probably one of the most extensive auditions that I’ve had ever gone through because it was not only singing, it was dancing. It was stunting. It was tumbling. And I mean, it was round after round, after round after round. And I was actually back in Orlando and I had just accepted a holiday contract in Orlando and sells in the mid central in the hollow. They contract that when I finally got the call that I booked the gig.
Um, I mean, it was probably one of the happiest days of my career. Because I had just, I, this show was me. This is what exuded my life. I was like, Cheerleading musical theater. Like it couldn’t have gotten better. And then to get my first Broadway national tour under my belt, like. It couldn’t have been more perfect. So that to me was definitely like one of those highlight moments. And I was like, this is what I’m supposed to be doing in this moment right now.
[00:15:34] This is my life. This explains who I am, this exudes, who I am. And yeah, it was,
uh, it was an amazing day when I got that call from my agent. So, thank you, Jim, Keith and Lindsey. I love you guys so much, but yeah, it was a really awesome day to really know that I felt at that moment. This is where I’m supposed to be. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.
[00:15:56] Dane Reis: [00:15:56] Yes. I love that story so much. And I want to piggyback on that quickly 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 and what was going on in your life. And what about that moment makes it your favorite? Booked it
[00:16:17] Jayson Michael: [00:16:17]
I mean, I’ve literally gotten back from Singapore. I had flown back to Singapore. I was odd. In LA for a bit, staying with a friend. I’ve been up there for about. Maybe like two to three months. And that’s when I signed with my agent out there, MTA and, you know, To me, like I came from a very musical theater scene. It’s like, I really didn’t know if LA was the scene that I was supposed to be in. And so when I heard about the bringing on audition, they sit.
You know, There was just a, like I said, a lot of trials behind that audition, you know, it was physical, it was vocal, it was stunting, dancing, Chile. It was so much, and it was so stressful and the anticipation, because I was living in Orlando at that time. So I was flying back and forth from Orlando to New York, Orlando to New York.
[00:17:03] Completely out of my own pocket and I’m like, what is happening?
Like what’s going to happen? You know, like when you go through so many, like call backs like that. It’s like, okay. I’ve spent so much money out of my own pocket. I think every dancer can attest to this. You know, when you’re not working.
[00:17:18] I’m thinking you’re not doing a gig and you’re really working so hard for these callbacks at this audition. And you’re flying back and forth. If it’s like on a different location. It’s a little stressful, cause you’re like I’m putting so much money and time into this shit.
Like. Man. I really hope this pays off.
[00:17:35]And so when that final call came in,
I mean, I literally just broke down into tears cause I was like, Everything just felt. Just, it felt so right. And it was like, just finally, like finally, and then again, it was a show of my dreams. it was a show that I knew that I was supposed to be a part of. And then being able to work with, uh, Andy Blankenbuehler as a choreographer, Alex, Alex Lacamoire is the musical director, Lynn Manuel, as the director, producer and writer of the show, like, I mean, it’s a dream team. It’s honestly, a dream team and. I would definitely say that was one of the most amazing moments of my career. I should be able to book that show.
[00:18:13]Dane Reis: [00:18:13] Yeah, I love that. Love that. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And Hey, it’s a weird time. We are amidst this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:18:33]Jayson Michael: [00:18:33] Yeah.
[00:18:34] well, totally like right now,
you know, I am we’re on a break right now because of everything’s with dependent. I’m currently at Chippendales. Um, but you know, we’ve made, um, Uh, amazing experience right now, which we’re doing. It’s called Chippendale’s at home. Where it is a 30 minute virtual experience over zoom, where we do bachelorette parties, birthdays. And all kinds of things like that, where we play a drinking game. Then we do like some Portugal strip tease and things like that. And it’s. Very awesome to very key bar to keep our brand relevant. And just kind of current and just to kind of be there for our fans and give them some type of entertainment because a at the end of the day, we’re all in the same crazy position, you know, and. A lot of people are taking hits left and right. You know, we were able to do so many for like healthcare workers, which was so amazing, like to see healthcare workers that have been relocated from their homes and hotels. Uh, like in group of hotels with other doctors and nurses, , like, , you know, they had purchased parties to do birthdays and things like that. And that was just so moving and so empowering, just to be a part of like giving back to something during this pandemic has. Been something super Epic and super awesome to really experience. But, so, yeah, so we’re doing like these online virtual parties, which has been super cool. Um, but when it comes to like the thoughts of where entertainment is going, obviously Vegas has taken a really large hit New York has taken a really large head even LA when it comes to the film industry has taken a really big hit. But I mean, in my heart, it’s like one of those things that you go, you know, entertainment will never die. You know, the entertainment will never go away. It’s something that people will always want. It’s something that brings so much joy to people that people will always accept and wanting to live. So, I , I know there may be a stagnant point of time where we’re waiting and. We don’t really know where or when things will open, but. It’s one of those things. It’s like, I know it will open, you know, it’s, it’s out of my head. Hands to think when it will happen.
[00:20:34] But yeah, it’s
like, I know what’s going to happen. And I know when it does happen, it’s going to come back tenfold and every show from the strip to Broadway, to anything that’s happening in LA, it’s going to come back tenfold and better than ever. And it’s like, That thing, you know, when you just step on that stage, you glow and you live at your, your body thrives for it, you know, and you know, our audiences, audiences will feel that they will they’ll know.
[00:20:58] You know how special that moment will be for all of us to get back and hit the stage again.
[00:21:03] Dane Reis: [00:21:03] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I love your insight on that. Thank you.
[00:21:07] And it’s time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?
[00:21:26]Jayson Michael: [00:21:26] Let’s do it.
[00:21:28]Dane Reis: [00:21:28] First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?
[00:21:34]Jayson Michael: [00:21:34]
Uh, myself and the fear of being accepted and being good enough.
[00:21:38]Dane Reis: [00:21:38] Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
[00:21:44]Jayson Michael: [00:21:44]
Um, I’m going to say it. I mean, I may be a little redundant, but it’s like, love yourself. Accept yourself.
[00:21:49] Stand strong in yourself because you are the best version of you. And there is no copy of you and only you can be, you.
[00:21:56] Dane Reis: [00:21:56] Well said. 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.
[00:22:09]Jayson Michael: [00:22:09]
Um, I would just say it’s having a routine, you know, I definitely think sticking to a routine is one of the best things that worked for me. Um, You know, I worked very late hours with our show at Chippendales. And so I think with that sticking to a routine of being as consistent as possible is probably one of the best things that works for me.
[00:22:24] Dane Reis: [00:22:24] Beautiful. Fourth question. What is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video up podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.
[00:22:37]Jayson Michael: [00:22:37] my best resource, I would say, as
your friends, sometimes your friends in the industry can be your best resource ever because not only is it a mental resource. It can be an expressive resource when it comes to bookings or gigs or information or anything like that. So I say, use the people around you. Because the people around you and the people you care about the most can honestly be sometimes the best resources that you can get.
[00:22:58] Dane Reis: [00:22:58] I love that.
[00:22:59] 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?
[00:23:15]Jayson Michael: [00:23:15] I would say I would keep it the same. Because I feel it’s a learning and growth experience,
you know, I would never trade anything that I’ve done in my career or anything. That I’ve experienced in my career to kind of jump kind of jump the line, you know, to kind of cut in front of it, because everything that I’ve done or everything that I’ve learned has been such a learning and growing experience. There has been so much growth from it. I would definitely keep it the same. Because I think it’s important for us all to make our own path and make our own decisions and learn and grow from those things.
[00:23:44] Dane Reis: [00:23:44] Love it. And to wrap up this interview, Jason, 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?
[00:23:57] Jayson Michael: [00:23:57]
Well, uh, my name is Jason Michael. I’m the MC host of Chippendales here in Las Vegas. And yeah, if you wanna find me on social media, it’s Instagram, Jason J a Y. S O N dot Michael. And on Facebook, it’s just Jason, Michael J a Y S O N. And yeah, come hang out with us at our new chip and Dale’s at home experience, you can book it @chippendales.com. Other than that. Uh, yeah. Thank you guys for hanging out and listening to my story. I appreciate it. And love each other. Stay strong with each other and support each other. There. We’re all going through this together, you know, times may be hard, but no, there’s always a shoulder to go to and someone to talk to.
[00:24:38] Dane Reis: [00:24:38] Love it. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Jason just said in the description of this episode, so you can easily connect with him. Jason. Thank you so much for being here today, sharing your journey, sharing your story. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on.
[00:24:53]Jayson Michael: [00:24:53] No. Thank you so much, Dan. I greatly appreciated, it’s been so awesome. Chatting to you next time. Bring your little baby on so we can talk to.
[00:25:03] Yeah, I love that.