Why I‘ll Never Make It - An Actor‘s Journey
Monday Nov 07, 2022
Monday Nov 07, 2022
Back in 2008, I made the move to New York City to finally pursue my acting career here. And after a couple of years of doing regional work, though, I was looking for more opportunities that could keep me in the city. So I went to the Actors Fund (now called the more generic Entertainment Community Fund and featured on previous episodes), and at that time they offered assistance to actors looking to beef up their non-performing resume. I talked with someone about places I’d work at in the past, and she asked if I had considered approaching non-profit organizations. Of the ones I looked through, the one that stood out to me was a children’s charity called Only Make Believe. I sent them an email and setup a time to meet with a woman named Melissa who was in charge of their volunteers at the time. That was in March of 2010, and what began as a few hours here and there of volunteer office help led to part-time work as their Media Consultant and assisting with their gala and other marketing efforts. Learn more about this amazing children's organization: https://www.onlymakebelieve.org And all of it was the idea of one woman: Dena Hammerstein. She started out as a British actress who eventually came to the US, met and married into a famous Broadway family, and began producing shows here in New York. In 1999, Dena established Only Make Believe, and every November since 2001 they have held their annual gala to raise funds and awareness for the work they do. In the last episode you heard from Joe DiPietro about his beginnings with the organization, but today you’ll hear from the founder herself in this encore presentation of our conversation back in 2018 for a special segment of this podcast called The Spotlight Series. At the time Dena was still head of the whole organization. We talk about her early years as a TV and film actress in London and then what led her to establish Only Make Believe. Find out a bit more about Dena's early years in TV and film: IMDB Giving Dena a Better Episode When this interview was originally recorded back in 2018, I only had one microphone and guests and myself would sit on either side of that mic for the interviews, so audio quality wasn’t that great. For this episode I’ve been able to go back and improve that audio quality as best I can, thanks in part to the financial support of listeners like you. Get Bonus Episodes by supporting WINMI with a monthly subscription OR Donate to this podcast and help further its production efforts Also in 2020, as the pandemic was upon us and Dena was spending more and more time in London, it seemed the appropriate time for her to step aside. So I’ve edited this conversation (using better software, thanks again to listener support) as a reminder of her legacy and the important work she has left to a new generation of capable leadership as they carry on Dena’s vision for years to come.
Monday Sep 19, 2022
Monday Sep 19, 2022
One of the themes of this podcast has been actors figuring out ways to be successful, even when the industry isn’t making that path an easy one. It can require to go beyond our actor training and discover new and hidden talents within ourselves as we forge new paths or even new careers. Steve Harper is an actor, writer, and producer of the stage and screen. He shares his own real life actor’s nightmare in a Shakespeare production in Cincinnati. But we also discuss how he found himself without a plentiful array of shows and roles he could connect with, so he began writing and producing theater, which in turn led him into television and writing for superheroes like Stargirl as well. We talk about the collaborative process of TV writing versus his singular process of writing for theater. He has a new collection of his short plays recently published that leads us into a delicate yet important conversation of race and non-traditional casting and what it means to be a black actor in theater. Learn more about WINMI Podcast at whyillnevermakeit.com Subscribe to WINMI and get access to Bonus Episodes on Supercast Donate to the production efforts in making this podcast Follow Why I’ll Never Make It on Instagram or Twitter Get a free copy of WINMI’s collection of Creative Wisdom A Few Short Plays to Save the World by Steve Harper With a focus on inclusivity, humor, and insight, Harper brings current subjects to light in an enduring and entertaining way, much in the same way that his work does writing and producing for TV shows such as the CW’s “Stargirl”, “God Friended Me” and ABC’s “American Crime”. The plays were originally performed at theaters such as The American Airlines Theater on Broadway, The John Houseman Studio (NYC), New Jersey’s Vivid Stage, The American Theater Company (Chicago), Baltimore Playwrights Festival, Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center and The Falcon Theater in L.A. (NBC Universal) to name a few. Buy it on Amazon or at a book shop near you. Follow Steve: Website / YouTube / Twitter / IMDB
Monday May 30, 2022
Monday May 30, 2022
The past couple of weeks have been difficult for this country, once again grappling with gun violence caused by madmen with evil intentions. This has unfortunately become an ongoing issue with people, politicians, and pundits saying a whole lot but doing very little. Four years ago this spring, a new play opened off Broadway called Church & State. It dealt with the contentious intersection of God, guns, and politics and featured four actors on a single set. I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of this production as the understudy for the two male actors. It was written and produced by two former guests of this podcast: Jason Odell Williams as the playwright and his wife Charlotte Cohn as lead producer. In this special episode, they share the passion and persistence that goes into creating works like Church & State that can actually make a difference in the hearts and minds of audiences, especially on such an important issue like gun violence. References in this episode: The Power of Political Theater - Brooklyn Rail The Critical Role of Humor in the Grief Process - St. Catherine University Jason Odell Williams (playwright) Charlotte Cohn (director and playwright) Sandy Hook Promise Safer Country Brady Campaign Church & State Origin Story - Jason Odell Williams The seeds for this play date back to 2007. The issue of gun violence in America first became important to me after the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech. I went to UVA (Virginia Tech's “football rival”) and the images on TV of candlelight vigils by Cavaliers for their rival Hokies touched me profoundly. And I realized then, like many Americans, that we had a problem in our country. Guns were a national crisis. Then the shooting in Tucson where Gabby Giffords was shot. And I watched the news, riveted and angry, scared and hopeless. How could this happen? To one of our own politicians? Will this force Congress to finally take action? When it didn't, I wondered, bleakly, if the response would have been different if something like this had happened to a Republican.* And I couldn't get that dark, nagging thought out of my head. Then over the summer of 2012, I was talking to a friend from Raleigh, NC about religion and politics and a new seed was planted for this vague idea I had cooking for a play, somehow combing religion, guns and politics. And then in Dec. 2012, the tragic shooting in Newtown. And I'd had enough. I had to turn my rage and fear into action. So I did what I know how to do. I wrote a play. A month later, in January 2013, I had a first draft of what would eventually become Church & State. I had three friends read the play with me in our living room. We talked about what worked what didn’t. I shared the play with a few director friends who offered some great feedback. And eventually one director, Ralph Meranto from JCC CenterStage in Rochester, read the play saw a lot of potential. He committed to producing it if we could develop it together. So for the next few months, I’d write a draft, he’d ask questions and make comments and suggestions, I’d do a rewrite and we’d repeat the process. I think it was late 2015 when we felt good about the final product. I then shared the play with two friends in DC who loved it and wanted to do a reading for their Actors Salon. And that was the first public reading, January 2016. I knew then the play was basically ready. (BroadwayBox) *Just a week after Church & State's Off-Broadway production closed, a gunman walked onto a baseball field at Eugene Simpson Park in Alexandria, Virginia, opening fire on politicians and wounding Republican U.S. Representative and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others.
Monday May 16, 2022
Monday May 16, 2022
“There are few things that can cause joy, shame, contentment, anxiety and stress the way that money does,” says Korrena Bailie, Consumer Finance Editor at Forbes. “If your finances cause you stress and anxiety, it’s natural to want to keep this to yourself because you might feel embarrassed or ashamed about the decisions you made.” (NY Times) Well, one artist who is trying to break down that wall of fear or shame when it comes to money is lighting designer and fellow podcaster Ethan Steimel. And in this episode we both confront the stigma around such discussions. He shares three specific stories of his own financial journey, including how he paid for college and one important money issue that’s come up between him and his wife. Subscribe to WINMI and get bonus episodes with Ethan on Supercast --------------- Why I’ll Never Make It is a top 25 theater podcast hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. It is a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance. Background music in this episode is by John Bartmann (Public Domain) and Blue Dot Sessions (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License). Artist Spotlight: Abundance Bound Miata Edoga is a former guest of WINMI (Season 4) and is the CEO and Founder of Abundance Bound. For over two decades, she has been helping individuals of all backgrounds establish a healthier, more compassionate relationship with their money – whether they are just starting out, starting over, or starting to wonder how they should handle their growing wealth. Lear more about her Financial Empowerment Program. This week's BIG NEWS... Why I’ll Never Make It is now an award-winning podcast, having been recognized by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts at their 28th Annual Communicator Awards. WINMI was given the Award of Distinction in the area of Featured Episode for producing a Tribute to Alvin Ailey. He was dancer & choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and spent his life preserving the African-American cultural experience through dance and music. With over 5,000 entries received from across the US and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. So it is such a thrill to be recognized for the work that went into this celebratory episode on the life and career of a luminary like Alvin Ailey. Follow Ethan - Website / Podcast / Instagram
Monday Mar 28, 2022
Monday Mar 28, 2022
Back in January 2022, this podcast held its first ever live event. It was a night of conversation with Emmy-winner Kevin Spirtas. He not only shared stories and struggles from his time on Broadway and television, but he also sang five songs that evening highlighting the work he has done and moments that have meant the most to him throughout his career. And so on today’s episode you’re going to hear a portion of this cabaret performance and discussion that was presented here in New York City at the Green Room 42. In fact, BroadwayWorld was there that night and called the evening “entertaining and informative.” They were extremely complementary of Kevin and his performance and even had a few nice things to say about me (as well as some well-deserved critiques). It was a rare chance to see Kevin Spirtas in a candid interview, opening up about personal and professional experiences that he doesn’t often talk about in public. I am immensely grateful to have shared the stage with Kevin and happy to showcase a portion of our honest and frank conversation with you today. Accompaniment provided by Eugene GwozdzHosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones Anyone who supports or donates to this podcast will get access to the full audio and video of this performance. https://whyillnevermakeit.com/ Follow Kevin - Website / Instagram / Twitter Support WINMI and get access to Members-Only Episodes on Supercast. Check out Artist Resources and follow WINMI on Instagram or Twitter. ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance.
Monday Dec 20, 2021
Monday Dec 20, 2021
The experiences of our lives affect the paths we choose and help make us who we are today. In part one of my conversation with Debra Ann Byrd, she revealed the ups and downs of her own life that eventually ignited a desire to perform and pursue a life on the stage. But just as it was with her personal journey, Debra’s path toward becoming an actor was slow but steady and her first steps as a producer started from very meager beginnings. Sign up for the monthly WINMI Newsletter. At her very core, Debra is a storyteller and that is on full display in this episode as she talks about taking on Shakespeare’s iconic role of Othello as well as the early years of forming her own company…Take Wing and Soar Productions. Podcast hosted by Patrick Oliver Jones - https://www.pojones.com Learn more about WINMI podcast - http://whyillnevermakeit.com Follow Debra - Becoming Othello / Instagram / IMDb Support WINMI and get access to Members-Only Episodes on Supercast. Check out Artist Resources and follow WINMI on Instagram or Twitter. ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is a Top 25 Theater Podcast on Feedspot, and is also a part of Helium Radio Network and a member of the Broadway Makers Alliance. Music in the episode by Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.