Why I‘ll Never Make It - An Actor‘s Journey
2 days ago
2 days ago
Do you want to be famous or do you want to be an actor? Very few truly achieve both for most of us it’s a choice, and the direction we choose impacts the roles and opportunities that we pursue going forward. Today’s guest has been presented with both during his career and came to discover which one mattered more to him. Bettering Ourselves, Bettering Our Careers (Part 3) In the early 2000s, Ben Curtis was training to be a serious actor at NYU, but one commercial audition for Dell computers completely changed the trajectory of his life and career. He became the face of the computer company, performing in about 26 national commercials over the span of four years. Ben shares with us the lessons he learned from reaching a level of fame that he never imagined, but he also talks about how it led him down some dark paths that took him years to resolve and come out of. 02:28 - Welcome and Ben talks about coming to NYC 06:02 - Story #1: Becoming the Dell Dude 11:01 - The business of commercial acting 16:34 - When Ben realized he was "famous" 21:31 - Story #2: The reality check of getting arrested 33:55 - Story #3: Surviving 9/11 through drugs and alcohol 41:14 - Lessons he has learned and now shares with other men Subscribe to WINMI and get Bonus Episodes OR Make a one-time Donation to the podcast ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. 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. Background music in the episode by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Dude, You're Getting Well Ben's mission with the podcast is to share the real challenges that leaders, innovators, and influencers face every day as humans -- to show that it's okay to be human and have hard days, that all people experience pain and challenges. He wants to shed light on how we overcome these odds, the tools that we can use for self-care and sur-thrival, all while growing our vision and sharing these lessons with others. Audition Story In this week’s bonus episode, Ben shares an experience back in Chattanooga when he had to choose between playing on the school’s soccer team or doing theater. He couldn’t do both. While you can probably guess which one he chose, as often happens it didn’t quite turn out quite the way he had hoped. Subscribe to WINMI and get access to this and other bonus episodes. Final Five Questions In this interview, Ben shared his journey from fame to failure and points in-between. And the conversation continues on the WINMI Blog as he answers five final questions about “making it” and useful advice he's received. Discover even more about Ben here.
Monday Nov 21, 2022
Monday Nov 21, 2022
One of the greatest obstacles to becoming a better performer is thinking you aren’t good enough, that the dreams and aspirations you have for yourself are just too far out of reach and beyond your capability. So in today’s episode we explore that feeling with someone who knows all too well the crippling effect of self-doubt and self-criticism. Bettering Ourselves, Bettering Our Careers (Part Two) Elaine Romanelli is a singer, songwriter, and actress who has performed off Broadway and on radio as well as hosted an improvised streaming show and released three vocal albums of original music. She also teaches singers and composes church music, so Elaine stays pretty busy. But she also recognizes the importance of fostering collaboration and finding her own tribe of like-minded souls. Not only has it helped her as she continues to create new work, but it has been a source of support when her own confidence is tested and that self-doubt creeps back in. 02:21 - Welcome and how Elaine found WINMI 02:29 - Story #1: Why she left classical music 10:59 - Her experiences with criticism and finding her own voice 22:47 - How to listen to Elaine's audition story 24:11 - Story #2: Losing her singing partner and going solo 37:22 - Story #3: Finding connection and her own tribe 49:58 - Combining art and activism as one piece in the puzzle Subscribe to WINMI and get Bonus Episodes on Supercast OR Make a Donation to the production of this podcast ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. 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. Background music in the episode by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube Singer/Songwriter and Her Three Albums These studio albums and EPs explore personal journeys and showcase Elaine's unique voice and storytelling. They range from pop/rock and jazz to blues and alternative, with a dash of country thrown in for good measure. "Life as a solo artist can be isolating, with so much time spent alone writing, practicing, organizing, booking, driving for hours on end. There’s more to do every day than one person possibly could manage." And as host and producer of this podcast, I can certainly relate to the joys and frustrations of doing it all on your own. This gets back to the idea of collaboration and finding your tribe we speak about in this interview (44:21), having a support system in place to carry us through when it all gets a bit overwhelming. Audition Story There is no better place to have fun than the audition room. However, the pressure of performance and booking the role can often get in the way of enjoying ourselves. In this week’s audition story Elaine talks about a time when she was determined to show her personality and bring a bit of levity to the audition process…and singing a song about farting certainly helped her achieve that goal. Subscribe to WINMI and get access to this bonus episode. Final Five Questions In this interview, Elaine explores her journey from singer to songwriter with hopes of returning to theater again soon. And the conversation continues on the WINMI Blog as she answers five final questions about “making it” and lessons she’s learned along the way.
Monday Nov 14, 2022
Monday Nov 14, 2022
Every November, as the weather and leaves continue to change and we enter a season of Thanksgiving as well as gift-giving, this podcast sets aside a few episodes to focus on how we can make our lives and our careers better and more fulfilling. And so we begin the third annual presentation of this enlightening series... Bettering Ourselves, Bettering Our Careers (Part One) You’ll hear from artists, coaches, and performers and how they have a found balance between their on stage and off stage lives, providing perspective and insight from their own challenges and experiences. Jules Helm starts us off with a focus on self-care and personal growth, using movement and acting techniques to bring both our mind and body into alignment. He will be sharing his own journey of self discovery as he learned to better love himself and be more comfortable with others, keeping performance onstage rather than having it mask the rest of his life as well. We will also get into the various techniques he teaches to bring actors into a more authentic presentation of themselves as well as their characters. As Jules says, “The first step toward great acting is deeper self-discovery and realization,” which is a great place for us to start bettering ourselves and bettering our careers. 02:42 - Jules and his hometown of Portland 08:26 - Story #1 and being inspired by Charlie Chaplin 18:52 - Story #2 and how the world conditions us 31:45 - Story #3 and his teaching of actors 44:12 - The Williamson Technique Subscribe to WINMI and get Bonus Episodes on Supercast OR Make a Donation to the production of this podcast ---------- Why I’ll Never Make It is hosted by Off-Broadway actor and singer Patrick Oliver Jones and is a production of WINMI Media, LLC. 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. Background music in the episode by John Bartmann and Blue Dot Sessions is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Follow WINMI: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube The Williamson Technique Developed by Loyd Williamson, this movement practice is most often taught to actors in conjunction with the Meisner Technique, because it pairs well with the particular emotional demands placed on actors. Williamson collaborated with and was a student of American choreographer and dancer Anna Sokolow. He was watching Sokolow’s dancers move freely and without tension, while at the same time he observed Meisner’s actors were crippled physically by the size of their emotional lives. Thus, the development of the Williamson Technique began as a movement training for actors that is loosely based in modern dance. It is designed to help the actor access and inhabit a physical instrument (i.e. the body) that is open, released, vulnerable, expansive, and responsive. The Williamson Technique emphasizes these primary objectives: Free the actor’s instrument by accessing awareness and permission. Cultivate the student’s connection to his personal, ‘truthful‘ experience, and the permission to act on it expansively. Enhance the actor’s sensual (of or relating to the five senses) relationship with the world, thereby creating a vivid connection with and sensitivity to impulses. Bring that freedom and connection with one’s surroundings into ensemble collaboration and the creation of original physical performance. Audition Story Connection is definitely one of the bed rocks of acting and performing on stage, whether it’s with the fellow performers on stage or the audience itself. In our main conversation, Jules mostly talked about a connection with ourselves first and foremost, but there is also the important connection with the role or the show that we’re in or auditioning for. In this week’s bonus episode Jules shares an audition story that took him out of his comfort zone and into the world of the Blue Man Group. Become a monthly subscriber to get access to this and other bonus episodes. Final Five Questions After our main conversation, Jules sat down to answer the five final questions. Among several topics, he shares what success has meant to him (a continuation of what he mentioned in the second story) and what frustrates him most about this industry, particularly in New York City. Read it all on the WINMI Blog.
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 Oct 31, 2022
Monday Oct 31, 2022
For the past 23 years, a non-profit theater company called Only Make Believe has been creating and performing live in-person and virtual interactive theater for children in hospitals, care facilities, and special education programs. It started here in New York City but has since opened an office Washington, DC with some outreach in other cities as well. In the next episode you’ll hear an encore presentation of my conversation with founder Dena Hammerstein. But for today, I’m sitting down with one of the board members and the director of their annual gala, who has known Dena and OMB since its inception. Joe DiPietro is certainly no stranger to theater and has been writing for the stage since 1991. His musicals and plays have received multiple awards and nominations on and off-Broadway, including Memphis starring Montego Glover and All Shook Up with Cheyenne Jackson. He talks about these two talented performers and shares his affection for Only Make Believe. We also get into two of his most recent Broadway shows: Diana, the Musical and Living on Love, his lone Broadway play so far (starring former WINMI guest Douglas Sills). Both shows had their own challenges coming to and surviving on Broadway. In fact, Diana filmed their stage production for Netflix during the Covid shutdown, and that movie notoriously went on to win Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Screenplay and Worst Picture, among others. But Joe takes it all in stride and shares with us not only his passion for theater but also what has kept him going through the ups and downs. You can support Why I’ll Never Make It as well through Subscriptions or Donations. 03:02 - Joe's introduction to theater 05:30 - Only Make Believe and its mission 13:58 - Montego Glover and Cheyenne Jackson 19:32 - How you can help OMB and WINMI 21:37 - Diana, the Musical 34:31 - Living on Love 45:16 - His theater writing process Staying cooped up anywhere can be difficult for anyone, but facing the four walls of a hospital room 24/7 can be especially tough -- draining even. For more than 20 years, Only Make Believe has brought happiness to thousands of children in hospitals and care facilities in New York City and the DC area through live interactive theater. To date, approximately 95,000 children have been impacted by OMB’s services, and that number continues to grow each year. Because OMB knows that “freeing a child’s imagination is a valuable part of the healing process,” the organization works with a team of professional actors to provide interactive theater for sick children using nothing by a backdrop, along with a supply of props, costumes and imagination, of course. What happens next is quite magical to say the least. By the end of an OMB show, the same children who were having the worst day imaginable and didn’t intend on participating are dancing, laughing and having fun. Professional actor Chris Wilson, who has since gone on to become OMB's Director of Programming & Communications, calls days like this a job well done. “Only Make Believe allows theater to become a truly immersive experience. The actors transform the space, interact with the audience, and adjust the show to the needs of each group of children,” Wilson said. “I am a firm believer that the performing arts have the ability to allow children to think and grasp concepts in a different way.” Learn more about Only Make Believe and how you can help. The 2022 Only Make Believe Gala Join OMB as they celebrate those who inspire us with their dedication to philanthropy and raise funds to support our interactive theatre programming in hospitals, care facilities, and schools with special education programs. They have garnered so much the support for their virtual & hybrid galas over the past 2 years, and are certainly ecstatic to be BACK ON BROADWAY in person with former WINMI guests like Brad Oscar and Kathryn Allison. Only Make Believe's annual gala has earned a reputation as New York’s most entertaining and unique charity event of the season!
Monday Oct 24, 2022
Monday Oct 24, 2022
The art of theater is really just storytelling, and the stories that are told from region to region often come from within those communities and offer a shared experience on the stage. Broadway illustrates this with musicals like In the Heights, Allegiance, and The Color Purple—even shows like Noises Off and 42nd Street provide a backstage glimpse of the theater community. Well, today’s guest is here to share her stories as a Native American, and the specific experiences that have helped her foster and create a unique kind of storytelling that values the past as much as the present and future. Muriel Miguel has been working in the world of experimental theater since the 1960s, when she was an actor in the Open Theater, a pioneering avant-garde ensemble founded by the visionary director Joseph Chaikin. When Spiderwoman Theater was formed in 1975 by Muriel and her two older sisters Lisa and Gloria, she conceived of it as a direct push back against the sexism that she says was plaguing the American Indian Movement at the time. As part of her creative journey, Muriel developed the art of storyweaving, which is Spiderwoman’s signature Indigenous performance practice. You’ll learn more about this as Muriel intertwines stories and experiences throughout our conversation, sharing important moments that have shaped who she is as a woman, a Native American, and an artist. Learn more about WINMI Podcast at whyillnevermakeit.com Subscribe to WINMI and get bonus episodes Or if you prefer, make a one-time donation to support this podcast Spiderwoman Theater was founded when Muriel Miguel gathered together a diverse company of women, which included both of her sisters. They were of varying ages, races, sexual orientation, and worldview. The collective sprang out of the feminist movement of the 1970s and the disillusionment with the treatment of women in radical political movements of the time. They questioned gender roles, cultural stereotypes, and sexual and economic oppression. They took on issues of sexism, racism, classism, and the violence in women’s lives. Spiderwoman broke new ground in using storytelling and storyweaving as the basis for the creation of their theatrical pieces. The performers wrote and performed personal and traditional stories and with Muriel as the “outside eye”, they were organically layered with movement, text, sound, music, and visual images. Their weaving of humor with popular culture and personal histories along with their sometimes shocking style excited the hearts and spirits of women (and sometimes men) in the United States, Canada, and all over the world. Audition Story Though Muriel has been crafting her own theater work for decades now, she’s also sought to work and study at other venues like Julliard. In this week’s bonus episode, Muriel recounts the time as a teen when she auditioned as a dancer at this famed institution. But she didn’t have ballet slippers, which caused quite a fuss in the room. Become a monthly subscriber to get access to this and other bonus episodes. Final Five Questions After our main conversation, Muriel sat down to answer the five final questions. Among several topics, she shares what success has meant to her (a continuation of what she said at the very end of this episode) and what frustrates her most about this industry, particularly in New York City. Read it all on the WINMI Blog. For a more detailed bio of Muriel, check out this 2019 article from Southern Theatre.