How did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 5. My grandma took me to dance class. And I hated it, surprisingly. I actually hated it. But I kept going. It just became a recreational thing for me.
Why do you think you didn’t like it at first?
I probably thought my teacher was mean because she was trying to teach me discipline [laughs]. I think that’s why. But as you grow old, you learn that it was all for a reason. I am glad that I stuck with it.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Boca Raton, FL.
How did you decide to pursue performing as a career?
My parents weren’t on board with me becoming a performer at first. When I say that—they wanted me to double major. A lot of people double major, but I wasn’t into that. So I was actually going to become a biology major. But then I went to Broadway Theatre Project my junior year in high school. When my parents saw the showcase at the end, they were completely taken aback. They just loved the energy of the theatre crowd and the teachers. The teachers taught my parents a lot about how you can make this dream possible in the city or anywhere you go.
I actually won the Gregory Hines scholarship that year. My parents looked at me and said, “We think you could have something here. We’ll back you no matter what. We’ll go with you to every college audition you want to go to. We’re on board. You don’t have to double major. We think that this is something you can do. If you find that this is not what you want to do along the line, you can go back to whatever you want with your life. But we think that you should really think about pursuing performing.” That was August 1, 2010. I’ll never forget that day.
Your parents really encouraged you.
Yeah, and I wanted to do it always. I always felt like it seemed right. I didn’t really think of anything else, and I was searching for another degree to study. I love marine biology—I always wanted to spend time on a boat and discover the ocean, but it just didn’t seem right. I am glad that it happened and that I was awarded that scholarship, because my parents saw that the faculty saw something in me, which was really cool.
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Central Florida for a BFA in Musical Theatre and minored in Dance. I auditioned in all of the Florida schools and that was actually the only school that I got into [laughs]. It was great. My acting became so much stronger. I am so thankful for my acting teachers because you have to act through everything that you do. I also learned a lot about life in college and got to learn a lot about myself. I grew as a person and as an actress there. I graduated a semester early and moved to New York City right after.
How long have you been in the city?
I moved here in January 2015, and I was here up until May when I did West Side Story at Merry-Go-Round. I did Saturday Night Fever at Merry Go Round and went on the tour of Joseph after that. But those five months I was here, I was up everyday at 5am doing as many things as I could in a day. It was definitely a grind, but it was worth it.
How did you decide to move to New York?
All through school, on any extended break that we had, I would come up to the city. The first time I visited the city was my freshman year during Christmas break. I came up by myself and met up with a lot of people that the teachers from Broadway Theatre Project knew. They gave me advice to help me get through the rest of school and the steps to moving up here
The first time I came up here by myself, I lost my wallet. That was terrible. It was the day before I left. My aunt actually lives here, so my parents overnighted my passport to her. My flight was in the morning the next day. It was a lonely and crazy feeling. On that first trip, amazing things had happened to me and crazy things had happened to me. I just thought, “Well, if I still want to live here after that…” There are so many ups and downs when you’re here. Every spring break, I came back and kept up my contacts, took class, and went to see shows. I never wanted to leave. Every time I come to the city my heart is so full.
What are you up to now?
I have 6 weeks left on the Joseph national tour. I have 2 months off, and then we’re going to Japan for two weeks. It’s insane. It was an add-on to the show. I never thought I’d be in Japan, so it’s a great excuse to go. I’m excited.
What are your aspirations?
I have a theatre bucket list. Right now, I am just trying to cross a few things off of that. Of course, I’d love to make it on Broadway, and I’d love to transfer into film and TV and do a lot of that. I started to do a few projects in that and I really loved it. It’s a completely different world in front of the camera and behind the camera. I don’t know where my life might take me, but we’ll see.
What helped you get into TV and film?
I knew a few friends who were working on some projects. They asked me if I was available to help, so I did. When that video went out, thankfully it went viral, and more things came here and there. Right now, a friend of mine from UCF is writing a feature film. We just started filming for that. People knowing that you’re here and seeing that you’re interested in it definitely helped me get into it.
And you made yourself available for it.
Going on that—within reason, say yes to everything. I ended up performing in a show that a friend was choreographing at Juilliard. His lead dancer dropped out last minute. I met some incredible people doing that, and you never know what that could lead to. If I didn’t have time or was tired and wanted to take my time off, I wouldn’t have met those people, and wouldn’t have performed at Lincoln Center. It’s an insane business. Within reason, I always say yes.
What is your favorite part about performing?
I am learning to love the process. I just love the feeling when you can enjoy the movement and the story on the stage—past all the rehearsals, past making everything perfect and ready to go. I just love being able to portray it and put to life what the artist’s vision was. And doing it justice. Doing everything justice and still finding yourself in it. I’ve learned that in the last year with Joseph. It’s a lot of information. When we finally got it down and got to breathe into it all, it was a really cool experience.
What was working with Andy Blankenbuehler like for Joseph?
A dream come true. He’s phenomenal. Really, the second that I walked into the audition, I just knew I’d enjoy working with him. He always has a story and a reason behind every movement that he does. It’s so hard for me to just go and dance. I get bored doing that. Triple turn into whatever doesn’t mean anything unless it has a story behind it. That’s what got me into theatre really. He’s phenomenal. He’s a force. If anybody has any opportunity to work with him, I highly suggest it.
My toughest time as a performer was when I was going through school with people knowing that I was making the big move to New York City. Everybody said the same thing to me: “You’re going to make it. They’re going to love you right away, and it’s going to be great.” Which I appreciated their support.
But when you’re in the city getting up at 5am every day, but not getting callbacks or not being seen or you expect things to happen faster than they actually do, it is disappointing. Especially when everyone that you knew was saying that you’re going to be great and be on Broadway right away. The reality is that it’s not true for most of us—although it is true for some people.
I think managing your expectation is important. You have to find the balance between great things happening and nothing happening. Brighter days are ahead, so you have to keep the mental mindset of keep going no matter what even in the hardest hole of the audition season. My first audition season—I never questioned if this was what I wanted to do—but I was just thinking that something’s ought to come. It literally comes when you least expect it. The very next week was the first time I was seen by Jerry Mitchell, and I was in a few times that same week for him for that project. You have to hold onto that feeling when great things happen. It’s just a matter of time to get something, then the calls will start coming in. It’s crazy learning to breathe through those times.
What helped you push through?
My friends and family helped me a lot. They had a lot of faith in me, which was great. Turning to them a little bit really helped me. You just need to have perseverance. That had been drilled in my head so much through school and through life. No matter what I ended up in, I just never gave up. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s only a matter of time. If you keep putting yourself out there—let people know what you want and go after what you want and take classes and meet people. As my dad always says, the more you practice the luckier you get. The more people you meet and the more you put yourself out there, the luckier you get. It’s just a numbers game after that, I think. I always try to control everything I can on my side of the table and hope for the best.
One of them was during Joseph rehearsals. Andy came to my dance partner and me and asked us to help out with a musical he was working on. That was really cool. And on that same day, he had gotten our cast tickets to Hamilton. We were just skipping down the street. Then we saw the show with our jaws dropped the entire time. I was speechless.
What would be your number one advice?
Put yourself out there. Go and take casting directors’ classes. Expand yourself. I don’t want to stop just in theatre. I want to do commercials. I want to do film and TV. Saying yes to everything within reason and just putting yourself out there—I mean these classes I’ve taken got me my first agent and got me a commercial agent. Casting directors know me by name, and I am just learning through a couple of my mentors in the city who are saying voice lessons with music directors of shows and just let them get to know you. The more you put yourself out there, the more people you meet. More classes you take, you’re meeting people and learning what people like. That’s my biggest thing. My friends ask me how I got a national tour in a year—it’s not happening for nothing. I worked my butt off for four and a half months. I think if you just put yourself out there and go to all the auditions and get seen—that’s it.
You become a better artist by doing that.
I agree. And it’s so humbling too. That was my biggest thing moving here. It was just a humbling experience. New York hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies to me. It’s been ups and downs. There’s just something inside that keeps me going. I just took a commercial class on layoff and they had never seen me, and they had agents come in at the end who called me and I signed with them.
Any last thing you want to share with the world?
I think Paloma Garcia on here said to be supportive, and I just can’t stress that enough: being there for each other and staying positive. I think energies attract. If you stay positive about things, you’ll look at things with a cleaner eye. Just be there for each other. We’re all in this together. It’s not up to us when we are against each other for roles. It’s what happens behind that table. Who knows—it could be anything from hair color to eye color. That’s the biggest thing I want to share.