How did you start dancing?
Basically I’ve always been a crazy and hyper kid. I was always running and dancing around. My mom is very creative—and she always wanted to make sure me and my brother did activities. She took me to dance class one day and I loved it. I was around 7.
Where are you from?
I am from London, born and raised. I performed in musicals in the West End for 6 years. I came here a few times on vacation with my friend and would take class at Broadway Dance Center. I saw this course called the International Student Visa Program, which you can do 3 months, 6 months, or a year. I looked more into the program and decided to do 6 months. I had worked a lot back home but wanted to take time out for myself and get inspired again.
I ended up doing the ISVP, and all these opportunities started opening up. People asked me to do gigs and I also joined a small contemporary company. I started to feel like I wanted to be here more permanently. It was really funny because I never thought that it would be in my future to move to New York.
After the program, I made the decision to move here, and it has been a long struggle! I began with an artist’s visa. On an artist visa, you’re very restricted on what you can do, and especially doing musical theatre, I couldn’t join Equity unless I had a green card. For me, it was going back to square one and starting again from the bottom after working back home for years. It was a tough three years. I couldn’t get paid well, and I could only work as a performer, so I couldn’t get a normal job either. I ended up doing a lot of really cool jobs with amazing choreographers, so I am kind of glad about the way it happened in the end. I got my green card a year and a half ago, and it has opened up so many more opportunities, which has been awesome.
When did you move here?
Nearly five years ago. It’s crazy.
From what I know, the West End is the Broadway of London. What made you leave that and move out here?
I made the decision because I felt like I wasn’t being pushed anymore. People are incredible back home and just as talented as people here. I don’t want to say that it has to do with the level of talent back home, but I just felt like I needed to be inspired and pushed in a different way. Back home, because I started working when I was in college, I was definitely trapped in a box of what people thought I could do. Even though I worked a lot, I felt like I needed to grow and spread my wings in a different way. I needed to go out on my own and do my own things.
My original plan was to go to New York just for six months to be inspired. The open classes here are so good. I felt like it pushed me as a performer in different styles. The things people are creating here are just different. Not better, but different. The main difference about the West End and here is the pay. You get paid more here, so you can afford to live here. Back home, you can’t afford to be as creative and do those free gigs and collaborate because you’re not making enough money when you’re doing a show. That was a big thing—seeing how many things are being created at the bottom level. There are such incredible performers back home, but I wasn’t fulfilling my full potential. The competition is insane out here, so it pushes you. Even in terms of my singing, I really had to work. Everyone is a triple threat.
What were some of your favorite classes?
When I was doing my international student course, one of my biggest mentors was Sheila Barker. She’s an incredible teacher. I feel like you don’t get that anymore in an open studio environment. If she believes in you, she’ll work you so hard and push you. She’s been incredible. Sheila helped me get my technique and strength back after I was injured.
When I was working with Andy Blankenbuehler in London, he talked about the show that he was doing back in NYC, In The Heights, so my friend and I came and saw the show, and we were blown away. I really wanted to be a part of this show. I remember telling everyone about the show when I got back home and playing the soundtrack all the time. I never thought I’d be able to do the show because I thought it’d never come to London—although in fact it’s in London right now. It was something I was obsessed with but never thought would happen. But the first thing I got when I moved to New York was the tour of In The Heights. So that was pretty sick. But after the tour, I had to get a hip surgery and was out for 8 months. It’s funny because now looking back, I am glad I went through it because I feel so much stronger in my body and I am not scared to be vocal about something that hurts me. It definitely helped me be way more aware of my body and take care of it. It’s every dancer’s nightmare to get surgery, but it helped me in the end.
What did you end up doing during your injury?
I was on worker’s comp. I was living in the city, and I was so broke. It was a tough, tough time. But I went through it, and now I feel like I appreciate everything a lot more. I was walking around the city with a cane. My mom came and helped me, and my boyfriend (he’s my husband now) from Toronto came to help me a lot.
I was trying to think how I felt when I was told about my injury for the first time. I remember I was in LA. We were on tour, and my company manager got me an appointment with a doctor in LA. I generally don’t plan anything because I’ve learned that you can’t plan your life—I didn’t plan on moving here. Because I don’t have a set path, I just take everything as it comes, good and bad. I definitely have goals of what I want to achieve but I don’t necessarily know how I’ll get there or where I’ll end up. Especially as an artist, it’s always changing. You can get something huge tomorrow, and it could change your whole life.
What happened after your recovery?
I auditioned and booked like four shows. It was nuts. I remember having to choose among a few regional gigs. I ended up doing On The Town! that ended up going to Broadway. I did West Side Story, which was really cool. It all turned out fine.
What are you up to now?
I am in Tuck Everlasting. It’s my Broadway debut. I have to say that Tuck Everlasting has been the best experience. The cast is incredible. Everyone is so nice and so chill. A lot of them have done a lot of Broadway shows. It’s a cool, relaxed energy. Also, the creative team is so nice. Casey Nicholaw who’s the choreographer and director, he just knows how to run a ship. He really does. He’s done it many times before, and his time management is awesome. It’s been a really, really nice environment to be a part of. It’s a beautiful show. I feel very lucky that this is my first experience on Broadway.
What happened in your life leading up to making your Broadway debut?
It happened after so many crazy things. I got my green card a year and a half ago. That basically changed everything. At the time, my regular visa was expired, and I was on a temporary visa until I got the answer on my green card. I remember not being able to sleep one night because I was so anxious. If I had gotten a no, I would have had to move back home. That’s it. It was just insane. If I got a yes, then I could audition for Broadway and do those things that I thought weren’t a possibility.
It was a yes, which was great. I decided for the next year that I really wanted to be in New York and book a Broadway show. I had a final after a final. It was tough because I had so many finals and kept getting no’s. At the same time, it was my first time being in front of these casting directors as an equity person. And it was good because I was getting to finals. But it was so weird because you’re happy you’re getting to finals, but there’s so much work involved in that—you have to learn songs and prepare sides. I was constantly learning new things to get no’s. Tuck Everlasting came out of the blue, and I auditioned and got a callback, which turned out to be my final but I didn’t realize it. I wasn’t expecting to hear that I got the job.
What were you doing when you first found out?
I was in Central Park with some friends. We were practicing a wedding dance for a friend. I noticed a missed call from my agent. After we finished practicing, I called my agent back, and she told me that I got Tuck Everlasting. I had no idea that it was coming. I was so confused and very excited. I dropped to the floor on my knees chatting to my agent, while all my friends were telling me hurry up and come back. It was the unofficial offer, so I wasn’t really wanting to say anything, but they were all asking, so I told them and told them not to tell anyone. And then I got the official offer the next day, so it was fine. My mom was so excited. She had to say goodbye to her baby and let me move here, so it’s been tough for her.
It’s cool because it finally paid off. It’s been a journey. If I hadn’t been through everything I’d been through, I wouldn’t be the performer I am today. If you’re going to be an outstanding performer, you have to have had experiences. It’s so important. Also, there’s more to life than just being in a show. You’re meant to go through these experiences and learn things.
What are your aspirations?
It’s funny because it feels like for the past 6-7 years I’ve had a very definite path. After I was working in West End, my goal was being a student in New York. Then my goal was obtaining the visa. Then my goal was getting my green card. After I got my green card, I wanted to book a Broadway show. I’ve always had a very specific goal in mind. My friend asked me the other day what I want to do now, and I actually don’t know. I’ve had these goals I managed to fulfill, and I think I am just going to soak all this up right now and see where it takes me. I want to be continue being creative. Now I have this steady job where I am not freaking out about paying for my rent, so I can be creative during the day. I love to collaborate with people and work more on my singing. It’s such a good community for that. It’s the reason I moved here—people are creative and always doing things and inspiring each other. I want to do that and see where it takes me.
Number one advice?
I don’t fit that normal dancer look. I am not a tall, skinny, leggy person. It’s really not the look for Broadway anymore, but I struggled my whole entire dancing life not looking like everyone else. I think that is what works for me and made me the dancer I am. You can find your niche and be comfortable with who you are and embrace that and help that create your style. It’s so important to know who you are and having that confidence come out in your dancing, which is a hard thing to do. All I did, even in dance in college, was look at everyone else and think that I don’t look like them or can’t do what they can.
Embrace who you are and use your experience when you’re dancing. That’s what makes a performer. Being a performer isn’t being able to do everything technically perfect. Many dancers are scared to act when they’re dancing, but in musical theatre, that’s what separates you from others. When I am teaching, I ask my students to watch their peers and analyze their movements. Anyone can watch a dancer and have an opinion about it. But instead of just making an observation, you should really analyze your observation. Don’t just think somebody is amazing. What is it about her that is amazing? What is it that you don’t like about her? Use that and put it on yourself.
With that said, it’s art. Everyone is going to have an opinion. You can’t please everyone. That’s another piece of advice. You’re going to get no’s all the time. It’s not like taking a test where you know if you get a 90%, you get an A. That’s not how it works in performing arts. You can give 90% in the audition and still get an F because you might not be the right fit for the role. It’s not because you are not good enough. It’s just not the right fit. What I took away from when I was getting all these no’s was that I was still getting seen by the same casting directors a lot. That’s the hard work. Once you go past that, it’s just a matter of time.
Is there any last thing you want to share with the world?
A very important thing to me is friendship. Make sure you surround yourself with honest people who are true in this fickle business. Through this business, you learn a lot about people that you can trust and can’t trust. Really enjoy life, and even when it’s tough, enjoy it. You’re going to gain so much experience from everything you go through. Just make sure you surround yourself with good people.