Words of Wisdom: A Year's Worth of Advice from Your Favorite Broadway Stars
At the end of every "Backstage" interview, BroadwayWorld's Richard Ridge asks his guests, "What is the best bit of advice that you've been given, either personally or professionally, that you still live by?"
Below, we've rounded up all the sage responses from the stars of 2018 to keep you motivated throughout the new year and beyond!
"My brother-in-law was a famous Jazz musician name Gary Burton and we were at brunch or something, and I said "I don't know what I'm doing" and he said "Tony, when I was 19 I felt exactly the same way you did...I came to New York at 19 with no idea if I could actually be a professional musician. I said to myself I know if I give 100%, if I commit to 100% to this passion of mine, either I will end up doing that or end up doing something else I don't even know about yet, but if I don't give a 100%, I'll be the guy at 40 or 50 years old who looks back and thinks I could've done that, but was too scared to do that." He said you don't want to do that. I said I'd commit 100% until I saw a different path."
"I really liked learning the name of the camera man. It's getting to know the people that are on the ground with you, whatever that may mean in your life, whether it's a doorman or security. The effort to be familial with those who's job is to make your life better is important."
"Stay true to who you are. I know that sounds cliche, but you have a source of self. Whether that be God, yoga, science, whatever. I think you have to believe in something bigger than who you are and just know whatever comes at you, you're strong enough to repel it or sink it in and try and improve yourself."
"My sophomore year of college, my acting teacher taught me how to take a risk and I thought that I was doing it and I realized I was playing safe within my bounds. People say take risks all the time and people take a tiny step, but a risk isn't a tiny step, it's a leap. A leap blindfolded while having a parachute ready to go if need be. I think if we reach a little bit outside of our comfort zone everyday, a little more day by day, that's what'll change us and make us grow."
"Lanford Wilson who was a great person in my life and a great mentor in my life and taught me so much, he used to talk about stakes all the time and he would say "There's no such thing as drama if the event at the center of it isn't the most important event in the lives of the people in it. There's no point of having a play if the event isn't the biggest event of their lives. That's how life is!" And I've taken that to the extreme sometimes like I'm the dramatic one in the house and things are pretty important to me when they're important and that can be exhausting. But it serves me well as an actor because there's no point of me having something to say if it's not important. So I think everything a character does, if you're filming them or talking to them onstage, it's because it's important to that character and that's what drama is to me."
"Never stop learning. I love to tell people there's no really no one way to do something and that includes being on Broadway, starring in a Broadway show. You are number one. I still try to keep learning, take classes, learn from other people, ask questions and keep up your craft. There's nothing more important than focusing on you and that's what makes you different than everybody else, you can only do what you do."
"On your journey, make sure it's not just about you, make sure you're also pulling other people up. Walk in the confidence that you are the only you and when you walk into an audition room, you're there to share your gift and what happens happens. Trust and have patience and share your gifts."
"Don't lose your soul to gain the world. It's a verse in the Bible and kind of deals with Christianity, but I've seen it in my life. That family is important, people who love us are important, that person you go to is important. All this fades and I never want to get to the point where I can't look back and see friends or see family members or people that still love you that say I have loved you and will love you whether you're Heather the singer, Heather my mommy, Heather my wife, or Heather my friend. I've now come to understand that those relationships are incredibly important and those relationships make Heather Headley girl onstage be a better Heather Headley."
"Don't be afraid! That's it."
"You have to be administrative about who you are, where you belong in the business, what opportunities you need and deserve and should be getting. And how to keep them all accountable and working for you and working for yourself, knowing where you fit in the business. I think that's a tough thing to face for a creative person, but I think it's part of ourselves as artists in order to find our niche in the business."
"Have complete faith in your ability and not try to be anyone else. I have been guilty of that, like I look at other actors and I think I should have that career or I should be more like that person, but just remembering I'm the only person that can do what I do and having the courage to let that be enough. That being said, always be willing to grow and improve too. Balance wanting to grow and not forcing growth."
"The sooner that you accept that life and this business is not fair, the better off you'll be. If you get caught up in the what-ifs you're just burning off energy that could be used towards something else. Fair doesn't even mean anything anymore. It happens if it happens and the sooner you accept that, the more successful, focused and happy you will be."
"Surround yourself with the right people. My agent has been my agent to this day and I wanted to take this job, but she knew it wasn't the right job. She said "I'm going to believe in you, even if you can't right now." So be around people that say that to you because it's faith and faith doesn't have proof, that's why it's called faith and that's why it's a vocation not a job."
"It's from my wife, everyday keep the faith. We're not particularly religious people, but it's having a belief, a self-belief, a trust that it'll work out. There are highs and lows in this business. November last year I was unemployed for three months at a time and I had two kids to feed and you can go 'where is this going to come from?' But it has and I'm very grateful that it has."
"In all things that you do, be an observer of people."
"Take your work seriously, but don't take yourself seriously. That allows you to be serious about your work and to play in it as well. If you have to go auditioning over and over again, there's joy in the actual audition. Find that joy."
"Remember that everyone is a person, everyone is a person and treat them like people, treat them like human beings. Also be a human being yourself, before being an actor and before a whatever, first you're a person."
"My mom has given me really good advice always. She's always said "Caissie, there are the same number of hours in every day and when things seem insurmountable, you have to trust in that, that the time will pass, it will be okay, and you have to take a breath and exhale." As I've gotten older, it's the thing I come back to the most. It's a healthy pause."
"You have to give up control. You can't control anything except your own responses to things. You can't control anyone, you can't fix anyone, you can't make something happen, all you can do is just trust yourself and let it go. Every opportunity is an experience."
"Breathe, go pee before you go onstage, you don't want to pee your tights, and be happy for other people. Someone else's success is not your failure. That's something to carry with you for the rest of your life."
"Think about what you would want to do in your life, in your existence, in your location, in your personal lives, in any aspect of your existence here, if you didn't have a story about why you couldn't do it, what would you do. Another way of saying that, a partner to that, just because it took you a long time to make a mistake, doesn't mean you have to cling to it."