I recently wrote this guest blog post for one of my favorite sites, The Ensemblist. Check them out for all things Broadway, theater, dreams, and a peek behind the curtain of the entertainment industry from the perspective of those who help make it happen - The ensemble!
I was getting ready to go in for a ‘mover’s call’ for a new show coming to Broadway called Kinky Boots. I’m by no means a dancer, so any time a dance call comes up in an audition process I normally wave bye bye to the dream of doing that show.
“But this is a mover’s call, I’ll be fine,” I halfheartedly whisper to myself as I sheepishly walk into the audition room full of men warming up touching their toes to their tongues.
We start the combination and it was easy enough… until it gets into an inside double pirouette (which I can’t do), into a cartwheel (which I can’t do), into the splits (which I definitely can’t do). A lump forms in my throat and an all too familiar voice pops into my head saying, “You can’t do this. You’re going to look so stupid. You should grab your bag, sneak out the door and run to Arriba Arriba to drown your sorrows into a Mama Margarita.”
Without hesitation, my feet follow that voice and head for the door when another voice pops into my head: “Hey Kyle, you are not going to chicken out. You got this. Find a way to show them your weird, quirky self and let’s just see what happens.”
I chose to listen to voice number two, grabbed a piece of gum out of my bag, and started chomping furiously while they called names in groups of three.
I’m dead center, there’s a guy to my right and a guy to my left. We start the choreography and I make up a ditzy, gum chomping, fun loving character on the spot. When we get to the dreaded double-cartwheel-splits of death, I stand dead center, pull the gum out of my mouth and twist it around my finger and exclaim “Woooooooooooork!” while watching the other two do the choreography I couldn’t dream of doing.
And, honey, guess who booked the gig? The gum twirling, non-dancing fool who chose to have fun instead of ducking out for a margarita. On the first day of rehearsal, the associate choreographer pulled me aside and told me that in all of his years of running Broadway dance calls, he had never seen anyone take the chances I took… and that’s what booked me the job. I was fortunate enough to do the entire run of Kinky Boots (and no, my ankles have not yet recovered). I got to be on the Tonys, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and plastered on the side of a doubledecker bus in full beat drag. I met my husband backstage. Those Kinky Boots helped buy us an apartment in Chelsea. Let that sink in. The choice to showcase my inner weirdo instead of my inner critic… bought an apartment.
Never in my life have I had such clear real life proof that weird works. Zoom out a bit, and that moment in the dance call taught me something even greater. We hide ourselves to feel less vulnerable, to feel safe, to feel in control. We think it’s helping us survive, but it’s an illusion. Hiding our weird, wonderful, unique, zany, eccentric whole selves actually costs us greatly. It costs us gigs, joy, money, fun, and the experience of being truly seen.
In the end, that’s our job isn’t it? To be truly and deeply seen by other human beings. The thing we’re hiding is likely the very thing people are dying to relate to. I’m calling all you weirdos (yes, you) to come out of the darkness. Take a big bold terrifying step, hop, or leap and show up in your auditions, in your performances, with your friends, and in your dating life (yes, there’s space for weird in romance). The world needs you, and we are begging to see you wave that freak flag high.
As a trained life coach, it’s my life’s mission to help eccentric performers take that leap and get the crazy artistic success that’s waiting for them on the other side. I’ve got a brand spankin’ new six week online group program called “The Weirdo’s Way” where we’ll do just that. Come jump in the weird waters with me. It’s nice and warm in here.