Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature

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Kailey Edwards: Finding the Beauty

Kailey Edwards: Finding the Beauty

Hi friends!

Time for another Passion Piece Feature! I’m so happy to share that this month’s feature is none other than actress, photographer, businesswoman extraordinaire, and last but not least MY FREAKING BEST FRIEND, Miss Kailey Edwards!!! Here’s a bit about Kailey in a more ~formal~ fashion

“Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kailey is an avid lover of classic literature, her two black Labradors, and strawberry ice cream. Simply put, she loves to make people laugh, whether it’s in a crazy role onstage or just chilling in the dressing room and strives to bring an atmosphere of joy in whatever room she walks into. Kailey is also a major supporter of inclusive arts and believes that artistry comes in all abilities.”

I’ve written about how the month of November just fills me with gratitude, and it’s not only an honor to write a piece featuring my best friend, but I wanted to take a moment to give her the recognition she so deserves as a small part of my gratitude for her. Kailey and I met our freshman year of college and just stuck together like glue. We have survived living together, working together (in various locations and positions, I might add), her living abroad for three months, and a freaking global pandemic so I think it’s safe to say our friendship can withstand just about anything at this point! We literally talk on the phone just about every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Simply put, at this point, she is family.

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Kailey Edwards: Finding the Beauty
Kailey and I playing villain & sidekick (me looking less than thrilled)

To say that I am a proud friend is quite the understatement. Her natural talents on and off the stage never cease to amaze me. For as long as I’ve known Kailey, she has always loved taking pictures. Anywhere we would go, I could always count on her taking bomb photos of me, the location, and posing for cute pics herself. She loved taking photos so much that once the pandemic hit and everyone was back at home figuring out post-grad life, she started her own photography business, Kailey Edwards Photography! What started as a sweet little side hustle has turned into quite the amazing small business, and sis is booked like…all the time! And rightfully so, her photos are simply stunning! I have watched this girl build this business from the ground up out of one of her passions, and it’s been a blessing. Regardless of any struggle she faces in life, she continues to show up perseverance, grace, and love for what she does!

She deserves her moment to shine and I feel so lucky to share her grace with all of you! Here is our chat about all things self-care and self-love!


Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

My name is Kailey Edwards and I’m from Royersford, PA (about 35 minutes outside of Philly). These days, I’m back home and living the dream (sarcastically speaking…)

What are you currently doing for work, if anything? 

One of the craziest things about this pandemic is the opportunities it’s given me in terms of work and, ultimately becoming my own boss. When the pandemic hit, I needed something to fulfill my creativity, which turned out to be photography, and it’s quickly turned into a thriving business venture where I can combine my love visual art with my love of meeting new people and highlighting each person’s unique beauty!

Tell me a little about your journey as a performer and how it has brought you to where you are today?

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Kailey Edwards: Finding the Beauty
Kailey as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady at Facetime Theatre

So, my story is a little different from most, mainly because I didn’t get my start in theatre until I was a freshman in high school. I was actually an athlete for my entire school-age life, and I had no idea that the arts would end up being my career path. But, when I was cast as the lead in the first musical I ever auditioned for, I decided to just go with it and see how it unfolded! Well, that first show quickly became two, and then three, and I’m now 8 years deep and can’t see myself doing anything else than being involved in some way shape or form for the rest of my life. I think the best part about the performing arts is that there are SO many jobs that also don’t involve performing, but that still fulfill that creative need. For instance, I have a massive passion for dramaturgy, as well as making the arts more inclusive through things like relaxed performances and ASL/Tactile tours. I think that I will be happy as long as I’m somehow directly involved in the performing arts in some way.

 If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

  1. Books, books, books! I was a double major in English in college and that’s really just because I love to read so much!
  2. Research is a big passion of mine (which is something my mother says she will never understand, haha!). I just love seeing what other people have to say about a certain topic, while also adding my own interpretations.
  3. Photography. I love that my main job right now is also something that I am super passionate about, truly because it makes people happy and provides people with lasting memories.
  4. Music, specifically jazz! Before I was ever in theater, I was singing at church, and I was super excited when I realized I could become involved in theater and add storylines and acting to songs. 
  5. Dogs-I have two black labs and they keep life interesting, to say the least!

Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

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Kailey Edwards: Finding the Beauty

Yes! I am very blessed that my photography business started simply because I just love capturing the world we live in. I studied abroad two years ago in London, and I had so many people back home telling me to create a separate Instagram just for my iPhone travel photos. I never really had the time until quarantine hit, and then I bought myself a camera for graduation. Well, I took photos of friends, they posted them, and then suddenly I have 5 weddings next year! So, it’s been absolutely insane, but also super fruitful. I’ve found that it’s actually benefitted the performing arts side of things for me, because I’ve gotten the chance to photograph fellow performers, which has then given me some wonderful connections within the industry. I love that photography and theatre will always go hand-in-hand and be mutually beneficial!

What has been inspiring you in a time where we are seeing so much change in the world/our industry?

I think I’m most inspired by the ways I’ve seen other creatives still striving to create art during this time. I mean, for God’s sake, we’re in a global pandemic. There’s no pressure to create, but yet, people still are, and they are making this world more beautiful because of it. 

What are some things you like to do in your down time to foster your passions, so they stay just as alive as your work?

I’ve relearned how to read just for fun. In college, I only ever read books that I had to write papers on, or scripts that I was going to be acting in. I’ve really tried, recently, to read books that are just fun reads that I’ve been meaning to pick up off my dusty bookshelf. I am also taking voice lessons again simply for “me”, without the worry of having to prepare for auditions. I’ve missed singing just for the heck of it.

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

  1. I would love to make more opportunities available to theaters around the country to be able to do relaxed performances and make their theaters more inclusive all around.
  2. For photography, I would love to ultimately become a destination wedding photographer and travel around the world while capturing memories for people.
  3. Not necessarily a goal, but something I strive to accomplish in anything I do, is to do said thing with kindness and the understanding that everyone has their own gifts in life. I think it’s important to recognize that we are all so needed in this world for so many different reasons!

What does your self-care routine look like?

Oh lord, I barely have one, haha! I really try to wake up early in the morning to do my makeup, not because I need to look good for anyone but myself, but because it’s my “me time” to have to myself before I start my day. 

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life? 

I think the great thing about this world (and more specifically the performing arts world) is that there are ways to become involved in the field you’re passionate about, even if it’s not in the position you ultimately want. I think that you should find a way to incorporate your passion into your daily job or daily routine, so that it doesn’t become this “separate entity”. If you don’t get cast in a show, find a way to work backstage or in the administration office. Always find a way to be involved with the field you love!


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Kailey Edwards: Finding the Beauty

She is beauty. She is grace. She is Kailey Edwards! Thanks so much to Kails for finding time in her busy schedule to answer my questions, and many, many more thanks to her for filling the world with beauty, joy, and kindness! If you want to get to know her better yourself, you can follow her on Instagram @kailey__edwards and @kaileyedwardsphotography (her and her mom, Keri, recap the bachelorette on Instagram every week…truly not something you want to miss).

Stay well, friends! Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, PLEASE stay safe!

~ Ang xo

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Courtney Wersick: Real-Life Disney Printcess

Courtney Wersick: Real-Life Disney Printcess

Hi Everyone!

It’s that time again! Time for our October Passion Piece Feature! This month, the spotlight is on my social media gal pal, artistic mentor, Courtney Wersick! And yes, you read that right, PRINTcess! Here’s a bit about her:

“Courtney Wersick is an Actor and Artistic Mentor, based out of New York City. With a Bachelors of Music degree in Vocal Performance, Courtney has always believed life is too short to pay bills and die. After completing a contract with Disney Cruise Lines after graduating from Towson University, she made the big move to NYC to pursue her Broadway dreams! Her mottos in life are “Progress over Perfection”, and “Be Kind, Always.” She is also an artistic mentor for emerging artists seeking to pursue a career in musical theatre – using her own experience to help the younger generation feel confident they are chasing their dreams with their best foot forward. Courtney loves working with children, is a loud and proud cat lady, and a (maybe not so loud but still proud) true-crime enthusiast! In her free time, Courtney is a calligraphy artist; co-owning a small art/print shop called Printcesses, which she co-found with her best friend in 2018.”

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Courtney Wersick: Real-Life Disney Printcess

I’m particularly excited to feature Courtney this month because I feel like her and I have been talking about this since I even started the blog! The last few months have been tough on artists trying to find a community, but thanks to the amazing artistic community on Instagram, Courtney and I started following one another and what a lucky break it was! While she and I have yet to meet in person (I’m going to have lots of new fun friends to catch up with when the world regains some new normalcy!), Courtney’s love and light still shine on me from states away. The title of artistic mentor is so perfect for her, and I feel like she is mine in a way! Watching her speak on social media about her audition experiences, cruise ship life, and her journey towards finding an apartment in NYC have been so enlightening and beyond helpful since these are all things I would like to be able to do! Having a guide like Courtney who is so open and honest about her experiences can only be beneficial if you, too, are looking to pounce on your Broadway dreams.

On multiple occasions, Courtney has been in my messages, lifting me up and holding me there in times of struggle during the pandemic. I so admire her for her kindness, her work ethic, and her never ending passion for the people and things she loves. Let’s hear about what Courtney’s up to and how she practices self-care and self-compassion!

Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

I’m Courtney! I am from Bowie, MD – and I am currently riding out this pandemic in Baltimore, MD with my boyfriend/partner, Jason!

What are you currently doing for work, if anything?

Since performing/the theatre have been almost completely halted due to the pandemic, I have been finding new ways to not only prepare for when theatre returns, but to reframe my model for success. I’m working with an artistic mentor myself, doing a lot of self-reflection on my “why”, and kind of treating quarantine like my own little “rehab” for my Imposter Syndrome. I truly believe mental health and self-care are the two most important elements of being a performer and I’ve been trying to look on the bright side and really take advantage of the down time I’ve been given during this shut-down. Additionally, I’ve been working on my calligraphy/art business – we recently launched our new sticker collection and that has really opened the floodgates for my creative output! Most excitingly, I have also been building an artistic mentorship program 🙂 My mini-course on moving to New York City is now available on my website.

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Courtney Wersick: Real-Life Disney Printcess

Tell me a little about your journey as a performer and how it has brought you to where you are today?

Well, it really begins from when I was too little to even remember! I was always a performer — putting on shows and concerts for my friends and family in my living room. Growing up I did every musical, choir, and show I had the opportunity of doing and really have been chasing this dream from the get-go! It all really changed when I was 12 years old. I saw the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera, and decided to give up my dreams of being the next Britney Spears and switch to being an opera singer. I started taking my first professional classical voice lessons when I was 13 and the rest is kind of history! I couldn’t afford to go to college in NYC, and when Towson offered me a scholarship — I couldn’t say no. They didn’t have a MT program so I studied  classical voice because even though I knew I wanted to eventually pursue musical theatre, I really loved opera and felt that continuing my classical training might give me a leg up, vocally. 

I’m very lucky to have known what my passion was at such a young age, and while that has definitely led to some perfectionism and high expectations in my adulthood — I am so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had along the way. I’m now at a place where I can appreciate all the work I’ve done, while exploring new ways to pursue my passions!

If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

       – Performing (duh)

       – Food (specifically pasta and sweets)

       – TV and movies (I’m a spooky movie girl) 

       – Calligraphy

       – Inspiring others (if you ever need a hype man, I’m your girl hahaha) 

Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

Absolutely! I’m really trying to do more of all of those things during these crazy times. I had a breakthrough recently regarding doing more of what makes me happy and brings me internal fulfillment and all of those things are involved!

What has been inspiring you in a time where we are seeing so much change in the world/our industry?

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Courtney Wersick: Real-Life Disney Printcess

 Honestly, I am so inspired to come out on the other side of this with a renewed passion for this industry, and a new perspective of who I am and what I want to do as well. I am hopeful that there will be some changes made to the “system” that involve us all being more compassionate, more patient, and more supportive of each other as actors and artists in general. I have seen so many of my performer friends taking the time to break down the walls that so many of us put up to protect ourselves from criticism and judgement – walls that I truly believe hold us back  as artists AND human beings. If the only thing I did this year was find my inner peace and figure out how to help others do the same – then maybe 2020 won’t go down as the worst year in my history book. There is still a light at the end of the tunnel. 

What are some things you like to do in your down time to foster those passions, so they stay just as alive as your work?

I’ve been working on giving myself the quiet time and the space to fully live in the moment and FEEL the emotions that present themselves. It is so easy to just push them down and distract yourself with staying “busy & productive’ but as I learned pretty early on in quarantine — that doesn’t serve me in any way. I get burnt out A LOT. So when I feel like I’m overworking myself, or I’m feeling anxious – I have been taking a step back and sitting down with a book, watching a tv show I love, or even just playing my Animal Crossing for a while to just really try and RELAX – to avoid burnout. Taking care of yourself is JUST as “productive” as the traditional ideas of “working” that we all force upon ourselves. 

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

Firstly, to spread sunshine wherever I go. There is nothing that brings me more joy than bringing a smile to someone’s face.

Secondly, to inspire others to chase their dreams and chase them bravely. I want to be that person for people to turn to when they feel like their dreams are too big. We all need that person. 

Lastly, to enjoy my life. I don’t want to be on my deathbed thinking about all the things I didn’t do, or all the things I did out of trying to please others. Life is too short to live for other people. I want to share my life with others and embrace every second of it because my happiness comes from within. 

What does your self-care routine look like?

Recently, it’s truly a balancing act. At the beginning of quarantine, I was setting impossibly high goals- so now I am focusing on balancing “work” with “me time”. As for “me time” – I’m currently reading through Midnight Sun (ngl, I’m struggling), playing Animal Crossing, watching a bunch of South Korean zombie films, and spending time with my boyfriend and our new kitten – Fizzgig! I try to alternate between a “work” activity and a “me time” activity on a 1:1 basis 🙂 

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life? 

I cannot emphasize this enough – therapy and/or mentoring – have changed my life. There have been so many times where I have struggled to find motivation to pursue my passions, and it always came back to something within myself that was holding me back. I strongly urge anyone struggling with this to really take the time to figure out their “why” and take the time to explore the obstacles both mental and physical (ie. their schedule, or day job, or family dynamic, etc) that may be holding them back. I think that’s a very good use of this time, so we can fully thrive in our power when life returns to “normal” – whatever that is! LOL. 

HUGE thank you to Courtney for sharing her time and energy with me! If you want to learn more about Courtney, give her a follow on Instagram and check out her website!

Talk soon! xo

~ Ang

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Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

Hi Everyone!

Another month, another Passions Piece Feature! This month Beyond the Footlights has the pleasure of featuring my friend and Radio City Rockette herself, Miss Mara Ranson! Here is a little about Mara:

“Mara grew up in Ewing, NJ training in versatile styles of dance before completing a BFA in Jazz Dance Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Directly upon graduating, a semester early, she began rehearsals for her first cruise ship contract as a production dancer. She would eventually travel and perform on two more ship contracts that took her all over the globe and let her have the chance to perform featured roles in Vegas! the Show among others, and that allowed her to learn and perform aerial skills like hammock and lyria (aka hoop). Back on land Mara has performed featured roles in theme parks, on international stages in Tokyo, Japan, and in regional musical theater productions including Crazy for You and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Mara’s proudest accomplishment was making her dream come true, and becoming a Radio City Rockette in the Christmas Spectacular. She performed in over 100 shows this past holiday season and was featured on Dance Spirit Magazine’s web issue.  

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Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

Off the stage, Mara is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and barre certified through Exhale Spa where she teaches barre, cardio, and hiit style classes in NYC.  Mara’s newest venture is pursuing her Physical Therapy Assistant degree.  She is starting classes this September, and is looking forward to this new career path that keeps her moving her body and helping others to move pain free!”

She can just do it all, can’t she?! I met Mara two summers ago (that’s crazy) performing together in Crazy For You at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and we’ve kept in touch online ever since! I remember being in rehearsals with her and not only admiring her for her obvious talents and her killing leggings, but also for her generosity and kindness. She was one of our dance captains, and as a student placed in a company of professionals at the time, it was so reassuring to have someone to go to and look up to in moments where I just needed a little extra help with any choreo!

I also remember the day that Mara shared on social media that she was going to be a Rockette. I had heard her talk briefly on her experience with auditioning various times and the dreams that she had, and it was just so cool to think to myself “I know her! I just shared a stage with her! And now she is going to get to live out her dreams as a Rockette!” It truly was her perfect season, and hearing all about how she had persevered with such grace until her dreams came true gave me hope in my ability to achieve my dreams too.

Since quarantine started, I have taken Mara’s dance cardio classes on Instagram and Zoom and let me tell you- they are NO JOKE. She kicked my booty, in the best way possible! Without probably even knowing it, she has helped give me many a push towards staying happy, active, and gentle with myself since quarantine began! Here is our chat about Mara’s passions, self-care, and exciting adventures- old and new!

Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

M: Hi, I’m Mara! I grew up in Ewing, NJ, attended The University of the Arts in Philly, and post college have been living in NYC (whenever I’m not away on contracts!). Now-a-days I am back in my NYC apartment after a few months of staying with my parents in New Jersey. I am back in school for a new degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant (!!), and just started a new job in a Physical Therapy clinic. I also have been teaching dance and fitness classes through zoom off and on throughout the pandemic.

What are you currently doing for work, if anything? 

M: As I just mentioned above, I just recently started a new job at a Physical Therapy clinic where I will be helping to teach exercises to patients and assisting with their treatments! My career has been making a pivot lately which is scary but exciting! 

Tell me a little about your journey as a performer and how it has brought you to where you are today?

M: I have been dancing since I was three, and grew up as a competitive dancer. I knew I wanted to dance professionally but knew I also needed a little more time and guidance to hone my craft, so I got my BFA from UArts where I majored in Jazz Dance. My years at UArts truly shaped me into the performer and dancer I am today. While I was there I got to work with some wonderful choreographers and figured out the path I wanted to pursue; musical theater, showgirl work, and above all else, the Rockettes. Right out of college I started my first cruise ship contract which was an amazing opportunity to keep growing as a person and a performer while traveling the world! I eventually did two other ship contracts over the next four years. In between those I performed in Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, VA as well as in Tokyo, Japan in the Spirit Productions show Broadway Christmas Wonderland. I also have performed in a few regional theater musical productions, my favorite of which, was Crazy for You, where I met Beyond the Footlight’s very own Angela LaRose! Between all of these endeavors I never stopped auditioning for my dream job with the Rockettes, and in 2019 after eight auditions, I finally booked my dream job! It still feels surreal to me that I spent the Christmas season last year performing in my dream show, in my dream theater. Dreams do come true friends! Never stop working, and never give up! All of my experiences in my career lead me to accomplishing my dream.

If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

M: My top five passions, hmm: movement, coffee, helping others feel empowered, planning and organizing my life, and dogs.

Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

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Mara Ranson: Rockette Dreaming and Beyond

M: I am overjoyed to say that my new career I am pivoting into does fall into those passions! I chose to go back to school for PT because it is a field that will allow me to keep sharing my love of movement by helping others to move stronger and with less pain and more function. I also am still teaching fitness, and hope I can continue to for a long while.

What has been inspiring you in a time where we are seeing so much change in the world/our industry?

M: It has been crazy inspiring to see how artists have been creating, sharing their art, and coming together remotely! One of my favorite things to come out of COVID is that I can take a dance class with friends/artists all over the country and the world. It’s wild how even through technology we can feel like we are exchanging energy and connected. 

What are some things you like to do in your down time to foster those passions, so they stay just as alive as your work?

M: I love going for walks and runs through the city, or through any area I am at and taking in the scenery and people of an area. One thing I love about NYC, and what makes people watching so much fun, is that we have such a diverse population. I love seeing people from all walks of life living together in our city. I also love my passion planner! It combines organization and planning with a different creative outlet that dance. I used to be a bullet journaler, but this year I have switched over to the passion planner and I am loving it. Like I said, I am a lover of movement, so it is important for me to workout and sweat as well. I take rest days when I need (something I am still working on being ok with), but I always feel so much better when I take the time to sweat and move my body. I love the feeling of getting stronger!

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

M: My be-all, end-all goal for my whole life was to be a Rockette; now that I have accomplished that I feel like I can move on to other goals that are equally exciting and important to me: to find a career outside of performing that feeds my soul and gives me stability, to have a family, and to be a good person (one I already work to accomplish on the daily of course!).

What does your self-care routine look like?

M: Some things that really feed my soul are spending time with my boyfriend, just taking it easy and enjoying tv series and movies, enjoying a fantastic cup of coffee, baking, going for long walks or doing a yoga flow, face masks, and the ultimate treat, a full body deep tissue massage! 

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life? 

M: Buy a passion planner! Start scheduling yourself time for your passions! You can’t pour or create from an empty cup, so at some point you are going to have to start prioritizing yourself! 

What wonderful advice, thank you so much to Mara for her time and her thoughts. That’s something I think we can all take away from this one: You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Nurture yourself, nurture your passions, and the rest will be history!

Lots of love!

~ Ang

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Jenna Leigh Miller: Social (Media) Butterfly
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Jenna Leigh Miller: Social (Media) Butterfly

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Hi Friends!

Beyond the Footlights is back with another Passion Piece Feature, and this month I had the joy and privilege of communicating with actress, theatre coach, and ball of literal sunshine, Jenna Leigh Miller!

Here’s a little bit about Jenna in her own words!:

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Jenna Leigh Miller: Social (Media) Butterfly
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“Hey! My name is Jenna Leigh Miller and I am a New York City based actress. I hold a BFA in Musical Theatre from Otterbein University. I first came across Musical Theatre on a Brownies trip to NYC, where we saw Beauty & the Beast, ever since then I was hooked!  I started singing at the young age of 3 years old, at church. I truly was singing before I was talking. I lived out my “Fame the Original Movie” dreams by attending the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts as a Vocal Major. I am also the creator of Problem Solved, a Theatre Coaching for all artists, specializing in everything audition related. In my free time I enjoy cooking, games nights, Gilmore Girls, and reading as many quote books as I can.”

Y’all. If you don’t already follow Jenna on social media, you MUST this instant! While Jenna and I haven’t had the opportunity to meet one another in person, I feel like I already know her like I know any close friend just from our interaction with one another via social media. I truly don’t remember how I stumbled upon her profile, but from the moment we connected I could tell how positive, uplifting, hard-working, and hilarious she is!!! I follow both her personal account as well as her Problem Solved account, and on any given day, my feed is full of Jenna doing everything from highlighting her favorite self-tape products and audition book hacks, dancing up a STORM, and singing her face off to her making her signature chai, chilling with her blow-up pool dolphins, and doing blind taste tests of her favorite adult beverages! Her feed really is the social media experience we are all in need of during this crazy quaran-time!

I just love how real and supportive Jenna is at all times. What you see is what you get, and that isn’t something that is easy to hold onto in our line of work sometimes, so for that I admire her immensely. Because she works hard, she plays hard, and because of that, I thought it would be fun to check in with Jenna and hear about her passions and how she practices self-care! Here’s our chat:

Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

J: I am an actress, performer, artists, daughter, friend, and human being. I am New York City based but I am currently quarantine in Easton PA, which is also where I’m from!

What are you currently doing for work, if anything?

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J: I am so grateful for my theatre coaching business- Problem Solved, truly has kept me busy during quarantine! I also teach acting to younger kids with this company based out of Pittsburgh called South Hills Music Academy. And I social media manage An Actor Plans, which sells Broadway themed stationary goods! Check them out: @an_actor_plans

Tell me a little about your journey as a performer and how it has brought you to where you are today?

J: I always knew I wanted to perform. I know that sounds so cheesy but, it’s true! I did other things as a child, soccer, swim team, but it was always AFTER rehearsal or AFTER my voice lesson or AFTER my dance class. To me, my path was always lit up. I knew what I wanted to do. As artists, creativity runs through our bones. That has spilled into other parts of my life, but my Broadway dreams have been consistent my entire life.

 If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

J:

  1. Performing…duh! #jennaforbroadway
  2. Cooking and cocktail making. Follow my #drinkswithjenna journey on Insta
  3. Supporting and uplifting fellow artists, that’s how I found Angela on Instagram! #artistssupportingartists
  4. Problem Solved, building something from the ground up is incredible rewarding
  5.  AUDITIONING! (I know crazy) I love being pushed outside my comfort zone in the audition room, meeting new people, getting an opportunity to perform. I even love the hustle that comes with audition season.
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Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

J: I love the quote, “Love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life.” Meaning I try to fill my time with my passions. If you don’t love what you do, what’s the point?! I turned my passions into my career. So yes, all of my passions fall into the same category!

What are some things you do in your spare/down time to foster or hone those passions, so they stay just as alive as your work?

J: See, this is something I struggle with. You know how they say don’t work from your bed, because you shouldn’t mix “work” with “down time”. Well… I am currently writing these responses in my bed, p-jays still on with a pomegranate G & T in my hand. So much of my work is my downtime I struggle to find that perfect balance. But I will say cooking is a huge stress reliever for me. It’s an hour to myself to create.

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

J: Oh woof, BIG question! I feel like this is best discussed in a bar in Downtown Manhattan with some fancy drink that is casually flaming, but I’ll give it a go…

  1. Perform on Broadway. This has been a professional goal of mine since I saw my first Broadway show, Beauty and the Beast, on a Brownies trip to New York City.
  2. Have a home base. I am slightly obsessed with tiny homes and I feel like for an actor it’s the perfect size. And being able to drive your house whenever you have a contract sounds brilliant to me.
  3.  Make a sustainable amount of money where I get to choose what I want I do. Whether that money comes from contracts or my business doesn’t really matter to me, but they don’t call it finical freedom for nothing. I want that freedom!

I’d just like to note none of these things I have achieved yet and I am ok with that. For me, it is more about the direction and not the speed at which I achieve my goals. I do believe in putting things out there in the universe and asking for what you want. But not at the expense of giving myself timelines I have to follow.

What does your self-care routine look like?

J: Cliché answer, but wine, face mask, and a good Netflix binge and some yummy snacks! I also find self-care is giving myself pep talks. I recently re-did my dance reel and when I was going through editing the videos 75% of them all had some sort of self-affirmation in them, “You got this Jenna,” “Show em what you got,” “You are so ready for this.” Makes me laugh watching it back, but to me that is a huge part of my self-care. If I don’t believe in myself, why would other people?

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life?

J: You make your own schedule. So, YOU get to decide what your energy goes towards. Carving out an hour of time to sing each week is the same as carving out an hour of time to do your laundry. To me I put them on equal levels of importance.

I also say this all the time but when it comes to the performance industry but, SHOW UP. That’s my advice, show up. Half the battle when it comes to pursing your passions is showing up. Show up for your family, show up for your fellow artists, show up in your audition prep work, show up to that early morning open call, show up when preparing food for your body, show up to that dance class you have been wanting to take all quarantine. Show up for yourself.

Passion Piece Feature
Jenna Leigh Miller: Social (Media) Butterfly
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A HUGE thank you to Jenna for taking time out of her busy, fun-filled life to answer my questions! Weren’t her responses just perfect? So candid, so hopeful, and so relatable! I can’t wait until I am able to connect with her in person, but in the mean time, catch me following her journey and growth online!

WHAT? You don’t already follow Jenna?! Fear not. There are plenty of ways to connect with her online right now! Check her out at any of the following:

Actress Website: www.jennaleighmiller.com

Actress Instagram: @jennaleighmiller

Like to Know It: @JennaLeighMiller
Problem Solved: www.problemsolvedbyjenna.com 

Problem Solved Instagram: @problemsolvedbyjenna

Actor Must Haves: http://www.problemsolvedbyjenna.com/actormusthaves

Pinterest: @ProblemSolvedbyJenna
An Actor Plans: @an_actor_plans

Have a wonderful week my friends! Keep shining!

~ Ang

Passion Piece

Passion Piece

Passion Piece Feature
Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.

Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.

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Hi, Passion Peeps!

This week’s post is something new and exciting that I am thrilled to share with you all! Last month, I wrote a personal “Passion Piece” about my passion for yoga, but this week I am excited to share the first of many “Passion Piece” features!

Seeing as how Beyond the Footlights centers on life both on and off the stage, and the passions we all have outside of our careers, I wanted to spotlight friends and colleagues of mine (and hopefully some new faces!) and share their passions with this community! I think it is really interesting and beautiful to get to know people on a deeper level than we may experience in work, school, or via social media. It creates meaningful connection with others, and I can’t wait for that connection to be amplified here!

Passion Piece Feature
Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.
Gabe and I (back left) with our fellow interns at an opening night champagne toast for PSF

My first Passion Piece Feature is Gabe Moses. I met Gabe in college at DeSales University when he came in as a freshman my sophomore year, and the splash he made onto the college scene was incredible. I have had the honor of sharing the stage with Gabe in various productions both during the school year and at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival as inters interns and working with him as a director. To say his talent goes unmatched is quite the understatement. His dedication, professionalism, and heart (both on and off stage) afford him well, and there is no doubt that those attributes propel him forward in and among our peers. Not only is Gabe all those wonderful things, he is also a wonderful friend and just a great human being. Every time I watch him work, watching him with friends, and talk with him myself, I feel like I learn something. Whether in our craft or in everyday life, his maturity and sensibility never cease to teach and inspire me. How lucky am I to know this man?!

Here is my chat with Gabe about all thing’s passion, self-care, and the journey.

Who are you, where are you from, and where are you spending your time these days?

G: My name is Gabe Moses and I am originally from New Jersey, but I moved to Pennsylvania when I was ten years old. I currently live in Bethlehem and I’ve been home since the Coronavirus hit.

What are you currently doing for work, if anything?

G: I am currently unemployed due to Covid-19, but I recently started a podcast called “Black-tor” which almost feels like a part-time job with the amount of work I put into each episode.

Tell me a little about your journey and how it has brought you to where you are today?

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Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.
Gabe as Lopakhin in DeSales University’s production of The Cherry Orchard

G: Ever since I was three or four years old, I have been singing and dancing around the house. Although I believe I was born to perform, I definitely picked up these gifts from watching children’s shows like Barney and Hip Hop Harry. These shows included song and dance to tell their stories which reeled me in. So, my family saw me picking up these skills and wanted to put me in programs where I could learn more. As a child growing up, I’ve spent many years in performing arts camps/academies learning and honing my skills in theatre, song, and dance. It didn’t take much for me to realize that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Early on, I had visions and dreams of seeing myself on Broadway and television. This led me to attending The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts and majoring in theatre for four years. I, then, went on to attend DeSales University as a theatre major and I’ll be starting my senior year in the Fall. I have had the privilege of taking part in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival as an intern in several of their productions. Over the years, I have come to realize what my purpose is as a black performer and just as a person. I always want to represent my people and shine positive lights on black culture through my art. My goals are not only to entertain the world with my gifts, but to change lives and provide new lenses for people to look through and understand.

If you can, list for me your top 5 passions- no matter what they are!

G: Theatre, Music, Interpretive Dance/Movement, Directing, Podcasting.

Does the work you are currently doing fall into the same category as any of those passions?

G: Thankfully, yes! 100%. I am blessed to have been active in the arts, throughout this pandemic. I didn’t think that would be the case when PSF, and so many other theatres, canceled their summer season. I thought this would be the worst summer ever, but somehow it has been very rewarding. I have learned so much about myself and what I want to give to this world while directing and acting in online readings/plays and podcasting.

What are some things you do in your spare/down time to foster/hone those passions so that they stay just as alive as your work?

G: I love watching interviews and listening to podcasts of actors, directors,
musicians, or pretty much anyone involved with the arts. Unfortunately, I can’t go see a show every single day especially as a performer and a college student who’s broke all the time. When I learn from professional artists through these interviews. I always try to find the actors who inspire me and who look like me to hear about their experiences. This lets me know what I’m getting myself into which is very valuable and informative as a young black actor.

What are your top 3 goals in your life/work?

G: It’s difficult for me to pick three legit goals. I have so many long term and short term goals I would like to achieve in life. If anything, I would love to be on Broadway. That has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid. To be able to follow in the footsteps of so many black actors and directors would be amazing. With the black lives matter movement afloat, I have hope I will be able to be a part of the change that is needed due to systemic racism and discrimination in the arts. So, there’s another goal: to share my voice with the world in hopes to end racism. I believe I have two voices: my performer voice and my personal voice. My performer voice is not necessarily a facade, but an extension of myself when I am performing and acting in a show. It’s the voice I put forth when my face is seen on a stage. My personal voice is the one I use when I do not have a platform to communicate through. It’s the microphone I make for myself when I’m
not given one. If I were to pick a third goal, I would say to be authentically me 24/7. I grew up as a quiet child, which surprised many people when they saw me onstage. Even into my college years, I still hold back who I am sometimes. So, the person I am and the person I am becoming is still taking shape. But I am able to stay humble while still being myself. I’ve grown so much in the past few months, on a personal level, to the point where I am excited to get back to daily routines when this pandemic is over. I’m ready to jump into my next chapter.

What does your self-care routine look like?

G: To be honest, I really need to come up with one that I can commit to on a daily or weekly basis. I tend to keep up with my well-being sporadically, but I feel as though scheduled check-ins will do me justice. I will give myself a pat on the back for knowing when to separate myself from situations I know I do not belong in. I am good at taking time to be alone and think about choices I may have made that were not right or either didn’t go as planned. So, time is a big part of self-care and being able to take a step back before I take two steps forward.

What advice do you have for anyone struggling to make the time for their passions in their life?

G: Make the time! Even if it’s out of the way from the priorities in your life. Or if you have to make a sacrifice that is doable, do it! You will feel so much better. It’s important to do what you love and not what other people want you to do. As an actor, I know there will be times when that isn’t possible immediately after graduation. But little things go a long way. It could be as simple as taking five minutes in your day to do something you love. Stay in touch with the things and people that mean everything to you. Then, hopefully, there will be an opportunity where you can do it every single day, and maybe even make a living out of it.

Huge thanks to Gabe for sharing his time and his words with me!

Passion Piece Feature
Feature #1- Gabe Moses: Big Dreamer. Big Doer.

He’s got one more year of school left, and you will not want to miss a moment of his journey! You can follow Gabe on Facebook (Gabe Moses), Instagram @gabejmoses, and Twitter @GabeMoses. You can listen to his podcast, “Black-tor,” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, Overcast, RadioPublic, and PocketCasts!

Lots of love!

~ Ang