Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature
Megan Bowen: Dance From the Heart

Megan Bowen: Dance From the Heart

Feature #7

Hi, all! Happy Monday!

I am SO excited to share my first Passion Piece Feature of 2021 with you! To kick off the year we have dancer, entrepreneur, and all around badass woman, Megan Bowen!

Passion Piece Feature
Megan Bowen: Dance From the Heart
Photo: @cesar.shoots

Here’s a little about Megan:

Megan Bowen is a performer, creator & entrepreneur in NYC. Alongside her professional performing career, Megan founded Dance From Home LLC, an online company that helps Broadway lovers reconnect with the joy of live performance through musical theatre-themed fitness, dance & industry workshops. Megan believes the dance space is for everyBODY and is excited to reenter the industry post-pandemic. Stay connected via Instagram @MeganBowen__ & @DanceFromHome_ 

Like many of the people I have featured in the Passion Piece series, I have only ever connected with Megan online, and she is just a powerhouse. I’m not even sure how I came across Megan’s profile or the Dance From Home account, but I am SO glad that I did. Back in November, I took part in Dance From Home’s 14 day Get Up and Dance Challenge and the rest is history. It was during this time, taking Megan’s classes, that I started to truly feel connected to theatre and dance again, and this can really only be attributed to Megan, her instruction, and her class structure. Through the computer screen, states away, I could feel her infectious energy, her support, and her desire for me to succeed. Yes, I got that all from a fitness class. But that’s how I knew that Megan was someone I wanted in my corner, leading and guiding me toward my fullest potential! I signed up to be part of Dance From Home’s Ensemble Membership in the New Year, and it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my personal and professional life.

Megan is such an incredible inspiration. On her personal social media, she openly speaks about the joys and struggles of being a business owner, body image in the theatre, her own journey back into the dance studio, and much, much more. She is real, she is raw, and it’s so refreshing to follow and invest your time and energy in people who are just real people with real lives. That’s something I admire and would like to aim to bring into my own online space in 2021.

It’s such an amazing feeling when you know you’ve got people on your side, holding space for you, and aiming to help you reach your fullest potential. Megan is one of those people in my life, and I cannot wait to connect with her in person! Check out our chat and get to know more about Megan below!

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

My name is Megan Bowen and I am from Temecula, CA. I moved to NYC a little over 4 years ago and I currently reside in Brooklyn!

What are you currently doing for work, if anything? 

I am the Founder and CEO of Dance From Home LLC. We help Broadway lovers reconnect to the joy of live performance through musical theatre themed fitness, dance, and industry master workshops!

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

My parents put me in dance class when I was 3 years old. I was a very shy kid (I still identify as an ‘extroverted’ introvert) and stood in the back of my first dance class for 3 months until I decided to give the class a try and, well, here I am 23 years later still doing it!

I was a competitive dancer throughout my middle school and high school years. I also LOVED to sing so I started voice lessons when I was about 10 years old. My dance studio often let a local community theatre use the studios for rehearsals which was how I started to get involved with musical theatre. I did a few productions with them in middle school and absolutely loved it, but when it came time to high school, I had to make the choice between dedicating my time to theatre or the dance team, and I chose dance.

During my senior year of high school, I began auditioning for college dance programs (I thought I was going to end up being a classic modern or jazz dancer in a company) but I had a horrific experience during the college audition process. I was rejected from every single school I auditioned for, I was even told by the director of the NYU Dance Department that I did not have “the ideal body type that they were looking for” and felt very defeated. Luckily, I was very smart and had great grades/qualifications to get me into The University of California, Irvine as an Undeclared Major. During my first week at school, I reauditioned for their Dance Department and got accepted! It was the best feeling of my life. 

During my Junior year of university training, I started falling out of love with modern/contemporary dance. I also couldn’t find any companies or space for women with my body type in that portion of the industry and was confused on what I wanted to do. This is when musical theatre started coming back into my life…

I was in a sorority, (shoutout Delta Delta Delta) and each year the sororities would be paired with one fraternity to compete in a schoolwide musical competition called “Songfest”. The musical assigned to our cast was Pippin and during that creative and performance process (yes, we won the entire competition), I fell back in love with theatre. 

This is when I started getting involved in the drama department at UCI and got accepted into their New York Satellite Program, a “study abroad” program that had about a group of 25 of us come to NYC for one month and train nonstop. We took master classes, had mock auditions, went to a few real auditions, and got to fully experience what being a performer in NYC would be like. I was IN LOVE. I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had finally found my calling. 

So, I graduated college and moved to NYC 3 months later. I’ve been here doing the audition and performing grind until Covid hit and it all stopped. 

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

1 – Performing

2 – Baking

3 – Creating Content/Being a Business Owner

4 – Lifting Weights

5 – Quality time with those I love

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

Passion Piece Feature
Megan Bowen: Dance From the Heart

I would say the majority of my current work with Dance From Home aligns with my passion of dancing, performing, and teaching, but I believe passion and business have to fall into two very separate categories.

Dance From Home is my business in which I must be able to detach my ego or emotional connection from in order to make it thrive and better serve my community. My passion for dancing and teaching show through my classes, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that business is my passion. It is one of my proudest achievements and has brought me closer to an incredible community that I am so lucky to serve every single day.

But passions are allowed and often do change, so with that in mind I work on looking at my business strictly as a business. I guess what I’m saying is that owning a business is not the driving force of my life. Performing is. 🙂

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

Oh gosh, honestly my friends and the upcoming community of leaders in the musical theatre industry inspire me. We are going to be the ones to evoke change.

What are some things you like to do in your down time to nurture your passions, so they can stay just as alive, consistent, and active as your work?

Honestly, as a first-year business owner much of my time has been consumed with my business and my passions have fallen to the side. That alongside living through a Pandemic. I have just now started to get realigned with my passion for taking dance class and going back to the gym to strength train. Those two things bring me endless joy and I haven’t really been doing them for the past 10 months, so I am excited to start again. 

This kinda ties into my answer above! My passions didn’t necessarily disappear in 2020 but they were put on the backburner and that is OKAY. I wasn’t ready for them or in a mental space to bring them back, but I am now 🙂

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

Oh that’s rough…I guess some that come to mind are.

#1 – Be in and choreograph a Broadway show

#2 – Have a 7 figure business

#3 – Start a conversation/Change the body standards of the dance industry

What does your self-care routine look like?

Haha. Another thing that I lost during the pandemic. Right now, my self-care looks like paying off my debt and credit cards and fixing my relationship with money. THAT is real self-care. Doing the things you don’t want to do but will ultimately help you be a better and happier person. 

I also ALWAYS eat breakfast.

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

My advice would be to allow yourself to take a step back. You do not and should not feel like you have to force your passion. Knowing that passions can change and finding new things to light you up is exciting.

What are you hopeful for in our industry as we enter 2021? What prospects excite you, scare you, and make your heart flutter with anticipation?

I’m hopeful that the industry will start to come back by winter. I personally don’t think Broadway will come back until November 2021, but I lean towards the beginning of 2022.

Something I am looking forward to is taking dance class in person again and having the space to create with fellow dancers. 

I’d like to think about performing but I just don’t know what that will look like. I know my dreams and goals will come true; I’m just trying to not put a timeline on them 🙂

Amen to that my friends. Self-care is “doing the things you don’t want to do but will ultimately help you be a better and happier person.” Self-care takes on SO many different forms, and THIS is one form I couldn’t resonate with more!

A HUGE thank you to Megan for sharing her time and energy with me! All her social media information can be found in the bio at the top of the post- check her and her business out, give them a follow, and spread love today!

Lots of love

~ Ang

Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature
Feature #4
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.”

Passion Piece Feature
Feature #4
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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Feature #4
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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Feature #4
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

Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature

Passion Piece Feature
Jenna Leigh Miller: Social (Media) Butterfly
Feature #2

Jenna Leigh Miller: Social (Media) Butterfly

Feature #2

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

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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