'What Is for You Will Not Pass You': 30 Broadway Artists Share Hard-Earned Advice | Playbill

Special Features 'What Is for You Will Not Pass You': 30 Broadway Artists Share Hard-Earned Advice

Broadway professionals—including Phillipa Soo, Alex Brightman, Kara Young—offer words of wisdom.

Graphic by Vi Dang

In April, Playbill launched its new feature series, How Did I Get Here. It spotlights not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre. Our first entry into the series was an interview with Victoria Clark, who is currently starring in Kimberly Akimbo at the Booth Theatre, which earned her a second Tony Award. What better person to provide insight on how to have a thriving stage career?

Since that time, over 30 other artists have shared their journeys to Broadway as well as much hard-earned advice—tips for those starting out in the business and words of wisdom they would have offered their younger selves. Read some of their advice below, and click here for the full series of interviews.

Michael Arden Heather Gershonowitz

Director Michael Arden
"Learn as much as you can about every aspect of theatre. Understanding disciplines other than the one you are directly involved in only makes you a more thoughtful and creative collaborator. Soak up everything, ask to assist, sit in, and watch. Making theatre takes a village, and all parts are vital and worth knowing as much as you can about."

Roman Banks Justin Barbin

Actor Roman Banks:
"If you really want to make a career out of the arts, love it with all that you are. Make sure that you're not in it for the money, fame, or people you'll be around, but for the simple love of it. That's what sustains you.…"

Gregg Barnes Heather Gershonowitz

Costume designer Gregg Barnes:
"Stay flexible, but know your worth. Be a generous collaborator."

Beowulf Boritt Heather Gershonowitz

Scenic designer Beowulf Boritt:
"Meet as many people as you can. If you're a wallflower (as I was), learn not to be. Do everything that's offered to you, and love it no matter how mediocre it might be. Not every show will be great, but find something to love about each project because it will make your work better. Work tirelessly when you're young because the energy of youth does not last forever."

Rob Bowman

Music director Rob Bowman:
"Stay true to your passion, hopefully find that one special someone and, baby, dream your dream!"

Alex Brightman Tricia Baron

Actor Alex Brightman:
"This is an easy and short answer. Sorry, it's not very exciting. But it's important. Save your money."

Laura Bell Bundy Michaelah Reynolds

Actor Laura Bell Bundy:
"Get to the root of why you love performing. Is it to be creative? To express yourself? To escape yourself? To connect? To be fearless? To make people laugh? Whatever it is, show up to every audition, every class, every rehearsal, and every performance fully committed to getting that thing you love out of it. It won’t feel like "work" or 'trying to get a job.'

"For me, it is because I love to play—to do plays, play music, use my imagination, etc. I don’t show up to 'get a job' or 'go to my job' or even 'to get a paycheck.' I show up to play. And that keeps me happy even in the hardest of times."

Kevin Cahoon Michaelah Reynolds

Actor Kevin Cahoon:
"What they are telling you is a hindrance will become your greatest asset. Celebrate it, cultivate, own it. It’s you. It’s yours."

Lap Chi Chu and Rebecca Wisocky Heather Gershonowitz

Lighting designer Lap Chi Chu:
"Say yes to a challenge."

Victoria Clark Heather Gershonowitz

Actor Victoria Clark:
"Keep your eyes and ears open. Soak up as much as you can from everyone around you. Don’t take a single moment for granted. The day you live this day will eventually add up to being your whole life, so try to enjoy at least a sliver of every day. Be forever grateful, for everything large and especially small. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Trust your collaborators. Don’t second-guess yourself. Be brave. When you get knocked down, get back up. Trust. Yourself, the universe, God, whatever or whoever you believe in.

"As my soul sister Mary Beth Peil says, 'You absolutely can do everything. Just maybe not all at the same time.' And as my spirit brother Martin Moran says, 'All will be well.'"

Adrianna Hicks at opening night of Some Like It Hot Michaelah Reynolds

Actor Adrianna Hicks:
"I would tell my younger self to never be ashamed of who you are and to never shrink back. 'Shine your light' is what I would tell anyone pursuing their dreams."

Vincent Jamal Hooper Margot Trouve

Actor Vincent Jamal Hooper:

"Keep your head down and be honest with yourself, curious in your study, generous with your kindness, and consistent in your work ethic.

"Nothing that is meant for you will ever pass you by. Ever. It sounds like an empty platitude, but it is something that I stand by, and that has brought me a lot of long-standing peace in my career. As actors, we can spend a lot of time reading into why this or that thing didn’t go our way. Our minds get plagued with questions that we can’t answer and assumptions that we can’t verify. I’ve found freedom in the acceptance that I am on a singular journey and am being directed. Every place I land is purposeful."

Christa Kaimimoku-Wong

Makeup artist Christa Kaimimoku-Wong:
"I would tell anyone starting out to stay focused on your craft, speak up for yourself, and be humble. I don’t have a huge social media following, and I don’t care because the majority of the work I book has come from word of mouth. People will always remember experiences and feelings, good and bad, so make sure you are authentic and stand out respectfully. I am living proof talent and kindness will take you far."

Ethan Le Phong in the national tour of Mamma Mia! Joan Marcus

Actor Ethan Le Phong:
"Choose you as the hero in your story. Where is this person in 10 years’ time? That’s when you will know what you need to get there. Plan it out, but know you’ll have detours that will test you. Tests that you will rise and sometimes you will fail, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Find those that will uplift, inspire, respect, and will humble you. If there is something else that you can do that will make you feel great, I say do it, because this industry is very hard. Allow yourself to step away from it, and when you are ready, the stage is yours!"

Telly Leung Tricia Baron

Actor Telly Leung:
"To anyone just starting out, I'd say: Remember to have grace. Have grace for others and have grace for yourself. We are all ever-evolving human beings. We are meant to grow and change and evolve until the day we die. A mentor of mine always reminds me that, "with every breath you take, you are a different human being." This is literally true: As oxygen floods our cells with every inhale, we change on a molecular level. That means that we have to allow ourselves the room to grow. The past versions of ourselves will make mistakes, say the wrong thing, hurt people, have poor judgement—and that's OK. What matters is that we learn from all of those experiences and attempt to do better. We have to forgive that old version of ourselves, and also have grace for others that are going through the same thing."

Mauricio Martinez Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Actor Mauricio Martínez:
"I’d tell young Mau to have more fun because in the end, it all works out, and all my dreams have come true. Life can be scary at times. I am living proof of it. That’s why we have to make the most out of it and follow our passion.

"The people that are meant to stay in your life will do so, and that some people can take advantage of you in this business if you’re not careful. Managers, producers…I’ve learned to choose more carefully."

Alli Mauzey Heather Gershonowitz

Actor Alli Mauzey:
"Listen. Take the note. Trust yourself.

"You can totally start and have a family and be an actor. Not sure why I was told otherwise by some people. It's so weird to me now. Like most things in life, you just figure it out."

John McDaniel Heather Gershonowitz

Musical director John McDaniel:
"Say yes! You never know who you'll meet or who will be listening, so grab opportunities when they come along. That low-paying, downtown show may prove to be the one that changes your life."

Paolo Montalban Michaelah Reynolds

Actor Paolo Montalban:
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. And if you persist and work on anything long enough, opportunity will eventually find you. So you see, luck is created for you and by you. And remember to be true to yourself, you’ll enjoy the ride a lot more that way."

Actor Jessie Mueller:
"Don’t compare yourself to others. Work on your own path. I still find that really hard. But if you can get a grasp of that early, to quote Dr. Seuss, 'Oh the places you’ll go!'

"Balance is hard but worth fighting for. I missed a lot of life moments early on because of work. Weddings, funerals, time with friends and family. I wish I would have taken time off for those moments."

Casting director Chad Murnane:
"My advice would be to be patient and persistent. Success doesn't happen overnight, and it takes time to build a substantial career in this tough industry. But if you have a deep passion for what you do and are willing to put in the hard work, you will get there. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, network as much as possible, and build meaningful relationships with industry professionals. Be open to all kinds of opportunities and never say no to a meeting, even if it doesn't seem like it will lead to anything significant. You never know where a conversation or connection can take you in the future. And most importantly, always stay true to yourself and your values. This will guide you through tough decisions and challenging moments in your career."

Gareth Owen Heather Gershonowitz

Sound designer Gareth Owen:
"At some point you will want a family, so think long and hard about how that will integrate into the lifestyle of an international sound designer. Short answer, it doesn’t. So make sure the person you choose to start that family with (I am married with three kids) is an angel in human clothing."

Marco Paguia Michaelah Reynolds

Music director Marco Paguia:
"Confidence comes from doing. Preparation is important, but that alone doesn’t give you confidence. You can draw from a previous experience to give you the confidence to get through a new experience."

Thomas Recktenwald

Stage manager Thomas Recktenwald:
"Listen first and talk second. We have so many forms of communication, but active listening takes real work and is the key to successful communication."

Austin Scott in & Juliet Matthew Murphy

Actor Austin Scott:
"Be patient, do the work, and don’t hide yourself. The most important thing you can bring to any project is your truest, most authentic self. You’ve gotta put yourself out there, and that can feel super vulnerable and uncomfortable at times, but your best work and everything you’ve dreamed of is on the other side of that discomfort. It’s worth it. The real work is learning how to quiet down all the noise in your head so that you can show up, be present, and surprise yourself."

Phillipa Soo Heather Gershonowitz

Actor Phillipa Soo:
"1. Have high confidence, but low expectations. 2. This is a long career, give yourself permission to be present and go slow. 3. And fill your life with experiences—go see art, immerse yourself in culture, engage in your community, read, learn new things. All of these things will only feed your work."

Lili Thomas Jeremy Daniel

Actor Lili Thomas:
"Trust that what is for you will not pass you. Trust that life is not a race. Trust yourself to create your own path, and stop looking for a paved one to follow."

Nasia Thomas Heather Gershonowitz

Actor Nasia Thomas:
"Start and lead with self love. It all begins with loving yourself and telling yourself that you are enough. Saying what you have to offer is what the world needs. The things that make you special are the things to celebrate! Also, that there should be no competition with your peers, only celebration of one another.

"And, also, what's meant for you will never pass you up. And whatever passes you up was never meant for you. And that no's can actually be the biggest blessings in your life."

Jonathan Tunick Heather Gershonowitz

Orchestrator Jonathan Tunick:
'Don’t turn up your nose at a job that doesn’t pay enough, or for which someone else will snag the credit. As long as you think the gig will bring you some profit in the form of experience, a promising connection, or some musical or professional growth that will help your progress. In the early stages of your career, you will be exploited. It’s all right to let this happen as long as you’re compensated in other ways."

Kara Young Heather Gershonowitz

Actor Kara Young:
"Keep your sword sharpened and ready for battle."

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