by: Lola Van Ella
Photos: Virginia Harold
B.A.B.E.* Tip (rant) of the day:
I get asked all the time how to be more involved, how to get into bigger shows, how to be hired more often. I am happy to share what I know.
1. GO TO SHOWS. Seriously. You want to be a part of bigger, more professional productions? Then go to them. Can’t afford it? Volunteer to usher or take tickets or whatever. Meet the producers, directors, choreographers, cast. Watch them. Experience it. Immerse yourself in the world you’d like to be a part of. It seems so simple, but it is amazing to me how often newer performers don’t take these opportunities out of intimidation or ego or fear or any other myriad of excuses that keep you from being a part of the magic. I am SO GRATEFUL that I saw all of the touring productions that came to town, and saw musicals, and went to the circus, and saw weird modern dance productions and experimental theater (and did all those things too) and traveled to BHOF in my early days when there were no traveling shows that came to St. Louis. There was nothing, you guys. And now? There is SO MUCH good stuff! We are so lucky here. We have talent coming in from all over the world performing and teaching. Take advantage.
2. LEARN. I’m not saying you have to spend all your money on every class in the world, but education is everything. Take classes. In theater, dance, circus, improv, and yes, burlesque. Take classes and soak up the knowledge. We should NEVER stop learning. And bonus? Classes are full of other like minded people. Friendships are made there, and opportunities are offered. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve booked because I “discovered” them at my studio. It’s not nepotism. It’s business. And part of my business is booking. And if I have talent right in front of me, chances are I’m going to hire them for something. Either right now, or down the line.
3. BE THE SHOW YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD.
Have dreams? Want to create beautiful magic? Do it. Push yourself. Surround yourself with talented people. Surround yourself with people who are more talented than you. You are the company you keep and if you are the strongest link in a broken chain, you aren’t going to be very strong at all, and you’ll never get stronger. Dream big and then do the work it takes to get there. Be the biggest and best version of you there is. Be the you-est you you can be. Be honest, be bold, and do the things you’re best at first while you work on slaying other things later. Don’t sell your soul for a paycheck. Don’t work for bad people. Don’t let others demean you because you just want to make a living. It’s not a good look, and honestly producers see that. I remember things and people and performances. If you are flaky, or late all the time, or work for unsavory characters, or have a bad attitude, or act inappropriately…these are things I remember. I don’t care if you’re Gaga, I won’t book shitty or shady people. And most producers worth their salt won’t either.
Now, let’s go get back to showbiz! I hope to see you all on stage, back stage, on the dance floor, or in the audience soon!
xxx and oh! Lola van Ella
*Bad Ass Business Executive
Want more from Lola? 2011 Interview