6 Pieces of Advice from Theatre Artists to Be Thankful For

Leah Walsh, host of the artists’ podcast The Compass, shares words of advice from her fellow artists that she is thankful for this year.


I am thankful for these insights living a full artistic life from The Compass Podcast archives. Check out these past episodes if you need something to listen to on your Thanksgiving travels, or even in quiet moments this holiday season as you reflect on the year.

On being grateful for the people around you
“I hate to seem ungrateful for anything. I think that’s one of the things that’s important about staying positive, because if you’re complaining about ‘where you are’ and ‘how nobody’s listening to you’; that’s not true. There are some people that are [listening to you] and if you say ‘nobody,’ then you’re calling them ‘nobody’… You’re not acknowledging what support you do have, and that’s important.”
– Episode 28: David Caudle – Playwright and Painter

On building skills and long-term side gigs
“I feel like in part of this [life of] always keeping busy, I would teach myself things. I learned guitar, [and] over the last seven or eight years, I learned animation, and that’s become something I’m really excited about [too]… going down that path. Guitar, for instance, I just started learning cause I wanted to and then eventually it paid off. I’ve been doing this show now for a while where I play guitar and I’m getting paid to play it. And that’s only because I sat in my room and read some books and watched some DVDs, and nobody told me to, nobody paid me to do it, but now I am getting paid. So now, I feel like that feeling that used to be, ‘What am I excited about? I’m going to go learn about it and do that,’ is still there, but it’s more narrowed and focused to ‘Ok, animation is something I’m very excited about and I like doing [so] how can I turn that into something that is a means of income within my control [in] one, two, three, four, five years down the road? How can I take those steps now?” So that even within that individual passion pursuit, how is that still adding to the future of our family?”
– Episode 19: Nick Choksi – Actor and Musician (now appearing in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812)

How do you deal with feeling discouraged?
“Rejection is an easy one to start with, because I’ve started a new two-for-one rule: every time that I get one rejection, I have to send out two more submissions … You know the cliché which actors get tired of hearing, and writers get tired of hearing, and I’m sure dancers and everyone else: ‘Most of the work is showing up,’ but when you don’t get cast, or your script doesn’t get picked, it doesn’t feel like that’s where most of the work is. It’s reminding yourself that there is some truth to that [cliché]: If when one door shuts, you [decide], ‘Alright, I’m going to go knock on two more.’ It’s something concrete to do.”
– Episode 38: Beth Kander – Playwright

On taking a major teaching job
“Now that I’m taking a full-time-looking job, people are like, ‘Oh she teaches now…[she’s] not out here pounding the pavement trying to audition as much.’ I am, but it doesn’t look that way. …Lar Lubovitch said something really beautiful to me when I came to him and I said ,’Lar, I’m scared. I don’t know that I should take this job, I feel like I’m succumbing to this comfortability… I can’t find a job so I’ll teach.’ And he said to me ‘Chanel, LaGuardia is just someplace where you will hang your hat for awhile: If you’re not done dancing, then you’re not done dancing. It is a place to hang your hat, and when you’re ready, you pick that hat up and you go on your way.’ It was the best piece of advice to calm my spirit he could have ever given me; it took so much weight away. “
– Episode 23: Chanel DaSilva – Dancer and Co-Founder/Co-Director of MOVE(NYC)

On being open as an actor
“It’s very common that young actors will mistake hard work for presence, and very often it’s the exact opposite that is required: it’s just showing up, that’s it. And it’s the hardest thing in the world to just show up and not have an agenda.”
– Episode 52: Karl Kenzler – Actor, Director, Teacher, Writer (currently appearing in Fiddler on the Roof)

On producing your own work
“And honestly, I think it does seem daunting to people: …producing your own work on something like YouTube. But it’s really once you start doing it… it’s empowering and it’s a fun type of control: to be able to see a vision of a product that you want and to be able to get it there. It’s still hard, but I think it’s going to be really, really empowering and fulfilling as an actor to see this whole thing come together.”
– Episode 44: Liz Jenkins – Actor

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