Ep. #71 Dance as Discovery with Lily Frias

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #71 Dance as Discovery with Lily Frias
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I’m celebrating Cinco De Mayo this year by sharing this conversation with the FABULOUS Lily Frias.  Lily is simply sensational and in this episode we cover everything from her style, her process, her history, Mexican history (and what you SHOULD know about Cinco De Mayo), to her take on using dance as self discovery.  I absolutely light up for Lily and I hope you do too!   Truth is, you don’t know how fabulous she is until you have seen her get down, so I strongly recommend you check out the show notes to this episode!

Quicklinks

Lily’s Vid on IG: https://www.instagram.com/tv/COI9NO6lrhp/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Femme Fatale on IG: https://www.instagram.com/femmefatale_official_/

Femme Fatale at Arena 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MwoTxo_bsYFemme Fatale Crazy In Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdsTDLQcF-k

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, Hello. How are you? My name is Dana. This is words that move me. I am stoked that you are here. This is a really special episode. I am thrilled about introducing you to my guest this week. Her name is Lily Frias, and she is simply sensational. In this episode, we cover everything from Cinco de Mayo and what you should know about it, uh, to her style, her process, her history and Mexican history, her crew, her crews, plural, and her take on using dance as self discovery. It is a good one and I’m excited to get into it. But first wins this week on the podcast. I am celebrating that we got this episode done despite me being abroad. Um, I was in Atlantic City, New Jersey when we recorded this episode. So I do apologize in advance for the audio quality of the interview being a little less than A+. Um, but I am honoring sticking to the schedule and getting it done no matter what really is my goal, to bring you the good stuff. And I’m stoked to be bringing you this interview on Cinco de Mayo. If you are listening on the day of its release, which I think is really important. So I hope this episode catches you on the day. And if not, I hope you keep it in mind for next and future Cinco de Mayo’s. Um, all right. So that is my, when I’m honoring the schedule, we got it done. I’m accepting B maybe B minus work on the audio front, but listen, I’m not apologizing for any of the content of this episode. I’m thrilled about this conversation. Uh, and before I share it with you, you share with me, what’s your win. What is going well In your world?  

Congrats. I am so glad that you’re winning keep winning. Um, and while you were talking to yourself and maybe to me out loud, I realized I have another win. Um, I do this a lot. I have a lot of, a lot of things to celebrate. I’m a celebratory type. I forgot to let you know that I’ve decided to invite you and all other human types. Yep. This is very open and open invite to another live podcast recording. That’s going to take place on May 11th, 2021 at 2:00 PM Pacific. May 11th, 2021, 2:00 PM. Pacific. You don’t have that long. Um, I just I’m doing this because I had a ball with the last one. We’ve only done this one time, uh, live podcast recording with a bunch of listeners via zoom, and we had a ball with it. If you want to go back and listen, that was episode 46, had a really good time. Um, I’m excited to bring it back. I’m excited to hear from you. Talk to you, answer any questions that you might have, and in general, continue to get to know my listeners. I’m stoked about it. So Mark your calendar May 11th, 2:00 PM. PST. Excellent. Okay. That’s that? Let’s get into this conversation with Lily, enjoy. 

Dana: All right. My friend let’s do this ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls dancelings of all types. I am so excited to be having this conversation right now with Lily Frias. Welcome Lily.  

Lily: Oh, Dana. Thank you so much for having me.  

Dana: Oh my goodness. I cannot wait. Um, I’m excited for you to, to introduce yourself because I came to know you first. I was a fan of you. I saw you on ABDC probably a thousand years ago with your crew Funkdation. Um, then I got to know you more personally. I would love to just, uh, lend you the floor and let you introduce yourself to everybody that’s listening.  

Lily: Aw, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Uh, Oh, where to start? So my name is Lily Frias. I’m a professional dancer and choreographer based in LA. I was born and raised in Mexico in the state of Durango in a very small city called Lerdo. And, uh, I actually lived in New Mexico for a little bit when I was a kid. Uh, my dad was studying his PhD. So we had a little bit of years in my childhood where I got to be exposed to hip hop. And my older sisters were going to middle school and high school in the US and they were just lost in the nineties, like Destiny’s Child, Usher. They were going to the concerts. I was trying to recreate these music videos and be like “sings” Come on, like all of that, I was just, just baffled in love. And, um, I just always had a lot of energy and just fell in love with dance. Took my first dance classes there. Then, uh, by the time I was like seven turning seven, we returned to Mexico and, uh, took me a while to find a studio out there. But then I got back into my dance training and haven’t stopped ever since.  

Dana: And you are a force to be reckoned with my friend. So, so is that writings on the wall album though and confessions?  

All of it. All of the, all of it, Brandi, all of the nineties that was in their life  

Full moon is untouchable. Untouchable. Okay. Yeah. So in addition to having exquisite tastes in music, your family also supported or helped encourage this dance, um, career and pursuit of yours or,  

No, they, they are, uh, very much involved in my life. I am from a very tight knit family. I actually, in Mexico, I grew up neighbors with my family. So it was my grandma’s house, my house in the middle and my auntie on, on my left side. So we were just basically neighbors. There was no escaping. I had friends over and my grandma was always like, Lily, who’s this. So they were fully involved in my life and with dance, I think as a little kid just really saw a lot of energy in me. I was a non-stop and I think they were like, okay, we need to do we need to channel this crazy. And I always just used to recreate movies and sing, and, uh, they took me to a ballet and jazz class and I did a piece to my favorite things. I was wearing like some like itchy mittens. And it itchy tutu. But I was in there living my best life. And, uh, then after that, when I got to Mexico, when we moved back to Mexico, it was definitely very much like self-discipline and self-love that I was just like, I need to find somewhere to dance. I was just, I used to do it all the time by myself, but they, they were fully invested. My mom after school would, I literally had like a one and a half hour break to eat, digest, and then she would drive me to classes and sometimes she would stay there hours, wait for me. Sometimes I would ride back with other people until this day it’s been like a up and down journey, but my family is like, I’m blessed. They are my number one supporters. 

That’s so cool. I love that. Yeah. I, I share in that, I also got lucky in that department. Um, I, maybe this is a gentle segue. I would love to hear, because I know this episode will release on Cinco de Mayo. And I, I know that there are a lot of misconceptions about number one, Cinco de Mayo, but Mexico in general. Um, I think Americans have the idea that this is Mexican independence day or Mexico’s independence day. And, um, that’s, that’s not, uh, I also think Americans probably party harder on Cinco de Mayo than move most Mexican people do. So I’m curious, as you were growing up, was Cinco de Mayo something you celebrated?  

Uh, to be honest, we, we did not. Uh, we did not. I mean, uh, officially independence day in Mexico is celebrated on the 15th of September or September the 15th. 

I thought it was September 16th. Am I crazy?  

So basically we do something that’s called el Grito, which is kind of go like, get shouting out there’s this whole thing. So you kind of stay up on the 15th, eat, celebrate, and then at midnight, uh, the president rings a huge bell that kind of just declares that independence and you just stay up and party. I mean, I learned about Cinco de Mayo in school, but not until I moved into the US and really started seeing everybody celebrate it so much. I was even, I had to go back to my school books and be like, like, I know it’s, uh, the Battle of Puebla. So there’s, um, when the French wanted to come on to Mexico and there was a little battle and that’s what happened, but we don’t even get like no days off in school and work, or so it’s really just a day that we, we commemorate that it happened, but it’s not a big deal at all. Like I could probably ask one of my cousins in Mexico right now, and they’ll be like, what? I was talking about this with a friend last night, that’s also Mexican. And it was like, this is such a cool opportunity for us to also go back and dig into our history in order to answer these questions properly. And, uh, it was just fun to go look and to see how and why this celebration moved into the US and now it’s this big, big thing.  

Um, I’m excited to be shedding some light on it. I, I vaguely recall learning about it in school, but not with any depth. Um, but now as an, as an adult, who’s been taking much, um, uh, much more interest in the history of all sorts. I do want to take a pause in a moment to like, to, to honor the history. And I think the coolest thing about this holiday, if I could, I think the coolest thing about this holiday is that the Battle of Puebla was one, not because of like great power in numbers. Mexicans at that I think were outnumbered by like 4,000 or something insane. I think there were 2,000 Mexican soldiers and 6,000 French. And so one of the things that I am a proponent of always is rooting for the underdog. And so I can’t think of a better reason to celebrate. And I, when I see like imagery of the Mexican person with a poncho and a sombrero covering his head and taking a nap, like that’s not the person that just won a battle outnumbered by 4,000, it’s such a misconception, such a, such a, uh, wrongly perpetuated stereotype. So, um, yeah, I, I, I’m glad you’re open to talking about that. And I’m curious about how Americans might change their celebrations, knowing a little bit more about the context.  

Yes, no. I mean, thank you for wanting to talk about it. To me, I feel like it’s super important to, even as a Mexican myself, to reclaim all of this history and to inform ourselves and shift that energy to be more than like a proud way, rather than something that is being used.  

How, how do you think you’ll celebrate it this year? 

Ooh, I would probably say dancing on Wednesdays, I train house. So I would just probably dance, uh, maybe get together with friends. I haven’t really planned out. I had a friend that actually got into she’s also Mexican, but she got into like celebrating it here. So I feel like she was the main, like spearhead on being like, let’s do something, but I wasn’t really passionate about celebrating.  

Right. Well, that’s awesome. I will be celebrating by releasing this podcast, and history. And, um, if you could, I would love if you could give any, any of your Los Angeles insider tips, I would love to patronize authentic Mexican restaurants. If I could be putting some money in the pockets of the real thing and the real people from the real place, I would still love to be doing that.  

Yes, absolutely. Boyle Heights, East LA. I felt like going there and supporting small businesses. Really. I went to this place called Gracias Madre, and I really was investigating like, who owns this super Mexican vegan spot? Like it made me think like, as somebody who moved here, where is it going to like, is it cycling full circle into uplifting the community that I, that I, I fight to be a part of and fight to represent. So there is a lot of really good spots right now. I felt like I would just say one that my friend she’s Mexican as well. She put me on to it’s called El Cocinero and it’s all vegan, all plant-based like tacos, this many other dishes and it, and it’s bomb. 

Let’s go. Okay. So that this is, this is an awesome, like help kit. I think. So the dues of it are like do focus on history, do partake in authentic cuisine, do a little extra digging in terms of finding out whose pockets you’re filling with your patronage.  

I think with everything, it goes into that life, where am I putting my money  

Hopefully being more deliberate all across the board. Um, but especially in these, as you mentioned, heavily marketed, uh, Americanized holidays that have nothing to do with Americans. It’s wild.  

Yeah. So I’m like what it’s, it’s learning also, I’m learning so much about myself and, and going back into my history and like, thank God I have my parents. I ask them questions all the time and about even cooking. Hmm. How do I want to do better as well so that I can share that with other people in like learning how to cook vegan things, myself using maybe cactus and flowers and, uh, just other ingredients that are still, you know, that the yummy that I can make myself  

I am now having a mouthwatering situation side note, if ever there is a Lily Frias cookbook, I will buy it. Yeah. Thank you. Um, okay. So I, on the subject of your heritage and how proud you are about it, I would love to talk a little bit about this, um, Instagram video. I, I, I call it an Instagram video. That’s only because I saw it there in the, in the caption you addressed, how important it is to you to break norms of all kinds, but specifically gender norms in Latin America and, and how important it is to be outspoken about who you are. Um, you talk about queerness, you talk about, um, using your voice in a community that sometimes those voices are less, you know, less outspoken, less heard, less embraced, perhaps. And I’d love to hear more about how you experienced that, um, in the dance world, how you came to find your voice and your freedom through dance, um, and perhaps any words of encouragement for people following in your footsteps.  

Absolutely. Uh, this is such a, I didn’t get emotional. It’s like such a dance for me is, has always been such a, a blessing. I am so grateful that I get to move my body and that I really get to, to channel all of those emotions and all of those voices and everything through dance. Like, I really don’t know what I would do without it. And, um, I think my heritage and self discovery and self exploring is, is it hand-in-hand with my dance, whether it be a job or a performance or a battle or a cipher, or at a party where I was dancing and like discovering new things about myself, whether it’d be good or bad or new things, a lot of new things came into place in, in my journey through dance and through people around me that, you know, just mainly talking about my family, my friends joke a joke about my grandma, like things my mom says that are funny. So I really do feel now more than ever that I really carry proudly carry the weight of like all my sacrifices and all of the people that came to, to make me be here. Like my mom, my parents, my sister, all of them influenced me. And I think I channel all of that into dance. I’m sure a lot of women, a lot of women have suffered from abuse, sexism, like machismo, a lot of gender norms. I grew up in a very, very religious, I mean, I was going to religious Catholic schools until I was 17. I was wearing a uniform and going to church every Friday. Like it’s, uh, if we then school. So having to digest all of that and break that all down in my brain still till this day. And I use dance as a tool to help me be like, Oh, like, what do I feel like, what do I want to do?  So doing, doing that video was, was really special. And like I wrote in the caption that, uh,  the singer, Chavela Vargas uh, she, she made her career in Mexico and in a time where it was never like women were barely wearing pants, like it was, I was hardcore and I give it up to her and being, being in spaces where it was male dominated. And she was just like F it like, and you hear it in her voice being like, ah, like you can hear the weight of just like, this is who I am. And it is with every type of song you hear from her. So I, I connect so much to that  

And I feel that when I watch it, I feel, wait, I feel questions being answered for you. And I feel your answers being sometimes shouted sometimes whispered, but really embodied, like it’s, it’s such a powerful thing to watch. I’m really excited to share it with our listeners. 

Dana: Okay. So one of the things that I love most about that video is a fusion of styles. Um, I think if somebody asked me, like, what does Lily do? I’d be like, Oh, she’s a sick popper. And she’s a sick Wacker, but you’re, you’re many, many things. Um, how would you explain your style in general and how would you explain the style of that video?  

Well, particularly of that video, I really learned, uh, what the meaning of, uh, punking. And I’ll go into a little bit of history, but, uh, uh, from what I learned from, uh, Viktor Manoel, one of the OG punkers in LA that was going to the clubs and Gino’s where Michael Angelo was mixing and LGBT people of color were coming together. But obviously when you learn whacking, the first things that you see are like the arms and the speed and the disco and the *dance gibberish*. But I love that. I mean, I’m that person at the club going crazy. I am that I’m one of the curtains on the floor and like, woo. But, uh, I heard punking what, where Punkin came from. So they used to call that, ‘Oh, gee, look at the punkers punking.’ So they took that, that word of oppression and turned it into expression. When I heard that it just, I connected deeper with what I thought it, that dance had to look like and what it meant for me. And I think that’s how, that’s how I’m able to tell stories and to express that way, using that type of movement, it doesn’t have to be arms and flip and turn and all of this, it could just be you telling your story. And because they were so inspired by a black and white movies, like Gretta, garble, all Judy Garland, like, you know, when you see these movies are like, they’re not dancing, but you could feel that they’re like Turn. Yeah. Often people say like, voguing is the runway, the picture and whacking is the movie. So, so that’s how sometimes I tell to people to differentiate. Obviously it’s completely different, but I using punking and using whacking vocabulary in that video. And also, I mean, also learning, popping and other styles, just, I really love to like isolate and wave and just changing the posture of what, what maybe doesn’t look as pretty and as disco diva, and like, Ooh, but that is more raw and original to what I like to do. And I think that inspires other people to, to explore. Like even when I teach, I’m like, I’m not teaching you to do this dance exactly like me. Cause that would be boring as hell. Why would I go to a battle where everybody knows a song? Everybody’s going to say the same thing. Everybody’s going to do the same move. I’d be bored. Like I want to see these styles. All of this was meant for individuality to celebrate you and celebrate the history and celebrate what it was created for. So I think just, I didn’t always who I am into the dance. I don’t, it’s so much more gratifying and  

I love this and I don’t even, I, I don’t even know which direction to go from there. Cause you’ve piqued my interest. A lot of mixes, several, several different levels like this idea of individuality and, and the notion that teaching someone to do it like you is actually a disservice when it comes to teaching, especially a street style or, or, or teaching someone who will eventually end up in a battle. If there are a bunch of ‘yous’ running around, then no one would ever win the battle. There’s every time. So I love this idea of encouraging individuality. Um, I also love I’m a sucker for it. Um, I know the word fusion has annoyed has annoyed me in the past. It, it annoys people, things will annoy people. Um, I remember being at Toni Basil’s house once we were jamming and she was, she was watching me get down. And after, you know, after I was through, she was like, what do you call that? I was like, 

I could clearly see her just being dry and looking at you like that, Why do you call that one hand on the hip? 

What do you call that? I was like, I that’s just my style. And she said, right, you, you, you, you can like tap a little too. Right? And you do jazz and all the things, I mean, jazz, what a dance studio calls jazz, not vernacular Jazz. That’s a whole other story conversation. But, uh, she, she encouraged me in that moment to dance my history and use all of it, which for me, my history is a dance studio with exposure to many, many different styles, but I didn’t go deep on any one thing. And I, for a long time punished myself for that for not being a specialist at anything. And it wasn’t until I decided to use all those things, um, in different balances, dialing this up, dialing this down and having that mix of skill, become my mix of style. And I see a similarity in you. Um, and I guess my question would be this when you’re, when you’re dancing all styles or battling and all styles battle. Are you thinking about what goes, where are you dissecting the music thinking, Oh, that’s a funk groove. I want to pull from my seventies locking infusion, or this makes me feel like the disco ball itself. I am at the club I’m whacking, or this makes me feel still and picturesque so I am voguing, or is there a switch that flips and you kind of go out of body and whatever style shows up is what shows up?

Yeah. I am very much of a free spirit. I am not that type of a freestyle dancer and like honestly, props to everyone who can create like combos and hat tricks and all of this. Like, of course you, you train all the time. You train the foundations, you train variation, you train all of that takes so much work separate from before when you’re in there in the present. But once I’m in there in the present, I’m just trying to be present for it to be redundant. Honestly, a lot of the times, uh, everyone has different battle tactics, but me, I always think, especially cause sometimes I, I battle a lot of people who don’t do my styles and those occasions, for example, for like dancier style, I battled all b-boys I don’t break. I don’t break. Like I’m not, I’m not one to like flip and do tricks and headspins or all of the amazing things that, that these people can do, but I’m like, what can I do? So I think it’s just channeling the emotion, like immediately, like flipping that switch and, and not even, I don’t think I’m even preparing anything. I’m just writing the music. It’s, it’s very organic. A lot of the times when I’m battling, I’ll watch the video and be like, well, that happened. Okay. I’m happy. I had a good time.  

I can tell that you have a good time when you dance. It seems, um, sensational in two ways. Number one, meaning like it’s excellent, but two, it looks like you are sensing, like you’re experiencing sensations in your body and you’re, it’s, it’s, it’s, uh, an emotional sensational ride. Like you, you mentioned the ride of the music. Um, and that is a quality that I so much love in a performer. I love someone that experiences dance versus demonstrates dance or performs dance. Um, so here’s the ultimate segue. I try to accomplish that. And I think we, we three seaweed sisters, Oh my God, my dearest, Jilian Meyers and Megan Lawson with the seaweed sisters, that’s almost exclusively what is going on is, just experiencing dance. It’s just happening. Dance is happening to us and we’re just there for it. Um, but you also rest in a powerful triad of dance. Can you please talk a little bit about Femme Fatal? Yes. Take the floor and let’s shed some of my global super sensations. I adore all three of you.  

Yeah, I am. I am so honored and so grateful to, to get down and create with these ladies. The crew Femme Fatal, uh, the company, I would say now it’s me. I’m Marie Poppins from France and Dassy Lee from Korea. I feel like we’ve been together for about four, four years, I would say. And, uh, we came together just like randomly to Marie was invited to perform a piece in Sweden. And then she was like, Oh, would you and Dassy like to perform? And there’s also this competition called Dance Delight. And if the wit whoever wins goes to Japan and we were like, uh, sure let’s do it. So that’s the first time that we ever started creating from scratch together and put this piece together. And we were in the living room of my old apartment, just like making so many creative things and creating step-by-step together. Like we use everyone’s super power, even though it makes no sense. Like I’m like little Brown and short and then Dassy, and then Marie, and just, we’re also so different, but at the same time, just kind of merge in super unique way. So that was the beginning that we got to dance together. And then ever since just things have been blooming and I’ve just had the, the amazing ride of like traveling and teaching and performing all over the world with my sisters. They’re, they’re my, they’re my peers or my coworkers. And I respect them so much as, as freestyle dancers and individual choreographers and artists and just everything they do. And we get to just bring that together and just create. 

Awesome.I, you know, I had no idea, but the seaweed sisters kind of share a similar origin story. It wasn’t deliberate. We weren’t trying to create a dance trio. We were I got invited to do a thing and we’re like, Oh,  I love, I much prefer dancing with my friends. Do you guys want to join me? And then when it’s good, it’s good. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It just keeps getting better. Uh, so cool. Um, do you guys have any shows or projects coming up that we should be on the lookout?  

Well, we just had a, our first online intensive in April and we are planning to do it again this year. And, uh, we just did a, uh, performance for the VS style anniversary. So we created something for that. And we have a group of girls that we’ve been training for over a year now called, uh, the Fam Fatale like family. So we are teaching them and trying to build a company which we, of course, one day we want to perform, bring them into theaters and just get to choreograph and open doors. Like we kind of opened doors for each other. So lots of, lots of things in the works.  

What a dream though. That’s beautiful. Um, I would love to talk more. Maybe we maybe later down the road, Words that move Me has all fatales on the podcast. Yeah, I would love to, Oh my God. Or what if we do a seaweed sisters, uh, co episode, maybe it’s like, that’s a lot of sisters.  

Love that. I love it. Everything y’all make, I’m always just like, how do you think of this? Is this only, it’s so unique. It’s like, yes, of course, of course they’re doing, like, if I, if I’m being honest, even before I moved to the US I was watching videos of like Jillian and you and Megan, I actually met Megan when she was on ABDC and like Fannypack and the Jillian, even seeing you with like, Rock your Body. I was like, Oh my God, is this Dana Wilson? I was like, I was losing my shit. So until this day I have like so much admiration for strong women doing what they do and that like, that’s it.  

Yeah. Likewise, my friend and that is why you’re here. It is, it is incredible. And I think dance has this ability to both make the world seem really, really big. Like I could never get to the bottom of all of the styles that I think are incredible. I can never become as good as I want to be at all the things that I think are fascinating. Um, but it also has this way. Dance has this way of making the world feel small and like the, our, our, our ability to meet each other and meet our heroes and yes, and form a crew with, with somebody from France and somebody from South Korea. That’s, I’m pretty sure that’s where she’s from. Right. Um, yeah, it just like, it is a truly remarkable and precious and awesome thing. Um, and I count it as like number one, dance blessing is the dance world.  

Like I met Marie and Mexico, and then I met Dassy here. And I feel like they, that we have so many things in common, like moving from another country and, you know, missing our families. We always talk about work as well, but we always just come back to places where it’s like, Oh, today is my niece’s birthday and I’m not there. And they’ll, they’ll give me a word of like, no, but you’re there and what you’re doing. And they’re so proud of you. So don’t, don’t doubt your journey. Like we’re, we’re here for it. Cause there we’re all going through the same thing. So  

That’s huge. Yeah. That’s huge. 

I love them. 

Well, I’m thrilled to see what you, uh, what you three and you as an individual do next interview. I’m really thrilled about sharing time and getting to know you a little bit better. Thank you so much for being open about your culture, about what’s important to you about, uh, the way you feel and the way that you create. It’s just all of it I love.

No, likewise. They not for real, like, I, I have little, little like small memories. I remember quick, quick story. I wasn’t even, I wasn’t even living here and Funkdation my crew from Mexico. We, we came here and we were kind of just riding buses and I mean, public transportation in LA is not it, but we wanted to take Popping Pete’s class in the old Evolution, the one that was near universal studios. And you knew they had like those little windows. And then we were just, we got there late because of public transportation. And I just remember watching the class and I remember you were in it and you were wearing like shiny shoes and like slipping around and in there getting funky. And now actually sharing, you know, sometimes the cipher, like taking your class or sharing movement. And then just hearing you want to hear about my story. It was just like, damn, it’s it’s full circle. So like you, you never really know where being yourself and, and connecting genuinely with other people can take you. Like, that’s just a part of the journey. So thank you for having me,  

Lily. I could not have closed it up any better than that memory. And I do remember that class that you recall that to my memory brings a big smile to my face. Um, well thank you so much for being here. I’m so excited to share any and all of the work that you’re up to. So on that note, everyone who’s listening on the day of its release, I will send you out into your Cinco de Mayo. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you Lily, for being here. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye. 

All right. My friends, how fabulous is Lily? The truth is you don’t even know how fabulous she is until you’ve seen her get down. Holy smokes. Uh, so that said, I have linked to the Instagram video that she and I were discussing and some other essential femme fatale videos that I think you must watch immediately. Those are all in the show notes to this episode in whatever podcast forum you’re listening to, or you could go to theDanawilson.com/podcast Look up this episode, which is episode 70, 71. Where are we? Oh my gosh, this will be 71 amount by, um, so if you want to check out all the fun, quick links and stuff like that, go to theDanawilson.com/podcast or check out the show notes of this episode, dig in, enjoy. And don’t forget to Mark your calendars for May 11th, 2:00 PM Pacific and enjoy Cinco de Mayo with reverence, with responsibility, with respect and keep it funky. I will talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave the rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more then weekly podcasts. So please visit  thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #70 Being a Real Character with Erika Mori

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #70 Being a Real Character with Erika Mori
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My long time friend, Erika Mori, joined me on the podcast today!  The conversation bounces between sensitive, smart, and very silly as we walk down memory lane, dig into the importance of technique to access emotion, and discuss the inevitable “professional heartbreaks” that we’ll experience in our work.

Quick Links:

Life is Strange Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6CkzwVAr0M

The Lucid Body: A Guide for the Physical Actor by Fay Simpson

https://www.esowonbookstore.com/book/9781621537243

https://www.amazon.com/Lucid-Body-Guide-Physical-Actor/dp/1581156510

Eduardo Salsa Teacher: https://instagram.com/saucedotango?igshid=14j87dzgsep44

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place though. 

Dana: Hello, My friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And this episode is so much fun, If I do declare.  Today on the podcast, I am talking to one of my longest time friends. Her name is Erika Mori, and she is sensational. You are about to find out, uh, Erika and I grew up dancing together. We’ve known each other since we were probably nine, maybe younger. I’ll have to check the date on some of the footage that we have uncovered. Yeah, you’re going to definitely want to tune into the Instagram to see some, some proof of our friendship and talent and how it has evolved over time. Um, but I’m, I’m jazzed about this episode because in it, Erika and I discuss a wide range of topics from climbing corporate ladders, uh, the importance of, and the place for our emotions and landing the job of your dreams with arguably no experience. In Erika’s case, very little to no social media following either. She is an exceptional person with an exceptional story, and I’m so excited to share it with you. Uh, but first we’re going to do some wins. Um, if you’re new to the pod, this is, this is what we do. We start every episode off by talking about what’s going well. I think it’s important. I’m going to take the stage first and then I’m going to pass the mic to you. So be thinking about your win and what’s going well in your world. Um, today I am celebrating last week’s free live career coaching call that I hosted. I got to meet so many awesome people. Thank you for bringing yourselves you’re vulnerab— Well, that’s a tough one. It really is a tough one. Your vulnerability, your questions. Um, I think everyone walked away with, with a better idea of what career coaching is, period. Um, but also with a lot of insight and awareness as to how to move forward with clarity and confidence. Um, so that is my win. Awesome free career coaching call. If you guys happen to have missed it, I did not record the call and I won’t record those calls in the future, but I will certainly be doing more of them in the future. So stay tuned over @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram and my website, theDanawilson.com

That is where I will always be sharing. That is the home of those free calls. Uh, okay. Now it’s your turn. What’s going well,  

Do keep it up. I’m stoked for you. All right. Now, I don’t want to borrow any more time. I want you to meet Erica so bad. I’m so excited. This episode is truly equal parts, smart, sensitive, and straight up laugh attack. So buckle up and enjoy this conversation with Erika Mori.   

Dana: Holy Freaking Smokes, ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, and all humans alike. Please welcome my guest today. Erika Mori, Erika, thank you so much for being here.  

Erika: Uh, what a delight, a pleasure.  

Dana: So I, you are one of my longest oldest, dear, not oldest. Uh, I’ll be careful. One of my longest time friends known each other since, since we were children. Um, I’m really excited to talk to you on the podcast today about some exciting things going on in your creative world. Um, and we’ll take a little journey into the past of child Dana, child, Erica. I’m so excited about this. Um, but before we do any of that, I would love for you. Uh, as I love for all of my guests to endure the struggle of introducing themselves, uh, what would you like us to know about you?  

Erika: Oh, wow. Well, my name is Erika Mori and I currently live in Denver. I am a voracious reader and a dog mom, which seems like pretty basic, but I’ll take it.  

Dana: Oh, there’s nothing but nothing basic about being a dog. Mom. I’m a plant mom and I’ve got my hands full.  

Erika: Yeah, but you have a, your plant mom to a plant in eight disco ball planter, which is true, like fairly eccentric. And it’s really fabulous. It’s a party, it’s a party, it’s a party. And also life  

Photo evidence will be coming soon to an Instagram account near you. Um, okay. Thank you for that. Thank you so much for the introduction. Albeit a very modest introduction because I do want our listeners to also know that you are, um, the face, the voice and the body of the lead character, Alex, uh, from the video game, Life is Strange, which has been, award-winning like, this is a big, massive deal this game. Um, this narrative adventure video game thing by SquareEnix. Is that correct? Yeah. Okay. And we’re going to talk about that because this is a big, massive, exciting job of yours, but first we’re going to go, uh, stroll down memory lane. If you wouldn’t mind,  

I would love to  

This, this blast from the past is brought to you by Chiquita banana head dresses and Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. Oh yes. Photo evidence of that coming soon as well. Um, what was that? I like it like that. Yeah. Before it was a Nicki Minaj hook. We danced too. I like it like that with Chiquita banana head dresses on which may be slightly insensitive if done today, perhaps. But I will say that,  

How old were we? I mean, we were like 12, probably 12, 12, 11. Yeah.  

Yeah. Some of my fondest memories took place in those, in those four walls at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy. Um, I’m, I’m wondering if you could just dish a few of your favorite memories from being a comp kid?  

Oh God. Um, I think one of my favorite memories is actually like pretty disgusting. It was, do you remember how we would spit on the floor and rub our feet in it? Like our shoes in it to like basically be rosin? Yeah. Um, S four turns so that we wouldn’t slip just loogies everywhere. 

100% everywhere. I actually caught myself in the act of this, um, of this spit resistance very recently. Like during COVID times. And I spit on the floor and it was like, Oh my God,  

I am so sorry. It’s like, now we’re just like a Petri dish of disease  

For real. I mean, when you consider, I just, I just hit my disco ball. I’m getting, so I’m getting so excited when you consider that later on, I rolled around on that same floor and the other people that would be rolling around on that same floor. It’s a miracle 

We ate off of that floor. 

Um, such a wonder that we didn’t all get ringworm, right? Yeah. That was a disgusting, that was a disgusting habit that we had. We had some wardrobe, some hot wardrobe fashions. I remember, I remember specifically wearing little boy underwear in dance class as if they were briefs like dance briefs.   

Yeah. That was kind of like some of our costumes. I just, now I know how upset my dad was about just all of it, how, um, there just weren’t many pieces of fabric or for a lot of our costumes and he still, you know, religiously went to every single dance competition. Bless his heart. Yes. You know, um, and probably just like closed his eyes for all of it. 

Super shout out Rick Mori. Well, you know what? I didn’t expect the conversation to go there, but this is a really interesting topic. That’s seeing quite a bit more light, uh, of, of late. I think as a lot of people are becoming more aware of some of the things that might be happening unintentionally in the convention and dance training worlds that are not so safe for young people. Um, so I think a lot of, a lot of people at the moment being more responsible for, um, not just the costume, but also the music being age appropriate, the intention behind the music being age appropriate. I really am seeing a trend towards the safer in that space in the convention space. Um, but since our competition days, your relationship with dance has, has changed a lot. Could you talk a bit about that, about your relationship with dance today and, um, kind of how it’s changed since, since we were up on that stage? 

Oh God, God bless it. Um, it, you know, I I’ve had dance in my life consistently. Um, right after high school, I went to college at the University of Southern California. And I was, I think this experience is, is pretty shared amongst a lot of incoming freshmen where you get really close with a group of people that you meet at orientation or on your dorm floor. And then you realize that you don’t really like them, like a month, a month and a half later where you’re like, huh, we weren’t actually bonding over things that we actually enjoyed. It was that we were just balls of hormones shoved together in the same place at the same time. Exactly. No parents, lots of booze. Um, I need to find some of my own friends. And so I saw a flyer up about dance auditions and I ended up getting on a dance team called the song leaders or song girls. Um, and they dance at football games, basketball games. It’s, it’s a, it’s a big deal, but that was, that became my, my social group for the rest of, of college. Um, and so I was dancing all through college. I did like adult dance classes when I lived in San Francisco just to like keep it going. And then I actually was in Buenos Aires. I was living there for five or six months. And your mom Steff 

Shout out Stan, 

Shout out, shout out to Stan. She got me into contact with her tango instructor. Oh my God. He’s amazing.  

The name is for real. His last name is Saucido and he’s this sauceiest. Just super shout out. Yes. He is an incredibly talented dancer and a really gifted teacher. I did not fancy myself an excellent partner dancer. Actually my mom’s schools me still she’s very good, but I found that a lot about tango is opposite our training. Um, first of all, in that you’re moving backwards most of the time, but it’s like a weight control relinquishing control. Well, that’s even outside of my dance life a subject, but, um, yeah, I really, I struggled with tango a lot, so Eduardo not only talented, but also very patient teacher. Um, and he’s in BA okay. So wait, you were there before you knew that, that my mom was traveling there. My mom, by the way, for those of you who are just tuning into my life and my mom, um, she was a flight attendant for several years and was flying Buenos Aires turns so that she could be dancing, uh, during her layovers, which I just think is the most heroic and romantic thing to be doing.  

So fabulous. Yeah. So it was really serendipitous because I was already planning to take a sabbatical from my corporate job. I was planning on living in one of the side days for a set amount of time and we reconnected and she was just like a total angel. I saw her every time she would come through, we would do dance class together. Sometimes we go to a Milonga and I just think the dance has been a really grounding experience for me. So even though I left the competition world, I didn’t pursue it. I kind of always knew I wouldn’t pursue it professionally. Um, I actually blast from the past, I remember we were at some convention, we’re all sitting down and I maybe it was like Mark Meismer or somebody was walking around with a microphone and was asking like, what do you want to do when you grow up? Some, some question like that. And I like, my little hand shot up and I knew I was like, he he’s expecting, like, I want to be a professional dancer. And I like grab that microphone. And I was like, I want to make enough money so that I can pay for her. And I pointed at you, should be, that she could be a dancer my God. And he was, I just remember him being like, okay,  

But that’s not the message we’re trying to put out. We’re trying to encourage dancers to be dancers without sponsors, but work or, I mean, you know, we’re, we’re coming fresh out of, um, not at the time of this interview, we’re coming fresh out of Money March where I’ve spent four episodes talking about kind of the economics and the, the ins and outs dollar bills of a dancer’s life. And man, as I was doing research, I found some, some numbers that were quite startling. Um, and I, again, there’s such tremendous range in the dance world. It’s hard to get like a grip on how much it answer makes, if you haven’t already people listening, go give a listen to those four episodes, but I’m touched that you would sponsor my dance life for me. And you probably still would today. I would, I would imagine  

I can recognize like unique talents when I, when I see it and I rub up against it.  

And yo likewise, by the way, because I want to just point out, you might not have been the one that was like, I want to go on tour with Britney Spears, but you were the one that was winning first overall with all of your solos and all the scholarships and the feet and the legs and the turns and the personality and and and 

Thats because I was an absolute ham. Like I can’t even watch videos of myself performing because you know what it feels like. It feels like those first few episodes of a new American idol season, where there is just the general auditions and there’s just like a dumpster fire going on on your screen and you can’t look at it because then you’re afraid that you will in fact burst into flames yourself. It’s just like, there’s so much awkward. That’s what it is. I can’t, I can’t watch myself. It’s it’s so, Oh, I’m sorry for everyone.  

I’m going to make it more job to find some video footage to accompany this episode, because if you were a dumpster fire, my friend, I was a dumpster fire Slingshot to hell. Like it was a hot mess, but we really enjoy yourself. Um, we, we really enjoyed each other and I remember spending some like out of dance class time together, inventing fake products and writing jingles for them, which I far too sophisticated for this audience.  

You wouldn’t get it haha 

Um, but we would, we would like spend 30 odd hours a week at the dance studio and then be making up dances in your garage over the weekend. So we did love this thing and it’s really cool to see that you continued to love it in different ways throughout your adult life. Um, and what’s really, really cool is the way, what I think is the way dance has showed up to support you in this next chapter of your life. So let’s, let’s talk about you and being the star of this narrative adventure video game. Um, you have a really unique story about how you came upon this role. I would love to hear a little bit about that and then maybe we can dig into some conversations about mocap because, I’m obsessed. Um, so how did you, how did you come upon the role?  

The truth of it was I kind of tripped and fell into, into the role. Um, I had gotten into kind of a season of, of my career and my life where my corporate job was really taking over. And it was just working all the time, coming home, eating dinner, feeding the dog, going to bed. And it was just a rinse and repeat. And I was really feeling the strain of that. I think in general, I do try and do a good job of infusing something creative into my daily life. Um, and I just, that was a season where I wasn’t as fastidious about about it. And so recognize that signed up for an adult acting class at the Denver center, um, here in town. Excellent. Excellent. Um, excellent place to, to hone your craft. They do all sorts of classes, acting playwriting, dance, um, voiceover, on camera. I mean, it’s, it’s a really amazing resource, um, for folks here in Colorado and my, so I signed up for a class and my instructor happened to be a casting director who was the casting director for this game. And after the class was over, I get an email from her and be like, Hey, I think you should do this audition. Didn’t have a, obviously no agent, no idea.  

No headshot, no resume, no reel. 

What was, I know It was just a selfie. I’m deaf. I still don’t have a real, like, it’s just, you know, it’s just what it is. And so she sends me, she’s like, okay, yeah, I think you, you should definitely go to this audition. I almost called it an interview. Uh, and I was,  

That’s how one foot in each world you are, but you’re like one foot in the top of each of the worlds. This is amazing. Keep going  

Well. And, and I was like, okay. Yeah, I think, you know, one o’clock could work, but it would be better if it was at two. And she was like, you need to clear your schedule. Like this is not, this is not a negotiation about like, when you can be there, you are not the one dictating the timing. And I was like, okay, I’ll put it in the schedule. So I get up there, I do the audition, I get a call back. There were multiple callbacks. I want to say maybe like four callbacks, which is pretty intense. And I didn’t realize until maybe the first or second callback. And it was the first call back I’d ever done. Like, I just, it didn’t, I didn’t know what was going on. Um, but it was, it wasn’t until like the first or second callback where I realized that I was auditioning for the main character. I was like, Oh, surely this is like a tertiary character, because I don’t know the difference between my ** and a hole in the ground right now. Like just no clue what’s going on. Like nobody, nobody would, would gamble, gamble the house on somebody. Who’s never done this, but they ended up gambling the house on somebody who had never been the industry. I have no formal training. Um, I almost think it’s better that I didn’t know until that point because I just, and I had never experienced the life is strange, uh, games, the fandom, I, I just had no idea. And I think it was probably for the best for my nerves. And I didn’t have any idea  

So that you, so you got it. You’re plugged in to the epicenter of this universe that is already spinning with all sorts of planets and moons and things orbiting. And there you are, the warm fuzzy center of it. And this is so I think for people listening, it’s important to know that when you’re doing I’ll call it performance capture because it was way more than motion, right? You had sensors on your face, we’re capturing facial expressions, you are miked, we’re capturing audio. We’re, we’re what we’re hearing is your voice. And so this is full-blown performance capture that happens in a motion capture studio, um, or in some cases in some, um, or in some cases, because there’ve been such tremendous advances in the technology, performance capture and motion capture can be done outside, like in normal daylight and sunlight and stuff. Um, but where you on, on a studio for the most part,  

I was in a studio for the most part, except for when COVID hit. Like we still had pickups from, uh, different chapters and the end of the game to film. Right. And so for the most part, yes, there are, there are different technologies in terms of, of, of mo-cap. So we used one that required you to be in, in a studio with 24 cameras surrounding you, plus a couple regular cameras to get different shots, to like so that the animators can see your hands move. There were things that you can’t do, um, because it looks janky with the avatar in terms of like crossing your legs because of the hips on, on Alex or any, any of the characters. Like it just looks weird. And so finding like I would, we do, we’d do a scene and we’d have the writer, the director, um, audio guide, mocap folks. And they would bring in the animators, um, to make sure that they were getting what they needed. And it was just, it was super fun. And I think it comes back to, um, what we were talking about in terms of dance and just, I have a lifetime of experience being like truly grounded in my body 

And awareness and able to make small changes or big changes for that matter.  

Right. And so I think the coolest part of, of doing this performance capture was being able to make choices, how Alex moves, that’s different from how Erica moves and what informs those choices or how she sits or how she like holds her body. Um, the, the game is about empathy and how you embody what’s the physicality of emotions, different emotions for this character was super, super important. And it was the coolest part of, of the creative process,  

The greatest buffet for an artist, because, you know, you will not just get to, but you’ll be required to experience at varying levels, every single emotion on the spectrum and in every circumstance. So stop me if I’m wrong, but in my experience with, with motion capture, which we can talk about in a second, in a, in a narrative type of game, you more or less have to capture every possible outcome of what this character might do and with who and in what emotional state. Um, and so the, the shoot schedule is tremendous because you’re creating a world from scratch. You’re creating a human and all the infinite variable outcomes of, of what might happen in this world. So, number one, I would love to hear about how those shoot days looked, what type of like bites were you taking in a day of work? And then also how long was the shoot schedule? How long was this your nine to five?  

Whew. Well, we, I was, let’s see, I was cast in July of 2018 and I wrapped September of 2020,  

And the game isn’t coming out until September 2021,  

Right. September 10th. But it’ll come out all at once. You can binge it like you would binge Netflix. Yeah.  

You better believe I’m going to, I was, and this is a person who doesn’t really play games, but you better believe it would be better. I was so excited. 

But yeah, the, um, the creative process there, I mean the Alex that exists in the game now, it’s not the Alex we started with, right. So it was like incredibly collaborative. And I was told by the game director, by the writers that at some point when they had gotten to know me well enough and had seen my output, the performances that I was giving, they started to write for me. And so I think that there was a real, which I didn’t know was, was a thing, but apparently when there is, um, a really good relationship and an understanding between an actor and the writers’ room, real magic can happen. And I think, I think that’s, uh, I attribute that relationship among, among many others it into why Alex is, I think a really sensational character, um, as part of the life is strange universe. Um, so gosh, days could be anywhere from 5 to 10 hours of shoots. Um, a lot of scene work because it is narrative driven and the, to your earlier point, the script is branching, right? Because the script is conditional. I can’t, I mean, thousands of pages for a script. And so the performance started to get more like specific and nuanced as we got deeper into the story. And especially like at the very end, because it was like, okay, there were all these critical choices 

And How do you wrap up all those possible?  

And so like the prep was, the director would come out and okay, we’re running the scene. You, you know, I was given the script ahead of time. But remember this choice in this branch, this choice was made. This choice was made, this choice was made, this choice was made. And so the, the, the performance needs to have flavors of X, Y, or Z. And it was the best. I loved it.  

This is seriously like strong man universe of acting. Your muscles, even for somebody with zero experience. We all know that like, even as human beings that have never stepped foot in an acting class, you act different around your grandmother than you do around your boyfriend, or then you do around, you know, the Amazon delivery guy. So like, well, we’re all, we’re all actors in our way, but you must have been so strong to begin with and even more so now, what, what, like, do you think this is a type of work that you’ll be pursuing forevermore? Do you feel confident in your skills? Do you want to be doing this?  

Yes. I, I really like this, this genre of acting, um, career option that I stumbled into. I also think I was able to do what was required to me later in the script, because this was such a long running production that I was basically just living and breathing Alex. And so there was like a very, there is a very close connection with myself and my character and that character. And so I would love to continue to do that because I think it is a really nice meshing of the physicality and the body awareness that I have. And now I know all of the like unique little minutia that goes into doing performance capture for a game.  

How would you say that dance prepared you for this other than being able make micro adjustments and take direction? Well, how, how did dance prepare you? And were there any circumstances where you felt totally unprepared where you were like, Oh, I have no idea what, wait, what someone help.  

Yeah. I think in terms of how dance helped me. So kind of going back to your comment about tango being almost antithetical to our training, because you are following in the moment, I’m a terrible follower. I just want to lead. Poor Eduardo was always like, stop it,  

He’ll wait for you to stop. He’ll stop until you surrender.  

I mean, we were both, we would always be like drenched in sweat because it was basically a battle. Like you need to stop trying to lead. Yeah.  

Okay. So, but, but you were able to like quiet down and, and listen.  

I was, but I think our training as competition dancers, the memorization, um, the quick picking up of choreography really helped me here. So for example, you already mentioned that there was facial capture. So I had like a helmet with a rig on that came out. I don’t know, maybe a foot or more from my face with a camera. So, and it’s filming, it’s filming my face. Um, and she just it’s used by the animation, but even, I think in the, the, the release trailer, you see Gabe hug, Alex, you can’t do that with a helmet on, or you can, or you have to like move it around. And so for that sort of character intimacy for a lot of it, we would have to, we would put on these like silly little hats we take off our rig, we would perform the scene and then we would have to redo it with the facial, uh, the facial camera on with the hat rig on. And so we would have to remember exactly what we did on the circle take. Wow. And it was just, yeah, it was, I mean, it was second nature to me where I was like, Oh yeah, I absolutely, Nope. The hand went here. Nope. It was two seconds on the shoulder. And then it came down to the forearm. Like it, it was just second nature because it was in my body already to pay attention to that kind of stuff. And I would say the hardest to the second part of your question, the most challenging stuff for me was actually, um, going to those deep, emotional levels, um, that were required, especially for this game, especially for this character. I think I’ve, I’ve grown up. I’m Asian. I don’t know if know, 

This is a podcast, so anybody who’s listening,  

I’m, Asian-American, I’ve grown up in an Asian-American household and, um, wonderful childhood happy childhood. My parents did a bang up job because I was quite a handful, um, Dana, you know? Um, but there, there is, there has been a culture of like, you figure things out on your own. You don’t necessarily always show what you’re feeling. I’ve always been so bad about that. But then I really, really learned that lesson when I entered corporate America, I was specifically told, yes, I know you’re upset about, you know, this, this conflict that happened with your coworker, but in order to go to the higher ups who were always male, um, you can’t have any emotion when you tell them it just has to be the facts. And I remember early on in my career asking like, well, wouldn’t him seeing how this affects me emotionally. Um, like be a benefit, like give the whole story. And I was like, no, they won’t take you seriously. And so in order to, I thought, and it was erroneous, but I thought, and I was, I was coached to, in order to move up the corporate ladder to get into spaces that I wanted to be in, I needed to tamp down the emotion. Yes. The emotional side of me. And I think not to make this gender focused, but I do think that there was more sensitivity around it because I was female. I took it upon myself to say, like, if you want to get into these spaces that you desire to be in, this is something you need to work on. And I tend to be a woman of extremes. Like I will swing to one end, realize it doesn’t work swing to the other end. It does realize it doesn’t work and then figure out where I need to be in the center. And so I really did swing to the extreme of like no emotion. I actually only want to do analytical work. Um, and I’m a language arts girl, not necessarily like a math sciences girl, like that’s not where my strength is. And I think this game helped, helped me scratch off the scabs over my fear of, of being emotive 

Or, or quote over emotional.  

Yeah. And I was required to do that. And so when I first started again, back to being aware of your body, I know where grief lives inside of me. It like lives in a specific part of my body. And I know how to access it. Same with rage, right. Same with same with joy and all of that. And so before I realized, um, that I could go to that specific part of my body, I used, um, this is, this is part of the Lucid Body methodology by Fay Simpson that I, um, was introduced to in early 2019. But before that, right, we’ve been filming for six months before then. And I was just re-traumatizing myself to get to those emotions. So for example, um, Gabe, my, the, my brother Alex’s brother dies in the game and for one of my auditions or for one of the callbacks, they wanted to see that, that, that emotion. And I remember being like, I don’t, I can’t do that in front of people. And one of my closest friends at the time told me, like, just imagine if it was Evan, Evan is my younger brother. And as soon as  

Super shout out Evan! 

He’s just the best, Oh my gosh, doesn’t wear power ranger onesies anymore.  

That’s how I will always remember him. Actually. Maybe it’s better. I would love to see him again, but I don’t mind keeping that, that person precious in my mind. Okay. So you’re basically your friend is telling you more or less kill your brother in your, in your mind.  

Well, it’s like in order to get there, just imagine if Evan died and as soon as he said that I was crying completely unraveled. Yes. I like, I, I, it was, I found it, I found like the pain and the grief and the rage and, and all of it. And I use that in my audition. But then as I was, I think I’m sure it helps me get it because it was so very real. Like it almost didn’t feel like act acting. I almost said the wrong name. I almost said Evan’s name in the scene, just because that’s how closely connected to the grief of that scenario I was. And then I realized as we’re going through shoots. I was like, man, I can’t, I can’t keep doing this. Like, this is not good for me emotionally, psychologically. And I’m so, so glad that I found, um, the Lucid Body, because it does talk about how do you go as a performer. It can be a dancer. It can be a singer actor, whatever it is, you are going to be asked to go out on a limb of emotion, whatever that emotion is. If it’s grief, it’s rage, it’s happiness. You’re going to be asked to go out there, but you have to find yourself. You have to find your way back to the center, to the trunk of who you are. And I can do that now. Right. I, I’m not afraid to go out onto, you know, a sadness limb, because I know that when they say cut, I won’t still be out there without any sort of tools or recourse to come back to center. And it would just, it used to take so long and I would use to try and like hide, but I, I needed, I needed a five to, just to just come back to myself. Um, and I’m able to do that much more quickly and without fear, um, I used to have a lot of anxiety before some of the more intense scenes, just because I was like, well, if, what. I think that, that was a very real fear of, um, I was in a play called The Wolves in the fall of 2018 and it’s very, very emotional. It’s about a high school girls, soccer team, very fun. Um, but it requires a lot of, of the character that I was playing emotionally and I hadn’t found lucid body at that point. And it was a re-injured every single night to get to that emotional state. And it’s just, it’s just not healthy. It’s not sustainable  

And its not necessary if you have another way. Yeah. So do you feel that with the lucid body technique that you were able to achieve the same, um, level of emotion without it needing to be, um, imagining a real life, your life scenario to get it?  

Yes, absolutely. And I think it made it, it made it possible for me to only access that emotion as Alex  

Interesting, like her emotion.  

Right. And of course, exactly. And of course, like, I don’t think that we are ever fully divorced from our character. It’s why, like, if I play Lady Macbeth, people are going to come see my interpretation of Lady Macbeth, not, you know, Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Lady Macbeth. If they do that, they go see Meryl Streep. They probably should. Um,  

Oh, I just watched the Manchurian candidate the other night and she is flawless Okay. So I’m fascinated. I want to do a little bit more digging on that lucid body technique. It sounds like, um, you know, lately I’ve been working a lot on managing my mind and finding fuel in my feelings instead of like, feeling like I needed to manage my feelings, but enjoying that my feelings are what get me places. My feelings are what have me doing things. My feelings are, are also have me not doing certain things. So kind of circling back to the conversation about when do feelings help, or when do feelings hurt your chances of getting a thing or getting in a room or getting a certain job? I regard feelings so highly, such as they’re gold to me. Um, and in our work, I suppose that’s tremendously useful that I think so highly of feelings and experiencing all of them. Um, but it’s fascinating to me that you’re a person who’s lived and performed at really high levels in worlds where emotion is not only demanded, but encouraged. And then in a space where it’s like shunned, ignored, really not recommended. Um, I think, I think we could go on at great lengths on that topic alone, but do you want to talk about something that came up when you and I had a catch up recently, we wound up talking about voice and you know, your we’ve talked a bit about how dance and physicality showed up for you in this role, but you weren’t a person that had a tremendous amount of vocal training were you? 

No, I did choir in high school. Um, mostly because I really liked the teacher and my friends were all in choir and I liked to sing, but no,  

We used to write jingles.  

I know, I know. And we, I think that is a career option for us, if everything else falls through.  

Yeah. Uh, look out like Simon and Garfunkel at the piano. Um, but, uh, I, I think is something of interest to me lately partially because of the podcast and partially because I can’t seem to keep it healthy for, for any extended period of time. Um, so I would love to hear about your growth as a voice actor and your journey of becoming more aware of your voice as a tool through this work. Like what did you learn about it? What did you struggle with and, and who helped you? What helped you, is there, is there a lucid body equivalent, but for the voice or does lucid body account for the voice?  

I think lucid body accounts for, for everything, how, um, voice and what you, what you vocalize externally is, it should, um, come from what’s going on in the body? I think, you know, a lot of times we can conceptualize almost anything. Scenarios, what it should be, but until it’s like actually seeped from our head into our body, it’s not real. And so by the time it comes out of your mouth, like I hope to God that it’s in your body. Um, I learned through, and it was all, it was all on the job training. And luckily, you know, uh, the directors at deck nine, uh, Web and Zach and the audio director, Chuck, like, they are excellent at giving cues that make sense to me. And when they didn’t, they were totally open to having a conversation. Right. Because the important thing is that I understand what they want. Um, and so I just learned that like vocal, inflection volume, um, the pace of a line can change It’s feeling it’s it’s tone, it’s meaning and getting more comfortable and confident as the game went on. Cause there’s so much VO, there’s so much voiceover for Alex because in these games, you know, there’s like, Oh, well, you know, the players doing one thing, but they haven’t solved this piece of a puzzle. That’s going to unlock another part of the game. So there a lot of voiceover that are just like nudges, like I wonder if I should go over to the bridge of flowers or, you know, so just a ton of voiceover, sometimes that would be all we would do for a shoot is catch up on voice on all these VO lines. Um, but I would say that the, the biggest learning came, um, because Alex, wasn’t always a singer when I joined. Yeah.  

She’s the character is a  

Singer/songwriter. Yeah, yeah. Plays guitar. And she wasn’t that at the beginning, but you know, the writers, the creatives really, really wanted that to be part of her story. And so, and I really wanted to support that part of her story. And so I took, was taking voice lessons. Um, I, and that really helped me understand like placement of your voice within like your head. Right. And, and how to safely shout, um, which is,  

This is the lesson I keep missing. I’m always absent on that day. Um, so do you feel that you’ve achieved some, some level of proficiency or dare I say, mastery of your voice? Like if we went out to a karaoke bar, would you sing and would you sound like fabulous?  

Well, I would sing, and I think that sounded pretty good. I was actually, um, it was my singing voice in the game. I was Alex in her entirety until last summer when they decided to swap out her singing voice for MXMtoon. And it was, it was pretty devastating to have done all of that work and have gotten through all of these like approval phase gates with, with square and with the other creatives. And then with, you know, she sinks creep. Um, and, and so getting nine inch nails on board, getting B the artist who wrote and performed the songs originally on board. Okay.  

Everybody signed off on you. Yes. And then switcharoo. Somebody made the money decision to go with a popstar.   

Yes. Yeah. And she’s got, you know, I think she has a lovely voice and she has a much broader reach than I do. Like I am a nobody, you know, I don’t, I, I have, I had like four friends on Twitter. Like I just don’t have the reach. And so, I mean being completely vulnerable here and, and transparent, like I had a lot of emotions around, around that decision, which like, I, I was really, I was really hurt because it was such a, I think that was one of the most personal parts of the game for me, because it was a skill that I knew I had, but I had never cultivated it in the way that I did with dance or even that I had done with, um, with acting. But I, I wanted to, I knew the strength of having Alex as a singer songwriter to this story. I knew the strength of what that would bring to, to the story, to the, you know, to our gamers experience. And so I was, I think very, very understandably wounded by it. I think where I am now is I know that MXMtoon has such a broad reach. And if this is reaching even one person who would not have played the game before, I believe so much in the game and the message and what it will bring to people that I’m like good. I think, I think it was worth it then. And I still have all of the music that I perform. It was all I saw it in game when I was playing the builds. I, you know, I have them. And so it’s not like my work is, is gone or the journey is. And you and I had talked about heartbreak. That’s, that’s just, that’s kind of part of, of being an industry and you take the good with the bad. And luckily in my case, the good is greatly vastly outweighing you know, some of the heartbreaks of the creative process.  

Thank you for sharing that. That’s, it’s, it’s probably to be expected that during the course of a project is spanning, as this one that you would have some pretty remarkable highs and some pretty, pretty low lows. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. The professional, the professional heartbreak is real. I’ve, I’ve felt feelings from gigs that I have not felt in some intimate relationships before. It’s a very real type of, um, type of hurt.  

Well, and I wonder if it’s because like, as artists and I, and I speak about this only from my personal experience of being in corporate America, there isn’t the same blood, sweat, and tears that I put into my organizational design work that I do to my acting work. Like it’s, it’s, it is personal. And I think that good art is personal, but the, the dancers that I love to watch the actors who I buy tickets to see the comics that I, that I watch, they, it is personal to them. And I can tell.  

And so it’s not, it’s not possible to not seek something personal and not personally it’s personal. Um, okay. Kind of on a similar tangent, when you talk about having, you know, favorite comedians, favorite actors, favorite, you know, musical beings that you follow, are you now coming to a place where you have like mocap heroes? Do you have game heroes? Do you have, are you familiar enough with that world now to know the key players and, and who should I know about as a person who doesn’t know much about the world? Although I have, I don’t know nothing about this world. I haven’t been, um, several characters in a two K game that I was so hysterical. The process that from the audition on was just a ridiculous process. In the audition I had to die in every way imaginable. It was so much fun. I’m I remember calling my agent immediately when I left, I was like, more of this, please love this. Hysterical. And then I booked it and I found out what a 10 hour day of dying while holding a, uh, like, um, a mock machine gun, but, uh, a fake weapon that is roughly the weight of a real weapon and doing that for 10 hours a day. I was like, Oh, no, we’re good here. But are there people that you, that, that you now know of that have become heroes to you in this space?  

You know, I didn’t do a lot of, I am historically really bad at the comparison game. Um,  

Meaning you do it a lot and it’s not good for you or meaning? 

Yeah. Where I am competitive and where that comes out is in comparison. Like for example, I used to do orange theory, fitness  

OTF. I was in that orange zone.  

See right. You’re in that orange zone, but as long, like in you wear your little heart rate monitor, and it’s all displayed as long as I wasn’t the last person, or like had, had like the least amount of calories. I was, I was good, but goddammit, if I was close to the end, I would just be busting. I mean, I probably like, you know, pop a hammy,  Trying to make sure the last  

That type of workout can be very, it can be done this when you’re that. Okay. So, so did you, you intentionally didn’t do much digging into the world.  

Because I didn’t want that necessarily like their, their tricks or whatever, informing what I was doing with Alex. Um, I did, you know, I did do some play throughs of life is strange 2. And like the strange 1, as well as before the storm, which deck nine, the developer also, um, developed alongside like the strange, true colors, which is the game that Alex is in. And I mean, I just think that those performances are the reason why this, this fandom is so strong, why there is a third game, um, why this universe is still around is because they got some real ringers, um, in, in every single one of those games. Like those, the emotions are real, like the, the relationships they feel so real. Um, and so I don’t have role models or, or, you know, icons that I look up to yet, but I know that, that I will, I mean, I’m like a baby, a babe in the woods on this one. Um, and I have so much to learn and I’m so ready to learn from, from the best.  

Oh man. Well, I think you’re, you will probably be becoming a movement hero and emotion hero, a performance capture hero to so many people because of this. And I’m thrilled for you. And so grateful to you for sharing some of your experience here today, but mostly just for being an example of, of what type of unexpected things can come from being a person in pursuit of a full creative life. I just think it’s the coolest thing. And I’m thrilled for you. I cannot wait to see the game. Um, I I’m emotional, like talking about it and I, and I wasn’t there for any of it.  Um, the trailer looks beautiful. I will absolutely link link to it in the show notes for this episode. And if you’re listening after September, 10th did you say? Go find it, go find Life is Strange. Starring the one and only Erika Mori.  

That’s right. Although, Oh my gosh. You have to be careful because you Google Erika Mori. And I was like, that’s my name? I’m not adding like a letter in the middle of it. That’s that’s my name now. 

Not Erika Danger, Mori? 

Yeah, exactly. Which was, which was on the table. But I’m not the first one that comes up again because I I’m a nobody, which is kind of how I like it. Well,  

You were about to go into this kind of PR ringer, right? For the game for promotion, you know, a whole circuit probably of, of engagements. Do you plan on being more involved socially as far as like a presence as a, um, w what do we, what do we call them? Oh, God, everybody in their darn Instagram profile social figure is that they call themselves?

Oh, they call themselves public figure public figures. Influencer. Not, not an influencer. I would not. No, I should not influence. 

You’ve influenced me tremendously. And I turned out all right,  

Really? It was, it was that rainbow-rhea, diarrhea, jingle. 

Wasn’t a to pull out the name, if you’ve made it this far in the episode now, you know, the name of the imaginary product that we created was Rainbow-Rhea, diarrhea control. And we sat at your piano in the living room and knocked out a jingle. And not only that, but then we printed out the jingles.  

Yes. I think I, it, I like printed it out in like rainbow font on like Microsoft paint or something, very professional and framed it for you. And I hope that it it’s still around. It is. I think I might find it just like speak. I think I just might for the gram. I still remember the lyrics. I’m not going to sing them.  

Both: If you’re getting diarrhea a want relief real soon. So keep watching this commercial, I will get it right to you.  

And then we do the talky part. Were we talk about the symptoms and the side effects. And then we had a wrap-up too, but I don’t know.  

I don’t remember the wrap-up, but I think that the jingling part, obviously the one that we both remembered, and I think the fact that we still remember, it means that it was a damn sticky  

Sticky. I’m Oh my God. 

I feel exposed on your own podcast.  

I do my cheeks hurt and I was just, I like, dang it. I knew I should have done a full vocal warmup. We were talking about my insecurity with voice, and then I wound up singing and guys that’s life. Sometimes. That’s what happens. Um, Erika, you’re a treat. You’re an absolute light. A joy. Thank you for being here today. Um, and congratulations.  

Thank you. Yeah, we should do this again sometime. Oh yeah. We should bring Michelle in. 

We should, Michelle in and wait. That’s going to happen by the way. Let’s do an Instagram live with Michelle, because now you can have three people on an Instagram live, Michelle, Erika Mori, and Dana Wilson. We’re doing the IG live. We’re going to talk about, I like it like that. We’re going to talk about spitting on the floor and rolling in it.  

We’re going to talk about you. Yes. And you being, um, Sebastian in our ballet of little mermaid and me being the chef. Yes.  

What’s the chef’s name from Little Mermaid like food. No, that was, yeah.  

Louie. Yeah. He sang Les Poissons

A really good song. So we had that magical duo.  

Yeah. We had a duet. I think we choreographed it 10 minutes. Yeah. With Michelle, like dying laughing, Stage Directing, and we’re like, okay, we have to find this. We have to find this  

Wait Erika we have to find this. Life Is good. See you, aren’t a, nobody you are Louie the very least and Louie and your talents are so wide reaching Instagram, live coming soon. I adore you. Thank you again. 

I love you so much.

I’ll talk to you later, my friend. Bye. Bye.  

All right. What did you think? My friend, what did you learn? What did you love? Um, Oh, I do want to back up and call myself out. Um, my reference too. I like it like that. The song that Erica and I danced to as tiny dancelings, that’s not a Nicki Minaj, uh, sample that that was confusing. That’s a Cardi B song that I was thinking of. So I apologize if that took you out or threw you off or hurt your feelings. Um, Oh, speaking of feelings, I was super inspired, um, to take a deeper dive on what Erika had talked about, the lucid body technique, which was created by Fay Simpson. There are classes, there is an awesome book. Um, and I w I will share the link to a few different places. You can find the book I’ve been digging into it and loving it. Um, and I think that you might too. So if that’s something you’re interested in, in going deeper on, take a look at the show notes to this episode, um, and of course be on the lookout for the new SquareEnix game. The next game Life is Strange starring our friend, Erika Mori. And with that, everybody, I think I am through now go out into the world, feel all the feels. And of course, keep it funky. I will talk to you soon.  

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe, and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #69 Three Heartfelt Life Lessons from 7-10 Year Olds

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #69 Three Heartfelt Life Lessons from 7-10 Year Olds
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I hope this episode reminds you of the brilliance of children… and gets you more in touch with your brilliant inner child!  I have started to look at young people as little Baby Yodas.  Full of potential, wisdom and plenty of life hacks up for grabs!  In this episode I focus on the willingness to play (and walk into every game like a winner), the bounce back (after our losses), and the importance of asking questions… especially the BIG questions. ENJOY! 

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. Hello.  

Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana, this is Words That Move Me. I’m so glad that you’re here today to talk about three heartwarming life lessons that I just learned from seven to 10 year olds. Um, so let’s get right into it. I think this is a really, um, a really lovely topic and a nice moment to take pause and look back at our young selves, um, and also head forward with some new perspectives. Um, now before I get into it, I do want to do wins and my win this week. We’ll give a bit more context to this episode this week. I am celebrating that. I just, I mean, just like a few days ago taught at my first in-person dance convention in 14 months. Wow. That is a long stretch for me. Um, I’ve been teaching on a dance convention at New York city Dance Alliance. Uh, super shout out to my episode that I did with Joe Lanteri, which is episode number drum roll 43 episode 43. That is our winner. Um, so I, I teach for this dance convention, New York city Dance Alliance, and, uh, the due to the pandemic. Um, the convention was completely canceled for, uh, most of 2020. They slowly trickled back at the, uh, a few months ago. Um, and it is now April and I’m finally comfortable, you know, traveling and being in rooms full of lots of heavily breathing humans and man, Oh man, what an experience I’m not going to lie a little bit of shell shock. Um, I went from, you know, pretty much myself and my husband in our house, occasional distanced hangs with the homies to pretty crowded rooms and dancers doing a really great job, staying in their little taped off squares, dancing and masks teaching in masks. Holy smokes. Um, so wow. I did it. I felt safe. That is a tremendously huge win. Um, Oh, I will say traveling the actual airplane portion, not my favorite. Uh, I forgot. Oh, and LAX also. Definitely not my favorite. I was very much okay with not visiting lax 30 times a year. Um, yeah, that drive that number dropped down dramatically in the pandemic, uh, to zero. So anyways, that’s my win at first convention back out and feeling great about it. Thank you, Joe and NYCDA for keeping a really safe environment for us faculty and the students alike. Um, thrilled about that and excited to share with you guys. Some of the things that happened over the weekend. Um, always a good story to be told first, let me hear your wins. What is going well in your way? 

Okay.  Congratulations. Very well done and do, keep doing all of that very well done stuff. Um, all right. Let’s jump into it. Shall we? Three heartwarming life lessons brought to you by seven to 10 year olds AKA my mini ballroom from this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. My aim for this episode really is to remind you of the brilliance of children. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the mini ballroom. Um, so my goal is to remind you of that and to perhaps get you more in touch with your brilliant, younger self. I really do believe the kids have it all figured out as challenging is that age group can be, especially in a dance education environment. Um, my favorite moments came out of that mini ballroom this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. So shout out minis. If you’re listening, I had such a ball with you. Um, and for all of my adult humans that are listening, I want you to remind you that these people minis, uh, the convention world affectionately refers to them as minis. They’re seven to 10 years old, which places their birth year between 2011 and 2014. So for context, some of these people are younger than Game of Thrones. Um, so here’s what I think in these three different areas. We have a lot to learn from seven to 10 year olds. Number one, self confidence, totally off the charts. Number two, the asking of questions now. Sure. That can get a little out of hand from time to time. But for the most part, this is an admirable quality and part three, the bounce back or the bounce in general. So we’re going to dig a little bit deeper into those three areas of expertise of, of this particular age group. I’m so stoked about it. Here we go. 

I want to start with this illustration of confidence and enthusiasm. Certainly something that we could all learn from a 7 to 10 year old. Um, I’ll start with this story. I’ve been putting a more pointed focus on history when I teach even to the young ones and, um, basically to start every class, to see where the group is at in their understanding or exposure to history, um, making it a habit to kind of check the temperature in the room. Before I start my lesson this week, I was teaching what I call jazz plus, which we could do an entire side episode on jazz plus by the way, and I probably will someday, but for now I will say this jazz plus is my dance history, mostly jazz plus a whole lot of other stuff. And that is exactly what you can expect to find when you take my class. Um, but most of the 7 to 10 year olds, uh, in my class over the weekend had never seen jazz plus on a schedule. So before I addressed what jazz plus is, I decided to ask the students for a show of hands and fingers, um, to show me if they could explain jazz, like a one finger up, it means I’m sort of, kind of not really. And five fingers up means. Yeah, totally. Uh, so I said to the room, all right, um, show of fingers, everyone. How confident are you in explaining jazz on a one to five? Hands started flying up and overwhelmingly. They were displaying in many cases more than five fingers, like were tagging both arms shooting up five fingers on each hand, 10 out of 5 confidence here. Now their enthusiasm did start to dwindle a little bit. Once I started asking them for their answer, what is jazz, but for those who did answer the question for those who kept their enthusiastic fingers up, I was shocked actually to hear some very broad and not so technical, but kind of true answers. Like for example, jazz is energy. Jazz is energy or jazz is fun. Or my personal favorite jazz is kind of everything put together. Like everything put together. These are exact words. ‘Jazz is kind of everything put together,’ which really that’s that’s, that’s not true. Jazz is not ballet and braking and ballroom and a grilled cheese sandwich put together. But when you consider that jazz dance and jazz music spring from roots of rituals and celebrations of black people from way, way, way back as early as the 17 hundreds, then yeah, I can absolutely see how you might find elements of jazz in many, many other styles and in many, many other things, but I digress that is not what we’re here to talk about today for now. Let’s simply Marvel at the fact that although these young people have very little experience as humans, like only 7 years of experience as humans when asked for their level of confidence at something these littles jumped straight to a 10 out of 5, like they weren’t thinking, I don’t know, or I have no experience. They were thinking, yeah, sure. Why not? Let’s engage with this. Let’s yeah, let’s jump in. Yeah, I could, I could probably know the answer to this or I could probably be good at this thing or yeah, I bet I could be really, really, really good at this thing.  That’s where the mindset of the mini is at. And I was very interested to find that when I asked the same question to my teens and seniors who are between 13 and, and 17 or 18, I barely saw a single hand with five fingers raised, I saw mostly ones and twos. So, but you, I mean, could you explain to a friend, what jazz is, how confident would you be to have that connection? One out of five? What is jazz? Right? It’s it’s, it’s not an easy or simple question to answer, but what this exercise really illustrated to me other than the general lack of understanding of jazz and jazz history in a convention setting is that a lot happens between seven and 17 years and beyond. Um, we, we really lose that 10 out of 5 confidence and enthusiasm, and I can only speculate at how we lost it or why we lost it, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that, the good parts of that anyways, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that back regarding the confidence specifically. 

One, one could argue that kids have more confidence because they don’t yet know complete humiliation. Right. They haven’t experienced being broken up with or cut from an audition or fired from a job job. Their experience is that they learn and they play and sometimes they get in trouble and that’s life and that’s okay. So what if we could think more like that? What if, what if we could think yes. I’m game, even if I lose playing is fun, let’s go. No, I’m not suggesting that you risk it all or pretend to know things that you don’t know. This lesson in confidence and enthusiasm is actually, we all about willingness to play, just willingness to play and the willingness to go into the game, like a winner before you’ve already, even started, versus walking into the game like a beginner who’s never or tried anything ever, right?  It’s likely that even if you’re playing a game for the very first time, you have some other skills or training or experience that will give you some foundation to stand on. Maybe not a competitive edge per se, but by the time you’re 18 years old, you’ve got to experience some rudimentary exposure to a lot of things. So let’s, let’s lead with that. Shall we? The willingness to play and to walk into the game like a winner. Now that’s actually a good segue. 

Let’s skip ahead to, um, lesson number three, the bounce back. Kids don’t just jump into a game like a winner with 10 out of 5 confidence. They bounce back fast. Even if they get completely leveled by the game. Even if they find out that they have zero confidence in the thing, that moment usually quickly resolves with something else. That’s interesting. Yeah. So, um, you actually, you made, we’ve seen this more in babies and toddlers than in 7 to 10 year olds, but it’s this really remarkable, quick shift, um, on the emotional spectrum, uh, extreme discontent moments, moments away from like total satisfaction, these quick recoveries like crying, crying, crying, and then we’re moving on. Like we’re literally skipping on and I love this. I aspire to the bounce back like this. Um, I aspire to let go of drama that quickly, man. I have so much to learn. Uh, now I know that that, uh, this anomaly is not because young ones don’t feel as much. Actually they, I think they feel tremendously even loss or a rejection or failure. I believe they really do feel those things and they feel it fully. And then they move on instead of the adult way of handling it, which looks more like ignoring it or resisting it or denying it or reacting to it with an alcoholic beverage or a shopping spree or a scroll down Instagram lane. So what if we get, allow ourself to lose just, okay, I lost that round, right? Or what if you could allow yourself the bummer of not knowing the answer to something or of getting the answer wrong or of not getting the gig and then literally skip along on your way to the next game or question or gig like actually bounce, truly hop. Now, this is where your homework comes in before the next episode comes out. I do challenge you to actually skip somewhere and tell me that you don’t have an absolute ball when you get there. Skipping is so powerful, like fully be sad and then be hopping up and down and tell me that you don’t giggle. Honestly, I think laughter and tears are very closely linked. I call it the laugh cry, happens to me all the time. Um, but yes, knees permitting, bounce back, try it, just try it.  

Okay. And that brings me to our final lesson, a very admirable quality of the 7 to 10 age range. And that is the asking of questions. Oh man. In my mini classes this weekend, so many questions, I’m sure some of them were, can I go to the bathroom? Even after I said, you do not need to ask permission to go to the bathroom. I still got that question like four or five times, man. I really could have taken questions top to bottom the whole class without ever teaching a single step full of questions. Um, but I did want to share my favorite question with you here. Uh, today I’m in the middle of teaching combo and I see a hand raised into the air. Adorable young person raised their hand and, and approached the stage. Even though she’s supposed to stay in her little taped in box. And she says, “what do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know that thing” like arrow through my heart. What do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t, this was a full stop moment for me. I asked everyone in the room to sit down because we were going to engage in this discussion. So I asked, all right, what might you do when someone says that you should know something and you don’t know that thing, you might feel bad. You might feel sad. You might get angry at them and walk away. Yes. All valid. We discussed these options, but none of those options get you the answers. So I asked, okay, what else, what else could you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know it. We as a room collectively decided that you could get really curious.  You could wonder why they think that you should know that thing you might wonder who might know that thing. And who would be willing to tell you, you might wonder, well, geez, I’ve made it this far. So maybe I shouldn’t know it. Why is it really that important? You might also wonder what else should I know, what else do I not know? So we discussed all of the different ways. You could respond to someone saying that you should know something. And we decided that getting curious was the best thing to do. Not. So surprisingly after we had this discussion, I got another great question from the same dancer, she was my gem. She asked, “what do you do when this part is hard?” And she demonstrated the parts, me, what do you do when this part is hard? And man, I just love this question so much. And I wanted to ask you for your answer to that question. What do you do when this part is hard? Like, what do you do when anything is hard? What do you do? When it gets hard? I either stop or keep going. Those are my two options. When I keep going, it usually gets less hard. And when I stop, it stays hard to me, but I’m not doing it. So it doesn’t matter. So in both cases, things are less hard. But if you’re a person who enjoys being able to do hard things, I strongly recommend you keep going. And that’s what I asked my little mini in this moment. I said, do you like being able to do hard things? And she said, yeah. And I said, then keep doing it. Even if it’s hard. And I thought that was a marvelous adult moment as well, a healthy adult reminder. So as, as adults, as grownups, I’m assuming listening to this episode also. Hi, again, minis. I love you. I had so much fun and I loved talking to you. I’m learning so much from you. Um, but to all of my more grown types listening, have you stopped asking questions? Like, do you ask questions in your head and not say them out loud deliberately? Do you sensor your questions? If so, why do you think that, you know everything like do you generally genuinely not have questions because you think, you know, everything, which trust me, I met a few of you in Greenville as well, teens and seniors who think they know it all I’m talking to you. They’re probably not listening. That’s okay. Um, but are you, are you genuinely not asking because you feel like, you know, things or are you afraid of looking dumb or inexperienced? That is probably likely the case. Well, interestingly you learn when you ask questions. So if not dumb is the goal, then not asking questions is not how you get there. I think that was a triple negative that I just said. So here’s the question. If a double negative is the same as a positive then is a triple negative. The same as the single negative? Negative. I’m I just confused myself. Okay. Enough. I would like to suggest to you that you don’t ask questions for no reason. Don’t ask questions just because Dana said that minis asked questions and you should do that too. No, I’m suggesting that you ask questions when you have them and that your questions reveal how much, you know, instead of how much you don’t know, super shout out to Episode 28, how to ask good questions. If you have not given that a listen, strongly recommend you do that. Um, all right, so, wow. Let’s wrap it up. Three takeaways for my seven to 10 year old students who schooled me this weekend. Number one, be willing to play and walk into the game, like a winner. Number two, bounce back and walk out of the game a winner, even if you just lost. And number three, ask more questions, ask questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know.  And no, you no longer need to ask permission to use the restroom. Please just handle it now. 

Now before you go, I want to draw one really interesting parallel or at least it’s interesting to me. And it might be interesting to you this right now is a huge blinking neon sign to me in my life because I’m reaching peak interest in my clown training. Yes. Uh, but what I’m noticing is that much like children clowns wear their hearts on their sleeve, like right there, their feelings, their observations about the world, their willingness to play on their sleeve. And perhaps it’s this, you know, childish newness that gets clowns and comedians alike into the hearts of an audience member, right? Perhaps this is actually why children and clowns and comedians can get away with all sorts of stuff and still be loved. Perhaps this is why comedians are among the most important artists in my eyes.  So if in the heart of audiences is where you would like to be. Then these lessons from children are what might get you there also take clown class, huge, huge, so important. Okay. My friends, that is what I have for you today. Take it from the children, take it from the clowns and take it from me. Thank you so much for listening. Everybody get out there into the world with that childlike confidence, enthusiasm, that willingness to play, the ability to bounce back and the where with all to ask questions. And of course keep it funky while you do it. I will talk to you next week.  

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more.  

All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. 68 FOMAD (Fear of Making a Decision)

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. 68 FOMAD (Fear of Making a Decision)
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This episode is a response to something I have noticed coming up A LOT lately.  I’m calling it FOMAD (Fear of Making a Decision), but you can call it whatever you’d like.  I created this acronym to address the feeling of immobilization that comes along with thinking: “It’s HARD to choose a path when I don’t know exactly where I’m going and I have so many interesting paths ahead of me!” 

Let’s uncover how having many different interests is a STRENGTH not a weakness, and let’s find the adventure in GOING at our own pace… even if we don’t know exactly where we are going. 

Quick Links:

Join WTMMCOMM Here: https://www.thedanawilson.com/wtmmcomm

The Clown School: https://www.theclownschool.com/

Cat Meme: https://www.thedanawilson.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/IMG_1343.jpg

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: All right. All right. Hello, my friend I’m Dana. This is words that move me. I’m stoked that you are here today. This is a fun one. Um, last week we talked about FOMO, fear of missing out, which is of course the anxiety that so many of us experience when we think that we’re missing out on something, good, something cool and exciting and rad. And we aren’t a part of it that is FOMO. And, um, I, I suppose as much of the world comes out of lockdown and some of the world goes back into lockdown. That’s a pretty timely subject. So if you’re feeling that FOMO, or if you’ve ever felt FOMO, go check out last week’s episode. But, um, something else recently slightly related has caught my attention. And, uh, for now I am calling it FOMAD. That is the working title. We might evolve it to something else. FOMAD: the fear of making a decision, I’m calling it FOMAD, and it’s real. It pairs quite well with this moment in time. And honestly, many moments in time. Uh, so lace up and hit the rosin box. I said that hit the rosin box because we’re going to take this new conceptFOMAD for a spin. We’re going to address having many different interests and that being a strength, not a weakness. And we will find the adventure in going and going at your own pace. Even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Even if you have no idea where you’re going, we are going, but first wins. If you’re new to the pod every single week, I start the episode with wins because I think it’s important to celebrate. What’s going well, big and small. This week, I’m celebrating well, is it okay if I celebrate two? I’m the host I can. I’m going to celebrate two. Number one win, I am really loving clown school, I mentioned I think two episodes ago, I don’t know. You guys.. They really do blend together. Um, I enrolled in clown school. It’s called the clown school. There’s an online program kind of at your own pace one-on-one feedback every so often. I love it. I’m having an absolute ball. Uh, so that’s win. Number one, shout out the clown school. They didn’t tell me to say that. Win number two, is that I recently got to talk with, uh, a dear friend. I almost said an old friend, but we were both quite young relatively, I guess anyways, a longtime friend. Um, that’s been part of my dance life journey since I was probably nine years old. And I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Uh, lucky for you, by the way, we were rolling on that conversation. So be on the lookout for an upcoming episode with Erika Mori, um, fascinating woman with a very interesting story and some exciting wins of her own that I’m jazzed about sharing. Okay, that’s it for me?  

What is going well in your world,  

Keep it up. You’re doing it really doing it. I’m proud of you. Super stoked for you. Keep winning. All right. Now I have gotten word from many of my students, some coaching clients, my coworkers, um, words that move me community members and friends and family all alike hearing that people have used the lockdown, the quarantine to spend time working on themselves. A lot of soul searching, um, honing in on strengths, strengthening weaknesses, um, focusing on self care, focusing on self love, growing, centering, giving back all of these lovely, lovely things, right until FOMO creeps in or real life, quote unquote comes a knockin. Um, which by the way, I would like to remind you, everybody was asking for everybody was like, why can’t we go back to real life? And now real life is here and we’re like, wait, something’s not right. Um, so somewhere in, in our minds at, or around the time that FOMO sets in or real life comes knocking, we, we start to think that some imaginary gate has been opened and some imaginary starter pistol has been fired and everyone’s off the blocks and running full speed ahead. And you’re like, wait, where am I? What am I doing before I start running? Just, I don’t want to exert any unnecessary energy. Where am I? Where am I going? What am I doing? And do I even want to be running right now? Everybody’s running. Wait, I want to restart, right. Is this sounding familiar? Now it might look like everyone who has their one focus and one desire. And one thing that they wish they’d been doing for all of lockdown, it might look like they’re running full speed ahead, getting closer to their finish line. But what about the rest of us that have many different interests, many different creative callings projects, people, things to tend to, what basket or baskets do we put our eggs into? Oh, drats, just missed Easter. We’re going to leave the basket analogy. Let’s go back to this race thing. What finish line do I run towards? What track do I take? And also, is it bad if I don’t want to be running, I got you, my friends, this episode, we’ll be answering all of those questions. So I’ll use this example. 

One of my words that move me, community members brought up an awesome story and I’d love to share what it uncovered. They talked about being a very goal oriented person in the past and that serving them very well. They studied the people. Who’d accomplished great things. They did interviews, they set goals, they stressed. Then they achieved the goals. And that went pretty much according to plan. But now with much new growth, new perspective, but without having a specific material or hard coded goal, this person is feeling lost. Now they mentioned that in school, they had a professor tell them that people with many passions or skills are often paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to pursue next. Yeah. That’s why we’re here. And what I would like to offer you today is that the story that people with many passions and skills are being paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to take that story. That story is exactly that.  

It’s a thought. Just because a professor said it does not mean that it is true. And it certainly, isn’t always true. Always the case for all people, right? Certainly not. And furthermore, it is probably not helping you. So if you’re still reading that story, the one that says people with many interests get paralyzed with not knowing what to do next. If you’re reading that story, I beg of thee, put it down, put that story down. Here’s why I say that. If you hear “people with many passions and skills, get paralyzed to take action because of not knowing which avenue to pursue next.” If you hear those words and you think, “Oh my gosh, yes, that’s happening to me. I’m totally immobilized by all of my interests.” And you’re probably feeling lost or frustrated. And when you feel lost or frustrated, the action that you take is probably more widely inaction, right? You retreat, you have cyclical thoughts, you lack follow through. So on. And so on the result of that, the result of feeling lost, feeling frustrated, because you’re thinking that you’re immobilized by all of your interests. The result there is not only are you immobile, but you’re likely losing interest in all of those wonderful things that used to interest you. All of those things that sparkled to you, you’re letting them dim. You’re likely sparkling a bit less yourself and that’s okay. That’s totally okay. We do not all need to be full voltage, electricity all of the time, but it’s important that you know that there is another option. You don’t need to buy that story. So what if you could choose the thing that your many diverse interests, all of the things that sparkle to you are, what make you sparkle? What if, what if all of those various interests put together are your superpower? What if, what if, all of those unique and varied interests? What if those don’t make it hard for you to decide what to do? What if they help you to enjoy where you are no matter where you go, what if they help you to enjoy where you are? Even when you’re lost? That is the true beauty of having many different interests is that no matter where you are or who you talk to, you can get interested in something. You can make something sparkle. You can sparkle no matter where you are, no matter who you’re talking to. And that is an interesting person. My friend, that is an interesting person with an interesting life. Now I’d much prefer to feel that an interesting person with an interesting life than to feel immobilized and to be losing my shit. So if you’re a person who’s looking for some sort of harmony and balance and shine in your life yet you don’t have a clear material goal, fear not to get there, to achieve that life of harmony of balance of shine. All you have to do is explore you, follow what shines and what sparkles. You try things. You course correct. You trust your gut. You don’t go too fast. You don’t go too slow, but mostly you don’t quit. And in order to do those things right, in order to trust your gut, don’t go too fast. Course-correct all those things in order to do that in order to do that and to not quit, you probably want to feel something like adventurous or open. Or how about, I don’t know if this is an actual, actual technical feeling. Like, I don’t think this is an actual emotion, but I’m going to try it. What about cruising? Like when I feel like I’m cruising, I don’t go too fast. I don’t go too slow. I don’t stop. I course correct. Check my lane, check my mirrors. I follow what’s ahead of me when I’m cruising. That feels good. And to feel like I’m cruising, I might need to think a thought like I am in the driver’s seat. And my drive is the perfect kind of drive. My drive is never over or under.  I am driving and my drive is perfect or this is not a race. This is the ride of my life. And I’m driving a convertible and it can change shape and change route. While I write multi-dimensional thoughts for multi-dimensional people with multiple different interests, this is what I’m talking about. So can you see how I just turned multiple interests and modes and directions and options and things into a strength. I went from feeling lost to feeling adventurous from feeling frustrated, to feeling easy, open cruising. That is powerful. My friends. And it is an option for you.  

Now let’s, let’s stick on this road, car driving analogy thing, because I had another words that move me community friend, come to me this week, struggling to get off the blocks, like trying to get out of the garage off the starting line. Oh man, my analogies are getting weak. Um, so she has also done a lot of work, very impressive work, finding her creative voice, refining her tools. Um, yet she still doesn’t know how to direct her focus out there in the big world. That seems so, so, so much bigger now than it did maybe pre quarantine. And what we discovered in her particular case, and you might relate was that the real problem here was the thought “I can’t crack where I fit in. I I’m, I’m starting to know who I am and what I can do, but I can’t see where I fit in .” Classic. I’ve thought this thought 1000 times. And when I think that thought, I don’t know where I fit in, I feel uncertain. And when I feel uncertain, I procrastinate. I don’t follow through. I engage in self doubt, negative self-talk I retreat. I isolate. Oh, and here’s one of my favorites. I busy myself with mindless tasks that get me nowhere, but keep my mind very busy. They keep me from taking risks from putting my feelers out from initiating new projects in general. My busy-ness keeps me from putting myself forward. I stay right where I am and when I behave that way, right. When I feel uncertain and I do those things and I don’t take risks, I don’t put myself out there. The result of thinking, I don’t know where I fit in is I do not stand out. Hell. I don’t even step out. And when I don’t step out, I’m much less likely to find the places where I feel I truly belong. Right? So the result of thinking, I don’t know where I fit in leads you to not standing out and not finding places where you feel you belong. The spin-off struggle of that as if that wasn’t enough, right? That is so not the dream. The spin-off struggle there is that, so many of us find in this situation, when you, when you don’t know exactly where you fit, right. When you can’t see that crystal clear destination, people find it hard to make moves, right? Hard to leave at all without a clear idea of where you’re going or where you belong. Again. Of course, that makes total sense. It’s hard to get somewhere that you don’t know how to get to because you don’t know the location of it, but there’s always a but, right? What, if you could think that it was fun to not know exactly how things will work out or where you’re going to land.  Think about every time you go to a movie where you don’t know how it will end. If you’re like me, you beg people to not tell you how the movie ends. Like, honestly, raise your hand if you like being surprised. And I don’t mean like the jump out from behind a corner type of surprise. I mean like, what do you want for dinner? I don’t know. Surprise me like that type of surprise. Not knowing is okay. Now hear me out, I get it, I am a huge fan of goal setting, but nobody, even the people with iron clad, crystal clear goals and tools and life coaches and all the things, no one, no one actually knows where they’re going or exactly how to get there. Because humans cannot 100% predict or see the future. None or all of us have any idea where we’re going or how we’re getting there. Some of us just think that we do, and that makes a really, really big difference. So pretend for a second that you do know where you’re going, I’m going on an adventure, right? I’m going on an adventure. And I might start by thinking of a place that I wouldn’t mind ending up. Career-wise that might mean, um, I w I ended up a featured dancer in a film or a soloist for a company or, or, or et cetera, et cetera. I encourage you to fill in that blank for yourself. What is a place that you really wouldn’t mind being a place you would like being now, you get to ask yourself, what do I do to get there? Surely if I am a feature dancer in a film, Is your desired, uh, destination. Then dance training would be on your list of things to do probably exposure and familiarity with casting directors, agents, choreographers, understanding, dance for camera, probably some acting training, possibly voice training, solid materials, like a headshot, a website, resume, et cetera, et cetera. Oh, also being in the right place at the right time. And in order to be in the right place at the right time, time in order for that to happen, you must trust your gut and go with the flow and you must leave the cave. You have to get out of the bubble, get out from the inside. And of course you must not quit. Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you must not  

quit. I know that kind of sounds like a lot, especially for somebody who previously didn’t know what to do. And now you’re like, Oh my goodness, all of these things, I know what to do now. You’re like, Oh my goodness. It turns out I know a lot of things that I could possibly do, or a lot of different route routes, routes, routes that I could take to end up at this destination. That wouldn’t be so bad. Okay, cool. So you leave, you go, you don’t quit. And one of the things that’s tremendously helpful in doing that is a feeling, how would you need to feel in order to train, expose yourself to agents, directors, choreographers, understand dance for camera, take some acting classes, take some voice classes, get your materials all solid together. Um, stay the course, right. Be in the right place, be in the right time, trust yourself. How do you need to feel in order to do those things? How do you need to feel in order to not quit? For me? I think optimistic would help. I think determined would help. I think excited might help, but it might burn out. So I, I really do prefer determined or optimistic really when I think like, Oh, absolutely, yeah, this is going to work. Or this is going to be fun or, Ooh, that’s going to be great when I feel optimistic. I think I do. I take a lot of those actions that I just mentioned. Oh. And I don’t quit because I’m thinking of how of how great this could turn out. One of the thoughts that helps me feel optimistic is I love adventures or a new, personal favorite of mine that I found as a meme recently. And will 100% be sharing with you in the show notes is ‘chances are slim. Hopes are low, but I live for the gamble. So let’s see how it goes.’ Um, and this, this photo of a cat jumping over flames, it’s not a photo, it’s an illustration. And I love it. Chances are slim hopes are low, but I live for the gamble. So let’s see how this goes. Um, I suppose, with a gamble involved, that thought doesn’t have me feeling optimistic per se, but adventurous for sure. Okay. So we just remembered that it’s not actually hard to go when you don’t know where you’re going. You’re just not thinking that it’s fun yet. Right? Remember all the times that not knowing exactly what’s going to happen is fun is exciting. And remind yourself that that’s life you won’t always know. In fact, you will never know. Even people who pretend to know don’t really know, raise his hand silently in podcast booth. Alright. So the next time you’re feeling stuck, lost uncertain of where to put your efforts or unable to decide, simply decide that having a lot of interests or options does not immobilize you thinking, I don’t know where to go or how fast to go.  There does immobilize. You decide that this creative life is not about fitting in, decide to stand out and decide to step out, knowing that no matter where you think you’re going, you have no idea how you’ll actually get there. And that’s okay. Nobody does. Which reminds me any expert that you talk to about their journey. Any, any person that’s quote made it there. They’re talking about their journey in retrospect. So of course their route looks clear. Of course it looks like they know exactly what they did to arrive where they are, because they’ve already done it, but they likely are not telling you about all the dead ends and the flat tires, et cetera, et cetera. Remember driver’s seat. You got this. Learn how to fix flats with your mind. Okay. Enough with the car analogy. I think I need to move on.  

Listen, Super duper, shout out to my words that moved me, community members for bringing these topics forward for coaching. I know you are not alone. I know that I have struggled with this in the past. And depending on the day, my friends, you might find me coaching myself into the driver’s seat right there with you. Um, so thank you words that move me members. And if you’re relating to these topics, if you’re digging what you’re hearing and you aren’t already a member head over to theDanawilson.com and click on the membership tab, I would love to see you in the words that move me community and work with you, uh, along this journey on becoming a person who is not afraid of making decisions. Yes, I will help you tackle that FOMAD and maybe rename it. I don’t know if I’m FOMAD fan. I think I like the nomadic nature. I’m not sold. Give me your feedback FOMAD is on the table. Um, thank you all so much for listening. I hope you found this episode useful and I hope that you head out there into the world and keep it super funky. I’ll talk to you later.  

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #67 FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #67 FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
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This one is touchy my friends, and I’ve been getting smoke signals from near and far to do a podcast on this topic. FOMO is REAL… but it is not tremendously useful… This episode is full of ways to turn it into something that IS!

Quick Links:

Register for April 14ths FREE Coaching Call here: https://www.thedanawilson.com/registrationform

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And this is a fun one. This is a fun one. That is about a, not so fun topic. Um, but, but while we’re on the subject of fun topics, can we really quickly discuss the last four episodes, which were the money March episodes? How awesome was that? If you haven’t had a chance to listen, please go back and give March Madness. That’s not what it’s called Money March. Give that a listen. Um, also if you’re, if you’re digging the podcast specifically, if you dug into money March, those, those four episodes check out the, um, words that move me worksheets. They are like companion guide, interactive PDF jams that are made for every single episode, but we’re selling the money March bundle. Whoa, excuse you. Out there. Even in my podcast booth, we were not completely isolated from sound.  Sorry about that. If you could hear that, or even if you couldn’t, sorry about that. We’re back money. March PDFs are on sale at thedanawilson.com/shop And they’re only $4.99. That’s four episodes worth of interactive worksheet for less than a coffee, less than less than a pack of gum. I think less than a Hey, I’ll tell you what $4.99 is less than that is less than $5. And that is not the only good news I have for you today. Um, on April 14th, 2021, I’ll be hosting a free career coaching zoom call from 4:00 PM to 5:15 PM Pacific standard time. Um, God, everybody is making noises today. Sorry about that. Beep you know what? I’m not sorry about that. Beep I have the option to find whatever it is that’s making that be being sound. And I, I have not actively done that. Um, every time I’m in here recording an episode, something beeps at least once.  And I have no idea what it is and I could just set aside some time to figure that out. And I don’t, I think I, I think I secretly like it anyways, April 14th, put it on your calendar, a free career coaching zoom call from 4-5:15 Pacific. Um, I’ll be explaining some of the key concepts and the tools that I use to navigate my own daily, creative life. And you will have an opportunity to actually get coaching on anything that you’d like, honestly, almost nothing is off limits. Um, it’s going to be so good. I’m excited. 

Okay. FOMO, let’s talk about it. After we talk about wins of course, I am so excited to announce my win today. So loud. What kind of day are we having? Okay, so this one’s kind of twisted, but today I am celebrating that I’ve had a couple of really exciting projects, not pan out. Like you think it’s going to happen and you’re pretty sure it’s going to happen. And then it doesn’t happen. That’s happened to me a couple of times. Um, so far this year, like a few times actually in the past month and I’m celebrating that I don’t feel this doom. Like I’m not absolutely destroyed by that. Um, as I have been in the past and I feel like perhaps the year of quarantine helped me with that, um, I discovered that not working sometimes is not the worst thing. So I’m, I’m definitely celebrating this, uh, um, kind of acceptance of not all of the things will work out all of the time. And I love that feeling because man, the doom, the destruction, the, the disaster that I decided to have every time a gig didn’t work out well. Um, so I’m just celebrating that that is, it’s a strange win, but I promise you it’s an important win. 

So I’m stating it, proclaiming it, and owning it and celebrating it here. When you think now is your turn, what’s going well in your world.  

Congratulations. I’m thrilled for you. Keep winning. That’s it actually just keep going and wins will happen. Keep going. All right. Speaking of keep going our world, as it seems is turning back on, waking back up, opening back up, there are a lot of different things that people are saying about the world right now. We’re coming out of the pandemic. I think, uh, just in, in one or two weeks, um, vaccines will be available to all adults in Los Angeles where I am. This is very exciting. Um, but today we’re talking about very specifically something that I’ve noticed happening with my friends. Um, even some family members as the world is fill in the blank, speeding back up, opening up, whatever. Um, as that’s happening, I’m noticing a lot of reports of FOMO, fear of missing out. Um, so today we’re going to talk about what that is and how you might manage it forever, but especially in a time like this, all right, FOMO, what is it fear of missing out is the anxiety that’s resulting from thinking that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening somewhere else other than where you are and it’s happening without you? Um, I think FOMO really stems from the, the social media age where a post, a certain image or video where you get to see a carefully curated, edited, and probably adjusted best of type of moment from other people’s lives, which will likely trigger an immediate comparison between you and your real life that you’re living in that moment. As you scroll through your phone, which is probably not as exciting as the moment that you’re looking at, you see where this is headed. Now I do think it’s interesting. I want to point out that FOMO can happen  at any time, not just when someone is doing something awesome. And you happen to be scrolling on your phone. Um, I, 100% dealt with FOMO on my first world tour with JT. I was freshly 20 years old. I turned 21 on the road and I had this classic like want to be everywhere, want to know everyone want to feel all the things want to, you know, not miss out on anything. And with that, um, I established some pretty unhealthy sleeping habits, uh, on the tour bus where you’re living with 11 other people. Um, I made it a habit, me and my FOMO of going to sleep after the last person went to sleep and waking up as soon as I heard any noises. Like I went to sleep when the last person went to sleep and I woke up when the first person woke up because I was afraid of missing something. I wanted to be around for all of it. I wanted to hear it all and see it all and learn it all and be in all the places. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it did lead to some pretty unhealthy sleep habits. Um, probably some unhealthy eating habits too. Now that I think back about it, it was eating like fully around the clock. Okay. So that’s what FOMO is. Okay. The anxiety or the actual fear of missing something exciting or interesting. 

If I were to put it another way, however, fear of missing out or FOMO is actually almost useless, unless of course that feeling that fear or that anxiety gets you up off your bum and doing something awesome or simply remembering that you are awesome. Even as you sit and scroll. Now, FOMO doesn’t happen a whole lot for me anymore. Um, not because I live the most awesome life, but because I like my life, I like my home. I like my work. I like being with myself. But when FOMO does strike, there are some things that I like to remember. Some, some thoughts that I like to think that helped me out and they might help you as well. First, I like to remember that you can have fun and you can be fun. And I am both. Also, I like to remember that there is enough fun in the world for everyone to have some there’s enough success in the world for everyone to have some. I also like to remember that doing stuff is not a finite resource. Other people can do stuff. I can do stuff. You can do stuff. Everybody can always be doing stuff and there’s still more stuff to be done. Isn’t that amazing? Doing stuff is not a finite resource. 

Another one that I like to think. And it’s very, very important. Especially in that moment. I am deeply loved. Right, in the moment when you’re comparing your life with someone else’s I’m deeply loved might not be the first thought to come to your mind, but it is one of the most helpful. I am deeply loved. This next one is one of my favorites. Very philosophical argument here, suffering because other people are not suffering makes no sense. Me suffering because someone else isn’t suffering makes no sense. That’s not the life I want to live. I don’t want to suffer when other people do well. I want to celebrate when other do people, Whoa. When other do people do well, I want to celebrate when other people do well, that’s the type of person I want to be. And that’s the world that I want to live in. Shout out wins. See what I’m saying? All right. And this last one, I also really, really love what you do does not make you happy. What you think does. What you do does not make you happy, what you think does. And I like this one because it works on two levels. You get to think about that, that person living that picture, perfect life on social media. And remember they might not actually be happy. That place, that they are might not be better than the place that you are, the way they are feeling might not be actually better than the way that you are feeling. So again, any combination of these thoughts, you can have fun and you can be fun and you can be both. There’s enough fun in the world for everyone to have some. There’s enough success in the world for everyone to have some. Doing stuff is not a finite resource. I am deeply loved. You are deeply loved. I mean the loudest day today, it’s I think that that car horn was just co-signing that sentiment. Suffering because other people are not suffering makes no sense. And what you do, doesn’t make you happy. What you think does. 

So let’s do a little, a little practical application here. Let’s imagine that you’re scrolling through Instagram and you see a friend of yours or an acquaintance, a person that you follow has posted a hashtag #setselfie because they are hashtag #bookedandblessed. And you’ve got thoughts about it. Um, probably a lot of thoughts about it in that one moment you might think, ‘Oh, it’s so tacky. Really? You’re just gonna rub it in my face that you’re you have a job and I don’t,’ or you might think ‘dammit, I really, I just can’t catch a break’ or you might fully think ‘that should be me, why isn’t that me?’ But for the sake of this discussion about FOMO, let’s just say that you think in that moment, ‘damn, I really want to be doing cool gigs and I’m not here. I sit not onset’ or hell you might even be on set, but there will always be someone on a cooler set or show or with a cooler outfit or in a cooler living room or whatever. So now here is what is important to remember someone, some other person could look at that exact same photo and think, Oh my God, yes. Good for her. Oh, she totally deserves it. So cool. Or someone, someone might look at it and think, Oh no, they’re not wearing a mask. What an idiot. Right? So many thoughts are available to you in that moment. And you’re choosing the thought that you’re thinking your brain pitched it to you and you catch it.  And if you believe it, you hold on to it for awhile. And sometimes you hold onto it for a very long time. Now, when you hold onto a thought, like, I really want to be doing cool gigs and I’m not, you might feel illegitimate or discouraged or hopeless or angry, all valid, totally valid. When I hold a thought like that, when I hold, like I should be doing something and I’m not, I usually feel frustrated just straight up frustrated or fed up. And when I feel frustrated, my typical response is to beat myself up by showing me evidence against myself. Um, I literally ground myself in that moment. I stopped moving. I stopped being active. I probably sit and keep scrolling or try to distract myself with some other mindless and meaningless task. And the result of all that action and inaction is that I don’t do cool work.  

What in the heck. When I think I’m not doing cool work, I feel awful. And when I feel awful, I don’t do cool work. Imagine that. Okay. What I really want to underline here is that the person’s photo or even the fact that the other person is on a job and you are on your couch. Like, even if those are the facts of the situation, that’s not, what’s making you feel awful. It’s what you think about that photo, that person and yourself that’s making you feel awful. So let’s manage our minds, shall we? Let’s say that instead of choosing, I should be doing cool work and I’m not. I decided to buy a different thought. Let’s say I decide to buy the thought that my coolest gig yet is right around the corner. And I damn well better be ready for it. Like my coolest gig ever right around the corner. It’s in the neighborhood. I better be ready. Have you ever, actually, this is a great example. Have you ever had a friend or maybe even a potential boo, like a potential romantic partner. Have you ever had that person hit you up and say, yo, I’m in your area? Do you mind if I swing by?  And you’re like, ***** Oh my God, my place is mess. But you don’t say that. You’re like, Oh yeah, of course. Totally. Because you’re very into this person coming over. So then you hang up the phone and you spring into action, like a madman or like, um, um, is it quick silver from X-Men AKA the fastest man alive anyways, all of a sudden you’re moving at like mach speed and you’ve done more in 10 minutes than you’ve done all day. Just because your friend was like, I’m in the neighborhood. Do you mind if I stop by you like take a shower, do your makeup, clean your house in 10 minutes. That feeling I’m going to, I’m going to call it propelled. Your gig is in your neighborhood. Your gig is your potential boo or your friend. That’s calling you up to say I’m around the corner. So hang up and get ready. When I think my coolest gig yet is right around the corner. I feel propelled. I spring to action. I organize my space, my materials, my body, I train. I work on myself. And as a result, I am ready for that gig. Can you see what a dramatic distinction that is? Thinking my gig is close and I better be ready, helps me to become ready. Speaking of which super shout out to episode 9 with Jason Bonner, where we talk about how, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Classic words of wisdom. 

So you get to choose a thought like I should be doing cool gigs. And I’m not which lands you with not doing cool gigs or a thought like, woo hoo my gig is in the neighborhood, literally around the corner. This photo is proof. This photo, by the way, I’m looking at imaginary Instagram at someone else succeeding. This is proof that great gigs and success is literally in my neighborhood. It is out there. It is available to people. I want to invite it in. I better be ready. And a thought like that helps me to become ready. Now, this is just one example of how dramatically different the results are when you make a simple shift in your mindset. So my final thoughts, keep your wits about you. As the world, quote opens back up, you will certainly be having a lot of thoughts about what other people are doing and how they’re doing it and how they should be doing it and how you should be doing things and what you should be doing. And because you’re the only person that you can actually control. I encourage you to do that. 

Control yourself, manage your mind, watch over the thoughts that you pitch yourself. Get really curious about the ones that you catch. How does holding onto that thought make you feel? How does that make you act? What results does that leave you with? Is there any other thought available, one that you can actually believe that can land you with a desired result? Get curious, do not get FOMO.  That is what I have to offer you today. My friend Short, sweet and simple, but not easy. It really does require quite a bit of awareness to make those shifts in the way that you’re thinking, but it’s worth it because the way that you are living will be dramatically improved with just a touch of curiosity and awareness over the way you’re thinking. All right? So you’ve marked your calendars, April 14th. It’s going to be incredible live career coaching, zoom call, bring the good stuff again. I’m going to share some of my favorite tips and tricks, but this session is really about you coming in, getting what you need. Hopefully that is clarity and confidence. I’ve got it by the boatload. All right, everybody. I really, I think that’s it. Yes. There’s enough success out there for all of us to have some there’s enough fun out there for all of us to have some you are deeply loved and if you’re doing it right, you are also deeply funky. Thanks for being here. Everybody have a great rest of your day, night, week, month, all of it. And of course, keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too! Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #66 Money March Pt. 4 Q&A with Dancer and CPA Julia Grubbs

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #66 Money March Pt. 4 Q&A with Dancer and CPA Julia Grubbs
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What are the biggest mistakes an independent contractor can make? How important is it to file quarterly?  What can you do to get on the same “money page” as your partner? 1099’s… there are so many, what do I do with all of them?  THIS episode is all of your money questions… ANSWERED! Thanks to my very special guest, Julia Grubbs, Dancer, Aerialist, Personal Trainer, and CPA!

Quicklinks:
Find Julia HERE: Juliagrubbs.com  and on IG @jwgrubbs
Money March Worksheets: https://www.thedanawilson.com/product/money-march-worksheet-bundle
The Money Book by Joseph D’agnese and Denise Kiernan: https://amzn.to/3spNgol

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. Welcome. I’m really jazzed about this episode as usual, always jazzed about the episodes. Um, but today is special because we are rounding out Money March with a really special question and answer episode. Uh, today I will be joined by the lovely Julia Grubbs, who is not only a dancer and aerialist and personal trainer, but she is also a CPA super bonus points to you. If you know or remember from the vocab in episode is 63. What does CPA stand for? Yes, you are right. CPA stands for certified public accountant. So for the next almost hour, Julia CPA, and I will be answering the money questions that listeners have submitted over the last like three or fourish weeks, um, during the course of money March, but first let’s celebrate some wins. We’ve got massive wins around here. And, uh, the one that I would like to celebrate today, I can’t even get it out without laughing. I am celebrating that. I have finally, I’ve been wanting to do this for like years. My friends, I have finally enrolled in clown school. Yes, the clown school to be exact. The Clown School was based here in Los Angeles, but they have an online program, which I should mention right out the gate. This is not a paid promotion. In fact, I have not even started yet. So I don’t know if this course is any good at all, but it came recommended to me from people that I think are funny and talented. So that was good enough for me. I’m jazzed about beginning, um, and that in this week, and now I’ll pass it off to you. What is going well in your world?  

I’m jazzed for you. So stoked. Please keep winning. You’ve got this. Okay. Now, before we get into this conversation with Julia, I want to let you know that my team and I have put together a special PDF companion for all Money March episodes. Actually we do PDF, um, companion, like interactive worksheets for every single words that move me episode. They’re all available in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop But we put the four money March episodes together in their own little bundle, because we really think that this information is important. And specifically these last four episodes are doubly useful. If you have that reference point that actual, you know, digital or tangible, I guess if you print it out place where you get to actually learn these things, instead of simply listen to these things. So, um, that special money March bundle of PDF worksheets is available to you thedanawilson.com/shop And, um, now we’re going to talk about that, that sensation, that you’re feeling in your chest right now, and the kind of tickling that’s happening in between your ears, that my friends is the desire to learn about money. Yes. So let’s get into it right away. Grab your pen, grab a paper, grab your words that move me worksheet or grab QuickBooks. I dunno, grab chalk and a sidewalk for all I care, but you definitely will want to be taking some notes. Um, all right. Without any further ado, everybody enjoy your money questions answered with Julia Grubbs. 

Dana: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome my guest today, Ms. Julia Grubbs Julia Hi, thank you so much for being here. I’m really excited about this episode. I’m very grateful to have you thank you so much for making yourself available.  

Julia: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.  

Dana: Yeah. Um, okay. So this is how it works on the podcast for better or for worse all of, for better. Is that how you say it for better or for worse? Not for better or for worst, but for better or for worse? I have all of my guests introduce themselves. Now you are a woman that wears many hats. So this might be an interesting challenge for you, but, uh, let us have it. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Julia: Yeah, I know you do this, so I’m just a little bit prepared, but not over-prepared. Um, my name is Julia Grubbs. I am from Paducah, Kentucky, um, small town. I live in New York City. I am a dancer and aerialist, a personal trainer and a writer, but most importantly, I am a CPA or a certified public accountant, which I know have told your listeners. 

Dana: Absolutely Indeed. Um, I’m thrilled that that combination of titles exists in one person because it would be very difficult to organize the schedules of all five of those people to have a podcast episode about money and finance for dancers. So I’m thrilled about you and your skillset. Um, and I’m really excited to be asking you some questions that I have garnered from my listeners over the last, uh, three weeks or so of podcast episodes that were specifically focused on dancers, choreographers, the way that we earned money, the amount of money that we earn and what we do with that money. So I’ve got a boatload of Qs to A and I’m thrilled that I don’t have to do it by myself. Um, so I suppose we might just get into it, shall we?  

Yeah, why not? Okay.  

I think you’re probably better suited to answer this question than I am. Um, because I know that you work with a lot of small businesses. You work with people who are, self-employed the question coming from listeners is what is the biggest mistake that an independent contractor can make?  

Honestly, I think it’s just not being prepared for tax time or just with a general plan for your money at all. Right. So often as dancers, we have money coming in sometimes, but not other times, um, irregularly from a lot of different sources. So really just having a plan and an approach to what you’re going to do with that money when it does come in, uh, making sure that some is set aside for taxes, some set aside for bills, you know, general emergencies, um, you know, for all of our expenses that we have, as well as making sure that there’s fun money in there as well, but just having an approach to it, instead of saying, great, I got $2,000, what do I do with it? Right. We want to make sure we have an approach.  

Um, do, do you mind if I ask what is your personal approach?  

Sure. So, um, I am a full-time employee as, uh, as an accountant, as a CPA. Um, so I do have regular money coming in, but as for my dance income, you know, there’s a couple of different approaches you can have, there’s a 50, 30, 20 rule sometimes that people have or a one number approach. So the 50, 30, 20 is what you would say 50% is going to our fixed expenses, you know, 30% for fun. And then 20% is going to what I would call future you. Right? You’re saving, you’re investing. Um, so that works well for some people. And they’ll kind of do that on a monthly approach. Um, the one number approach is a little bit different. It makes it easier because it’s just one number that you have to remember. Um, so the idea is to calculate, you know, how much money you can afford to spend on flexible costs, right?  The things that we have to actually make decisions about, not our rent that’s kind of fixed. Um, and then you only have to remember that one number on a date day basis. So you can start with your total take home pay that you expect to earn during the month. Right. We know that can be different as dancers, but you’re going to subtract all your monthly fixed costs, things that we know that, um, have to go, you’re going to set aside the money for future you and then, um, money for your non monthly expenses. You know, Christmas gifts, things kind of like that. And the money leftover is your flexible spending money. So you’re going to divide that number by 4.3, it’s the average number of weeks in a month. Um, and that’s your one number. So then you can go out into the world and spend money on things, you know, as you do. And all you have to do is check and make sure you haven’t hit your one number for the week. Right? So that’s, um, a good approach that some people like to use. 

I love that approach that is different than my approach. Um, I talked a little bit about, um, a dancer and a dancer spending in, uh, two episodes ago now. So I think episode 63, and I got this incredible gift of a book called the money book for freelancers, independent contractors and the self-employed and they, they talk about the divine trilogy of savings accounts. So I made a habit of 10% going to an emergency fund and by 10%, I mean of every check and that’s even my residual checks that are for like $2 and 74 cents, 10% goes to emergency fund, 10% goes to retirement fund and then 15% goes to a tax fund. Um, and by fund, I actually just mean online savings account that has a pretty healthy interest yield. So, um, I made habit of that way back in 2016, it is absolutely what I do once all that money is done. And once my, um, monthly fixed expenses are paid, everything else is freedom money. And what I find is usually, um, I feel best about putting that freedom money also into one of those savings accounts versus leaving it in the checking account where earns 0.01% interest, which is the biggest buzzkill ever. Um, so that’s sort of my game plan, but I like this one number. It seems like less math and I know for most dance types, math, isn’t our favorite thing. So maybe less math is more good. Um, thank you for shining light on those couple of options. Um, okay. So our next question, I love this question when negotiating contracts, what are the phrases to avoid? What’s the best thing to bring up an ask? What are the best questions to ask, um, in terms of a negotiation and I might head this one up, um, I’ll speak specifically to dancers and choreographers because that is the world of negotiating that I know. And actually in full honesty, I have had a dance agent for 15 years. I have never had to negotiate the terms of my own contract. Um, 

Wow, amazing. 

But every year my general service agreements with my agent comes up for renegotiation. Most GSS or general service agreements are for the term of one year. And I think it’s an important thing to note, that’s the contract that dancers will sign most often. It’s a GSA, it’s a general service agreement of some sort. You’re usually you have one with your agent, you have one with a manager, you might sign a GSA for a particular job. That’s addressing some sort of agreement for usage or something, but we, we, the dancer don’t sign the SAG-AFTRA contract, you know, or we don’t stipulate the terms of every working agreement that we’re on. We we’re, we’re not writing that language.  Those contracts already exists. Our agents sign them on our behalf, or we will sign paperwork on the day. Um, but the, the contract that you’ll wind up signing probably the most often outside of paperwork that says, yes, I work these hours, um, is the GSA and what I would love to, um, underline for this, for the person asking this question, and for everybody listening is that general service agreements are standardized, right? That’s why they’re called general, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be adjusted or modified or changed in some way. Um, you absolutely have the rights and the ability to suggest and offer changes to that GSA. And I’ve, I’ve never made amendment to a GSA that wasn’t accepted. Or every time I resigned my GSA with my agency, they send me a copy. I Mark it up in red. I send it back. I say, is this okay? They say, yep. And we sign. And in one more year, we do it again. Um, there was an awesome course offered by SAG-AFTRA. I think it was called understanding your GSA. And it’s one of the many perks of being a union member. You get to take this free course. And I learned all the jargon, Oh, sorry, circling back. Um, the question asks for what are some phrases or things to look out for things to avoid in perpetuity? My friend in perpetuity means forever for all time. I really encourage, anytime you see the word in perpetuity forever, you ask if that’s, um, uh, yeah, that’s a point where you might be able to set a term instead of in perpetuity forever. It’s for the next five years. It’s for the next 10 years. It’s until the usage changes, at which point we renegotiate strongly recommend looking out for that language in perpetuity forever.  Um, but yeah, these, the, the terms of contracts are important. In other words, the amount of time that they cover, um, always make sure that you’re filling in all blanks. You don’t want to sign your name on something that has open blanks that other could fill in numbers that you didn’t necessarily agree with. Um, on GSAs specifically, that will usually be a percentage number or, um, a length of time. You definitely want to make sure that you don’t leave any, any important fields like that open. Um, and then I guess my, my only other encouraging factor would be simply to ask if you don’t understand language it’s I know it might feel embarrassing to not understand what a word means or what it means in this specific context, but contracts are not designed with dancers in mind. Most of the time, there is no shame in asking for the meaning or a breakdown of legal ease of this jargon that can sometimes be intentionally confusing. So I really encourage you ask questions, either asking to your agents or from production, just for a little additional clarity. Hey, what does this mean? Um, and then of course there’s the good old fashioned habit of take a photo, take pictures of all of the things that you sign, um, and then put them someplace on an encrypted hard drive. Uh, but I, I, I see it happen often for myself and for others, is that something might come up long after the job has happened. You don’t remember what you earned. You don’t remember the hours that you worked. There is some sort of discrepancy and you have to call on that information. So, uh, yeah, that was, uh, a long way of wrapping up that question. Um, when you’re negotiating contracts, the phrases and terms that I would look out for are the length, the term of the contract.  Um, some specific language in there, for example, in your, GSAs your general service agreement with your agent. They’ll usually say I Dana Wilson here by give, enter name of agent or agency permission to act as my __ words come after that. You just want to make sure that those words are agent not, not necessarily representative legal, anything. This is I’m looking for an agent. That’s what I want to make sure that the word that follows there is, you know, the actual word that you’re looking for. Um, so there’s that, what else today? I think I covered that whole question. Best thing to bring up is anything that you don’t understand always. Okay. I think I did it. Julia, do you have anything that you would add to that?  

Um, sure. You know, uh, you know, contract negotiation, I won’t say is my entire specialty, but I will say, especially in New York, I know I’m not sure as much about LA, um, but some might not realize that agents will be happy to represent you on a particular deal, even if they don’t represent you generally. So especially if that deal and you know, is a union job or a job that pays well. Um, but regardless of who represents you, you know, one clause that possible to negotiate is the so-called favored nations clause. So basically that ensures that a performer is paid the same as others on the show. Um, so, you know, say you’re doing a certain show and you’re on in the ensemble, and we’ll just to make sure that all the other ensembles, what, whoever negotiates basically the highest, if this is great for an unrepresented actor or dancer, um, that whoever maybe might represented, negotiates the higher rate that you get this same pay as they do. And then you can negotiate that in terms of salary or in terms of terms and conditions, um, all sorts of things,  

Definitely important to bring up that the, the concept of favored nations certainly can work to your favor as you’re an up and comer. Um, but if you’re a person who’s used to negotiating above scale or has a specific day rate for yourself made by yourself, based on your experience and skillset, that’s, you know, above average, then looking at favored nations language is, is not going to be such a friendly thing to, to, to behold. And of course there is always room for a conversation. I think that all too often dancers and creative types in general, except what’s on the page as like I have to say yes or no, there is a third option, which is, I can say yes if or yes, when, and then go from there. Um, Oh man. Oh man. And I think in addition to having a bounce board for my ideas, my feelings about work, you know, my calendar in general, I love having an agent because of that, because I do not like being the person that negotiates, I like being the person that dances and teaches and moves and choreograph. So, um, yeah, I think that a handful of a lot of the questions that I got were, um, coming from a place of a dancer or choreographer who is not yet represented, I cannot stress enough the value of that relationship. And, um, I know right now, specifically, right now being March of 2021, a lot of agencies, uh, that represent all sorts of talent are doing virtual submissions, not a lot of people holding auditions in person these days. So it might be a really awesome time, even if you’re not living in a big city or hub to get the attention of some of these people who are sitting at their computer all day long, looking for new talent in, in, under rocks that might not have been lifted up before. So if you’re out there looking for representation, don’t be shy. Come forward. The world is ready for talent  

And thousand percent. 

Okay.  Uh, let’s keep it pushing. The next one is interesting. I have an idea about this and I would love to hear your thoughts. My listener asks, what are the practices or tips or tools that you would recommend for getting you and your partner on the same page with money? Um, having two incomes in one household, in other words, and I’m fascinated by this, my husband and I have been married for, uh, five years, almost six years. And 

Congratulations 

Thank you so much. We root that is a win, especially because I am so in love. Um, and especially, especially because I haven’t like left in over a year, we’ve been in a house together for over a year and I am still smitten. Um, so I’ll, I have a couple of them. I jotted down a couple of the things that we do that work. And I’m not saying by any means that I am a professional at this. Um, but one of the things that my husband and I have adopted and I see tremendous value in is that we treat our goals, financial and otherwise like a business. And we treat parts of our relationship, like a business. We have a weekly meeting where we sit down and talk about the nuts and bolts of it. Right. Um, and I think it helps to build trust. We talk about financial goals. We talk about updates in our financial lives. We check on accountability. Like, did you send our CPA this? Or was I supposed to do this? Or did you pay this? Or, you know, it, it really helps keep clear who’s in charge of what, um, and what’s been done and what is yet to be done. Um, uh, yeah, that, that is one thing I really am a huge proponents of is the weekly meeting that’s set. It doesn’t happen over the dinner table. It happens over Skype. He and I are both in separate places. It’s standing on the calendar. If we cannot make it, it gets rescheduled. Like this is kind of coveted time. Um, the other thing that we do at least once a year is we really put it all out there, look at every single account, how much is in it, how much was in it, how much do we want to have in it? And we, I have a Floor to ceiling mirror in my dance studio area. We get a dry erase marker and cover that thing with just all the numbers really helps build trust and get a clear idea of the big financial picture instead of what comes up in our weekly meetings, which is usually kind of, kind of short term. So that’s, that’s another one. Um, and then in terms of like the actual structure of our money, I don’t know much about this, but my husband and I have a, um, yours, mine, ours approach. He has his money that he earns and he uses, I have my money that I earn and I use it and we have really different spending styles. Um, but we then have an account that is ours. It’s for our goals, our trips, our dream purchases, our, you know, shared items and emergency things. And that sort of like the, I guess it’s not a divine trilogy anymore. Cause I have, I have, I have taxes, emergency retirement. And then DanDana, which is our joint account. And every check I get, some of it gets shaved off and put in there and that, and when you have two people doing that, that account grows pretty quickly so that I would super recommend. Um, and then, Oh, one more thing, celebrate, celebrate the small things and celebrations don’t have to be expensive. I think what my husband and I have started to do is establish what we what’s important to us. Um, since the quarantine actually a cool change is that we found out that neither is not important to either one of us to eat out. Um, I much prefer his cooking to most of the restaurants in my area and I prefer efficiency speed. And I love like I love not spending more money than I need to be spending. I found this awesome farmer’s market. I get a box for 25 bucks every single week. I know that’s become a definite fixed number for me. And when I find myself spending the same amount on one meal than I do on my entire weekly food, I’m just like, Ooh, I don’t love that feeling. So we’ve decided like certain things are not important, eating out for example, but certain things are for me, one of them is travel. So I am willing to save scrupulously in other areas so that I can spend in the areas that really light me up. My husband’s the same. He’s like I do not need new clothing ever. He will wear his clothing until it does not cover his body anymore, but he will absolutely be buying new tools, new equipment. And my husband is an engineer. His tools and equipment are not like the cost of a new pair of shoes in my world. Those are my tools, my equipment, right? These are like thousands of dollars of, you know, machinery and stuff. So we save where it matters and we spend where it matters and we celebrate meeting our goals. That is my advice for the couplage in the world. And, and Hey, five years, um, I’m celebrating, I’m celebrating, but it’s not 60. I mean, get out there and ask that question to every couple that, you know, that’s such a smart question. And I’m, I’m really curious. Um, Julia, I’m curious to hear your input, but I would pose that to any couple that’s listening. Like what do you do? I want to know, send me a DM. Words That Move Me podcasts, holler, Julia throwing it to you.  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as much as people say dancers might be frivolous. The system that you just described was so detailed and you know, you’re making that systems based approach that everyone needs to have success and this area of our life, right. As dancers, we know how to hustle. We are hustlers like no one else, but in our financial world, you know, sometimes we don’t do that, but you are showing that we can. We do have the skills to be able to do it. We just have to apply that same kind of energy we have in the rest of our lives. Right. Um, yeah. So, you know, the weekly check-ins, those are amazing, you know, a yearly check in. I would answer these questions for yourself. I would say on a scale of one to 10, you know, how much, how much you worry about money or how much, how often do you think about, or talk about money?  Um, and then you want to take a forward-looking approach and say, what does our most amazing life look like? Right. Let’s see each person answers that individually. And then we’re going to come together and see, okay, what do we want our life to look like? Right. Um, where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. And once we settle on what we want, then we want to take a systems based approach of how to get there, right? Automatic saving, investing, right? Like you’re talking about automatic debt payments. If we are in debt, know our exact debt payoff date the year and the month, so that we can have a date to look forward to and then use all of those skills that we are all of those systems that we’ve built to get us to our most amazing life in the future. Right. What do we love spending money on? What do you hate spending money on? We’re going to cut costs, mercilessly on those things that we don’t really care about and spend a ton of money on the things that we love spending money on. Right. That’s going to make us a generally happier person, happier couple in general. Right? And we, each person in that relationship might have different answers to that. And so they can then just act accordingly, right? I like spending money on convenience, having my groceries delivered to my door. I love cooking. So I don’t eat out as much, but I just love having all of my groceries delivered, you know, having a personal trainer, I could, um, create my own workouts. Right. But I outsource it to someone who also trains dancers and does that for me. Um, so we work to find out what we actually care about and not what other people care about, right. What our person and our relationship cares about.  

That’s huge. Um, I love this idea of forward thinking and then kind of reverse engineering back from that point. Like I know that if I want to be fully debt-free by X date, then I want to be half debt-free in half of that time. And it can get pretty practical and reasonable and drama free when you just look at the numbers and really focus to hit your marks. Um, okay. Now let’s actually, let’s sidestep from the math of it, the, the math part, and just talk a little bit about mindset or what I like to call drama. Um, and, and it’s funny because money, which is math has such a hold on our heartstrings on our thoughts on our, on, Ooh, it’s deep. It is very deep. So I, I would like to talk a little bit about mindset and I know that you, um, specialize in this department. So I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Uh, I have a listener asking what is the suggested mindset for an artist who’s looking to increase their earnings and kind of achieve a more sustainable minimum. Um, and I think the caveat here is like, while still doing fulfilling work, what do you think about that? A money mindset? What’s the, what’s the mind, what’s the type of thinking that will get you earning more without necessarily having to sell your soul to the devil? 

Well, I, I think you can’t really address the problems with money until you address the psychology behind money. Right. So what is your money mindset that you had growing up? What did people in your household talk about? Right. Did they not talk about it at all? You know, I always felt like I had somewhat of a scarcity mindset and that there would never be enough. So it might help to start to journal and, you know, unravel well, why you might have that certain mindset and tap into that emotion and that it makes you feel and combat it by saying I’m not a child anymore. You know, I don’t have my parents’ fears. I don’t have, I don’t need to bend to that fear anymore. And I am in control of my current money beliefs. But in order, in terms of, um, increasing your earnings, you know, I often think about how happy future me will be if I am not worried about money, right? Money is people’s top sources of stress. 73% of people said that they, if they felt clear about money, then they would report being less stressed. So if I feel less stressed about having everything covered for me currently, and for future me, then I can focus my time and my energy on things that do artistically fulfill me. 

That’s huge. So in other words, You’re taking on now, which something that might be maybe just an uncomfortable conversation, right? Like something as simple as asking for a raise or something as uncomfortable as asking for what you actually think you’re worth versus giving the homie deal to everybody right. In the moment that might be uncomfortable, but your future self will thank you because your future self will be that much less burdened by, uh, a scarcity mindset or a money struggle moment.  

Yeah. And going back to that, um, that what we talked about with couples, you know, we, that forward thinking approach, what does my most amazing life look like? Let me backtrack and how can I get there? Okay. I need to make more money in order to get to that. Cool. I’ll start doing that now. Right? It’s all about consistency over time, as opposed to just, you know, one, one thing right now, I’m going to increase one paycheck that I earn right. We’re looking to do it over a long period of time so that we’re successful successfully set up financially.  

Yeah. Small bits, making big difference. This idea of like compounding interest over time, a small change. Even if you ask, you know, let’s say you’re a dance teacher and you ask for $5 more per hour, small change in this one conversation that we’re making. But over time, a really, really big, a big shift. That’s huge. I appreciate that. Um, another listener asks, uh, I feel very motivated to work on projects that fulfill me artistically, but I’m less motivated to work on the sufficient income type of projects. And that might even fully mean a day job. What do you think about that dancers taking on a day job outside of, um, their, their creative work? Is this something you see with clients often?  

Absolutely. Yes. I think some people have, especially right now during this past year, I think people are spending their energies developing side businesses, side hustles, as well as just, you know, um, nannying part-time things, um, in order to kind of cover those bills. 

And is that something that you, um, I guess the followup to this is like, is that something you encouraged, do you see, do you see creative clients of yours achieving some degree of financial freedom, thanks to say Starbucks or, you know, having, having some other regular income?  

Yeah. I think it depends on what your goals are. So, you know, my goals are flexibility so that I can go to any audition I want to go to. It’s not limited by time because I can work on my own whenever I want. Right. Others might have to work the morning shift at a gym and so that they can go to an audition later, um, or work on contracts later. Uh, I think it depends on the person and what they’re willing to do. You know, um, oftentimes there’s kind of a negative stereotype. I think between a lot of people would come to the city and bartend and then not be able to wake up for their 8:00 AM audition cause they were bartending till 3:00 AM. Um, and if that’s, if that starts to take away from what they actually want to do, then it might be time to invest, uh, their skills that they, they definitely have into a different side hustle.  

Awesome. Thank you for making that distinction. I worked at urban Outfitters when I first moved to Los Angeles and for a full calendar year, I rocked that opening shift from 6:00 AM to 3PM and that, and that worked for me. I was a person that thought like talk about money beliefs. I believed that that stability helped me in my life. I believe that like the regimen, the order, the, uh, certainly the health and the health insurance that I was provided, all my taxes were automatically taken out of my check. I found, I found great convenience and comfort in that it didn’t bother me at all. And so I think the combination of the job itself, which provided a little bit of flexibility and hours, that didn’t really conflict, that mixed with thoughts about it made that a totally reasonable thing for me to do at 18 years old, living on my own for the first time in my life, you know, but there, but that, but that’s not everybody’s experience. This is not a one size fits all fits all type of answer. You have to really get, get real with yourself about what you’re thinking this side hustle means to you. Um, because there are ways that it can fill your cup emotionally and financially. Um, if it’s the right gig, man, I, I really enjoyed my Urban Outfitters gig. I’ll tell you what it made shopping for my audition outfits, much easier and more fun, and cheaper I soaked that employee discount up for as long as I possibly could. Um, okay. So maybe the side hustle conversation is a good segue to my next question, which is one of my favorites. It goes like this, I love it so much. 1099, How do I deal with all of them? And I have this exact same question.  

Yeah. I mean, a ton of, uh, dancers will come to me and say, Oh my gosh, I have so many, 1099 nines. My taxes are going to be so difficult. And my answer kind of is that doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes are going to be that difficult. I will say. Um, all it is is basically a couple of extra data entry, you know, in order to get all of that uploaded into the system. Now, if they are in different States, which often happens, you know, if they’re working in different regional theaters across the country, those kinds of things that can make it a little bit more difficult and we can get into that a bit later, but basically 1099. And I know California also has AB5 that makes independent contractor versus employee. Um, yeah, I know we don’t, we don’t, we don’t love it, but, um, if you are getting 1099, then that means that employer not the right word, but, um, considers you self-employed. So when you are self-employed you then will file a schedule C and then you conduct deduct business expenses against that. Right. So you’ll then pay self-employment tax on that the, which is the employer and the employee share of social security and Medicare. Um, but half of that is deductible. So basically all the 1099  

Back up, back up, back up. Yep. So half of Medicare and self-employment tax are deductible  

On the front half of the 1040, well, the 1040 is now just kind of technically one page, but yes,  

I’m just underlining that for everybody that’s listening because that’s very important. Carry on.  

Yeah. So yeah. So if your income is all W2, um, then you won’t file as self-employed and then you don’t get to deduct business expenses against that. The only way you can is on the state return, if those, if that state allows it. So I think New York, California, Pennsylvania, and a few others have a combinations that still allow showbiz expenses. Um, but not all States do. Okay.  

Here’s a question from me specifically about this subject on a normal year. I might, I do a combination of W2 and 1099 work. Let’s say I teach at four different summer intensives. I go set choreography on a couple of different studios. I am in a couple TV episodes and I teach on a convention. So a mixed bag, right? And while I’m working during the year, I’m not thinking about which ones of those will be W2’s and which ones of those will be 1099 nines. So I find myself at the end of the year, wondering if I have all my documents ready to give to my CPA, I, it never fails. I will send all my tax documents to my CPA. And then two weeks later, I get three more from this dance studio or this project or whatever. Um, do you have a system, a recommendation for tracking projects as you do them that helps you kind of line item yourself and, and know when you’re ready to be like when you’re done at the end of the year, um, or when it is tax time, how do you know that you’ve got it all?  

Alright. So the deadline for the, um, employer to send those documents to you is January 31st. Um, so technically they should mail those all to you as of that date, right? That’s when they have to submit it to the IRS. And technically, technically, if they have paid you more than $600 for each project, then you will, are supposed to get a 1099. W2, any amount of money that they pay you. Um,  

Question for clarity, $600 per project, or $600 total. Let’s say, let’s say I go to a studio two times in a year. Is this per visit or is this in total?

In total for the year. 

So they have to send something by January 31st. And if they’ve paid me more than $600, they have to send me a certain thing. And then what happens?  

Yeah. So that is the 1099, um, which they have also sent to the IRS. So if you get a 1099, that means that he’s also sent that to the IRS.  

Okay. So they told the IRS, Hey, I, I paid Dana this much money. And then if Dana doesn’t report receiving this much money from them, then the IRS goes warning warning, look closer, which we don’t love that. Right. Um, so that’s why it’s important to make sure that you are reporting all income as what it was, right. Be it W2 or 1099, or, um, even interest earnings and stuff like that. Correct. Okay. So to answer this person’s question. 1099 nines, how do I deal with all of them? I personally scan them all into one document. I call it 1099s, and then I send it to my CPA. But what if this person is doing their own taxes?  

Uh, so whatever, however, they decide to file. So if you do make under 72,000, anyone can file for free on the IRS website. Um, and some States allow that as well, Free File. Yes. And then there’s a couple different softwares. I believe that you can choose to do that. So if you are doing that, basically, like I just said, it’s going to be just a little bit more data entry. Each 1099, you have to enter in the EIN how much money was received, those kinds of things. And also it was new for this year. We got 1099 NECS instead of 1099 miscellaneous. I don’t know if anybody noticed that this year, but yes, that was different. I didn’t know.  

I did I noticed that this year and I didn’t know what it meant.  

Yeah. So NEC non-employee compensation

Look how much learning I’m doing! Thank you for that. Okay, cool. Um, let’s move forward. Our next question is, do dancers get paid royalties? This is a great example of there. Isn’t a yes or a no. Um, if we look really broadly, I could show you many dancers that do get paid royalties. I could show you many dancers that don’t the distinguishing factor is the type of work they’re doing and the type of contracts they are on strongly recommend taking a wander back to in the show notes to episode 63, which is the first it’s part, one of Money March. I do talk about residual structures and SAG-AFTRA contracts. Those are, uh, dancers appearing on film or television and a new media. Um, many of those contracts do, uh, include residual structures and we love that. Um, right. Yeah. So answer to that question is Yes, and if you’re doing that type of work, um, and next question, how, and when do I negotiate pay? Again, this more or less depends on the type of work that you are doing because I have an agent, my agent is always the one that negotiates my pay and, um, I, I always seek for that to be done before my first day of work. You want to know what you’re making before you’re on the job. Simple as that, I am making it part of my money practice to talk about money first and frequent. If the terms of the project change while it’s happening, we’re going to talk about money again, before I signed the dotted line, we’re going to talk about money first and frequent is when, uh, you should be discussing your money. That’s my, that’s my answer. Anything to add to it?  

No, that’s, that’s got it covered. You know, we have to make sure that this is, it is a big part of our lives, right? So we have to make sure that it is in the conversation, um, frequently, as you said. 

Which actually also helps it, it becomes less of a big deal when you’re talking about it more often. It’s yeah. It’s, I guess it’s kind of like fouette turns in that way. Like it used to be a really, really big deal before I knew how to do them. And when I didn’t do them very often, it was like, Oh, here we go. We’ll go. And then when I learned how to do them and did them all THE TIME, unstoppable, you could not keep me from doing four to turns in my kitchen. I will be doing for tutorings everywhere. Video coming soon. 

Do you do them now? 

Um, it’s been a long time since a fouetté turn, but I bet I could still, I could still hit a footy turn right now for sure. Um, okay. Julia, talk to me about IRAs. I’ve gotten a lot of mixed information about which type I should have, um, be it a Roth or a CEP. Um, I I’ve gotten overwhelmed with this question and my, my dives on the internet of trying to find a simple answer were not so simple. Um, so I’d love to hear from a dancer, what, what you recommend for obviously everybody is different, but what would you recommend for the average dancer when you take it out? At which point tax rates might be much higher because you know, people say, what goes up, must come down. I have noticed that it’s not entirely true. Uh, I have not seen taxes actually go down. Have I, I don’t know, honestly, I don’t pay that much attention, but it’s an important thing to consider when you’re making that call. With a traditional IRA. Are you only able to withdraw funds and earnings from that account after you’re 65? Or is it a number of years from when you started it? What’s that? What does that timeline look?  

Um, for traditional the withdrawal ages 59 and a half. Um, but there are, uh, ex exceptions, you know, if you’re buying a first-time home buyer, you can you can withdraw up to $10,000, um, for a home purchase and you don’t have to pay  tax or penalty on that. Okay.  

Oh, that’s important. First time only asks the woman that owns her condo. Okay.  

Now, if it’s not a residence, you know, and you’ll maybe own property that you don’t live in there, you know, you have to look into that a little bit, but if it’s your first full time residence, then, then you can do that. 

Cool. Awesome. Thank you for that. Okay. Um, a couple of questions now coming from me, I’m really curious about the, this is me just trying to, um, trying to get all the goods without having to do all of the work. I’m wondering what are the quick fix type questions that you get often? Like somebody comes to you with this big deal. They’re like, dude, this is so hard. I don’t understand, blah blah. And you’re like, actually it’s really easy. All you have to do is blah. Like what what’s that? I want to know the answer to that or those questions if there are more than one.  

Yeah. I think as you said, sometimes it’s, it comes to be drama maybe. Um, but when it doesn’t have to be basically, uh, people say, Oh my gosh, I’m a dancer. And I have so many, 1099s. And so tax time is so hard and it’s stressful, right. Basically keep a spreadsheet and total it for your accountant. If you do that. Um, or, you know, if you’re going to do it, keep all your receipts and say, okay, how much did I spend on my website on, you know, um, any kind of marketing materials, headshots resumes, any of those kinds of things, um, and then just keep it all together. So that way, when it comes to tax time, you have everything that you’ve done, right? As soon as you bought classes, you might have all of receipt of all classes you paid for in one year, take that, put it into your spreadsheet, say, cool. This is how much I spent on classes this year. And the answer is done.  

Could you give a rundown of, in your eyes, which are in, in your CPA dancer eyes, what are the categories that you, what are you, what are your itemized deduction categories? I remember struggling for years trying to decide what to call certain things. And I would call, let’s say, I called, um, apparel. Let’s say I called it a uniform one year. And then the next year I was calling it, um, maintenance and maintenance and upkeep or something like, I really, I got very confused about where to put what, because in this way I do think we are unusual, like me buying this new pair of sneakers is not for vanity it’s because I danced holes in my other pair of sneakers and I danced in sneakers. So that isn’t, you know, I, if you could just take us through a gentle walkthrough of like the big categories and examples of what might go in each category of deductible expense.  

Sure. Um, yeah, so these aren’t the itemized deductions, but these are on the schedule C when we deduct, um, our business expenses, right. As a self-employed individual, um, anything from advertising. So I would say website, uh, headshot, resumes, you know, anything that goes in there, um, you have a decent amount of leeway, um, in that other deductions category at the bottom to put something and then just call it that, that year. And then when you go to do your taxes the next year, right. You can just move it on over, you know, you just keep it simple year to year. Right. And so if you have that say Google sheets spreadsheet that says, okay, this is where I put everything last year. Cool. Move it over and just do it the same thing this year. Um, but yeah, those things advertising, marketing, you’ve got your, um, auto expenses, you know, if you’re driving those kinds of things or travel in other respects, um, yep. There is repair and maintenance as well. Uh, professional fees, um,  

Like your, like your union dues, things like that. Where would you put bodywork massage, physio, acupuncture, meeting with a dietician.  

Yeah. I would stick it in that other detections category, um, other, the, you know, health and wellness, that kind of thing. And just put it under all of those.  

Okay. I have a feeling our listeners will want to be knowing a lot more about a lot of this stuff. So don’t let me let you out of here without leaving a way that could find you and, and, and potentially work together. Um, okay. So the opposite side of that coin, like the easy fix question is what are the questions that you wish nobody ever asked? Because they’re so complicated and dense and difficult to answer. And will you answer those questions so that we so that we don’t have to ask them so that we don’t have to ask you individually?  

I would say honestly, the biggest challenge, and it’s hard to answer without going into each individual person’s experience is each state, right? If you’re working in multiple States, each state has completely different laws and you’ll have to see if your state conforms to the federal laws. And that’s really a big deal right now with COVID and all the tax changes that are going along with that, you know, some States tax, all the income you earn, and then you get a credit for taxes received. Um, some States tax only income earned in that state. And or if it’s under a certain moment, it’s not, you don’t have to file. Um, you might have to file in multiple States. I know that’s a question that comes and can be difficult. I always had a file in Pennsylvania. And then the one year I thought it was not going to have to file in Pennsylvania. I had to file in Pennsylvania again, and I was just talking to filing that’s something.  

Okay. So it’s that there is no, yes, there are rules and there are a lot of different rules and it’s okay to not know all of the rules. Um, but it’s not okay to break all of the rules. So you must find somebody who knows what the rules are or find a place to look things up. Um, I’m guessing that would just be the state.gov or  

Yeah. The department of revenue usually. Um, you can find it on the department of revenue website for any state. Yeah.  

Okay. My move, because I believe I am a unique and individual snowflake is to work with a CPA that understands unique and individual snowflakes. I have not tried to file my own taxes since I was probably 17 years old. I did it once. I cried so hard and I’m not going to lie. I still cry when it’s tax time, because I feel stupid when I don’t know how to do things or the answers to things. I had a little chuckle to myself when you were talking about, um, a Google sheet and like, just do it the same every year. I not only have a Google sheet now, but I have also a Google doc that reminds myself the answers to the questions that I always ask, which is like, where does the individual, or does my LLC pay for my health insurance? I have the answer to that.  Cause I w I ask it every single year. Um, where do I put this? And I write the answer to that. So as you’re asking questions and getting answers to them because taxes are, Oh, I have another question for you. I was just about to say, because taxes only happen once a year. And then that made me look directly into your eyes, Julia, and ask, how important is it to file quarterly? Cause I’ve got my boxing gloves on. I don’t, I, if taxes are going to ruin my life, let it be once a year, not four times, I get really stressed out at this time of year, certainly because of the way I’m thinking about it, obviously, but I get really mixed information. Like it’s going to save you money. You should definitely file quarterly. And then all of a sudden when I don’t file quarterly, cause I’m like, you know what? I I’d rather pay more and worry about it less that I’m fine with this. But then I get to the end of the year and you’re like, why didn’t you pay quarterly? Now we have to pay penalties now, like talk to me quarterly WTF. What’s that?  

It definitely just depends on, this is another one of those BS answers I’m going to give you depends on your situation and year per year. Right. So how much did you earn last year? How much tax did you pay last year? That’s going to affect, you know, um, estimated taxes this year. Um, as well as just, um, what was I going to say? 

Filing quarterly? Should I do it? Should I not do it? What does it depend on? What is the answer to that question? Depending on, yeah.  

You know, as well as just, um, how much 1099 income you’re getting, right. If you’re getting a bunch of taxes taken out from your W2’s, you might not have to worry about it as much as if you filled out, you know, that little spreadsheet that they give you at the beginning to say how much you want to deducted Right? So if you do have some W2 income and you can have more taken out of that, so that it covers, um, maybe some of your 1099 income, right? There’s a nice little worksheet that you can do on the IRS to see if you’re being withheld enough from the W2 income that you do have.  

Oh, that’s exciting. Do you see how I just went from being like hot and sweaty and enrage to like genuinely curious and interested in something because you called it a worksheet. So I get excited. Um, okay, well, that’s, that will be added to my master document of questions answered. Although I don’t know that I will ever become a person that pays quarterly, unless I have to, like, if you tell me that I have to, I will definitely do it. 

Not telling you that, 

Oh, drats. I wish somebody weren’t somebody, you know what? My, my poor CPA might listen to this someday. And he’s like, Dana, literally, I am telling you that you have to. 

Listen to him. 

Uh, I don’t know what my deal is with that, but I’m working on it and becoming a person that is not like it. The world doesn’t come down on my actual head. I get a little grumpy when I have to pay taxes, but don’t wheel, I’m not unique in that way. We are all of,  

And this year, just so we make that clear, the filing deadline has been extended this year until May 17th. So you don’t 

By like, I’m. Well, I’m annoyed. Like we had a dumpster fire of a year. These are my thoughts. I’m getting so hot. I have to take my shirt off, not my, not my whole shirt, just my outer outer shirt, 2020 happened. Right. Nobody can deny that 2020 happened and we’re pushing our tax deadline back 30 days or like 32 days. I’m sorry. That does not seem sufficient to me, but I started early. I’m prepared. My CPA is also prepared. I’m going to be okay. You’re going to be okay if you don’t think you’re okay. Here is where you can find Julia Julia on your Mark. Get set, go. Where do we find you?

You can find me at Juliagrubbs.com Um, my, all my contact info is there. Um, I’m on Instagram @JWgrubbs. Um, two B’s. Um, yeah. So any of those you can there’s I have a contact form on my website. You can feel free to send me an email. I love answering questions, helping dancers, you know, feel better  


Thank goodness for you. I appreciate that so much. Thank you for making yourself available to me today. Me and all my thoughts and feelings about money. And, uh, I, I do think I will be reaching back out with a few more followup questions. That is all I have for you today, but in, in my life as a curious dancer person, I’m sure you will be hearing from me again.  

Absolutely. Can’t wait! 

Thank you for coming. My friend. I’ll talk to you later. All right. My friend, I hope that you learned as much as I did, and I truly hope that you visit Julia with any other money or tax related questions that you have. I am certain that I will be. Um, so she won’t be shocked to hear from you lovely words that move me listener. Thank you so much again for being here. Um, just a few more things before you run off and go organize your 1099s. Um, I will be holding a free career coaching session via zoom coming up in April on Wednesday, April 14th. Now that time is TBD. So if you are not already following me on Instagram, I’m @Danadaners D A N A D A N E R S, or the podcast on Instagram, which is words that move me podcast. Um, all one word, no spaces or underscores or anything fancy like that. Um, but make sure you follow us over there because we will be blasting this information loud and proud free career coaching, a group call on zoom. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to share what I’m all about. Um, tremendously valuable tools here that we’ll be sharing with you. Now go get out into the world, keep it organized, keep it financially free and flowing. And of course, by any means necessary. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later. 

Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.
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My goal for this episode is NOT to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money, or even THAT you should or shouldn’t think about money.  My goal is to  hold a safe place for you to explore, and discuss your RELATIONSHIP with money.  By the end of this episode, you’ll understand your beliefs about money, how (long it takes) to make a billion dollars AND the very significant role your emotions play in managing your wealth.

Quick Links:

Columbus and Billionaires: https://www.truthorfiction.com/if-you-made-5000-a-day-starting-in-1492-would-you-still-have-less-money-than-jeff-bezos/

Transcript

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello. Hello.  Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is Words That Move Me. I’m stoked. This episode is a really, really special one, a subject that is very close to my heart, question mark.. I take that back immediately. Um, close to my mind, at least pretty close to my mind. Most of the time, um, today we’re talking about money mindset. This is part three of money March. We’ve already discussed dancer specific dollars. In episode 63, episode 64 was all about choreographers and the unique challenges that we are looking at in our industry right now. And today we are talking about your mindset about money, and I’m very simply put separating the math from the drama and I’m jazzed about it. But first we’re going to talk wins, and I love my win this week. I’m very excited to share. I’ll tell you mine, and then you will take the floor and share with yourself, or whoever happens to be around you, uh, something that’s going well in your world.  So here we go. Uh, this week I am celebrating that there is finally an in theater and HBO max release date for In the Heights, which of course is Jon Chu’s feature film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and  Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Tony award-winning musical coming to the big screen. Holy smokes. You guys, I’m extremely emotional about this one. Um, for, for much of 2019, I lived in New York city and was an associate choreographer along with Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal, and Eddie Torres Jr. Um, working under the fearless leadership of dance and choreography champion, Mr. Christopher Scott and wow friends. I cannot wait for you to see this film. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate enough to reconnect with some of the team in the last few weeks. And that is my win. I am. I’m simply smitten with admiration and awe and pride, um, at being a part of this team and a part of this project, I am thrilled for you to see it. Okay, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I commend you for your grind. Please keep going. There are important stories out there that need to be told, and they are demanding and they’re calling for you. So keep going, keep winning and dammit. Even if you’re losing lose forward. I think the more eloquent way to put that as fail forward, but just, just keep going. All right, congrats. You got this. 

Now my aim for this podcast, for every single words that move me episode is to help you listener become more informed and empowered and capable and actively creating more than you consume in terms of value in the world. Um, but my goal for this specific episode is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money or even that you should or shouldn’t think about money. My goal is to hold a safe place for you to explore and, um, discuss. And in general, become more aware of your relationship with money. Uh, I suppose you might think of this as, as a relationship counseling session, but since money doesn’t have thoughts and feelings about you, this is going to be a pretty one-sided session. Now, before I get too deep into it, uh, the lovely Riley Higgins, who is my assistant engineer on the podcast, she creates interactive PDF worksheets for every single words that move me podcast episode, the worksheets are designed to be a companion to each episode, a place where you can really apply and study what you are learning, what you’re listening to really recommend you check those out worksheets are sold in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop And we are making a special deal and bundle out of the money March episodes. So all four parts of our money March series will be turned into worksheets, bundled together thedanawilson.com/shop And they will exist for you there forever. Um, so that you can keep your financial flow locked in and lovely. I love alliteration. I really can’t help it. Um, I really do encourage you to go check that out. Especially this episode’s worksheet will be particularly useful because today I’ll be asking for a lot of crowd participation. Um, I’m going to ask you to look to yourself for a lot of answers to questions instead of to me or to my guests. Um, I suppose I should also make a quick warning that this conversation can bring up a lot. 

Yes. Money. When I think about money, I think about my dad. I think about my childhood. I think about this country. I think about my car. I think about my house. I think about homelessness. I think about inequity. Wow. I mean, this subject of money is loaded and we’re going to start unpacking it. We’re going to unpack it because it can teach us so much about ourselves and our world. Now, before we even unzip to unpack, let’s talk about the suitcase that we’re unpacking. I am very interested in social and economic justice yet. This episode is really not directly about redistributing wealth from the haves to the have nots from the oppressors to the oppressed. This podcast assumes that you are listening to this podcast, which means that you have a phone or some sort of device, possibly a computer or tablet. And you have wifi. This episode was created with an audience whose basic human needs are already met in mind. All right, let’s jump right into it. Shall we? The first idea that I want to introduce is this concept of a relationship. I already touched on it once already, but whether, whether you’ve said yes to that relationship or not, you are indeed in a relationship with money and just like in a friendship or a romantic relationship, your thoughts and beliefs about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which Holy smokes let’s be real is so good. I have a loaf, the sourdough bread on my counter right now. And it’s so, okay. We’re back. Money, money, not bread, money, not bread. Oh my God. Money, bread. Okay. Moving on. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since something great, you probably feel wonderful about being in a relationship with them, or perhaps you think that your partner is cheating on you. And that makes for a very different experience of the relationship. You might even be able to remember a relationship where the harder and harder you to get the interest of someone, the less interested they became is this a, is this a scary parallel for money or what it might be? It might not. The point is the thoughts and the beliefs that you have about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. So let’s uncover your current beliefs about money. I’m going to start by asking three questions and I’ll leave a little bit of space here for you to answer. If you’re using the words that move me worksheets by all means have a heyday. If not a plain old pen and paper or note in your phone should do just fine. 

Question number one is this, what comes to mind when you think about money?  What comes to mind, when you think about money? Do you think about catch phrases? Like money equals power or time is money or you have to work hard to make money? Or do you think more personal thoughts? Like, Oh, I’ll never be a millionaire as a dancer. When you think about money, do you think about the stuff that money buys do you think about the people who have it? Do you think about the people who don’t have it? When you think about money, do you think about disparities, pay gaps and equity? What comes up for you when you think about money, make a list of all your thoughts, or I suppose you could simply think them, but we will be coming back to this in a moment. Feel free to take a little more time if you would like. 

Question number two is a two-parter part one. Do you have a lot of money? And why? Part two? Do you want a lot of money? And why do you have a lot of money and why? And do you want a lot of money and why? Yes, my friends, we are doing it. We are uncovering your beliefs about the greenbacks. Okay. Next question. What were you taught about money from your parents, from your teachers, your role models, leaders, key figures, and even friends in your life. What were you taught about money? Were you taught that, that you need to hold on tight because you might lose it at any time. Were you taught that it takes money to make money? Um, were you taught that high risk equals high reward? What were you taught about money? Of course you can take as much time as you need here, but I’ll keep moving. 

My fourth question is simply what is money factually? What is money? Not your thoughts about money, but what actually is money. Of course I consulted the internet and the Internet’s definition of money is a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and bank notes. Yep. That’s it. Coins and bank notes. Uh, current medium of exchange money. Factually is neutral. There’s nothing in that definition that says money is good or money is bad, or even money is essential. It is a piece of paper or a coin that humans have all collectively agreed is worth something. Imagine an alien descends on earth lands here and finds a $100 bill on the ground and a dime. And let’s say a crushed up Carl’s Jr cup. They would have no idea which one has more value because humans have invented the construct that is money and humans have a lot of different thoughts about what it means.  Do you love that? In that scenario, I made this subtle assumption that aliens are real and that money is in fact neutral money itself by itself is a circumstance. It’s not until we think about it, that it holds any rank or pull on our lives. We think that it’s essential for survival. We think that we don’t have enough of it or that other people have too much of it. You can, and you probably do think many different thoughts about money than I do. We, the universal we, will all think different thoughts about money. And that is a beautiful and slightly scary thing. But the bottom line is that most of us think thoughts about money, not facts about money. The facts are the simple math, but the thoughts are usually simple drama. You know, that friend who makes everything extremely dramatic, nothing is okay. Everything is either amazing or awful. Yeah. That might be you a little bit with maybe it’s possible. So let’s focus on separating facts about money from thoughts about money. Take a look at your answers to the questions that I’ve asked. What comes to mind when you think about money, do you have a lot of it? Why do you want a lot of it? Why, what were you taught about it and look closely at your answers there? How much of that is money math and how much of that is money? Drama.  Challenge yourself by asking is this is, this is what I’ve written here really empirically true, or could someone else think something differently? Could someone else even with similar circumstances think differently. In other words, I’m asking, do you have a money problem or do you simply have money drama? No matter what the answer is to that question, the good news is that both the circumstance of money and your drama about it can be changed. Check that out. Pretty sweet. Huh? I think so. 

Now I want to deconstruct a very popular idea. This idea, that hard work putting in your time, saving up your money and making a budget will make you rich.  Time does not make money. Hard work does not make money. A budget does not make money. It might save money, but the only thing actually makes money is value. Value is a measure of the benefit provided by a good or service. And my friends, we definitely want to create benefits just like we want to reap the benefits, right? So how much benefit are you providing? How much potential do you have to create value in the world? What skills do you have that the world could use? What ideas do you have that the world is begging for? You can go ahead and start a list for that too. I love that list. Now, as a demonstration of this fact, this idea that time doesn’t make money and hard work definitely does not equal money. As a demonstration of that fact, I am going to call on a, um, a tweet that was made back in 2019. If you used Twitter or the internet in 2019, you probably this tweet floating around. I think the original author of it was Zach Walls. Um, he, he, he wrote, if you worked every single day, making $5,000 per day from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you’re reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Yikes. Let me just call that back. If you worked every single day for $5,000 a day from the time Christopher Columbus sailed to America, which was, I believe 1492. If my rhyme serves me correctly, um, until today, quote unquote, which was sometime in 2019, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Well, my friend, there has been some pretty intense fact checking and math mapping on that tweet. And at least the first part of it is still true to this day and will be true. The first part of it, um, meaning $5,000 every day from 1492 until today, you still would not be a billionaire. That part is true and will be true until 2054, indeed. It would take about 562 years at $5,000 per day to become a billionaire. So what does that tell us? Well, a, it tells us that Jeff Bezos has an almost unthinkable amount of money. Um, and that if you’re a dancer earning the 2019 median average hourly rate of $17.49 per hour, that’s about $139 and 92 cents per day, which is a far cry from $5,000 a day. Um, yeah, if you’re a dancer making the average median hourly rate, you’re far from becoming a billionaire, unless you think outside of the billable hours in a day, let’s take a look at Oprah for example, always let’s always look at Oprah. For example, Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by increasing her day rate or her hourly rate and simply working more hours. She did it by creating value that works and earns even while she’s sleeping, that my friends is the dream, no pun intended. So yes, do everything you can to build the skills that earn you top dollar in your field, create and contribute benefits in the world. And yes, and also look for or create ways that your money can make money without you lifting a finger. This might mean licensing your choreography. Shout out to last week’s episode or writing a book perhaps, or selling a product, or of course, keeping your money in a safe place with a high interest yield instead of under your mattress. I suppose, in, in the words of my dear friend, Marty Kudelka what I’m trying to say is work smarter, not harder and let your money do the same. 

Now, the next thing I want to talk about is emotions. Dana, why are you talking about emotions? This podcast episode is about money. Well, chill out and find out. I want you to take a moment and list all of the emotions that you associate with money, either having it or not having it doesn’t matter. A couple of examples are settled, safe, or struggling, glamorous, guilty, happy, scared, embarrassed, um, proud, free, greedy, accomplished, jealous, indulgent, superior inferior. Just rattle them off all of the emotions that you associate with money.  

Now I’m going to say something that you might not like money cannot make you feel any of the things on this list. Now you might be thinking, uh, no Dana, for sure. I’m telling you. I swear to God. If I had money and could pay my rent, I would be happy. I would feel safe. If I can just pay my rent again, I’ll ask you to challenge yourself here, strip away the drama. You think you would be happy if you could just pay your rent, but is it possible that you could pay your rent and still be very unhappy? Is it possible that someone with a lot of money paying their rent could feel unhappy or insecure even? Is it possible that someone with very little money could feel happy? Yes, of course it is. I like to think of, um, Bernie Madoff. When I talk about emotions and money, Bernie Madoff, I can remember his last name because he is the financial advisor slash market maker slash fraudster who, I think that’s a word, but I’m not sure. Um, who made off with a bunch of people’s money. He’s the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history. Um, the amount missing from his client’s accounts was almost $65 billion. And we’ve already talked about how much a billion is now. Here’s the thing. Bernie’s clients felt great investing their money with him because they thought keyword, they thought their money was in good hands. Their money was long gone, nowhere to be found, but they felt fine until they found out their money was gone and enter the drama. PS, Bernie Madoff must be in his eighties by now and is still in prison. So yahoo. Now of course, money itself, coins, paper. They don’t affect our emotions, but if you happen to believe that money and your emotions are directly linked, you may actually be avoiding money to avoid the feelings that you don’t want to associate with. You might actually be avoiding money to avoid feeling greedy or indulgent or self-centered or ego maniacal, or you may be chasing money thinking once I have it, I can finally feel free or happy or glamorous or proud or accomplished. And this is a problem. This is a problem because all feelings are available regardless of money. Period. I know some very, very wealthy people that are very, very unhappy and extremely insecure. I know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck that are thrilled with their lives, Joyful, grateful, generous, giving. These are just two examples of the evidence that money itself and the having of it is not directly correlated to your emotions. So are you avoiding money because of the way it makes you feel? Are you avoiding looking at your checking account or balancing your books or emailing your CPA because you feel stupid when you do it? Past itself raises hand. I’ve definitely gotten better at this, but these are two really important questions to ask yourself, are you avoiding money because of the way that it makes you feel or are you chasing it because of the way you think you’ll feel when you have it? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, take a super pause and really zoom out, actually better yet. Zoom in, zoom in to that feeling that you’re, that you can’t handle feeling or zoom into that feeling that you’re chasing that you think is sitting there with the pot of gold under the rainbow. Zoom in on that feeling. Can you feel it? Can you imagine what it feels like in your body?  I bet you can feel that feeling right now. This, my friends is why managing your emotions is an excellent first step to managing your money now to show the importance of the way that you’re thinking with regards to money, we’re going to do a little experiment. 

Notice the difference in the way that you feel. When I mentioned these different scenarios. Imagine you go to the store and you buy $10 worth of food and drink or anything that $10 can buy. All right. That’s scenario one. How does that, how does thinking about that scenario make you feel? Scenario two is a little bit different. Let’s say when you went to the store, you had a $10 bill in your back pocket. And when you got to the store to buy the stuff, the $10 bill is not there. It’s fallen out. You’ve lost it. You’ve got all your stuff up on the conveyor belt, $10 not there.  How do you feel? Next scenario. Let’s say you’re eating out with a friend and they have lost or forgotten their wallet. So you say, dude, no worries. I got you. It’s just 10 bucks. You from your friend, your friend, 10 bucks for them. Yeah. How does that feel?  Say this next scenario, you pay $10 for an online class. This is a teacher that you love. You get a great class. How does that feel? Notice the difference you feel when you think you are losing money versus spending money versus lending money versus investing the actual math of it is all exactly the same money goes out. That’s what happened in all of those scenarios. You bought things at the store, you lost the $10 bill. You covered your friend, you loaned your friend $10. Um, you paid $10 for an online class. The math is the same $10 out. The rest of it is drama. The drama says I should get something. When money goes out, the drama says that when you lose money, you get nothing but inconvenience in return. The drama says that when you loan money, you’re helping and that feels good. And depending on the situation, you might even think you’ll get it back.  The drama says that when you invest, you think you’ll get it back plus some, but all are simply money out. So what if you could think of the dollar falling out of your pocket as paying for a lesson, maybe not a dance lesson, but a lesson in where to put your money. What if you could think of the money falling out of your pocket as lending money to someone else thinking that you’re helpful? Certainly it feels better than thinking that you’re reckless or that the universe is somehow unfair and his targeted you. What, if you could think that you will absolutely get that $10 back someday, 100%. That’s going to come back to you. If you truly believe that you would get that $10 back, I bet the way you treat the person at the checkout counter, when you realized your $10 was gone would be different. I bet the way you talked to yourself in that moment would be different. I really encourage you to start noticing the language that you use with yourself. When you think about money, not just the money out, but the money in as well.  Think about making money versus earning money versus creating money. Do those generate different, different feelings in your body, different modes of being. For me It sure does. When I think about earning money, I am absolutely thinking about working. But when I think about creating money, there’s all sorts of different possibilities. There, possibilities that don’t necessarily include me busting through the cartilage in my knees. 

Now, while we’re on the subject of trying on new words and new thoughts, when you’re thinking about money, you may notice that I have not yet mentioned abundance mentality and his entire episode about money mindset. I haven’t talked about abundance mentality. That is because I think there is a lot of, uh, excuse me, bull*** around the power of positive thinking. When it comes to money, taping a $100 bill to your ceiling and looking at it every morning and night will not make you rich thinking that you are a millionaire, doesn’t make you a millionaire, but thinking like one and then taking massive action, sometimes massive risk. Well that might help you to become one.  The numbers are the numbers. What you earn is what you earn, what you spend is what you spend, what you have is what you have. And what you’d like to have is what you’d like to have. That’s all math, everything else is drama. And it’s optional. Please. Don’t forget to take a look at the worksheet companion to this episode and the rest of the money March episodes. I’m really hopeful that they will help you gain clarity of your thoughts and feelings around money. They are also a very interesting time capsule type project, a really cool thing to do once, maybe twice a year returned to reference back to, and really kind of clock how those thoughts, feelings, and yes, the math changes over time. Highly, highly recommend, okay, everybody that is it for me today. Next week I will be joined by not only a dancer, but a CPA as well. And yeah, that’s one person I’m super excited about next week’s episode. It’s entirely Q and A. So anything that’s come up for you in this episode or in the last two, all things money March, bring your questions about money, bring your questions about contracts, my guests, and I will do our very best to answer all your Qs. Get out in the world. Everybody be kind, and please Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit  TheDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS
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Let’s talk ORGANIZATION! Choreographers and their teams (assistant choreographers, associate choreographers, co-choreographers etc.) along with production assistants are the ONLY category of workers on Film/ TV/ Commercial sets that do not have Union representation.  What does that mean? It means no minimum daily rate, no Health & Pension contributions, no residual structures, no penalties for overtime, or turnaround time.  Why does that matter? Because DANCE and the people who make it are pillars of popular culture (to say the very very least). 

In this episode, I talk to two time Emmy award winning choreographer, Kathryn Burns and Craig Baylis.  Craig is a former dancer who has gone onto work in damn near every sector of entertainment from Artist Development & Tour Marketing to Product Management and even SAGAFTRA member and Staff.

In this episode we scratch the surface of several deep and delicate issues from daily minimum rates (and what’s so great about em) to supply and demand, licensing, and even copyright of choreography.

The learning curve set ahead of choreographers is steep.  We must teach ourselves AND the record labels and studio big wigs on the other side of the negotiation table what we do and what that is worth.  Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to study up!

Quicklinks:


Choreographers Alliance: https://www.choreographersalliance.org/
Dancers Alliance: https://www.dancersalliance.org/
Sagaftra: https://www.sagaftra.org/

Transcript:

Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS
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Dancers are unique in many many ways, not least of which is our income.  It comes from MANY different places, at inconsistent intervals, it’s often not taxed… and then there’s the actual numbers!  We might make $17.49/ hour, we might make over $1k per day, we might make $0.00 in a month, we might make $250,000.00 per year. Still interested?  Yea, me too.  In this episode, I break down the rates, tips, and trades that helped me understand and OWN my full financial picture.

Quick Links:

DA Rates/ Working Conditions: https://www.dancersalliance.org/da-rates

TV/Theatrical 2020 Summary: https://www.sagaftra.org/files/sa_documents/SAG-AFTRA_2020TV-Theatrical_Summary.pdf

For super bonus extra credit: Understanding Residuals SAGAFTRA: https://youtu.be/p4U7CRtmdVM

Understanding IRAs: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/learn-about-ira-accounts

SAGAFTRA Music Department (for all your Music Video needs):  (323) 549-6864 

Money Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6705806-the-money-book-for-freelancers-part-timers-and-the-self-employed

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana, jazzed that you’re here stoked about this episode, even though it is about not my favorite subject. Yes, it is money March on the podcast. And in this episode, we are talking about the money side of dance life. Um, we’re going to focus specifically on dancers. We’ll talk about choreographers next week, but if you are an actor, a singer or another type of creative human or performer, um, or the parent of one for that matter, keep listening because there is a metric boat load of information about personal finance, uh, for people who do not so regular work. Uh, but first we’re going to talk wins. I have a very not money-related win today. I have taken ballet class three times in the last eight days, which is more than I have taken ballet class in the last eight months.  And it’s feeling very good on my body. Um, I think this particular brand of ballet is a compassionate one. I’ve been taking class from the fabulous Spenser Theberge, and, um, I’ll be real with you ballet, and I have have had a rocky past, uh, we’re we’re not known for getting along and Spenser acts as such a marvelous mediator for me in that relationship. So if you’re looking to get back into a, a ballet class or a ballet practice, I really do recommend Spenser Theberge’s class. He’s been teaching on zoom lately. I don’t know how much longer that will continue. Um, but I will link to Spenser and some more about where to find him in the show notes for this episode, Shout out Spenser. Thank you so much, my friend. All right, Now, it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world. 

Awesome.  I’m so proud of you. I’m glad that you’re winning. I’m glad that we’re here winning together. Um, and this episode togetherness is important. Having it together is important. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the uniqueness of a dancer’s income and exactly what a dancer’s income might be. Um, we’re going to talk about the importance of a solid money system. I’ll give you a few tips there. Um, I’ll give you some essential vocab and I will also give you a very broad stroke outline of what kind of dollars you can expect to be making. When you’re working as a dancer in movies, TV shows, commercials, music, videos, industrials tours, and live shows. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah. Even student films, um, and projects made for the interweb. So this episode is full and it is for you buckle up.  

All right. I want to start off by saying that I think it is fascinating that most dancers and choreographers for that matter, who decide that they want to pursue a career in dance do so without having the slightest idea of how much a dancer or a choreographer makes. I think that actually most creatives are in a similar boat. Um, most of us don’t pursue this creative career. This self-employed life for the money, right? We don’t do this for the money. We didn’t get into it for the money yet. Chances are that if we quit, if we abandon this creative life, this freelance life, it’s probably because of the money. So let’s get a grip on that. Honestly, it’s wild to me, but it is real. I packed up my Volkswagen bug and moved across the country without a clue about the money I would make or without a clue about how much it costs to be alive in Los Angeles.  It was my first time living under my own roof. I paid all my own bills and I had no clue what to expect. And that’s not necessarily for lack of trying. It’s actually pretty easy to look up estimated incomes for various professions, but you’ll find that the range of income for a dancer or a choreographer is extremely broad yet the numbers for salaried professionals like software engineer or a nurse or a pilot, for example, those numbers are pretty firm. And I think that people who decide to become doctors, pilots, pharmacists, whatever they do so, considering that number, and they probably have an idea of that number when they’re pursuing training. But do you, my dear mover and shaker busting your balls for a career in dance. Do you have any idea how much a dancer makes in a year and to all my more established movers and shakers, do you know how much you made last year?  

You might because it’s tax season, but do you know how much you spent? Could you tell me that number without running and grabbing your last year’s tax returns? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, where there are two other dancers? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a, on a theatrical contract where there were eight or more other dancers, I’ll give you a hint. Those numbers are different. Now, listen, there is no shame game here. No shame at all. In fact, I had to look half this stuff up as I was preparing for this episode, but simply put, I have to say this stuff because in the intro to this podcast, I say the words, if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then stick around blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I should’ve said is if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, stop being afraid of money, stop being afraid of looking at your balances and your bills and your contracts, and start talking about reading, about learning, about making and managing money.  

This episode exists to help you do exactly that at very best. It might be boring to you, but I’m going to start with some cold, hard facts today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of the dancers in the workforce made less than the average American in 2019, the us census median individual income. So the average American individual made a little over $40,000 in 2019. The median hourly rate, I always say rage. I say rage on accident, but I don’t know if it’s an accident. The median hourly wage for a dancer in 2019 was $17 and 49 cents an hour. That’s $36,501 and 63 cents for a full-time year. Now let’s be real. Most dancers don’t work full-time. So if the average full-time American is making $40,000 in a year, and the average full-time dancer is making a 36,000 a little more than 36,000 in a year that median hourly wage $17 and 49 cents leaves you at a little less than $700 for a 40 hour work week. Discouraged? Maybe, but don’t get discouraged, get deliberate, get deliberate about how you earn, spend and grow your wealth. I’m going to give you a little encouragment moment. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of entertainment professionals is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. That is faster than the average for all other occupations. What does that say? It says that people want to be entertained and they always will. It also says there’s a chance. So you’re telling me there’s a chance. What was all that one in a million talk?  I digress, man. I love movies. Um, let’s see, in case you need a little more encouragement as of today, which is March, 2021, a dancer hired as a soloist or part of a duo on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, theatrical, by the way, it means films. AKA features that dancer will be paid a minimum rate of $1,030 in one day. And that’s just for the initial work. That’s not including the residual payments. It will get into, uh, the terms in the contract, specifics of all that in a moment. But for now I’ll wrap up this section by saying, dancers are unique. For many, many reasons. One of them is that dancers might make 700 per week, or we might make over a thousand per day, or we could make zero in a month or we could make 250,000 in a year. I would love to see dancer rates and dancer employment go up. But I don’t only think there’s an income challenge here. I think that most of us self-employed dance types actually have a cash flow challenge. Um, I think we never learned how much we ought to be charging. I think we never really learned how to manage it once we make it here are, if you other things that make us really, really unique, um, other than our exquisite fashion sense and physical superpowers of course consider that the traditional employee has their taxes paid automatically. When they receive their check, their taxes are already gone. They’re taken out already like Macavity. They’re not there. Sorry, Cats. I can’t help it. Wow. Movies shown up a lot for me today. Um, also traditional employees receive health and pension plans through their employer. Imagine that they get paid vacation, sick days and personal days. They have a fixed income that usually comes from one place.  We do not. In fact, if you’re good at what you do, you’ve got money coming from a lot of different sources for varying amounts on a super irregular basis and through different money channels. For example, PayPal, for all your zoom classes, residual checks from SAG-AFTRA direct deposits from your agencies, um, direct deposits from productions and various payroll companies like media services, entertainment partners, dance studios, all of it. Oh, and if you have an LLC, if you are a single member, LLC, then you’re hopefully also receiving payroll from yourself. So well, this can make tax season really woo exciting. And that is exactly why it’s important for independent contractors like us to organize our money lives and to our own personal financial systems. And that is whatever works my friend, because we truly are unique, little dancing snowflakes. And um, Oh, I wonder if the sugar plum theme music is creative commons. I should be playing that right now. I could probably use that anyways. What I’m trying to say is that we, we independent contractors have to be more disciplined than the average nine to fiver in order to keep all of this creative freedom in our daily lives. 

Okay. So let’s get into some vocab, shall we? Um, I mentioned already the median average dancer hourly rate, and I want to make sure that I’m explicitly clear about what that means. Um, it means that half of the data points fall below that number, that $17 and 49 cents per hour and half of the data points are higher than that. So if Sarah let’s say, makes the median average dancer rate of $17.49 an hour, she makes more than half the dancers in the workforce. And half of the dancers in the workforce are making more than she does. So to revisit math class for just a quick second, the median number is the number smack in the middle of all the data.  The mean average in this case would be, um, every dancers hourly rate added up together and then divided by the number of total dancers. And the mode average is the number of most commonly occurring. Great math. We did it. Um, okay. Now let’s talk about some fun acronyms. Let’s start with SAG-AFTRA, shall we, SAG-AFTRA is the labor union that represents 160,000, probably more than that. Right now, actors, announcers broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild, which then merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. There you have it, SAG-AFTRA. The stage equivalent of SAG-AFTRA is called Actors’ Equity. They represent more than 51,000 actors and stage managers. 

Now let’s talk DA. DA stands for Dancers Alliance, a group of dancers, including myself who advocate for equitable minimum rates and working conditions for all non-union work. That’s any gig that falls outside of SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction. For example, Paul Mitchell decides to do a hair show. This is not on camera. This is not a Broadway or off-Broadway show it. This might be taking place in Austin, Texas. For example, that work would fall under the jurisdiction of Dancer’s Alliance. Now let’s talk about a slightly less sexy acronym. I R A or individual retirement account, which is kind of like a savings account, but you can’t use the money quite yet. And it has tax advantages. We’re honestly, we’re not going to talk much about IRAs today, but I will link to a really helpful video on the subject, um, in the show notes of this episode, enjoy that. Okay, let’s talk P and H. P and H is V important. Um, P&H stands for pension and health. These are contributions that go to a pension fund and healthcare.  In my case, I received these through SAG-AFTRA now because dancers are typically young and healthy. Most of us don’t care too much about P&H, but Wowza, if this last year is any evidence, we can all become sick. We can all become injured and you cannot dance if you don’t have your health. So I strongly encourage you start recognizing the benefits of health and pension benefits. All right, let’s talk CPA’s. A CPA is a certified public accountant, and I’ll be real with you. There are a lot of online services that boasts the ability to save you money on your taxes. But I find that working with a real human being CPA, whose name’s Jeremy shout out Jeremy, um, on my taxes every year is really the only way to go. I have a lot of that software out there isn’t designed to handle the uniqueness. That is me and you.  So that’s a CPA certified public accountant. Now a CB as in bargaining, a CBA stands for collective bargaining agreement. This is the agreement between the union and the employer that you work under when you’re a part of a sag after contract, for example, uh, people who support collective bargaining and unions in general, believe that employees have a better chance at getting what they want in terms of rates and working conditions. When they negotiate as a collective, as a union, rather than individually. Now, when we talk about SAG-AFTRA contracts or CBAs, we’ll discuss four broad categories of work, TV, theatrical, commercial, and new media. Oh, another fun acronym, S V O D subscription video on demand like Netflix, Apple+, Hulu, Amazon, all of those guys, they’re making this conversation very interesting. Okay. Now, when I get into talking about SAG -AFTRA commercial contracts, I’ll go deeper on the concept of residuals, but just for the purpose of this vocab section, a residual or royalty payment is sometimes known as a use payment.  That simply means that an additional compensation will be paid out when a production is shown at, beyond its original covered use. The rest of it is not so simple. Okay. That was not simple. I’ll be real, but we’re going to get into residuals in just a second. Now I’m not a financial advisor. I am not a fiduciary, but I do financially advise you to purchase this financial book. It is called The Money Book for Freelancers part-timers and the self employed it’s by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Um, um, it is in the show notes for this episode and it is very well-written. You will laugh. You will likely cry, but that’s not because of the writing. That’s because you love moving your body. You think it’s fun. And this book has nothing to do with moving your body.  

Um, but it has everything to do with moving you towards financial freedom. I owe a lot to this book, which now that I say that out loud is really funny because the book itself is only like $15. And I paid for it all at once. So I know I owe nothing to this book yet. I know yet I owe so much to this book. Honestly, it’s like a handhold. It’s like a financial partner all the way through guiding you. Uh, I honestly, I got straighter answers from this book than I have gotten from previous CPAs and financial advisors who wiggled around concepts for hundreds of dollars. And this book was 15. So there you have it. Oh, and it was not paid to say this, by the way, uh, the money book outlines system for organizing your financial records, it helps you get a clear picture of how much you earn what you spend and what you owe, which by the way, with just a few hours of very focused time, you could probably, and should probably do that today.  

Um, the book also explains how you might prioritize paying off debt. It helps you evaluate not only the number side of your business, but also encourages you to evaluate how good you are at doing what you do and kind of offer some ideas about how you might do it better, truly awesome. Um, but there were three massive takeaways that I, that I gathered from this book, and I want to share them with you. Number one, I learned the importance of web only banking. I moved most of my money to a web only bank, which means they have no storefront. They have no like in-human exchanges there. Um, but this web only bank had a much better annual percentage yield, which by the way, the yield is how much the investor, in this case you receives from the investment, the amount of money that you have sitting in the bank, the interest rate on my old checking account at the Bank of America, shame on you was 0.01%. When I switched over to the web bank that I use, which is ally, I got 1% on that same amount of money. I got 1% interest. Now for math sake, let’s say I had a thousand dollars in that account. At B of A, in one year, that thousand dollars would have made me 10 cents of money that the same thousand dollars in my ally account would have earned me $10, 10 cents versus $10. And when the amount of money in the account goes up, that disparity goes up a lot as well. .01 and 1% are really different at the end of the year. Um, for the record, I should state that ally at the time that I signed up boasted that 1% interest rate, um, at the sign-up time. But I believe now it’s dropped 2.5%. So I might be shopping for a new bank holler. Let me know what you know.  Um, Oh, I also have to tell you while we’re talking about interest rates, high interest rates on savings accounts, high interest rates on savings accounts equals good. High interest rates on credit cards, however, equals bad because the cash is flowing in the other direction there. Um, for a credit card, you are paying the interest, not earning it because in that, in that case, you’re the borrower, not the lender. Okay, there we go. So that’s lesson number one, the value of web banks and higher interest rates on savings accounts. 

Lesson number two, what the book refers to as the Holy Trinity of savings at the time that I read this book, read it, wow. At the time that I started, um, I started shaving off 10% of every check that I made. Every single check I received. Hence percent of that money went directly into an account dedicated for emergencies.  Another 10% got shaved off and went over into a retirement account, which would later be shipped off into an IRA. But let’s skip that for now. Um, where were we? 10% to emergency fund. 10% went to a retirement fund and then 15. And when I say fund, I mean savings account, and then 15% of each check went to yet another web bank savings account to be paying my taxes. So, yeah, that’s 35% of each check that I would ship directly off to a high interest yielding savings account. And each of those accounts has made me hundreds of dollars. Yay. Great. Oh, on the subject of those of the Holy Trinity of savings, I also learned the value of naming your accounts. Most banks, especially online banks will let you give a nickname to your savings account. I am here to tell you that you are more likely to feed a savings account called the house of my dreams or my first film versus a savings account ending in numbers. Right? Um, but you could call yours whatever you want. You could call it F You, Uncle Sam, whatever makes you feel funky, whatever inspires you to throw money in that direction, you could get very creative here. See there is creativity to the financial side of the dance life. Um, okay. So all of that is to say there are a lot of small changes you can make on your own that will really change your big financial picture. But I do want to underline the importance of having a solid team, um, throughout the rest of this episode. You’ll hear me say, ask your agent or ask your CPA a lot again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about money. It’s okay. If you don’t know, in fact, it’s your CPA’s job to know more about taxes than you do, and your agents exist not only to send you on auditions, but to help you understand the terms of your contracts, to make sure that you are agreeing to a fair wage. And then yes, of course, to make sure that you are receiving that fair wage. Um, super shout out, by the way, to all my friends at CTG clear talent group and to Tim O’Brien and Misha Goetz specifically who joined me in episode 34, that one is must listen, go ahead and give that, uh, give that a listen. Okay.

 Moving right along now, I’m going to move into some more gig specific numbers. I want to say that I have advocated for unionizing in the past. I helped unionize music videos and when a union contract for a tour, but this episode is really not about union versus non-union work. Um, and while we’re on the subject, I really want to address this common misconception that union contracts are about making you more money. Um, this is just simply not true. Union contracts don’t mean more money, but it also does mean more protection and more support in terms of what’s covered in terms of where the money goes like health and pension contributions.  And it also means that you’ll have much more support to make a dispute in the event that something goes wrong or the terms of the agreement aren’t met. All right, here we go. Dancers and dollars. Mind you. This is specifically dancers as in dance performers, not teachers or studio owners or choreographers. Also keep in mind that these numbers do change over time. I’m recording in March of 2021, and I’m using the numbers relevant to today. Also, just to keep it focused, I’m only going to discuss rates, not penalty fees or working conditions like dressing rooms, warm up spaces, releases, breaks, turnaround times, et cetera. So we’re going to start off by taking a look at the industry standard rates for non-union projects. I’m referring to the Dancers Alliance website, which is dancersalliance.org That will be in the show notes, um, which is by the way, super user-friendly and all of this is there in plain English. I really encourage you to do a little deeper digging yourself. All right, Dancer’s Alliance live shows industrials and non-union music videos. Your rehearsal rate with agency fee on top of these minimum rates would be $175 for a one to four hour rehearsal day. That’s a half day at $175. Anything over that four hours becomes time and a half a full eight hour rehearsal day would be at $250. Anything over eight hours becomes time and a half for a show day or a shoot day. We’re looking at a $500 minimum. The, the rate for a rehearsal on the same day as a show is open to negotiation. You would expect to receive $150 minimum per travel day or retainer day. If you’re working outside of your hometown, you would also receive per diem. On top of that travel day, pay a per diem, by the way, is a Latin phrase that translates to by the day.  This term also refers to the amount of money paid to employees for different types of daily scenarios. Um, most common uses for per diem are tips, food. Um, you know, other odd incurred costs that you have when you’re out there in the world, working away from your normal workspace in Los Angeles. The average per diem rate is $66 per day. In New York, It’s $76. In Las Vegas, It’s $61. In Atlanta and Miami, that’s both $66. There is a full list of those on the Dancer’s Alliance website. Go check that out. All right. Now, if performers are requested to supply their own costumes, uh, including footwear wardrobe items will be compensated at $25 per outfit. That’s total, not per day and $15 per pair of shoes. Ah, while we’re on the wardrobe, subject fittings outside of a rehearsal day will be paid at $50 per hour.  Fittings on a rehearsal day are applied to the time that you’ve worked. So most fittings usually happen on record. Okay. If the terms that I just stated, aren’t met on a project, talk to your agent, simple as that. Now music videos are now covered by SAG-AFTRA. Yeah, yes, we are celebrating this because music videos used to be the Wild Wild West, and now they are slightly less wild. A dancer, It’s it’s not common that a dancer would be paid in food like in pizza and beer to perform in a music video. Now, dancer rates are determined by the video budget. Um, dancers make a minimum of 500 for a 12 hour shoot day for all videos with a budget of 50,000 or higher all performers receive safety, provisions, health and pension contributions and usage fees. This is great. Now the DA website has a super helpful cheat sheet on their website that I have included in the show notes as well. Um, but because I mentioned safety provisions, I want to talk about that for just one second. Although it deserves an episode entirely unto itself, music videos have language for quote, extraordinary risk circumstances and quote. This is AKA hazardous conditions. Um, anything from dancing on unusual surfaces to aerial work or trampoline work, or even wearing gear that’s not made for dance like ski boots or skis or a head dress or mask that compromises your vision. All of these are considered extraordinary risk circumstances, but on a music video, even significant floor work on concrete may be considered hazardous. So on a music video specifically with a budget of a hundred thousand or less dancers are entitled to an additional $50 per day videos with a budget of above 100,000 are entitled to an additional one, $100 per day. Now, no matter what the project, if you feel that the work you’re being asked to do is a threat to your safety or wellbeing, talk to your agent period, the end. Um, and also the next time you open your phone to scroll through Instagram, just go scroll through Dancer’s Alliance website instead. Okay, the end, moving on.  

Okay. Moving on SAG-AFTRA contracts, as I mentioned for dancers, these usually fall up or four main categories, but there are so, so, so many more like dubbing, voiceover, um, news broadcast, et cetera. There’s a lot, but, um, we’re going to focus specifically on TV, theatrical, commercial and new media. Now it bears mentioning, there are a lot of changes going on, um, especially in the TV and theatrical contracts, like literally as we speak. So even if you’re a person who works on these contracts regularly, you should consider taking a look at the, 2020 TV theatrical summary, which is linked in the show notes of this episode, and absolutely be standing by for the new net code contracts. Um, but for now we’ll give a brief outline of these four categories and their rates as they stand today, we’ll start with theatrical because let’s face it.  Everybody loves the movies. Theatrical means film or feature. There are basic theatrical agreements, low budget agreements, modified low budget agreements, ultra low budget agreements, short project agreements and student film agreements. Um, each of these contracts, if you couldn’t guess is determined by the budget of the project, um, they’re each slightly different, but pretty well outlined on SAG-AFTRA’s website. If you’re curious about those, um, uh, I suggest you go take a look, but I’ll tell you about the dancer rates for the basic theatrical contracts here. If you are a solo or a duo being hired on a theatrical contract, you’ll be making $1,030 per day. If you’re in a group of three to eight performers, your rate per day would be $902. And if you’re in a group of nine plus, your rate will be $788 per day. All of those are at a $607 rehearsal day rate.  Now weekly rates are higher, um, obviously, but significantly less than all of those numbers. I just mentioned times five. So, uh, bears taking a look if you’ll be on a weekly rate versus a daily rate, um, all right, let’s move into TV contracts. Whoa. This can feel really, really confusing because a contract for scripted episodic, um, like Big Bang Theory, for example, are different from non scripted network shows like competition shows ie. Dancing with the Stars. So you think you can Dance, World Of Dance, um, and award shows like the VMAs or the Oscars or the Grammys. Those are all non-scripted shows and those will fall under what is called the NETCODE or network code. Um, the other slightly muddy element here is that there are countless episodic or scripted series shows now being made by and for SVODs. Do you remember what that stands for? Scripted Video On Demand?  

Yes, we did it, or we did it. We did it together, anyways, actually at this point in the quarantine is hard for me to name five shows that are not Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu or Apple+ originals. These are TV shows in air quotes that are not on TV. Um, to simplify this a little bit, your TV rate and your TV contract depend on the budget of the production, the number of episodes and the episode length. For example, if you’re being hired for, um, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is an Amazon original because of its high budget and the episodes are longer than 20 minutes, you’ll be on a TV contract. But if you’re hired for a YouTube series or another streaming show with, uh, with a script, um, that has a budget of less than $1 million, you’ll likely be on a new media contract, which we are talking about next again, I truly do suggest that you ask your agent what type of contract you’ll be working on if they haven’t already told you before your first day of work, simply so that you know what to expect.  

All of these contracts are slightly different now, new media contracts for all streaming platforms, whether they be Amazon or Instagram, whether they be film spots, series’s or commercial spots, as long as the budget is between 50,000 and 1 million, it will be on a new media contract. New media rates really fluctuate depending on the scale of the budget. And, um, again, to be sure if you are on a new media contract or not check with your agent, um, so that you can know how much you should be expecting to make this is important stuff. Okay? Lastly, the coveted commercial contracts, which let’s be real, there are no less complicated than the TV contracts, because so many commercials these days are intended exclusively for online use. So they fall under the new media contract that I just talked about. But if you’re a commercial, your piece of media is intended for TV.  Then there are different classes and different rates of agreements. Class A is the most popular. That means the spot will air in over 20 cities. Class B applies to commercials that will air in six to 20 cities. But if New York is one of those cities, the rates will be higher. We’ll talk about that more in a second, um, class C commercials, these are the least used contracts and they apply to commercials that will air in less than six cities. Okay. Last but not least, there’s the wild spot. The wild spot is a commercial that is aired in over 20 cities like the class a, but these are specific cities. So, um, let me think of an example. Okay. A commercial for In and Out for example, is not going to be running on the East coast because there aren’t any in and outs out there. So these commercials don’t run on specific networks, per se. They run in specific regions and for specific markets. Um, so all those contracts are slightly different, but in one way, they are all the same. They have a rate for first use. That’s what you get paid when you shoot it. And that rate covers the initial usage of the spot. Then the more, the spot airs you will be paid in a residual payment that is of course, unless a buyout was negotiated. Again, we’ll get to that in just a second. Let’s talk class A for a second, if you are a Class, A on-camera performer, that means there’s less than three of you. Your rate is $712 per day. If you’re on a Class A contract and there’s three to five on-camera performers, that rate would be $521 and 20 cents per day. If there are six to eight of you, the rate would be $461 per day. And if there are nine or more performers, that rate would be $381 per day. So you see how that goes. The more performers there are, the lower the rate, the final group nine plus is also known as group nine. Now we’re going to touch on wild spots for a second, just a quick second, because the rates are the same as the Class A rates, which makes sense because they’re also aired in 20 plus cities. So if you want to know what you make on a wild spot, rewind 10 seconds and you’ll have it. Um, okay. Class B rates, they vary depending on whether or not New York is one of the places your spot will air. So that’s fun. Um, but the rates are much higher. If New York is one of those cities, uh, a principal might make $1,347 and 14 cents per day. But without New York as one of those cities that same performer would make $1098 and 75 cents per day.  Fortunately, the numbers get a little easier from there because if you’re in a group of three or more New York or not New York, doesn’t matter. If there are three to five performers, you’d be making $857 and 96 cents. Six to eight performers, you’d be making $758 and 66 cents per day and a nine plus we’re looking at $620 and 24 cents per day. That’s our class B which again, not very commonly used because you can imagine that. Or at least I can imagine that why use that contract with all those fancy New York adjustment, higher, higher rate adjustments when it could just be made on a class, A contract. So I’m so curious about if that even gets used. Really curious, anyways, moving right along. Class C, okay. Class C on camera principals, we’re talking $654 77 cents for the first day. For first use per day, a group of three to five, we’re talking $567 and 44 cents.  A group of six to eight performers is looking at $504 and 33 cents per day. And your group nine is looking at $412 and 39 cents per day for the first use. Of course, all of those rates I just mentioned are for the initial use. That’s what you’ll be paid for the shoot. Now, the rest, rests with the residual gods. Again, a residual payment is simply additional compensation, which is paid once the production is shown beyond its original use covered by the initial compensation. For example, for theatrical film, residuals would be triggered once the film is released anywhere other than theaters, the theater release is the original use. So residuals would start coming in once the film is released as a DVD or aired on TV or online or something like that. Now that is a very grossly, gross get it, gross pun. Um, not gross, like nasty, but gross as in like total. 

Okay. Just to go one tiny layer deeper, there are two different types of residuals. Fixed residuals, which are based on the run of the spot. Um, these exists for TV and new media contracts only. So the amount that you would receive are based on how you were initially paid, and they’re tied to the number of reruns they’re due within 30 days to four months. And that is your fixed residual. The more popular residual structure is a revenue or gross receipts based residual structure. This one’s the most popular it’s tied to sales. Um, they’re due quarterly, or as soon as funds are sufficient enough to cut checks to the entire cast, which by the way, I have been on the receiving end of 1 cent residuals. So I guess that number is substantial enough to cut a check, um, that sort of thing happens. It’s really actually incredible.  Um, so these type of these revenue based residuals, um, they’re based on time and salary units. So the person with the smallest residual is probably the performer who, who worked maybe one day at scale on the project. The bigger slice of the residual pie would go to the person who worked at or above scale for multiple days. And so those, those residuals scale accordingly based on time and salary units, I hope that’s been helpful in, in your understanding of how residuals work. If you are into a deeper dive, I’m going to point you in the direction of, um, a video starring SAG-AFTRA’s own Jennifer Gaudry, it really gets into the nuts and bolts of residuals. Um, if you’re interested in that, God bless you find the video in the show notes. Um, I do want to heads you up though. I usually watch YouTube videos at 1.5 X speed. Um, I watched this one slow and multiple times to understand it. Definitely some layers of understanding here. Now, since we’re here talking about residuals, it’s worth mentioning that most non-union commercials and new media contracts can form to industry standard rates and safety measures, but they do not offer residual structure. Instead you’ll likely receive what’s called a buyout, AKA a usage fee that is a flat rate one-time payment usually bundled in with your initial fee. Um, and it’s intended to cover all additional uses in perpetuity.  I’m not thrilled about buyouts. If you can’t tell, I am thrilled, however about these contracts and the fact that they are always getting slightly better, thanks to the work of our brothers and sisters over the union. It truly is an incredible thing to watch progress happen over time, and to watch the benefits of these contracts start being rolled out. Very, very cool thing. Um, also I want to point out with regards to these SAG-AFTRA contracts, All of the numbers that I just mentioned, all of the numbers that you see on the rate sheets on SAG-AFTRA is website. Those are minimums. There are performers who have their agents negotiate above scale, and I want you to be one of those performers. I want you to become so capable, so exceptional that you are an exception to the minimum. I want to see you not only working, but working above scale, absolutely working above that median $17 and 49 cents per hour. And I believe that you can. Now we are dancers, not mathematicians. Although I do know several dancers that are very, very good with numbers. We can all count to eight at least. And we know how to add. We especially know how to add value. So please danclings know your worth, know your rates. And if there’s something that you’re confused about or concerned about, or don’t understand, choose curiosity, instead of confusion, refer to DA’s website, check the SAG-AFTRA website, check Actor’s Equities website, talk to your team of agents, talk to your team of friends, choose curiosity, get that information, get a clearer picture of your financial life and what you should expect. And then of course choose compassion always for yourself and for others, especially set as things can get heated, especially when we’re talking about money.  Remember that when you’re on a gig, you represent a part of the professional dance community and being treated and paid as a professional comes along with behaving professionally. All right, my friends, I truly hope this episode has been helpful to you. Um, it has been helpful to me in making it, I have learned so, so, so much now, uh, go take these resources and run with them. Do deeper dives, do deeper digging and do make good habits of understanding your contracts before you sign them. All right. Now, go get out into your day, keep your money on your mind. Keep your mind on your money and yes. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later  

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the theDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon, Bye!

Ep. #62 Small Girl, Big Dreams with Nika

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #62 Small Girl, Big Dreams with Nika
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 The chapters of the Nika Kljun story read a bit like a fairy tale of a girl who followed her heart, but if you read between the lines it is the story of certainty in uncertain times.  Nika is an example of dreaming big and achieving BIG THINGS.  This episode dips into the strategies behind big moves (geographically and otherwise).  Movers and shakers, (and fellow ambassadors) Please welcome the Dance ambassador to Slovenia, Nika Kljun!

Quicklinks:

Nika Kljun: https://www.instagram.com/nikakljun/?hl=en

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. This is Words that move me. I am Dana. I am thrilled that you are here. This is an exceptional episode. I’m very excited to share it. Uh, today on the podcast, my guest is my friend Nika Kljun. And let me tell you what if, if there is an example of dreaming big and achieving big things, it is Nika Kljun. And if, if there is a bright and vivacious explanation of doing exactly that it is this episode between Nika and I both, uh, there, there will be a lot of smiles in the next hour. I’ll put it that way. Um, and while we’re speaking of smiling, let’s go ahead and do wins. If you are new to the podcast, I do wins in every episode. I do think it’s super important that we celebrate the things that are going well in the world. And today I am celebrating, nurturing my space, specifically, the podcast space. Now we’ll give you a little bit of backstory. Uh, when I moved into my place, it had those popcorn ceilings and I spent a sum of money and a lot of convenience to have those replaced. I’ve flattened the ceilings, this beautiful even drywall ceiling top, and ever since then, which is 2009. I have been very resistant to hanging anything from the ceilings. And just this week I decided, you know what, I’ve had it. I’m putting a hanging plant in my podcast booth because my technical director, Malia Baker gave me a disco ball hanging planter.  And this thing is just the coolest, Oh, I’ll for sure. Go ahead and link to this, a photo of this in the show notes of this episode. Um, so I, I spiffied up the place and then like, right as I completed this task, something started going wrong at the carwash across the street from me. One of the vacuums that they use might’ve sucked up, uh, a hairball or an, an actual living creature, perhaps because it is making a sound that is inexcusable it’s right at the top of the frequency I think that humans can hear, um, and I’ve had a headache for three days. So actually the podcast booth is one of the few spaces that I am seeking sanctuary. Um, so I, I, I love that I’m feeling good about this space. And all I had to do was drop a couple drywall screws into my precious perfect drywall that was precious and perfect for years. So I’m thrilled with the job that I did and I love my disco ball hanging planter. Thank you, Malia. That is my win this week. Okay. Now it’s your turn. What is going well In your world?  

Congratulations. Keep on winning. I’m stoked for you. All right. Now let’s not take another beat. I’m so excited to share this conversation with you, particularly because although this story, this Nika Kljun story, reads a little bit like a fairy tale about a girl who followed her heart. If you read between the lines, it is actually a story about certainty in uncertain times. And I can’t think of anything more fitting than that today. So enjoy this conversation with the dance ambassador to Slovenia, Ms. Nika, Kljun. 

Okay. Nika Kljun. I am so excited that you’re here. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Yes!

Nika: Thank you so much for having me.  

Dana: Oh my gosh. I’m thrilled about this. This is a really big moment for me because you and I go back years and years and years, although we haven’t overlapped much in our professional life, I’m really, really excited to just sit uninterrupted and get to know you and your work a little bit better. Um, as, as the first step to that, it’s hard. It’s challenging. My guests hate me for this, but I’m going to ask you to introduce yourself. What do you want us to know about you?  

Nika: This is very, very hard part for everyone. I’m assuming. Well, um, okay. So very simple. Um, I’m a human being that absolutely loves to dance. Um, its in my blood. My parents were also dancers. They still teach dance. We have dance school Bolero in my country Slovenia. So yes, I am not from here. You can hear it in my, in my voice. So, um, my accent is from Europe, small country, 2 million people. And I was just, um, you know, small girl with big dreams. Um, as a dancer, I wanted to be professional dancer, choreographer, international teacher, and here I am, I achieved everything. And I also achieved that I moved to LA in 2010. So, um, that’s just real quick.  

Dana: There it is in a tiny nutshell. And I think Nika you, might’ve just named this episode, small girl with big dreams. That is what you are and a big appetite for learning. I would like to add, um, we actually met in 2007.  

Nika: I don’t remember the year. 

I do remember that I was assisting Marty on a teaching tour in Europe and I, and that’s when I first met you. I don’t know it was, uh, Who Got Skillz workshop. Oh my gosh. I’m so embarrassed that I don’t know the year Marty would, Marty would absolutely remember. Um, and I recognized you right away, long blonde hair, phenomenal dancer. Um, and you really do stand out, you sparkle, but the thing that stood out about you most, to me, it was your curiosity and your, like you followed the workshops, you took several, I mean, it’s, uh, workshops in Europe are a little bit different than in that travel between countries is simpler, right. Quicker relative to in the States, perhaps. But, um, I remember you taking several classes, asking brilliant questions, but asking questions, not just about dance, but about life, about all of it. Um, and I would like to start this interview by asking, what are you curious about today? Like, what is, what lights you up right now,  

Right now? Um, you let me up, you are such a, you don’t even know you’re such a light, you know, that you’re a light, but for me, you are one of the biggest inspirations and reasons why I moved to LA and, you know, just dreaming big watching you on TV. Uh, when I came from home on MTV music channel, you know, with, uh, music videos and tours with Justin Timberlake. Yes. So I was just like, okay, I want to that blonde girl. At one point you were blonde and I’m going to be dancing with her on tour period. So I just followed, I followed my guts and I was just really working hard. And you know, you like lit me up yesterday. I couldn’t even sleep well. Cause I was like, I was so thrilled because yeah, you’re such a big inspiration. I have like few people in my life that, um, inspired me when I was in Europe coming over here. And that’s you that’s Teresa Espinosa . Oh yeah, that was so I was like, I’ve got to be that red very next to Brittany and Tiana Brown next to Christina Aguilera. Oh yeah. Um, the younger ones were Tucker and Laura Edwards.  

Love, love. All of these are great inspirations. Thank you for those shout outs. And for those extremely kind words, I am sweating and I have an ear to ear grin. It’s actually, I’m wearing these giant headphones right now and it actually creates pressure on my like makes it actually harder to smile, but I am grinning ear to ear. Thank you so much for your kind words. Um, okay. So I had Diana Matos on the podcast in episode 47 and we talked a little bit about her move. Uh she’s from Portugal. And she talks about how, um, she sort of compartmentalize is or makes chapters of her dance life based on where she was living at the time. Um, that’s sort of like how she sees, you know, there was the London chapter, there’s the LA chapter and maybe somebody has a New York chapter and there’s the home chapter. Um, could you talk about how you chapter your dances?  

All right. Okay. Very fast. Cause I know you’re cutting this right. So very fast. Um, my big chapter of course is Slovenia. I was born there. I was a competitive, very.. Yeah, I’m competitive person, but I was a competitor on competitions. That’s our life in our country. So I did so many years of that. So basically when I was nine years old, I went to London and with my dance teacher for jazz, cause my parents always wanted to educate our teachers so that they could teach our students better. And that teacher was like, well, your daughter is extremely talented. I think I should bring her with me to open her eyes and introduce her to- to musicals. And you know, maybe, maybe one day she will have big dreams. We don’t know, let’s try and boom. I was nine. I was dancing in my pink outfits in all hip hop classes and jazz and tap and pop and lock and uh, everything that’s possible basically in Pineapple dance school in London.  And then I saw so many musicals and I was going, I was back. I was actually going there with my teacher for quite few summers. And then at one point I came to the audition DANCE2XS where, um, I was 14 years old. I got introduced to DANCE2XS company that the owner basically is in Chicago, Patrick Chen. And that basically opened my world. Um, and I started going, you know, flying just to London sometimes for the weekend on to have rehearsals with this, um, uh, company. And that’s, I feel like now looking back, that’s a big commitment, you know, and such yeah. I was so enthusiastic about my, my future in dance, you know, so that was not no problem for me. So basically dance success company, Sisco Gomez and Kim, Kimberly Taylor, they were my teachers, they opened doors for me. Patrick brought you guys with Marty to Euro, have workshops with, I had workshops in Europe with American choreographers and that’s where I kind of started getting to know you guys. And so basically I was professional dancer in Paris and in London for quite some time. But at the same time I was juggling my school, my high school in Slovenia finishing my high school, uh, and also teaching about hundred students in my dance school. And because, um, I want to say this very humble humbly. I was pretty much always, um, first, so unbeatable as a soloist in jazz, tap, you know, and a lot of other different hip hop styles and that pressure of me teaching that many people. And then also people expecting these groups to be amazing as well. It was very, very hard for me, but I somehow did it. And, uh, we were national European World Champions and, you know, I was just missing always something. And that was the real move. And that was in 2010 with visa to America. But I did Monsters of Hip Hop show before that and all this stuff. So that’s where I actually, I got my agents so that, that visa started, you know, easier for me, that process. And since I did so many things and work with, uh, in Europe with American choreographers, they already knew me so much. I started coming to LA when I was about 16 or 17, I was still going to dome at millennium.  

Oh I miss that room! 

Oh yeah. So, you know, um, I’ve been in and out of LA, what would I say right now for like 15 years or more, you know, but I just moved here when It was 2010 and close my chapter in my school with my students and being European, you know, professional dancer and I opened one in America. So it was a tough decision.  

Okay. I have a couple spinoff questions from that. We’ll stick with where we stand right now, but don’t let me forget. I do want to go back to having an agent, getting the visa. I have so many questions about that and I know it’s changed. I think it’s much more difficult to do that today. I know several people going through the process and, and the requirements of getting a visa are, are harder. Now becoming a citizen is much harder. Now I do want to touch on that a little bit, but I want to know how do you make difficult decisions? Like when you find yourself with that, you know, on one hand, I really want “blah”, but on this other hand, I’m making the situation up, but I love my home studio and I love my parents and I love teaching, but I really want to pursue a career for myself. How, how do you make decisions like that?  

Okay. It’s a very simple question for me. Um, because everything in dance, when it comes to my career, um, it came spontaneously. So to me, these decisions were never, I need to make a decision. I knew that this is going to be my life. So there was no decisions. So it’s very, it’s very hard to understand with the, for the people that are very connected to families and they need to have, you know, family around and close friends. But I never, I was so driven, Dana. I never, that was not an option. Me being in Slovenia or me, you know what I mean? So don’t ask me about dance. Like I do everything in dance because I love to dance and you know what? It comes to hard decisions for me, it’s an everyday basis. Okay. Which restaurants do I want to go eat? Or order food from?  Like, this is crazy when I’m telling you, sometimes it takes one hour between me and my boyfriend to decide he is also, um, he’s also, I’m a Capricorn, so I don’t know why I’m not, I’m so bad at making decisions that he’s a Libra. So we’re both just undecisive. So for me, it’s like more, you know, every day I can make choices and then you, I mean, you just have to make it at one point, but like, I know it’s funny. Right. But when it comes to life of my career, I it’s very clear to me, you know, very clear what the hardest decisions were. Um, do I take all the workshops abroad when I was already living in America or I say no to what I love to do the most and no to money. And I take time to go to auditions here in LA as a dancer.  

Okay. Let’s talk about it. So you have, so, so on one hand you have, you know, you’re a new transplant to Los Angeles or establishing a career as a dancer. And yet you’re coming off of this European teaching circuits, which is pretty high dollar, you know, there’s this celebrity element to being a teacher on one of those circuits. So you’ve got this known quantity, that’s praise and it’s, um, profit. And then you’ve got this uncertain thing in LA. That’s like hard work, not a lot of recognition, but you know, you have to climb the ladder. That’s the type of hard decision we’re talking about. So what, what did you do? What was the move?  

Um, I, you know, I always ask myself about the integrity. I always want to have integrity. And if I said yes to people, let’s say in Asia, I’m coming, then I’m going to come to you and I’m going to teach you, you know? Um, unless there was a job that it absolutely was like on my priority top list, you know, and goals. Um, but if I make a decision prior to something to some audition, then I usually always went with teaching. And, um, and I, I’m not regretting, I’m not regretting anything because I feel that sometimes we need to listen to higher powers because they are guiding us. They are guiding us and tell us, telling us where we should go, what we should do. What, why are we here for, and I know when I’m on stage or okay. I say stage, cause I do convention so much now. So I’m always on stage, right. But when I’m in front of the room, when I teach, this is where I, I need to be, this is my purpose. I can feel it in every cell, in my body. It’s a very interesting, um, topic to talk about. But if you feel me, you understand what I’m saying? Right. And, um, and I always wanted, I always was listening to God or something, what you believe in up higher in the universe. And, um, I had this feeling for people since when I was very young already. I saw my mom teaching to so many students right. In Slovenia. And I think I can adapt to that automatically came in me, you know, how she’s teaching. And she also is not just a normal teacher. She’s actually, um, teaching other teachers in our country how to teach so psychology of teaching, how to work with people. So I feel like I got these in my genes. And, um, I always said, you know what? I booked as a dancer, as many jobs as, uh, it was given to me, I was supposed to, you know, even that deep down in my heart, I still wanted to dance some more till now, but I believe God. And I’m, you know, choosing to believe that I’m here for the bigger purpose, not just to be a dancer behind a singer  

Copy that, that that’s a gorgeous segue. You’ve done the background. Uh, I almost said singer, you’ve done the background singer thing before. Um, you’ve done the background dancer before, right? Uh, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Neo, Jason Derulo. I’m just naming a few. Um, and you’ve also done the choreography thing. So you’ve made it abundantly clear that, that you find tremendous purpose and fulfillment in teaching, but when it comes to dancing versus choreography, do you feel more comfortable in run in one role or the other?  

I don’t feel more comfortable in, I don’t feel, I feel like every role is so special. And, um, and I love them both very, very much, uh, when it comes to choreography, there is way more way more other things you have to, you know, just deal with and responsibilities that comes with it. And, um, you really need to have a lot of patience, uh, with celebrities that we work in, we are in Los Angeles. We are not in small Germany, a German city where everybody’s kind even the artists, right. So we deal with so much  

What are you trying to say here, Nika? Hahaha

Celebrities are one of the kind, it’s very hard sometimes for me to navigate through managements through the right words, because I am very much, uh, I’m very much honest. I very much am genuine. I feel like I kind of created my name in this, um, in this industry because of that, because I’m so genuine with what I say or how I am with people and being genuine. Sometimes it’s not the best when you work with such a big, you know, not problematic people, but it’s just, it’s just different. Right. So, um, I would say if I have to, if I have to rank things, I would say teaching and being a dancer is on first place. And then second is choreography.  

I think what, you’re, what you’re talking about here or what you’re pointing to is one of the things that most people don’t plan or prepare for when they embark on a career as a choreographer, they’re learning about movement, they’re learning about techniques, they’re learning about their creative vision and taste. And, uh, they’re learning about composition and structure and story and all of these things, but very rarely do people put navigating different personalities on their list of things to, or on their list of muscles to strengthen when becoming a choreographer. And, um, it is such an important skill, um, in our industry because you will be working with powerful, I’ll call it powerful in one direction or another, right. You’ll be working with powerful personalities, right and left and navigating relationships is 100% part of, um, uh, of our job as choreographers. So I think that’s, I’m glad that you mentioned that, um, and having a strong personality yourself in a very honest one, uh, I believe is, um, Oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Uh, I believe it’s virtuous. I believe it’s an asset or it can be, but I can see where there might be situations how that could come back and bite you in the butt.  

Yep. Absolutely, yeah.  

Okay. I’d like to segue a little bit. Um, I, for some number of years, I don’t know the actual number of maybe four or five years was in ambassador for SAG-AFTRA our performers union. And I’m actually quite proud of that. I loved that. I love that 10 of my life. I would go on set visits, um, with sag after reps talk with the members, make sure that everything on set was going according to contract. Um, I would help if I could answer questions or point people in the direction of answers if I didn’t know the answers to these questions. Um, and anyways, long story short, I just found out that you are a dance ambassador to Slovenia I’m blown away. And I’m so curious about what, um, the responsibilities of a dance ambassador to your country are like, what does that look like?  

You’re so sweet. Thank you very much. Yeah. Um, well, um, I don’t have any responsibilities, um, written down, but I got a title because, um, I achieved so much outside of Slovenia and, um, and I was first one in modern dances. So that’s in modern dance. That means in Slovenian, it means hip hop, um, jazz funk, you know, not Ballroom and Latin or rock and roll and stuff. Right. So street stuff, uh, nobody before me did anything like that or achieved so many achievements outside Slovenia. So, um, also when it comes to teaching worldwide, so my, I was always very proud Slovenian. So I always, always said and introduced Slovenia to other countries and to other dancers. So I think Slovenia, just got very, very proud of me  

Because you were proud of it.  

Yeah. Because I’m very proud of it. And I’m spreading my Slovenian roots around the world and I am a big idol to our dancers in our country that it is possible to dream big and to achieve something big. Um, we only have to believe in it, you know, 

That’s a beautiful sentiment. And I think that this might be a perfect opportunity to do a little audience participation. We don’t have a live audience right now. You and I we’re, we’re the only people here, we just have my assistant engineer Riley Higgins in the room, in the zoom room with just us. But everyone that’s listening could get involved right now because Nika, I want you to teach me how me and us, everyone listening, how to pronounce the name of the city, where you’re from, it’s the capital city of Slovenia. And I, I can, I can see it in writing. I can spell it, but no way in hell and I pronounce it. So I’m hoping you can, we can, we can all just jump on for a little, um, a little lesson in Slovenian.  

All right. So this is, this is the cutest, everything Dana, you’re so awesome  

Should we do a before and after, should I try to pronounce it first? And then you teach me and then  

You go, go,  

Okay. Okay. Here’s my guess. Um, Oh, *gibberish* Hold on. *gibberish*

Dana. You’re making it away harder. Okay. So that was cute. J in our country is pronounced like Guh

Ah, okay. Um, uh Ljubljana  

There we go. 

Really? Okay. Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you. I hope everyone, everyone listening got a kick out of that. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be proud of where you’re from. Um, and I do think Sylvania has a lot to be proud of, but I think the thing that I’m taking away in this conversation is that you put where you come from first and you’re proud of where you come from. You’re not ashamed of dreaming big, you are not afraid of claiming ownership of your accomplishments. Um, and I, I think that’s, I think that’s stellar. So congratulations, ambassador to Slovenia. I’m so honored to have you, um, okay. So on the subject of big accomplishments and worldwide, um, aclaim, I want to talk about social media for a second. It comes up on the podcast a lot. Oh my gosh. The face you’re making it. She’s going, Ooh, here we go. Um, I guess what I am curious about, maybe we start broad and then we can work our way, uh, to specifics. What would you say is your relationship to social media? Um, if I had to answer that question, I’d say it’s a little bit of a love hate. I find a tremendous value in connecting with people. I get inspired there. I love sharing my work and I love sharing what I’m learning. I love sharing I’m working on. Um, but I also, uh, have watched the social dilemma and I’ve watched what social platforms can do to behavior. Um, I don’t think it’s any secret that they are designed to a T to be addicting. Um, and I know most artists don’t dream of spending 12 hours a day on our phone. We dream of spending 12 hours a day in a studio or on a stage or on a tour. So, um, I’ve got a love, hate relationship, and it sort of depends on the day, but I see it as a useful tool.  And I see it as a tool that can also be harmful. Um, and that all depends on how you use it, of course. But I see you as being a person who, uh, you know, you mentioned being genuine before. I see you as being a person who is genuinely comfortable in front of, uh, a device, whether it be a cinema camera or an iPhone, and you simply show up and share what is lighting you up and you dance and you twinkle and you sparkle, and you do all these things. Are you deliberate in how you interact with social media? Do you do it because you love to share, do you do it because your manager told you, you have to, like, what is, what’s your relationship? How do you work with social media?  

First of all, I don’t have a manager. But I do have an assistant. And my assistant was specially, um, her name is Johanna. She is awesome because, um, you know, she was first here for the emails and very quickly it turned into, can you please help me with, um, getting these texts together on Instagram or like, you know, just make me on, on, on my toes, like, okay, Nika, I think you have to post something about you now. You know, I know he like to post others, but people following because of you, as you know, she started guiding me a little bit. Um, and it’s much easier right now for me to relax. Um, but I do come up with all the, all the topics I want to, you know, talk about or, uh, if I post a photo, what topic I want to talk about in that, under that photo.  So it’s very genuine in one way, but I physically don’t want to spend an hour and a half on posting. So it’s different with stories, stories I love to do. And also, you know, I, I love to engage with my, um, followers and fans and people that they love me. You know, sometimes family actually, I connect through Instagram with my family, you know what I mean? So, um, I love to be genuine and then, and show myself without makeup, show myself with makeup, just see that we are all normal people, because I think that so many young, young dancers, they think that we are, I don’t know, such a, such a idols that we don’t, we are not same as them, but we are. And I want to really share that with them so that they feel better on everyday basis, you know, that they need, they don’t need to post every time when they’re happy.  They don’t need to put that. I’m not happy every single day. Like it’s important for me that they know what’s real world, you know, so I don’t have problems with being me on social media. Um, I must also say the social media and I would say starting with YouTube and also Instagram Facebook, that was very spontaneous with me. I’m not one of those, um, choreographers or dancers who were planning on gaining followers. So, um, I always, I would say I’m still kind of old school, but I got lucky. I was there at the right time as well. That Instagram really picked, picked me up also, you know? Um, but I know that that is all connected with YouTube because I had a lot of views on that years ago, but I started with YouTube when it was nothing. I started literally when it opened, I started also uploading my YouTube stuff.  So, um, I think that everything is connected. And, um, when I started teaching, especially posting more at Millennium dance school, you know, there’s so many great dancers in my videos as well from there. So, um, it’s just wonderful that when you follow me or if you follow me, I think I, all I wanted you to see is a light, bright, light, um, happiness that is genuine and that I dare you to be, to be you I’m daring you, cause it’s so much fun when you go to bed and you know, that you are trying everyday to be the best version of yourself to be right. So I dunno, it’s just something when it comes to that and, and that connection that love between people. I want to, I want to share that, you know, with people genuinely.  

Yeah. But I wanted to say so much more, but it’s so much like, I didn’t say like we are, it’s so important that we are, um, uh, like we have big platform and we can change people’s worlds. We can change people’s, um, people’s day, you know, just by connecting through social media with people around the world. And we, we have to think very smart, how to, what do we put out there and how do we guide our audience to, so did we lead to, to better worlds. Um, you know what I mean to better new generation, that we are good leaders. That’s very important. And that’s what I didn’t say,  

Except for we’re still recording. So you just said it,  

Okay.  Haha awesome! 

Step away from the social conversation for, for a second, but thank you for sharing your perspective on that. That’s, that’s, that’s enlightening and you know, it’s interesting to me about that actually is that everybody’s relationship is a little bit different and rarely is their relationship. What it looks like it is from the outside. Um, I’m sure there are people that on upon first glance, I would say, Oh my God, they must be obsessed with their socials. And then I find out, Oh no, they have a small team that’s obsessed with their socials. And they don’t actually even look at it, not even once a week, or there are people that I might think don’t care much about it at all, but they’re quietly in their rooms scrolling through it three hours a day. You know? So it’s an interesting question. I, I love hearing the various different answers that I get to that question. Um, okay. So we talked a little bit about your journey to the States. Um, it did, from what I gathered, uh, did you already have an agent? Did you already have representation when you made your way over?  

I did. I did. MSA Agency, um, saw me at Monsters of Hip Hop show and, and helped me sponsor me for first visa, uh, Patrick Dance2XS company that I was, you know, in London with, uh, they gave me a deal memo. So that’s how I will always be quite grateful for this one. You know, these people for the first visa and then second visa came. It was a little easier. And then I, now I have green card.  

Nice congratulations. Um, would you make any recommendations to people that might be listening overseas that want to make that jump?  

I, I want to say that think twice, what are your, really your dreams? Don’t be a sheep and just follow everyone to Los Angeles because it’s cool to be here. It’s not, uh, such an easy life out here, especially now. And I feel like, especially in the last few years, I think it’s so many dancers and, and not a lot of opportunities. And, um, but if you are that girl that actually was me, right. Completely knowing like that, is it like, can I be different then, um, focus, uh, on how you gonna gather all the information and all the, proof that you are good enough to come here to LA so, or to America. Right. So the biggest problem is, um, that to, to have proof that you are legit enough that in America with like very simple words, you are not, um, you will be able to pay Taxes. What I mean? So did you will be something, so that’s what they care about that you are good. So if you’re just a phenomenal dancer without any proof, it’s very hard to get visa. And I think it’s so unfortunate and I’m so heartbroken for so many European dancers. They wants to come here or around the world, but, um, really you have to think stretch strategically, what, what get, where can I have, where can I get all of that? So I usually recommend European dancers to move to London or Paris, Germany, Amsterdam and create their, you know, career their first, um, or if they are lucky already, they live there, you know, dance with a lot of celebrities, people that they know, be a brand for big, you know, Nike Adidas, whatever big companies, um, have a lot, a lot of views on YouTube, like all that, like, it, it it’s, it branches in so many ways, you know? So just have to be very smart about it.  

I appreciate your transparency. Thank you. I can, I can only imagine, um, to, to be in a position where you have to prove that you are able to make money doing a thing before you are actually making money for a thing, it’s kind of what came first, the chicken or the egg conversation. You know, if you’re hoping to aspire to be a professional dancer in LA, but you have to prove that you are professional level, it’s sort of comes, uh, it comes actually, and this might be a beautiful, a beautiful place to end. One of my favorite concepts and ways of being in the world is by making decisions behaving and, um, treating myself as if I were my future self already. So I imagine what I, I imagine how I would talk. I imagine how I would treat people. I imagine how I would behave. I imagine how I would train. I imagine how I would wake up and make breakfast. If I was already doing all the things that I Dana today in 2021 want to be doing. And that, that really changes something in your perspective, it changes the speed with which I move. It changes the efficacy with which I with which I operate. And, um, I obviously am saying this from a tremendously privileged position of, of so many things, but being an able-bodied white woman who grew up in suburbia with access to a lot of training and access to a lot of people I’m already in the States. I don’t, I am certainly not the person to advise a European on what to do, but it might be helpful just to treat yourself with that kindness, to embody your future self now, and that might help you get to a place where you’re presenting or where you’re producing and presenting more professional level work simply by treating yourself and talking to yourself like a professional.  

Absolutely. I believe in visualization. And I believe that if I was not visible, visualizing me on big stages with big artists, with, you know, my idols, um, on stage, I don’t know if I would actually work with them, you know, because I put this out in the universe, I, there was, um, I never, ever doubt that I am not going to get visa because I already saw it happening, you know, and this is exactly what you said. And, um, and I just want to say that it is very, very true. And I, I tried it in my own skin. So visualization, it’s a real thing. You do have to 100% believe in it, but it all comes, comes down to how much you love yourself and appreciate yourself. So if, if that’s why self love is so important. And in these days, it’s very important that you work on that. I personally am going to share something that I didn’t share with anyone before. Um, but I feel like this is the moment. Um, I am working on my mental health, um, with a woman every week from Slovenia. We are on zoom and we are having the best time ever. And that is, she’s not a psychologist, she’s anthropology, she’s social, she’s so much, right. She’s very clever woman, but it is some type of, you know, I need to learn how to stay stable. And, um, how do you say, um, I need to clear all the trash that is this in my mind. Absolutely. So that you can continue being grounded and see what is important in life and love yourself. Because if you don’t love yourself, it’s very hard to also generally love others, because you always interfere with some kind of fears and, you know, jealousy and you’re angry at someone, but it all comes down to you. I stopped  pointing fingers at others. I came, I started searching in me and you cannot visualize yourself, you know, somewhere with big dreams, somewhere in the future. If you don’t first believe that you, um, are worth of that, did you deserve that? You deserve that. You see what I’m saying? It’s so complex. Our mind is complex. So I always believe, and I say that if you are, um, mentally stable as a person, I believe that your career can also shine even brighter than it shines already. Now,  

I think that that’s a beautiful sentiment. I happen to agree. I think that, and I do not. I mean, that is a gorgeous high flying note. I don’t mean to bring it down, but that type of training isn’t taught in most dance studios. That may be something that you need to seek out for yourself. And as you mentioned, you’re just now starting to do that work for the first time as an adult woman. Uh, and it is, it is work and that’s hard to hear maybe that it takes work to love yourself. But the good news about it is just like with dance with the fouette turn, there are techniques, there are tools and with practice, it does get easier and you do get better at it. I’m thrilled to hear that you’re on that journey. Um, I love you unconditionally. I’m jazzed that you are loving yourself and learning to be, um, uh, a proponent of self-love and self-care. And, um, I think that’s such an important message. Thank you for sharing it today. And always you’re you just, you sparkle. 

Dana you are, you are so wonderful. Please don’t ever change. Like, you know, if I have a bad day or something, I just, I go to the grocery store. I just put your podcast on and you’re with me on the way to grocery store and home. Like, it’s really tremendous what you’re doing to a younger generation or just, um, you know, people that are listening to podcasts and, um, it’s, it’s wonderful. Cause you always been smart. I’ve always felt sense that, um, not just in, on stage and mean in dance space, but like you, I feel like you always loved, um, words. I don’t know. I don’t even know you much. So I feel like I’m so I’m so glad that you open this path for you and not just being a choreographer teacher, dancer, creative, whatever you’re doing. Right. I think it’s very, very important. And you actually inspired me. You don’t know that, but you inspired me to start doing professionally makeup. So I’m in online makeup school and, um, that’s completely something out of my world. I never done anything but dance, Dana. I never had any job that was not connected to dance. That’s completely different worlds. Right. So I started going to makeup school and I also learned how to do nails professionally because of your podcast.  

Get out of town. I’m floored. I’m so thrilled for you. Congratulations.  

Thank you. But thank you. You know what I mean? You’re doing big thing. Um, so keep on doing it and I’m going to keep on listening to podcast. We have to support each other. We have to support each other dancers, choreographers, friends. That’s so beautiful to feel that, uh, how, when you’re happy for someone else, it makes you happy. But you cannot do that if you don’t love yourself and checking with yourself, right? So again, it comes back to that. So I wish everyone love and you know, calmness in the wild wild times and keep on going, keep on going. It’s not over. We, they time can, I mean, this situation that we’re in right now, right? Especially us. We are in California. Nothing is open since March. We can’t even go together and dance in the room. Right. So you just have to believe in, in good. I always believe in good focus on the good and I feel like the good times are coming soon. I feel it  

Well you’re creating them. You created one just now for, for a whole hour. Thank you so much for that Nika. I appreciate you so much. Let’s do this again sometime.  

Yes, please. Thank you for having me. Bye everyone.

My pleasure. Bye.  

Alright, my friend that is that. And I do hope you enjoyed it. Um, I really love this idea about worthiness, the importance of self-care and self-love and um, I hope this conversation has brought a bright spot, um, and enduring twinkle to your day to day and far beyond. All right, everybody. That is it for me today. Take care. Be good. And of course, keep it funky. 

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your words, move me. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.