Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos
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What happens when the commercial industry doesn’t make you happy anymore… Reinvention, that’s what!  My guest this week is a pro at exactly that.   Diana Matos bridges the space between street and commercial dance.  She dives into the importance of using her creative voice, and the challenges of having a company with members all over the world.  We also go deep on the difference between SELFISH and… SOMETHING ELSE, so do a spinal roll down and a few jumping jacks to get yourself warm, and LET’S GO!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Diana Matos: https://www.instagram.com/dianamatos/

Motus the Company: https://www.motusthecompany.com/

Fenty Show: https://www.amazon.com/Savage-Fenty-Show-Vol/dp/B08JQNCY8R

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 the podcast. Welcome. Welcome. If you are a first time listener and welcome back. If you are a returning mover and shaker, I am so glad that you are here today. I am thrilled to share this interview with you. I think it is simply solid gold and a very fun listen. But before we get into it, I want to draw your attention to a couple things, because I am seeing some new daily doers out there. I want to make sure that you guys know, I offer some support on my website in the form of an interactive PDF that can help you with your daily projects. If doing daily is a new concept to you, go back and listen to episode one and two. But if you are a daily doer, I do so strongly encourage you. Go visit theDanawilson.com Take a look at the store in there. I have a downloadable PDF that helps you organize your project and really make the most of this daily creative challenge. So want to make sure that I say that before I forget. Um, also before I forget last week’s episode was so much fun. I did my first ever live Q and a via zoom. And so many of my listeners were there with me asking questions, interacting. It was just so much fun. Um, go back and listen to that. If you have a chance, if you dig it, if you’re loving it, please do download these episodes and leave a review. If you’re moved, if it was helpful, give us a rating, leave a review. It makes it so much easier for other people to find the podcast. And that is definitely important to me. So thank you in advance for doing that. 

Okay. Let’s get into it this week. As my win, I am celebrating the reconnection to old friends. I probably am not alone in that during the lockdown I have indeed locked in. I’ve gotten I’m pretty self focused, and I think this is a very important win today because in this interview with our guests this week, the lovely Diana Matos, we talk a lot about being self-focused or selfish and the difference between the two. So my win. This is that I, I reached back out to a network of friends that have supported me for a really, really long time, but also to new friends, people that I’ve met during the course of the quarantine during the course of this time, since having a podcast. Um, and I definitely am feeling connected. I am feeling supported. And of course I’m feeling so grateful to have you and this forum to share. So yes, my win is my connection to my friends. And I would love to encourage you if you haven’t in a while to reconnect to yours. All right, now you go, what is going well?  

Awesome. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. Keep on crushing it. All right. My friends, I don’t want to spend too much time. Preambling here pre rambling here. I want to get straight into this interview. My guest this week on the episode is the one, the only Diana Matos in my eyes, an untouchable dancer, um, an incredible presence and incredible friend and an incredible role model. I’m so excited to share what she shared sharing on sharing. Um, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Please. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. She is @DianaMatos on Instagram. D I A N A M A T O S. If you do not already know her, or aren’t already familiar with her work, please do go get an eye full. All right. And with that, let’s get into it. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Diana Matos.  

Dana: All right. Holy smokes. Let’s do this Diana Matos, everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Diana: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor. You are an inspiration to me and to everyone around me so down always. 

Oh my gosh. Uh, likewise and I’m, I’m honored, lucky, count myself extremely special to have been able to share the stage with you before we’ve gigged a little bit, nowhere near as much as I would like actually. Um, you are now a person that you have your own company. You’re still crushing it in the industry. Most recently performed in Rhianna’s Fenty fashion show, which I do want to talk about. I want to talk about all the things, but before we dig into it’s, uh, it’s commonplace here on the podcast that all of my guests introduce themselves. So tell us anything you would like us to know about you.  

Diana: Hi, my name is Diana Filipa Pereira Morais de Matos Koumaev originally from Lisbon Portugal, I have lived there till I’m was 21, uh, danced trained, um, moved to London 2011, started working commercially and 2014 moved to LA. Um, yeah, I’ve been working since then, uh, hugely in the industry, but also very important to me that I stay true to myself, to my voice, to how my body moves what feel as good and organic to me and trying to build from there, especially right now at this stage of my life.  

Okay. So let’s talk stages then if your, if your dance life was a book, what would the chapters be? What do you chapter it out by like Portugal, London, LA, or is there like training, touring, stage? Like how does that get compartmentalized in your brain? How do you think about your dance life?  

I think to me, it definitely, I definitely com uh, compartmentalize it, uh, it being Portugal, it’d be in London and it being an LA. Um, also because to me it felt like a restart every single time professionally and personally, I have to reinvent myself, I have to drop everything financially, everything. It just, it’s always like a big step where I really, I go through a really rough time and then things finally start happening. Um, and especially within that time, there’s crazy amounts of growth personally and professionally. Um, so I would say that’s the way I sort of, you know, separated looking back. Um, I guess I was a little bit lost in Portugal. I learned a lot very limited, but at the same time, I found a way to sort of teach myself and reinvent myself because it wasn’t a lot back then. And, you know, there was no social media, there was YouTube and it’s a really, really small, town. So I had to work with what I had. I had to sort of re reinvent myself, which those are tools that till this day I use, um, me moving to London, it’s me, you know, finally breaking through. I barely spoke English at that point. So it’s also me understanding, you know, the language and how to talk to other people, how to, how to network, how to audition, how to even submit for an agency, all those things. Um, and then eventually coming to LA where I felt like it was sort of like my last attempt to have a career. I really thought I was maybe only coming for like a year or something. And then maybe going back to Europe and truly that’s when my career exploded. Yeah, exactly. You know? Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s, I would stage it.  

I love that. I, and I think that a lot of the people listening can relate to this feeling of starting new and being leveled, being baseline, trying to navigate, trying to transition and really trying to skill up as fast as possible and by any means possible. So this like this hungry student in you has been there for every single chapter and, and even as currently, and now you are attracting hungry students, um, with your company, talk a little bit about motus, what’s the mission, um, to tell me everything,  

Um, motus, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to create, right? Because as much as I believe in training and, and, and being in the room with as many choreographers as I could, and to, to sponge as much knowledge as I could through my journey, um, huge, uh, on, on understanding where my voice is as an artist, right. And I’ve always felt that I had that and very much so because of one, my life journey into my culture, um, which is half Portuguese, half African from Mozambique. So, um, motus has always been something in the back of my mind where I wanted to create a group of people that I’m able to, to utilize my voice into create this voice in the industry. Right. Um, not only that within the, the, the, my experience as a professional dancer, I’ve understood that we sort of have two options, which is to be an artist behind, uh, to be a dancer behind an artist, or to be a teacher slash choreographer, where you travel the world or you do conventions or right.  And those are like the two big options that you have to me is start after, you know, after a, while it started feeling a little bit like, Oh, this, this is all I have. Um, as an artist, if I don’t necessarily want to dance behind an artist anymore. And if, either I don’t want to teach, uh, or if I, choreographing is not my thing, where do I stand? You know? Um, so I think the industry sort of lacks specially for commercials commercials slash street styles, there’s a huge gap when it comes to, if I just want to be an artist as a dancer, where do I fit in? So I think motus, motus, motus’ goal is to create a company where artists can come and can sort of create a career off of it, where they travel. You’re getting paid, they’re dancing, they’re exploring their artistry, but not necessarily either in the commercial world or they don’t have to, you know, there’s a lot of people that are not teachers and they end up being teachers because that’s really the only option, which is not a good thing, you know? Um, so I think motus down the line, the big, big picture is to create, to have a company commercial slash, uh, streets out a street styles company that, um, that we can, can give a voice and give a space to all these dancers and artists.  

Cool. I, 45 follow-up questions. I’m going to start with this one. Um, so does the company, or do you envision that the company performed together? I know at this point it’s a training based company and the people that become members, the people that get involved, get their butt kicked. I know that this training goes above and beyond what somebody might expect to find in an in-person masterclass. Um, but tell, tell me about how, like, how is this next level training and do you visualize in-person performances with a company in the future?  

Definitely visualize performance companies. I think when motus started with me with COVID in quarantine and lockdown happening and me, um, understanding, okay, truly this is a time for me to, for me to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I was never really able to, cause I was just overwhelmed with, you know, job here, rehearsal there. Um, so it’s time to do this, but now I’m limited with the circumstances that I can do it. So it has to be online based. So it has to be as for now and is until I’m able to train these dancers to be able to, uh, create whatever I can with no limitations, I have to train them. So right now in this first stage is very much so a program, an online program, um, where not only you train with me heavily, Um, two times a week, 

Oh, I’ve seen the videos, it’s heavy training. I like I sweat and I’m sore as I watch. It’s incredible just to watch incredible, by the way, do you take drop-ins because I have got to do these moves. I need a full 45 minute warmup and then I need to do the moves.  

Absolutely. You’re allowed to actually, that would be a great segment to this. If you would come in and film like your whole experience. Good idea. Love it. You’re  

So down. So now coming soon, coming soon. 

Um, so you’re not only trying to heavily with me, but also, um, you ha we have a grounding, uh, class 30 minutes before mine to prep and to sort of, uh, condition your body for all this training. And then on Sundays you have a different style, every single Sunday different style. And that goes from foundations, from like Afro, from, um, whacking, voguing house, popping, locking, like all of it and stuff that actually we don’t have access to often. And, and, and with the variety that, you know, also at the same time that we can have people from Switzerland to, to South Africa, we also have teachers from everywhere in the world. Um, so that’s huge,  

Massive. I love that silver lining of this moment. It’s remarkable. And what’s odd. I mean, it’s not odd at all. It’s been there for years. I mean, zoom has been there for years, but we only see what’s right in front of us and now we’re looking bigger. We’re zooming out and it thrills me to no end. Um, and so it’s, let me just  

Let me just add that. It’s actually really good in the sense that it created this, this almost like this relationship between me and the members and the sense that, you know, if it’s a regular class, you come in, there’s 60, 70, a hundred people who teach, groups, thank you for coming. The zoom It’s so personal. I’m looking at Dance, I’m looking at you dancing individually. Like I’m stopping you and saying, you see how you did that leg. You see how you did that weight. Wasn’t right. It’s such a personal relationship so much more than a regular class.  

I agree. I know there are several people that disagree that think that the screen, the layer between is a disconnect. I couldn’t disagree more. And because you and I are people who, whose work does show up on screen a lot, actually understanding how you look on a screen is an important element that you might not achieve in a, in an in-person class. There is a difference to those dynamics to the way that your shapes and your lines look. So, although it might be technically easier to correct someone in three dimensions, like in person, hands on corrections, you might not have seen the thing that you want to correct in person because the dance on camera element, at least to me, is hugely important. And so appetizing, I love working in this medium. 

Its so detailed. 

I love it so much. So let’s talk about the beginning of modus. I would love to hear what was the most challenging thing about making it?  

I would say one, understand how to keep people engaged. A lot of these people, we have people from South Africa to Australia, to New Zealand, to Europe, to London, right? Um, there’s people taking class at 5:00 AM that just barely woke up in their little living room or their rented room, you know? Um, so how to keep people, cause also we’re challenging people so much to after three, four or five weeks, you feel drained almost right. So to me was how to give a lot and how to really push these people with information, with the level, with the how to keep them motivated, uh, to want to keep cook, to come back and to continue this so we can actually get to the end goal. Um, it was that it was how to structure it, how to, how to finesse having that many people. And how do I give attention?  Suddenly I have 45 little squares, what I have to have individual feedback. So how long do I determine that feedback? You know, there’s so many little levels, um, training who to choose to, to, to invite for these guests teachers for every Sunday. And then it has to be sort of, if I give a little footwork this Sunday, then that next Sunday, maybe you should be a popping or then it should be, uh, maybe it should be a salsa, like how to completely shift every single Sunday to keep them almost like to have their bodies, uh, be pulled so many directions. And that, that creates, um, a body development and a body flexibility that that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Right? So as a mentor, director, however you want to call it that’s those are like my biggest challenges till this day. Honestly.  

What you mentioned earlier about there being kind of a divide in terms of once you, once you reached the level of being a professional dancer, you have a few more commonly traveled paths. There’s the backup dancers slash commercials, TVs, film type, where you’re a contributing part of a big, big picture, or there’s the, you are the traveling teacher, choreographer person where there’s this kind of celebrity it factor, but you’re, you’re teaching your moves. And then there’s the kind of less glorified version of a teacher, which is the person in there doing the daily grind. These are our dance studio owners. These are our teachers who are putting together programs, making them attainable, making them feasible, doing the structure, like financing it, deciding budgets, like all of that big stuff. I want to put my focus there because those, those people get so overlooked. And I want to emphasize and highlight that that is a creative mega challenge to, to, to actually build a program is tremendously creative. To strategize and finance. You have to get creative. So I, I just want to do my part in kind of dismantling the stigma that the people behind JT or the creatives or the people, you know, the, the headliners on your convention are wildly creative. I think the people on the ground building these programs and getting them out into the world and changing lives one little dancling at a time, those are the creative heroes. And, and I think I’m just smitten by that.  

No, absolutely. And that’s so funny because to me at first, when I thought about the concept, I was like, okay, I’m going to have to teach, you know, four times a week. And I have to create something new every week. There’s a lot of creative choreography or, uh, as a teacher, uh, pressure, right. That I thought that that was going to be my biggest challenge and truly is not, is, is how to manage it all, how even I finish class and how do I have to come back and manage all this stuff that I’ve truly never done in my life. Um, you know, and, and then finding an assistant, find the, how to delegate. It’s a whole process.

Building the team. I’m with you, my friend, this is, this is my first time managing a team in my life and I’m learning so much all the time. So what would you say in a, maybe we stick on that subject on the subject of managing a team. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?  

And I think this might be my come from a perspective, from a personal perspective, but think how to always put myself in these people’s shoes and how to not let either my, my day, my emotions, what I’m going through really give to that. I’m very, I’m very passionate. And that comes with a level of perfectionism, a level of expectation that is quite high that I expect not only for myself, but I can handle that, but to other people. And then it’s to really understand that I, it’s hard for me to think that someone is good unless they’re at my level, which is not right for me to do. You know, so understanding that  

I call this, um, comparing somebody’s chapter three to your chapter 30, or comparing your chapter three to somebody else’s chapter 30.  

Yup. That’s exactly what it is. So, yeah, it was really hard for me to like step aside from me and myself and everything. And, and, and to understand that someone is as valuable and as competent to, to do that job, uh, perhaps just differently. That was a huge lesson  

Compassion. Right? Ooh, that is so important. It’s so important. Okay. Is there a lesson since you started the company that you, I mean, you probably expected to level up on managerial skills and to level up on the technical side of things and to level up an organization, but is there, is there a lesson that you’ve learned that you did not expect you would learn?  

I would say, I would say vulnerability because a lot of people, you know, I’m suddenly starting a company and all these people see me as a mentor and you call it director because you have to call yourself and then there’s a whole marketing team behind saying, Oh no, you’re this. And no, you’re that. And, um, at the same time that I own one and want to own this, I want to be, I want to pave my way. I want to climb the letter respectfully. I don’t want, I’m not trying to rush into any sort of name. Um, but at the same time I have to, in order to, to make people feel like I got this together right. And jump on my boat, but I got this boat together. But at the same time to see the, the, these members every day and to have vulnerable moments in the sense where I forgot my step, I forgot my counts. Or there’s days. There was one day my dog passed away right before class. I got it like out of texts, like two minutes before class. And I was just in tears. And how do I zoom in with 40 people around the world saying good morning. And I’m in, you know, so, so, so to find that vulnerability and to, to, to make people feel like they can count on me, even when I’m on I’m at my lowest. So am I, I’m at my most vulnerable self, you know, that to me was a huge lesson to be okay with that. For me to be okay. Cause I’ve always tough, tough to, I got this together. Always. I have to be smiley and ready to go professional. Right. And sometimes that just doesn’t happen. That’s just life. Um, so I think that was a lesson that I was ready for.  

Thats huge. I, one of the things that I’m working to embrace, especially I’m giving a Supreme opportunity to practice it during the lockdown is to embrace the full human spectrum of emotion. And to understand that even at my best, I can’t make you think that I am the best,  No matter what I bring to you, you might still think I’m full of shit. Or you might still think I’m lame or I could be, you could call me president of dance and somebody might be like, yeah, she’s all right.  

Its so subjective, yes.  

So if it’s up to them, what they think and what they experienced, it’s up to me, what I think and what I experienced. And if I’m here for all of it, then buckle up because we’re going on a ride. Like you never know what you’re going to get. You never know. I might be in tears. I might be in tears.  

Thats truly. Yeah. That’s truly the journey. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just being down, being okay with whatever it comes. That, that that’s. Yeah. That’s a beautiful lesson.  

All right. So let’s talk about the journey now and let’s talk about what’s next. What are you most excited about right now?  

I think commercial jobs is don’t fulfill me the same way anymore. Um, just where I’m at in my life. And I think now is to really, I think my whole life was to check, check, check what I’m supposed to do to either being deemed as successful or, or, or great or undeniable, however you want to say it. Right. Um, and I think now life has showed me or has been showing me that things have to come from me first. And it took me a really long time to understand that to be, to be very honest. Um, so I think now I’m relearning myself and understanding like what makes me happy with, uh, within what I do will make me happy. What will would, this would this spark? My, my, my, my creative juices where what I’m interested in, like all these things, even quarantine finding out hobbies, I’ve never had time or mental space for hobbies like, Oh, that right.  So I think that’s the future for me, motus is, is something that I’m super passionate about. And I truly want that to be my, my, my legacy also, I feel like it’s, it’s a side of me. I’ve been somewhat, very selfish my whole career. Me, me, me. I go here to get this for I perform here so I can have this to say that I had that it’s very me. Right. Even though I’m offering my talent to this artist, that whatever. Um, but I think with motus, which was huge is that I’m not only of course helping me and creating this huge thing, but I’m also helping me helping others. Like it’s a whole different level, a whole different level.  

Dana: Alright. I just had to pop out right here because I want to shine a light on this, on this idea. D said, I’ve been selfish even though I’m offering my talent to someone else it’s still for me, is this something I can really relate to after 15 years, I guess, 16 years now of gigging in LA for Target or Amazon or Microsoft or Southwest airlines or any of the pop stars and TV shows and movies that I have, um, sold my time and talents to, and now I’m creating the podcast for free. Now I’m doing coaching programs. Now I’m finding ways to share what I’ve learned and empower. I’m really becoming less self-focused in that. But to be honest, I work on myself and my project and I’m thinking almost exclusively about them for at least eight hours a day or more. So how is that not still selfish. I really wanted to get to the bottom of this kind of discrepancy here that I’m going through internally. Um, and I wanted to go a little deeper. I want to get all the way through it. So yes, I did the thing where I Googled the word selfish. And here is what I found with the Miriam Webster definition. Selfish means concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing without regard for others. I’ll say that one more time. And I’ll say it a little bit quicker and I’ll say it in pig latin. I’m kidding. I won’t say it in pig latin. Selfish means concerned exclusively or excessively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or wellbeing without regard for others. Okay. Now hear me out. Some of that actually sounds kind of all right, to me, seeking or concentrating on pleasure, wellbeing, and advantage. That’s actually kind of, kind of rock solid. It’s the disregard for others and the excessive or exclusive that rubs me the wrong way. Now what Diana is saying here. And what I want to underline is that there is a way to put yourself first so that you better, your ability to service others. There is a way to concentrate on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing, air quotes with regard for others. And to me, that looks a little bit like saying yes, and. My good old fashioned favorite improv principle. Yes, I can do well for myself. And you can do well too. Yes, I can go far in my career and we can go further, farther, further. What do you say further, further, further? I think together. Yes, I can have a successful career and I can tell you everything about it. Yes. That might help you. Yes. I want to help you. This can be, Yes, And this can be Me, and you. So to everyone out there listening who wants to change the world and who wants to do better for themselves, I would say start by taking care of yourself and end with sharing what you’ve learned. I know that that’s not the end of it, but I think that’s a pretty good place to start. And that’s where I will leave it for now, because I’m excited to get back into it with D. 

You, you mentioned success, and I think you might’ve just answered it, but I would love to, like, if we could wrap this up with a bow on it, what is success to you?  

Success is true fulfillment. True. And what is fulfillment though? Right. 

You know I was about to ask, I wasn’t going to let you off that easy  

Nothing. It’s so crazy. Cause nothing is black and white and that’s why it’s so hard to define anything.  

That’s why you have to answer with gray. Right?  

I would say success to me is understanding what will make me truly happy. What will make me feel fulfilled and made me make me go to sleep at night in peace and wake up excited for another day. I think that’s the best way I can explain it. I like that success is good.  

Going to sleep at peace and waking up excited. I love that answer. Um, to me and I’ve been working on this definition to me, success is simply doing what I said I would do.  

I can’t beat you. 

I say, well, girl, I’ve been at the table for like nine months. Now, since March 6th, I’ve been in here. Like, what do I think about things? What do I have to say? I’m going to put a microphone in front of my face. Every, every Wednesday. It better be good. So that really that to me. And then on the flip side of that coin, of course is the, the opposite question is what is failure? And to me, it’s not doing the thing that I said I would do. Even if it’s as simple as taking out the trash or calling you when I, if I said I would, you know, um, I really am excited about accountability.

What is the things they used to told yourself that, okay, I’m going to do this, this and this. I’m not necessarily. Cause you know, we go through journeys is not necessarily what pleases you. So even though you said that you were going to do it and you end up not doing how many times have you not done it and realize, Oh, that was actually great.  

Well, I’ll back up a little bit and say that, first of all, I don’t prioritize. I don’t always prioritize pleasure or things that please me or things that will make me happy. Um, I mentioned already embracing and honoring the full spectrum of human emotion. Even if it’s devastation, embarrassment, humiliation, um, disappointment, or a feeling that I’ve let somebody else down like, Ooh, yikes. I don’t like those. Wouldn’t deliberately show up on my list of things to do. But, but my pursuit of success is not. Is not a pursuit of happiness. It’s a pursuit of a full life.  

Dana: Oh yes. My friends were going in. We are definitely getting into the depths here. Now this news about my priorities, not being the pursuit of happiness might seem like a shock to you because I am a joy machine. My default mood is sunshine and glitter and moonbeams, but I think that in our human lives, like the full scope of them, we will probably experience a real natural distribution of emotions, half positive, half negative, half good, half bad, some really bad, some really good most of them falling somewhere in between. I don’t personally chase happiness because I believe that out there, wherever it’s led me, that, that pursuit, I know that out there, even if I, even if I catch it, life will be 50/50. I think there is a full episode here. And I do really want to dig into this idea of 50/50, but I’m going to put it in the parking lot for now and jump back in with D because I actually really, really loved her ideas about success. And we’re going to dig into those a little deeper  

To sleep at peace and waking up jazz. Yep. That’s it? That paints a pretty serious, like a pretty pretty specific fixture. And it’s simple as well. Yes, but also not easy, simple, not easy going to sleep at peace by itself. I mean, how many things are there in the world for us to get restless and wrecked up about right now? Countless impossible. I mean, come on. But really I do believe that the facts of the world are actually quite neutral. Once we apply that it should be some other way and we’re wrestling and we’re like on the mat, sweaty, you know, with all this effort, that’s not going to sleep at peace, going to sleep tonight, knowing that  A is A, B is B, C is C. I can apply whatever thought I want to that thinking that is going to keep me up for several more hours. 

It is what it is. 

This is the fact I have another favorite saying is simply to let the easy be easy and let the hard be hard. Some shit will keep you up at night. Let that keep you up. That’s hard. Let that be hard, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need to be that hard. And you can just put that to sleep when you hit the pillow. Good night. 

Good night. Dana you’re my life coach. 

Absolutely. Let’s go. Um, all right. I love talking to you and I could talk to you all day. Um, but I digress. I’ll let you back out into all your fabulousness. It’s an honor. 

Again. Thank you so much.  All right, my friend. 

And I hope that you got a lot out of this episode. I know that I absolutely did. Um, and I hope you do continue digging into the wondrous work of Diana Matos. Um, I hope that you take a Me, and approach to your life and your career, and she is such a good example of that. All right, now, go out into the world, focus on yourself, share it with others. And of course keep it Funky while you do it. Have a great rest of your day. Everybody. I will talk to you soon

Thought you were done, No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website  TheDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #35 Special Guests and Special Stories (Audition August Episode 4)

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #35 Special Guests and Special Stories (Audition August Episode 4)
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To round out #AuditionAugust I sat down and answered some listeners burning questions about auditions. I also asked some of my favorite movers and shakers to talk about their favorite audition experiences!  Are you ready to be auditioning? Are you ready to be WORKING? After listening to this episode… I hope so!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Audition August Registration: https://www.thedanawilson.com/workshops 

Hannah Douglass: https://www.instagram.com/hannahdlaine

Kim: https://www.instagram.com/kimgingras/

Ava: https://www.instagram.com/avaflav1/

Dexter: https://www.instagram.com/dextercarr/

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were 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 everybody. And welcome back to words that move me. I am Dana and Oh, how about also welcome if you’ve never been here. Welcome. Welcome. I am so jazzed to have you listening today. Um, I hope this podcast finds you well. I hope it finds you happy and healthy and if happy, fails, I hope it finds you human and healthy and you know what? I’m here for all life. Actually, if you’re not even feeling human today, if you are feeling more like plant matter or a geode, I will accept all of it. Welcome. Welcome as you are. I am as always thrilled about this episode, because it is a little bit different from your average. Um, in general, I like to think that they are all different than your average podcast, but this words that move me up episode is truly, truly different. Um, simply in format. Today is our fourth and final installation of Audition August half of this episode is going to be dedicated to questions and answers. Those questions were submitted by my personal clients. And from you listeners via Instagram questions about auditions specifically, the other half of the episode is going to be super special, firsthand audition stories from a handful of super special and very talented guests, that also happened to be friends. Ava Bernstein Mitchell, AKA Ava Flav, Kim Gingras, Hannah Douglas and Dexter Carr. I mean, wow, this is quite an episode and I want to get into it, but you know how we do here.  We begin with wins. 

Oh guys, I’m celebrating a special win. I am celebrating that words that move me. Podcasts has found itself in Apple’s top 100 performing arts podcasts yet again this week, actually last week. But this week, by the time you’re hearing this, I guess at spot number 83, now I am not privy to the witchcraft and wizardry that determines the ranking of podcasts on Apple. But I am certain that I could not, would not have achieved that very coveted 83rd slot without all of you. So thank you so much. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m glad to have you, and to those of you that have been giving feedback via social media and on the website. I’m so grateful for that always and now, regardless of what Apple thinks of my podcasts, I’m getting some awesome feedback and some critical feedback too. I appreciate all of it. Thank you so much. All right. If you are digging the podcast, I should say some good next steps for you might be to share it with a friend, leave a review or a rating, and of course, download it and make sure that you’re able to have it with you whenever you find yourself in podcast, ready time, be it with or without your wifi. Okay. Now the important part, what is your win this week? What’s going well in your world.  

Congratulations. Happy, win to you. Please keep winning. 

All right. Let’s dig in to these Q’s and A’s, I got some really, really good questions from you guys about auditions, so thoughtful, um, so thought provoking and I’m actually really, really excited to begin. Let us begin. Oh, by the way, I should say that these questions were submitted via Google forms. So I’m not actually sure who asked them there were submitted anonymously and I will answer them anonymously right from my mouth. Here’s where I’d like to begin, listener asks 

“What would you say to someone who was training in dance took a few years off to focus on an alternative career, but has started retraining during quarantine and would love nothing more than to dive back into the audition slash dance world.”

Alright to you dancer in her early thirties, I would say go for it. I would also say listen to last week’s episode where I talk to Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien from Clear Talent Group. They talk a lot about the lay of the land that we’re looking at now heading into, um, the post COVID work era and our industry is slowly starting to turn on kind of like a dimmer switch, less like a regular on off switch work is extremely slow right now, which means it is extremely competitive. It might be a tough time to catch your footing, but it will be a fruitful time eventually. Um, and from my personal point of view, most of the audition breakdowns that I’ve been getting, especially lately are looking for real people. The majority of the work that’s happening right now is not, you know, in person award shows, it’s not tours. Some of it is music videos, but most of this type of dancing is, um, TV, episodic, film, and commercial. Those are looking for usually real people, not backup dancer types. So for you, I would really encourage, um, to get in there, get your materials in order, headshots, photos and really good video links. Um, if you have a relationship with an agent already awesome, if not keep your eye out on the casting networks to be self submitting. This is the time for video submissions. It is a great day to be self submitting today and every day. 

All right, next up, “I have heard a lot of stories about people sneaking into auditions, just out of curiosity, not like I would ever try it or anything.” 

This person’s cheeky. “How are some people just able to sneak into private auditions and what would happen if they got all the way to the end, asking for a friend angel emoji.” I love this question. I love it so much. And I am going to leave it to my dear friend, Ava Bernstein Mitchell, to answer this question with her special story coming at ya in just a few moving right along. Ooh, we have a poll “technique versus style.  Which one is more important to you at an audition? Of course it depends on the project, but for you personally, meaning me Dana director, choreographer, or person behind the table, which one do I side with? Or which one do you side with?” This is a great question. In fact, I Dana the person on the other side of the microphone am going to be bringing you an episode entirely dedicated to this conversation technique versus style in a knockdown drag out battle who would win? Well, dear writer, dear listener. I think you’re already onto the answer to this question, which is it’s different for every project. I know certain choreographers prioritize and champion style. I know certain others that prioritize and champion cleanliness, um, this, this ability to replicate, duplicate and do exactly as I say and exactly as I do. I personally, Dana am a fan of personal you and your style. I really love to see individuality. It’s something I champion with my work and it’s something I really look for in my team. So that is my answer. Bring on your style. All right. 

Ooh, here’s another good one. “How important are looks AKA hair, makeup, clothes, et cetera. When you are at an audition?” I will answer again for myself, not nearly as important as your, your talent is numero UNO, but oftentimes especially because there are many, many humans and usually not a lot of time, your hair, your makeup or your clothing can become a quick and easy identifier a way for us to remember you. So although your talent is the most important thing you can bring to an audition, your hair, your makeup and your wardrobe are really, really easy way to become memorable. Hair, makeup wardrobe. Yes, important, but only fractionally compared to how important your talent is.  

Okay.  Ah, this is great. “If an audition asks for all black attire, what would you wear to stand out?” Oh dear writer slash listener. Please do go listen to episode 32, where I talk at length about exactly this. Okay. Next step. Next step. “How much research should you do on a project before an audition?” Oh my gosh. This is the fun part for me. I love research. I love digging. I love learning. I love trial and error. This is just a process that I so get into my recommendation is as much as possible before you audition for a project, you should. Absolutely. If, if nothing else have researched the choreographer, if there is one attached or the project itself, um, this is something that I could spend hours doing. But if you are limited, I’d say you get the tip of the iceberg in 15 to 20 minutes, but this is like bare, bare minimum. The more you can dig in, the more prepared you will be. Even if nothing else, you might simply enter the room differently, feeling prepared, thinking that you had done your homework. There is really nothing like the feeling of walking into the room, knowing that you didn’t do your homework. I am all for anything you can do to avoid that feeling. Okay moving on. “Are agencies, signing new talent via online submissions?” Yes, yes, absolutely. Yes. Off the top of my head. I know that at least Go2Talent agency is signing new talent. Okay. Next up. Ooh, this one’s a doozy. It’s a, it’s a bundle.  

Okay. Listener asks “In response to the Instagram posts going around saying that Instagram is your new real slash resume. Has Instagram really become the dancers new reel?” Okay. I’m going to give you guys a little bit of context. I pulled up the, um, posts that has been circulating around Instagram. I’m going to read it to you now. It says this
“To all of my dancers. Please, please show your versatility on your IgE page because when you’re sleeping, having your coffee… I am quietly trying to submit you for a gig. Yes. I’m sharing your profile privately. And when I have to literally search your page and scroll all the way down to show the client, some sort of versatility, it makes it hard to push for you. Please spread the selfies in between and add some content that will get you booked.” All right. So that’s the post that this writer is referring to. Now let’s listen to that question. One more time. Has Instagram become the new dancers reel? So that I would say yes and no. I don’t think anything will ever replace a good, reel, reels show many, many different projects, preferably your best work with one click with one view, no time scrolling in between, but in some ways Instagram can do one better because where a reel  stops, right, Where it ends. Instagram does keep going. You can have an endless feed. I mean, maybe not actually endless, but close to it. You decide the same listener asks. Do you need to have separate IG accounts for personal versus professional to that? I would say no, probably not. I would actually say you don’t even need an Instagram account. I can say that because I know plenty of dancers that are plenty working that don’t have an IG account. Is it helpful to have one? Yes. Is it more common to have one probably. But do you need? No. I would definitely recommend anybody with questions about the use of social media. Go back and listen to episode 10. It’s called your social media storefront and a really, really dig in to my relationship and several different types of relationships you can have with social media.  

Okay. Here’s another good one. “If you’re new and don’t have high quality content, is that still good enough to post or should you wait until you have the good content?” If social media is the new audition, then it doesn’t serve you much good to wait until you have good content so that you can get booked so that you can have good content. It’s this which came first, the chicken or the egg conversation. To this listener I would say it is not out of your reach to create good looking content. If you have a phone in your pocket and something to prop it up against, you have the sunlight, you have your body, you have your talent, get your talent out there. Just hit record and share. B minus work is still above average. It’s a great place to start.  

Alright. One more question on this subject in this post “They say to show versatility on your page. What does that mean?” I really love this question and I’m going to answer it like this. If you’re a person that wants to be doing work, like what you see on TV, then post yourself dancing styles, similar to what you see on TV, put out into the world, the work that you want to be doing to that I would also like to add. It’s not always about being versatile. Sometimes it kills to be a specialist. If that’s you, if you specialize at one thing, show me that one thing. Show me you are the greatest at that one thing, if you’re a person that desires doing a lot of different types of work, then yeah. Show that you’re able to do different types of work. And that doesn’t just mean dance. Go take a look at the special skills section on your resume. If you don’t have a special skills section on your resume start considering what sets you aside, bring that, bring those special skills, bring those talents, bring those interests to your social media as well, because it isn’t just about how well you dance. It is about who you are. People want to work with people who do good work and people really, really want to work with good people. All right. I hope those Qs and As Aid, some of your Qs, and I hope that you are ready with a pen and paper because you have a lot to learn from these special stories coming up. On your mark, get set, grow. Oh yeah. I said,  grow.

Kim Gingras: Bonjur! My name is Kim Gingras And I like to share this one audition. I will never forget. So we’re in 2011 and it had only been a few months since my move to Los Angeles. When a friend told me about this upcoming audition for Nicole Scherzinger from the pussycat dolls, which was very exciting because I knew their music well, I loved her style. I love the whole empowerment female in heels, a type of dancing. But I was a little worried because I never received a memo from my agency. So since communication is key, I reached out to my agent to clarify what the audition was about, why I hadn’t gotten the memo, if I could possibly go. And they nicely explained that it didn’t fit the specs that they were looking for. So an audition always comes with an audition breakdown and I didn’t fit the characteristics. Fair. That’s totally fair, but I wasn’t ready to walk away from that opportunity. I just knew it. I felt that in my gut, this was something I needed to show up to. So I found out who the choreographer was for the job, which was the amazing Jaquel Knight. And I had a connection with him through years back in 2008, when we were both in the cast of the Monsters of Hip Hop showcase. And I decided to reach out to him and he is so sweet and so kind and openly welcomed me to the audition. He’s like, yeah, just show up at this time. No problem. I got you. And he sure did. So I showed up over there and I mean, it was such an amazing experience. This audition lasted hours. It was dancing after dancing and so much sweating and people were getting cut. We had to stay longer. And Nicole showed up at some point. Then we all had to dance by ourselves, the entire song for her to watch. I mean, it just went on and on. I feel like we ended around like midnight or something. It was just so exciting. And I booked the job and not only did I book this right there, music video, but it turned into my first appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show, American Idol. So you think you can dance, my first European tour and then nine more years of friendship and opportunities when Nick and the team, like what, I mean, she’s just the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve gone to Vietnam, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, together. And I’ve gotten, you know, amazing lifetime friendships through her and the team. So the moral of the story here is you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Of course I had to quote Wayne Gretzky cause I’m Canadian. But in all seriousness, I know we’ve all felt this fear take over us in specific situations where in reality, we had that little voice inside telling us this is for you. Go for it. So let’s be a little more daring. Let’s listen to that little voice inside. Let’s take chances. We owe it to ourselves.  

Dexter Carr: Hey, what’s going on? Y’all my name is Dexter Carr. I am a choreographer dancer in Los Angeles, California, and this is my crazy audition story. So when I had just moved to Los Angeles, I was getting a lot of open calls from my agency. I was getting calls that had like literally 300 people in a room, all trying to audition for like three spots. So I was going because you know, that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You pound the pavement, you hustle, you move, you move, you move. So I went, one audition in particular was for an artist that was very, uh, eclectic and liked a lot of drama and like, you know, things and extra and lace and all the things, all the, all the, all the things. And uh, if you know anything about me that I have that side, but it’s not, it’s not something that I’m really, you know, like that’s not my go to, and especially not at that age, you know, moving here like six, seven years ago.  

So I’m walking into this thing, thinking that, like I got to really come up with something. I got to pull something. I got to really like try to, you know, and that’s the energy in the room. Cause I already knew what the energy and the room was about to give. Right? So I come in there with like a little rip tank tops of ripped jeans and some boots and a bandana tied around my head. I’m like, yeah, this is it. This is edgy. This is the edgiest you’re going to get. I walked up to the parking lot, which is where all of the dancers were waiting to go inside. And the first thing I saw, we, God, I’m laughing. Cause I’m, haven’t told the story in so long. The first thing I saw was somebody with, um, wings, wings on like the size of Victoria’s secret angel wings.  Like, you know what I mean? Huge wings. And then somebody else had their face painted one color half and then there are other, and like people got like weaves for this that were like down to the floor. And I was like, Oh wait, wait, wait, I missed the memo. I thought I was really doing it. I thought I was really going to be able to, you know, you know, rub elbows with these people. But no, no, no. They have surpassed me and we haven’t even gotten in the room yet. We haven’t even learned one step yet cut to, we all get in the room and you know, the choreographers is letting us know what the job is, how many spots there are and what he’s looking for. And basically what he said is that he wants a star. He wants somebody that comes in here and grabs the attention. Now, mind you, like I said, I’m in all black and some boots. So I don’t, I don’t have a leg up. I don’t have a leg up on the competition with this. When it was time for my group to audition, I was of course, in a group with the person, with the wings. And when I tell y’all they finished the choreography, which you know, choreography happened, boom, I’m set. I’m good. I’m clean. I’m probably not doing a lot. I’m probably not making a lot of choices. It’s probably not doing anything. You know, that’s like, wow, bam. But I’m getting through the choreography right. Time to freestyle. The person with the wings takes the wings, walks to the center of the room as if it is a runway flaps the wings in front pushes them back and struts all the way down to the table and literally stares at the people at the table. Now these wings are so large that it does hit you or move you or give you a gust of wind that if you’re not expected, may topple you over. Which is what happened to me. I literally like was not expecting these wings to come at me. And I looked up and I saw them and I fell over needless to say, no one got kept other than him. So moral of the story is if they say edgy, go, go for the gold go. Like no, no fear go for it. Y’all yeah. Thanks for listening to my crazy audition story.  

Hannah Douglass: My name is Hannah Douglas and this is my audition story. So I have plenty of audition stories, but the most memorable for me is the very first audition. I was fresh off of Edge scholarship. I was 18 years old and it was for the Celine Dion world tour, which is so major. It was Nick and RJ. It was everybody who was, anybody was there at the time. And I was nice and green. And I remember loving the choreo thinking. I was killing the choreo in my little scholie corner with my friends and, you know, going over it over and over and over, and then going in a group with a bunch of OGs and then just like fully losing it and completely blanking. I basically stood there. It was a full tragedy and I just freaked out and it was, it was terrible. So I got chopped ASAP, obviously. Left and just couldn’t believe it.  And then I remember the next day going into Edge and seeing Bill and bill was so excited, Bill Prudich, he’s the director of edge, the edge scholarship program. And he was like, you know, guru dance guru and cared so much about our journey. So I was, you know, kind of embarrassed to see him. Cause I knew I was terrible, but he was like, how was your first audition? And I just broke down crying. I lost it. I just lost it. And he was like, okay, so you should probably move home because these are your options. You either cry and break down right now because you got told no once or you get it together and you move forward. And I will never forget that moment in my life because the idea of moving home was just not an option for me. I mean, I love my home, but I just, I was so determined to just do better.  And Bill saying that reacting that way was, you know, the option was to move home. Just really rocked me to my core. And I had an audition four days later, I think for Seal, for Dancing with the Stars. And I went in hearing Bill’s voice in my head saying, you know, move home or just figure it out basically. And I booked it and it was simply because of that mindset shift, which I’ve carried with me literally the last 14 years of my career. You know, you either choose to be rocked by who you’re surrounded by and you know, the, the caliber of the job in your mind, or you just do what you love to do to the best of your ability. You’re not going to be right for everything, but you can shift your mindset to the point that you offer the best that you have in that moment.  And because of Bill’s wording to me that day, I will never forget that feeling of being hold. Like basically you just figure it out, you know, or you, or you leave because that’s the alternative to just break down every time you turn you’ll you’re told no, or just do your best. So, you know, that week of auditions really shaped the rest of my life because I had one of the worst auditions I’ve ever had in my life. And then just four days later, the best auditions I’ve ever had in my life. And it was just because of a mindset shift. So that is what I try to carry with me forever. Still, you know, 14 years later is how mental this game is and that’s what gets you through. And so, yeah, I’m forever grateful to Bill and forever apologetic to Nick and RJ for that tragic audition. Um, but also grateful for the lessons I learned. So that’s my story.  

Ava Bernstein Mitchell: What’s up? This is Ava Bernstein Mitchell, and this is my most memorable audition story. I want to take you back to 2006 when I auditioned for Justin Timberlake. So let me preface the story with, at this time in my life, dancing for Justin Timberlake was my dream job. It was on the top of my wishlist. It was, it was it for me. And also I had met Marty at a hip hop intensive workshop. I would say, I don’t exactly know how much before, but it could have been a year. It could have been a few months, but I had met Marty and he said this to me and I’ll never forget after class. He was like, ‘yo, you’re dope. We’re going to work together someday.’ And I’ll never forget it. So I carry that into 2006, when it was all the buzz around town that Justin Timberlake was coming back. He had been gone for four years. So everybody knew this audition was coming up. But the thing about this audition was it was a picture submit only, which means Marty or whoever his team was, were picking pictures of the people who could attend the audition. First round goes around, I’m waiting. People are like, Oh yeah, I got called. Did you get called? You know, you know, everybody talks, I wasn’t called in. So I call my agent. I was like, Hey, was my picture chosen? You know, I really want to be at this audition. She’s like, sorry. No. And I was like, Oh, okay. So I let a few days go by and you know, still everybody’s talking about it, call again. I’m like, Hey, just checking to see if you know, my picture was picked and I really want to be at this audition. She’s like, no, I’m sorry.  You know, just, it just wasn’t on the lineup. So again, I waited a little bit longer and then I’m like, I need to be at this audition. So I called my agent and she says again, no, I’m sorry. It’s just, the people have chosen. They’re actually doing a sign in. It’s a whole thing. And I’m really usually a rule follower as what I do. And I respect the construct, uh, that is audition process and whatnot, I just try to be respectful of it. So, but I said to her, I I’m going to go. And she said, well, if you do go, don’t tell them we sent you. And I said, okay. So that was that. So day of  the audition comes a crash, the forbidden crash of the audition. And I was glad I did. It was all the hype was all the rage. I just remember there being a line outside then getting in and seeing all the familiar faces, your peers, your friends. We had a great time. I specifically remember though from this audition, cause I do have a bad memory sometimes, but this image is imprinted in my mind is that I remember auditioning and Justin sitting next to Marty and I’m right in front of him and his piercing blue eyes are just looking dead at me. Like I can’t get out and he’s just watching me and I’m thinking like, Oh my gosh, I really just have to, like, I just have to do me. I just have to go off. You know? And sometimes that can be very nerve wracking, but I honestly think, I just felt so deeply that this was my job that I was supposed to be there. That I really just enjoyed this moment. And I kind of remember what I was wearing. I was so basic. I had on some like loose jeans that were like a tie at the ankle, uh, with elastic at the ankle.  And I had a gray tee shirt on it. Might’ve been a ACDC gray T-shirt like, I don’t even know. I don’t know. It seemed like a good choice at the time. You know, I wasn’t like sparkly and glitzy and glamorous. It was Justin Timberlake. Let’s be honest. So I think it worked anyways fast forward to, I don’t even know, maybe it was a few weeks later. Maybe it was a few days later. I get the email that I’ve booked this job, which entailed at the, originally it was for a music video. Then it was for, you know, the VMAs then it was for tour. But I think at that time we did know that we were being booked for the tour if I remember correctly. But when I say it was the greatest feeling, but I shared this story because for two reasons specifically why this is a very significant story. is that Un-officially I was the only one from this audition that booked this tour.  And I say that meaning anyone else who was involved was either assisting him or part of a previous tour or chosen ahead of time. You know, that is what I mean by that. And I was the only person who one was not invited to, who didn’t have a relationship with Marty at that audition who booked it. And I’m very proud of that. And secondly, sometimes you just got to break the rules. Sometimes the rules are meant to be broken, but you have to use discernment. And you also have to know when that time is because you don’t want to just be out there running them up. But in this particular situation, I knew that was job. My spirit told me I just had to go for it and I’d have no other way. So cheers to being a rule breaker and cheers to going after your dreams.  

Dana: All right, everybody, I hope you enjoyed those stories. I hope you learned a lot from this episode and I hope that you head into this new and slightly different audition season, audition life feeling informed and inspired. Thank you so much for listening as always keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, we have a way to become a words that move me. So kickball, changeover to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and all right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.