I majored in theater at DeSales University (not very well known, but they did have a good program) and, afterwards, concentrated on comedy, working with Philadelphia's Next Line Comedy Theater (where we usually brought in enough money for wings and beer after the show) and trying Open Mic Stand-up, though not very successfully.
I moved to California both to pursue an acting career and because I had family here that needed help. I took classes at Second City and did extra work, but not much else. I might have left if not for being needed here. I stayed after my help was no longer needed (miss you, Grandpop and Uncle Joe) because I thought I would give all this showbiz nonsense one last shot.
here). I'd auditioned once before, trying just to sing pretty and didn't get to the judges. So I went "quirky." And it got me to that point. Actually being able to sing got me up to Top 44, but no further for reasons unknown to me.
After that, I managed to get two callbacks for the Hairspray movie musical (thanks to Paula Abdul who I found to be a very warm and caring person in my brief time with her), where I met my agent. Throughout a year with her, I auditioned quite a lot and booked a commercial, an independent film, and a sitcom guest spot (links on the side). But I didn't book quite enough work to have her keep me on.
I sort of gave up after that, felt discouraged and settled into a normal job while I tried to figure out what was next. I still sang, but only at karaoke with friends. I still didn't really think of myself as a singer. Then, one day, I was watching La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf's life story). I was struck by a scene where she declares she's hungry and just stops and starts singing. People throw money and she goes off to eat. I thought that was so gutsy and told my then roommate, Bobby (who I'd met on American Idol) that I'd do that one of these days. I'd heard people busking in nearby Laguna Beach. I never thought it was something I could do as I don't play an instrument. But I thought it might be fun to load a CD with backing tracks, dress up, and just give it a shot, singing all the old show tunes I love.
He actually took me at my word and dragged me down there one day. I made seven dollars in tips and thought it was fun, but too embarrassing to ever do again. It was nearly a year later that I lost my car (and consequently my job delivering food) and ended up taking the bus there, swallowing my nerves, and trying it again. I made grocery money and did it again... and again.
I just thought of it as something to do while I looked for a "real job," but that real job wasn't easy to come by and, once I started getting hired for parties, I decided to go all in, concentrate only on singing and promoting myself. I made business cards, upgraded to an ipod dock for busking in Laguna, eventually got an amplifier for gigs and, here I am, three years later, without a "real job" and I couldn't be happier. I sing regularly at four senior homes, four restaurants, and many private parties. I'm just so grateful to be working steadily for more than five years, even if the income varies.
People often suggest I should try out for the other reality shows out there. And I have sometimes. But it's hard to get to TV level and they aren't an easy game to play. You never have control over how you're presented or, really, much control over the direction of your career. So I'll also keep taking it to the streets and gigging because I think it's important that, if you want to be a singer, you just do it, no matter where you are. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up, so it's best to sing away while I can!
And, of course, I hope you'll be there listening. :)