Show cover of Ditch Your Backup Plan

Ditch Your Backup Plan

Stories of rewarding careers between starving artist and celebrity. Longtime professor, Jen Vellenga interviews creatives in arts and entertainment careers to give listeners the courage to ditch their backup plan.

Tracks

51. A Future of Possibilities - Peter Royston
Peter Royston (he/him) is an equity stage manager based in New York, and originally from the Bay Area area. His credits include: Blue Man Group, The Public Theater, The Lark, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Theatre Works, among others. Since 2017, Peter has become a vocal advocate and ally to the disabled community, specifically through his lived experience as a White Gay man with Cerebral Palsy. Peter hopes to see disabled stage management representation on Broadway and increased visibility of disabled artists across all aspects of the industry. Show Notes and Transcription at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
44:41 04/13/2021
50. Build Your Own Position - Elsie Escobar
Elsie Escobar is a 14 year veteran in the podcasting industry and inductee to the Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame. She is the co-founder of She Podcasts, a podcasting community for women + non-binary that has over 19 thousand members with a corresponding podcast and conference. She's a podcasting advocate, pundit and mentor to primarily women podcaster leaders. She also has an MFA in Acting!   Elsie is Libsyn’s Community Manager and co-host/producer of The Feed: The Official Libsyn Podcast   Elsie loves to drive dialogue in the podcasting industry focusing on podcasts’ impact on society, diversity, and culture as well as their power to drive social change.
54:07 04/06/2021
49. While Waiting for Your Shot - Noah Lindquist
Noah Lindquist is a member of AEA, a singer and actor, and the creator of the viral videos, "Wear a Mask," and "I Just Can't Wait for Vaccines." Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
46:12 03/23/2021
48. Go Back into the Fire - Kimberly Doreen Burns
Kimberly is a New York City based award-winning singer, actor, performer, and educator who recently originated the role of Maya in the New York City premiere of Sideways (based on the Academy Award Winning film). Top theatre critics have dubbed her a "golden-voiced vocalist," "a luminous life-force with a crystalline soprano voice," and "one of the best voices I've heard in musical theatre." Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
43:25 03/16/2021
47. We're Not in Competition with Each Other - Logan Rose Nelms
Logan is an actor in NYC with a passion for social justice and human equity. Over the past almost ten years, Logan has crafted a pretty nifty little life for herself, filled with some very cool flexible side hustles that enable her to drop everything on a dime and take an audition or a booking.. and she’s like really proud of that. Most notably, she is an ambassador for a fair trade fashion brand, called Noonday Collection. Noonday partners with artisans across the globe to create dignified work in their communities and combat the modern day slavery crisis. Over 70% of the artisans Noonday partners with are women!! Having this job in particular has been a definite bright spot in a dark year. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
44:15 03/09/2021
46. Casting College - Alison Franck
Alison Franck (CSA) is a casting professional with over 20 years of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Touring, Regional Theatre, TV, Film, Commercial and Voice Over Casting experience. For a decade, she was the Casting Director for the prestigious regional theatre Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, where she cast over 50 productions with some of the theatre community's finest talent. Notable credits at Paper Mill include the Broadway transfer of I’m Not Rappaport starring Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen, Anything Goes starring Chita Rivera, The Baker’s Wife starring Alice Ripley, The Chosen starring Theodore Bikel and John Lloyd Young, Baby starring La Chanze, Norm Lewis, Carolee Carmello, Michael Rupert and Chad Kimball, The Full Monty with Elaine Stritch, The Importance of Being Earnest with Lynn Redgrave, and was the original Casting Director behind the Broadway transfer of Godspell, which included Telly Leung and Uzo Aduba. SHOW NOTES at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
48:24 03/02/2021
45. See Yourself Being Successful - Damion Taylor
Damion Taylor spent the last 15 years applying data and technology to entertainment. Both analytical and creative, he brings a unique skill set that’s in high demand for brands and media companies. He effectively translates data in a way that is meaningful to creatives talent and has become a respected leader in audience growth and producing data-informed creative. He has lead Audience Development for large traditional media companies (e.g., Warner Bros. and NBC Universal) as well as innovative digital leaders (e.g., Machinima, Mitu and New Form) Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
57:14 02/23/2021
44. Strategize & Maximize - Elizabeth Nestlerode
Elizabeth is a New York actor and teaching artist.  She is the creator and instructor of the N2NYT: New to New York Theatre online course. Show notes at: DitchYourBackupPlan.com
61:19 02/17/2021
43. Understand Where Your Limits Lie- Gianmarco Soresi
Gianmarco Soresi is a stand up comic, actor and writer but the first line of his obituary will probably say “guy from all those General Electric commercials.” Check out his comedy special on Amazon Prime: "Shelf Life." Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
62:49 02/09/2021
42. Death of the Diva Decade - Sherita Carthon
Sherita Carthon is a Celebrity Brand Precision Expert who has helped more than 3k celebrities, artists, entrepreneurs and small business owners navigate their brand. An award winning speaker, Sherita has been featured on VH1 | FOX | ABC | MARKET WATCH | ASK.COM and most recently Live with Les Brown discussing her innovative project: The Celebrity Sales Method. Show notes and links at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
45:44 02/02/2021
41. Making It: 2020 Guests Answer, "Have you made it?"
Guests from 2020 answer the question, “Have you made it?” 00:53 Becca Kötte- Broadway actress and recording artist 1:30 David Valentine - Puppet Builder at Jim Henson Co. 2:52  Lauren Hirsh- Broadway child guardian 3:27 Clyde Voce- Actor 4:14 Sarah Schreiber-WWE backstage correspondent 5:50 Ross Evans- Screenwriter 6:17 Katie McClellan- TV, film, theatre & voiceover 7:38 Tim Murray- Actor, comedian 8:42 Grace Douglas 9:42 Mariand Torres- Broadway actress 11:15 Logan Jones- General manager, About Face Theatre, Chicago 11:52 Jenna Rubaii- Broadway actor 12:47 Alanna Saunders- Broadway actor 14:11 Anne Cofell Saunders- Television writer, executive producer 17:22 Lindsay Levine- Casting director 18:06 Carrie Compere- Actor 19:12 Julie Fleischer 20:07 Joshua Henry- Artist and Performer 20:37 Josh Fiedler- Producer 21:04  Travis Cloer- Broadway actor, Las Vegas performer, recording artist 21:42 Nick Francone- Scenic designer for theatre, art director for television and film 22:35 Theresa Squire -Broadway Costume Designer 23:13 Shaun J. Brown- Actor, writer and producer 23:52 Maya Lynne Robinson- Film, TV, stage actress, and writer/producer 24:09 Michael McElroy-Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway performer 24:35 Qui Nguyen-TV and film writer and playwright 25:24 Chantal Bilodeau- Playwright, founder of the Arctic Cycle organization 26:14 Bliss Griffin- Entertainment industry inclusion strategist 20:10 Kiki Rivera- Theatre artist and playwright 26:36 Kiki Rivera -Playwright and Activist 26:57 Laura Camien- Writer, producer, Co-host of The Spark File podcast 27:21 Vincent J. Cardinal- Chair of University of Michigan Musical Theatre DitchYourBackupPlan.com  
28:11 01/27/2021
40. Risk: Guests of 2020 Share Their Biggest Risk
Guests from 2020 answer the question, “What was your biggest risk?” 1:07 Becca Kötte- Broadway actress and recording artist 1:40  Lauren Hirsh- Broadway child guardian 2:16 Clyde Voce- Actor 2:55 Sarah Schreiber-WWE backstage correspondent 3:36 Ross Evans- Screenwriter 4:44 Katie McClellan- TV, film, theatre & voiceover 5:34 Tim Murray- Actor, comedian 6:32 Mariand Torres- Broadway actress 7:12 Logan Jones- General manager, About Face Theatre, Chicago 7:48 Jenna Rubaii- Broadway actor 9:15 Alanna Saunders- Broadway actor 9:47 Anne Cofell Saunders- Television writer, executive producer 12:00 Lindsay Levine- Casting director 12:48 Carrie Compere- Actor 13:12 Joshua Henry- Artist and Performer 14:02 Josh Fiedler- Producer 14:22 Travis Cloer- Broadway actor, Las Vegas performer, recording artist 15:23 Nick Francone- Scenic designer for theatre, art director for television and film 16:02 Shaun J. Brown- Actor, writer and producer 16:37 Maya Lynne Robinson- Film, TV, stage actress, and writer/producer 17:02 Michael McElroy-Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway performer 17:53 Qui Nguyen-TV and film writer and playwright 18:23 Chantal Bilodeau- Playwright, founder of the Arctic Cycle organization 19:22 Bliss Griffin- Entertainment industry inclusion strategist 20:10 Kiki Rivera- Theatre artist and playwright 20:45 Jerry Jay Cranford- Director, choreographer, performer professor 21:15 Laura Camien- Writer, producer, Co-host of The Spark File podcast 21:51 Vincent J. Cardinal- Chair of University of Michigan Musical Theatre 22:35 Alisa Hurwitz- Psychologist, Dr. Drama DitchYourBackupPlan.com  
25:03 01/19/2021
39. Guests of 2020 Answer the Backup Plan Question
In the first episode of 2021, guests from 2020 answer the question, “Did you have a backup plan?” 2:00 Becca Kötte- Broadway actress and recording artist 2:22 David Valentine- Puppet builder at Jim Henson Co. 2:56  Lauren Hirsh- Broadway child guardian 3:22 Clyde Voce- Actor 3:58 Sarah Schreiber-WWE backstage correspondent 4:07 Ross Evans- Screenwriter 4:44 Katie McClellan- TV, film, theatre & voiceover 5:36 Tim Murray- Actor, comedian 6:25 Grace Douglas- Story producer, unscripted (reality) TV  7:25 Mariand Torres- Broadway actress 7:49 Logan Jones- General manager, About Face Theatre, Chicago 8:30 Jenna Rubaii- Broadway actor 9:21 Alanna Saunders- Broadway actor 10:09 Anne Cofell Saunders- Television writer, executive producer 10:55 Lindsay Levine- Casting director 11:21 Carrie Compere- Actor 11:42 Sara Andreas- Broadway Actor and Julie Fleischer- TV writer, script supervisor and Sara’s mom 12:29 Joshua Henry- Artist and Performer 13:02 Josh Fiedler- Producer 13:17 Travis Cloer- Broadway actor, Las Vegas performer, recording artist 14:00 Nick Francone- Scenic designer for theatre, art director for television and film 14:33 Theresa Squire- Broadway costume designer 14:47 Shaun J. Brown- Actor, writer and producer 15:13 Maya Lynne Robinson- Film, TV, stage actress, and writer/producer 15:37 Michael McElroy-Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway performer 15:54 Qui Nguyen-TV and film writer and playwright 16:18 Chantal Bilodeau- Playwright, founder of the Arctic Cycle organization 16:42 Bliss Griffin- Entertainment industry inclusion strategist 17:023 Kiki Rivera- Theatre artist and playwright 17:21 Jerry Jay Cranford- Director, choreographer, performer professor 17:50 Laura Camien- Writer, producer, Co-host of The Spark File podcast 18:18 Vincent J. Cardinal- Chair of University of Michigan Musical Theatre 18:33 Alisa Hurwitz- Psychologist, Dr. Drama DitchYourBackupPlan.com          
19:40 01/14/2021
38. Give It Away to Keep It - Dr. Alisa Hurwitz
Dr. Alisa Hurwitz is Dr. Drama! She gives away mental health advice for artists on her Mental Health Live Series on Instagram. In this episode, she discusses her consulting work for the stage, the importance of self care, boundaries and success, and the impact brain development has on the ability to process the challenges of an industry shut down. As a  psychologist who has a lifelong passion for musical theater, Dr. Hurwitz offers her clinical insight into the characters you know from the shows you love. On her website you will find articles on the mental health aspects of your favorite musicals, discussion of new works and access to mental health resources, as well as interviews with some of your favorites from Broadway. http://www.drdrama.com/ Join other fearless friends in the Ditch Your Backup Plan Facebook Community Group to learn more about each interview and to connect with Jen. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
43:09 12/07/2020
37. Just Jen: Ditch Fear & Take Risks
Jen shares how artists register risk differently and how protocols in theatre lead to a fearless community that is accepting of risk and supportive to adjustments.
06:01 11/30/2020
36. Your Journey is Perfect - Vincent J. Cardinal
Jen's longtime mentor, Vincent J. Cardinal is the Arthur and Martha Hearron endowed professor of musical theatre, chair of the department of musical theatre, and professor of music at the school of music, theatre, and dance at the University of Michigan.  Vince shares the importance of goals and what purpose they really serve and how to find "your people." Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.Com
65:03 11/23/2020
35. Just Jen: Ditch Resistance & Adapt
Host, Jen Vellenga goes solo and talks about adaptation in the digital moment and how she's owning her digital space. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
11:13 11/16/2020
34. Go Confidently in Pursuit of Your Dreams - Laura Camien
Laura Camien is a Broadway producer, playwright and screenwriter, and, along with Susan Blackwell, Laura is Co-host of the popular creativity podcast, The Spark File. She was a long time VP of Communications for Blue Man Group, as well as Creative Director and Head Writer for Blue Man Group's book, Blue Man World. As a teacher, she specializes in public speaking, media training, writing and communication. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
62:39 11/09/2020
33. Just Jen: Ditch Complacency & Show Up
Jen talks about the dangers of complacency for an artistic life and some strategies for overcoming embarrassment and resistance in order to show up.  
10:24 11/02/2020
32. Be Kind & Do Good Work - Jerry Jay Cranford
Jay has made his career as an actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer, and educator. He has performed on Broadway (Les Miserables), international and national tours (Les Miserables, Evita European Company as featured dancer, Singing in the Rain as Don, Anything Goes as Billy), regional stages, television and spent 3 years as the Genie in Disneyland's stage musical Aladdin.  He is currently an Associate Professor at Kansas State University. Jay has been a proud member of Actors Equity for nearly 30 years but none of the above credits compare to the joy that is being a husband and father to two beautiful daughters. Show notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
52:21 10/26/2020
31. Just Jen: Ditch Doubt & Believe
Jen shares some research on Imposter Syndrome and advises listeners to ditch doubt, identify a super fan, and believe in themselves. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
13:49 10/19/2020
30. Speak Your Truth - Kiki Rivera
Kiki Rivera (she, they, we, wrasse) is an internationally produced, award-winning theatre artist, educator, and arts activist with her BA in Theatre and MFA in Playwriting from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Original plays include Puzzy (featuring award-winning New Zealand Playwright Victor Rodger), and Faʻalavelave: The Interruption. Their work focuses on cultural and sexual identity and the effects of colonization. Kiki is one of many voices for Pacific Islanders in the diaspora and is published in Samoan Queer Lives edited by Yuki Kihara and Dan Talaupapa McMullin and believes in self-reflective storytelling from a contemporary indigenous perspective and creating space for marginalized theatre artists of color. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
53:07 10/12/2020
29. Just Jen: Defining the Backup Plan
Jen talks about how to define the Backup Plan, the career pivot, the survival job, the side hustle, and the dream job. What does your mindset need to be to DitchYourBackupPlan?
12:12 10/05/2020
28. When Plan "A" Shifts - Bliss Griffin
Bliss Griffin's career is driven by a deep belief that the societal benefit of art is immeasurable. She believes that too often we value the art above the artist, trading their safety and well-being for our own entertainment. She is committed to creating an arts & entertainment industry culture that uplifts artists in their employment relationships. SHOW NOTES at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
55:55 09/28/2020
27. Create What Doesn't Exist- Chantal Bilodeau
Playwright Chantal Bilodeau is the founder and artistic director of the Arctic Cycle organization and close friend and collaborator of host, Jen Vellenga. Chantal dives into her impactful work as a storyteller who uses theatre to encourage communities to take action on local and global climate change.  Show notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
64:36 08/10/2020
26. Celebrate Failure - Qui Nguyen
Qui Nguyen is a TV and film writer, playwright, and self-identified geek. His career has gone from co-founder and artistic director of the Obie award-winning Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company to Daytime Emmy award winning Hollywood screenwriter.  Qui believes in celebrating failure, working hard, and he prefers climbing mountains with a team over a solo journey.
62:00 08/03/2020
25. Follow Your Passion - Michael McElroy
Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway performer, Michael McElroy is the founder of Broadway Inspirational Voices, for which he won a 2019 special Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre. He recently founded Black Theatre United to combat systemic racism within theatre institutions and beyond. He believes in following your passion, but putting in the work. Process is part of the journey when you ditch your backup plan. For Michael, this is what has led to a lifetime of growth. Show Notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
46:11 07/27/2020
24. Be the Change - Maya Lynne Robinson
Film, TV, stage actress, and writer/producer, Maya Lynne Robinson plays Michelle on the sitcom The Unicorn on CBS. She spent 13 years working off and on in human resources before she made her living completely as an actress. Her long road to success from humble beginnings has taken courage, discipline, and perseverance. Maya Lynne shares how she made the big move to Los Angeles and all the ways her early actions helped her to succeed.  Show notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
71:04 07/20/2020
23. Hone Your Craft - Shaun J. Brown
Shaun J. Brown from the CBS TV show The Great Indoors shares his personal journey starting with training in musical theatre to his pivot to the screen. A writer and producer, Shaun has learned how to continually hone his craft to stay relevant in the fast-paced industry of TV and film. Show notes at DitchYourBackupPlan.com
65:49 07/13/2020
22. Avoid Burnout - Theresa Squire
Theresa Squire, Broadway costume designer never knew her job existed when she started her undergraduate degree in Business with a focus in Fashion Merchandising.  She eventually received her M.F.A. in Costume Design from NYU and designed The Lieutenant of Inishmore and High Fidelity on Broadway. She served as the resident costume designer for Keen Company for 10 years. She’s a Pilates instructor and a mom and she learned how to avoid burnout by setting clear boundaries.  
52:04 07/06/2020