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  • Salisha

I got on the train tonight. Found a seat. Then I hear a whispered, “Salisha?” I look up and it’s my friend from college who recently made her Broadway debut. I look at her. She looks back at me. We just share a moment. She’s got tears in her eyes…

It’s Saturday night in New York City. She should be backstage at Wicked on Broadway. I should be making the trek home from rehearsal for the Britney Spears musical. But that is not the case today.

Broadway is dark at least for the next month. And this is different than when Beautiful closed last October. When the show closed, it meant that it was time to hit the audition circuit and get back at it. THIS? Honey, there ain’t no auditions. it’s not about finding the next show. Because right now, the industry straight up doesn’t exist.

Eff this Corona Virus.

Yesterday (which by the way feels like a decade ago) I got up early. I juiced, put my makeup on, spent 30 minutes twisting my hair and trotted off to work. During rehearsal, we had an unusually long break… *sigh* I should have guessed what was coming.

We came back in the studio and we ran the opening number. I jumped in for one of the characters I understudy since she wasn’t there. It was exhilarating!! And then… Our producer updated us saying something similar to what I’m assuming my sister Broadway shows had also heard.... And of course it’s necessary and safety is especially important right now for the community at large. Yet still- a devastating blow. Hearts were broken. The air was immediately sucked out of the room and you could hear only sniffles. That sort of thing is never easy. I felt my own head drop as a tear hit the floor. My cast sang one last song together. And then we were excused for an early lunch with no idea if or when we will ever return.

It’s crazy how only after 11 days of rehearsals, we all got so close so quickly. I think at first glance, no one would expect a Britney Spears musical too… I don’t know... fill in the blank. 😂 But by some magical force, it is GOOD. It’s better than good. And it has HEART. And I cannot wait for the coronavirus to pass over so people can be healthy and feel safe again so that we can share this musical with the world. It’s effing empowering.

Cast of One More Time Bway 📸 Raymond J Lee

I have faith.

You guys. We are going to be OK. So many things are unknown and that can be scary. But we are not alone. None of us are alone. Not only are we in this together but we have the privilege of living HISTORY in real time. We are here in America at the scene of the crime. And when it’s over and we’ve lived to tell about it, we are going to have some unbelievable stories.

During this time off, I’ve set a few goals for myself that I’d like to commit to. There are things that I want to accomplish during this stay at home time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be watching a few shows. But best believe I will not be spending all my free hours on Netflix. Those of us that have been given this disguised blessing of time at home have an incredible opportunity to create something really beautiful. That could mean very different things for all of us. Personally? I’m considering starting a podcast. And the book that I wrote is actively being worked on by my editor. (God is so good PS. But y’all, it’s so juicy.... I may not be able to share it because it could ruin me. Stay tuned.)

The point is, though COVID19 is a real life physical threat, it’s also a state of mind. We don’t have to be prisoners in hiding. For my creatives out there with some extra free time, let’s make something beautiful. And remember, you are not alone.

Fear is false evidence appearing real. Fear is a state of mind, a response to something that may or may not happen. When we live in fear, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be great. We rob ourselves of living our best lives. When we choose the safer option, it’s not nearly as rewarding as life COULD be if we just gave it a chance... but then that would be risky wouldn’t it... My life is constantly requiring me to take one risk after the other. The second I feel brave and conquer a fear... God throws another decision in my path and I have to choose whether to be brave again or just give up and play it safe. I’ve done both and in my opinion, being brave is WAY more rewarding. Even when I fail.

A year ago, a psychic nail lady told me that there was going to be some changes. And she told me not to be alarmed. And when she saw me quietly freaking out, she shared that “Sunshine is coming...” as she continued painting my toenails. The entire year that I was 27 years old... was weird. There was a lot of foreboding. I eventually lost my job, and I had doubt that I would ever work again. And then, in the blink of an eye, after a long little while, doubt went out the window. Fear went out the window. And all of a sudden, I had options.

The sunshine is here. Thank God. Finally! I had to learn so many lessons last year. It was annoying actually. But it was also exciting. I pushed my butt to take class again, to get a little more snatched, to practice auditioning again. I’ve read so many books lately, and they are all conveying a similar message: that life is one big mental game. If you believe you are a failure, then you are a failure! If you believe you are fierce, the world will straight up agree with you. The physical world is just a tiny fraction of what’s actually going on. If you factor in energy and your attitude and outlook on life, it’s a total game changer.

TMI ALERT: It took me almost THREE effing decades to use a tampon. Because I was afraid. (AFRAID OF WHAT?! I don’t know girl.) I finally did it, and it wasn’t because I pushed it in as hard as I could. NO. One day I just decided. I decided that ‘Today, that’s what I’m gonna do.’ and then I did it.


I just decided. And that sucker slipped right in. 😂 The last time I was sick (y’all I never get sick.) I was on my back for days. I was sick of being sick. And then one day, I woke up and literally said, “Okay, I don’t want to be sick anymore.” I decided that I wasn’t. And I got my butt up and performed on Broadway that night. And oddly enough, I had a voice. And I wasn’t hacking all over the place.

Here’s something else: I noticed that when I need to be somewhere and perform, whether in class or on stage, when I’m nervous and shrouded in doubt, I… I’m kind of… Mediocre. But when I DECIDE TO BE GREAT, and dash fear aside, something magical happens. It’s like— BOOM! There’s a glimmer of a STAR.

Why not DECIDE to be great all the time. Why not decide to live our best lives ALL THE TIME? Why not decide to step into our power and kill it every single opportunity we get?

I’ve always had pretty medium hair. It’s never really been that long my whole life. And one day, I decided that I want big hair. I just… Decided. And now… My hair is the biggest it’s ever been and still growing!!

Chia Messina Photography (on the right obvs)

What is going on?! Here’s what I think: this power isn’t just available to me. But it’s within all of us. And it’s available in every aspect of life. We have to figure out what it is we want and then BELIEVE we deserve it. BELIEVE it can happen. Maybe ‘deserve’ isn’t the right word. Maybe it is. I don’t know.

I was out of work for three months. And then I woke up and said, “My blessing is close. I’m going to book something next week.” And then I did. In fact, your homegirl had options. Now, I’m trying to figure out, was that a little psychic-ness going on? OR did I speak it into existence?? 🤷🏽‍♀️ All I know is that the mind is powerful.

Life is so funny and crazy and interesting. There’s so much that goes on that the eye cannot see. I am interested in tapping more into that. Figuring that out (as much as one can). Because that’s where the exciting stuff is.

God has given me so many signs that everything is going to be OK. But the sign God has sent me the most— is to NOT BE AFRAID. Because fear is crippling. When I am afraid, I stop playing an active role in my life. I make safe choices. And a lot of times, choosing the safer option costs me exponentially in the big picture and the long run. The book I’m reading right now Rich Dad Poor Dad says that most people don’t play to win. They play to not lose.

Can we take a moment of silence for that mic drop.

Literally the definition of acting out of fear.

I definitely have done it. And the ending always sucks! But when I risk something… It’s always rewarding— even when I fail. Because I’m left with no what-ifs. There is no “I wish I would have tried.” When I fail, I feel proud knowing that I failed doing something that at the time I felt was right. But when I failed because I played it safe? UCK! I want to throw up just thinking about those times! But also... A LOT OF TIMES... the risk pays off!

A man I once loved said, “Life is long.” And it is. But also, it’s short. Way too short to not give your dreams a chance.

It’s time to live as big as possible. I want to live out loud in such a way that I feel I have milked the crap out of the few years I have on this planet. I refuse to let my fear rob me of being my greatest self.

RuPaul says, “Die to your old self so you can be reborn to your higher self.” It’s past time to set aside outdated habits of letting fear dictate our lives. What would your life look like if you weren’t afraid of failing? Friends, I’ve decided that it’s time to fly. WHO’S WITH ME?

Ladies and Cuties: Let’s do this thing!

Chia Messina Photography

  • Salisha

I decided to go to an ECC. I haven’t been to one in 6 years. (An ECC stands for Equity Chorus Call. Basically, anyone can go audition since it’s not based on an appointment.) I went to an ECC of a new show coming to Broadway this season that I could personally take or leave. If the stakes were high, I’d ask my agent. Plus I wanted to see what it was like.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were HUNDREDS of girls. I think I was #176, and there were many more after me. There were so many girls that the monitor announced that if you weren’t in the Union, to just go home. On top of this, we were only allowed to sing 16 bars.

I’m sorry, what?! 16 bars?! That’s barely a chorus to a song! How can I express a full arc in 16 bars?

I looked around the room. My spirit was in disbelief and also downtrodden. I cannot imagine trying to get on Broadway realistically from something like this. How is someone supposed to stand out amongst the crowd and be more than a number? How on earth are you supposed to get noticed and picked out from the crowd? My heart broke.

I had a healthy handful of friends in the room and I just kept asking them, “Is this real? Is this real.” They would tell me, “Yeah girl. It’s audition season.” I was so humbled. I’d been booked for years and I have the best agents a girl could ask for. But I was in the same room as all these girls. We were all equals and I wasn’t better than anybody else.

There was an air of anxiety and panic. I didn’t realize how heavy the spirit of anxiety was until I ran upstairs to an appointment I had for a new show. Up there on the 12th floor — it was a different world. For starters, the floor had only a small number of people. The hallways weren’t filled. There was peace. A spirit of ease. Even though this appointment had much higher stakes, and was something I wanted, I felt much more calm, grounded, and free.

The director walked out, “Hey Salish! Just gonna run to the restroom. I’ll be right back!” Fast forward to when I was in the room: I like to pretend I’m an older white man when I audition. I take up a lot of space, physically and energetically. And I take my time. If I need a moment, I take a moment. I did my audition. Felt good about it. Then I headed back down to the 3rd floor for my ECC.

As soon as those elevator doors opened to Floor 3, I was immediately transported back to a world of panic and anxiety. The tension so tight, you could slice the air with a knife. I got back just in time to line up for my group. I had to choose a fierce 16 bars.

Back in the day. I would ordinarily choose the safest 16 bars as to ensure I wouldn’t miss any notes because every note mattered. On this day, I laughed in the face of fear. I figured, ‘all these girls? I have nothing to lose! They aren’t going to notice me in that room!’ I chose my fiercest 16 bars with notes at the top of my belt.

The girl in front of me reeked of desperation. I prayed I wouldn’t reek of carelessness. Everyone walked in and out. Boom Boom Boom. So fast. Nothing to lose I thought. Might as well just relax and have fun and just go for it. They won’t know me and they won’t remember.

It was my turn. I walk in the room. I know the casting associate. “Hey Salish!” She says. I sang my little 16 bars. I hit every note. I sang from my hoo-ha. It was over in like 10 seconds. The guy behind the table has a question but isn’t saying anything. I decide to not run out the room but instead wait for him to spit it out. He speaks: “How high can you belt?” I say, “Well that was an F.” He thinks. I wait. I tell him that I just tell people I’m an alto. Because I know I’m good at being an alto 8 times a week. The higher stuff I can do.... I just don’t feel like it.

Two days later, I get a callback. My agent says they want to see me dance. He knows I usually pass on the dance stuff but asks how I feel about it. Honestly, I was feeling confident since I’d been in dance class and dance callbacks a lot lately. I said, “Let’s do it.”

YALL. When I tell you I just KNEW I was about to book this show. They told me I could just wear my tennis shoes. I was like, Oh man. They really need someone. I GOT THIS. (You already know what’s coming. Wait for it.) I drilled the callback song and felt like a rock star. I couldn’t wait to sing it for them. I just had to get through the dance. No prob.

The night before the audition, I get an email from my agent. “Hey Salish! One little thing. Casting just asked that you bring your tap shoes and heels tomorrow.”

*mic drop*

My TAP SHOES? My tap shoes?!?! Do I HAVE tap shoes? If I do, I haven’t put them on since 2012. And they aren’t high heel tap shoes. AND they’re bedazzled. Oh gawd. Pep talk: I got this. I got this. I don’t got this. Come on! YOU GOT THIS. It’s a state of mind, Salisha!

I go into the audition the next day. Got there an hour early to snag a practice room and do a full warm up. Afterwards, I arrive to the holding room. I don’t recognize any of the girls in the room. This is important because when I don’t know ANYBODY, it’s usually because they come from the Dancer world of Broadway. Half the room was warming up in the splits. Dear Lord, what is about to happen right now... I’m not fully freaking out yet, but I’m still stupidly VERY confident.

We’re led into the dance audition room. I take my spot smack dab in the middle—in the front row. Stupid, stupid girl. Honey I’m lookin cute. Feeling good. You can’t tell me NOTHIN.

We start learning the dance. The first count was a high kick to the face. THE FIRST COUNT WAS A HIGH KICK TO THE FACE. THAT WAS THE FIRST COUNT!

How can I keep this short but explain how this dance call made me feel? It was as if I’d gone in for An American in Paris. Or to ABT to replace Misty Copeland. It was the hardest dance call I had ever been to—IN MY LIFE.

I started looking over at the door... thinking, ‘Girl... You could just leave.’ But I stuck through it a little longer. I couldn’t believe no one had questions. So I started asking questions in a valiant attempt to not just give up. But it was too late. I would have needed to start dance classes when I was 4 to get through this audition. I remove myself from the front row and walk to the back of the room, defeat beginning to set in. The choreographer says, “Yeah! Let’s everyone switch lines!” LOL

From the back of the room, I observe the girls. And I quickly realized... “Salish... honey... You are the weakest link. Goodbye.” Could I fake my way through it? Nope. Can I rock it in a group of 3 for the creative team? HELL no. LEAVE. NOW.

I walk over to the guy at the table. He looks up at me with these striking blue, sympathetic eyes. We stare at each other as I begin to shake my head. And I say with a smile, “This isn’t for me.” He said the nicest things. I then walked my butt across the room, picked up my taps shoes and heels, and exited the space.

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh at my audacity or to cry that I completely threw in the towel. I would decide in the bathroom stall. On my way to the ladies room, I run into my friend. She says, “Girl! How’d it go?! It’s over already?!” I looked at her and held in my secret shame until I blurted out, “I WALKED OUT!”

“You WHAT?!” We both burst into fits of laughter as I tried to explain what they attempted to have me do up in that room!

Five minutes into my recounting the story, a girl walks up to me and says, “Salisha? Hi. I’m so sorry that we put you through that in there. We have no idea what we want this track to be yet. Can you come back and sing at 1:45?”

Both me and my friend at the same time let in the teeny-tiniest surprised inhale of breath. And as CALMLY as possible, I said, “Yes.” She leaves. I turn to my friend. We both have disbelief in our eyes, “WHAT?!” Oh. My. Gawd. I got the callback. And I didn’t have to humiliate myself to do it. Thank you God.

I went. I sang the crap out of that song for the FULL team. Don’t know if they’ll pick me or not and it doesn’t matter. What I learned from this whole experience is that it’s important to take risks, to listen to your own intuition, and to know your limits. That ECCs aren’t fake auditions. The moral is not to throw in the towel when things get hard, but to know yourself and your limits and to be realistic. To stop caring so dang much about what people think, but to prepare the things you can control.

My goal for 2020 is to grow some balls. I don’t plan

on walking out on other auditions. But I do plan on acting on my deep impulses and trusting that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Photo by RM Hunt

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