Friend of the podcast Linedy Genao shares the unlikely story of making her Broadway debut in the company of On Your Feet!
I booked a Broadway show, my first professional theater job ever, from an open call while working at a bank and pursuing a career in business. My journey to the Broadway stage began almost three years ago, and I still pinch myself to make sure it’s real. On Your Feet! literally changed the trajectory of my life. My cast calls me the “Dominican princess,” or the “crybaby” since I cried just about every single day out of disbelief that this life-long dream of mine came true.
With a CVS-printed headshot taken on an iPhone 5, and a resume of my high school performances, I walked into the open call of, On Your Feet! feeling everything possible. I was embarrassed, nervous, and a bit out of place yet, at the same time, filled with a sense of confidence because I felt that my passion would shine through. No other show I've been a part of has allowed me to be so authentic. To be, ME! The show was looking for Triple Threat Latina/os who could sing/dance/act and I immediately thought, “Me! Me! Me! They’re looking for someone just like me!” All I had to do was be myself, dance/sing the songs I grew up with, and speak the language I first learned, Spanish. The audition was indescribable. I was walking on air.
I’ve loved to sing since I was little. I sang at my church in Brooklyn, NY, and took any and every opportunity to sing when my family and I moved to Connecticut. When college applications rolled around, I told myself, “If I don’t get into the best schools for musical theater, then I’m not good enough to be on Broadway.” And guess what? I didn’t get into NYU and Ithaca, the “top two schools for musical theater” that I had heard of at the time. Instead, I went to UCONN and completed a degree in business administration, putting theater on the back burner. I thought that maybe it was just meant to be a hobby.
After college, I started working at a private bank in NYC. On my lunch break one day, I decided to go on Broadwayworld.com to look for auditions and there it was, On Your Feet! This was the 4th professional audition that I had ever been to. I figured, hey I have "some" experience with auditioning, so why not give it a shot? They were again, looking for people like me.
I never in a million years imagined that I would get called back to not only be in the original Broadway cast ensemble creating my original track, but to also understudy the lead role of “Gloria Estefan.” Yes, A PRINCIPLE ROLE ON BROADWAY! I still can't believe that sometimes. I was shot out of a cannon, leaving the world of banking, without a clue of what lay ahead on this new and incredible journey. This experience has allowed me to be a firm believer of pursuing what may seem like impossible dreams. My dream of being on Broadway turned into being a part of an original Broadway cast performing eight times a week, performing at incredible things like the Tony's, being the first understudy to go on as Gloria, and performing that role over 70 times. I couldn't be more grateful for it ALL.
Given my own crazy experience, I know that you will face challenges and obstacles that you never imagined, but in no way should they discourage you from developing your talents and pursuing your passions. Obstacles and challenges are temporary; they are simply there for you to learn and make you stronger!
Don’t EVER let ANYONE tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams. YOU CAN! Continue to dream, continue to learn, continue to find any and every opportunity to showcase your talents, and most importantly, continue to have faith that it will happen when the time is right. If you love something enough, never stop fighting for it. Now, more than ever, I am convinced that the secret to success is perseverance. You don’t necessarily need professional training or a degree from a fancy school to be successful. As long as you love what you want with all of your heart, your dream will become a reality. My dream came true and I have no doubt that yours will too!