Those who have been following me know that I have an interview series called Lipps On Life (LippsOnLife.com) where I talk to extraordinary people who are living their dreams. My hope is that their stories will inspire you to live your own dreams!
This month’s interview features LaChanze, a performer who has been seen on TV in Person of Interest and The Night Of and on Broadway in If/Then and The Color Purple, for which she won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical.
If you haven’t yet seen LaChanze perform, here’s a clip from her show at Joe’s Pub to give you a sense of her incredible talent. In this video, she’s singing “I’m Here” from The Color Purple:
In this exclusive interview, LaChanze talks about everything from what it’s like winning a Tony to her work in The Color Purple to advice for aspiring performers. She also shares what’s next and, in so doing, opens up about her past for the first time.
You can hear it all here:
Keep posted @LippsOnLife on Facebook for video clips from her interview in the coming days.
Here are LaChanze's #TAKEAWAYS (advice and insights):
On the exchange between a stage performer and audience:
The great thing about being on stage is that the audience has an emotion: they are the third character. You know if your audience is in a bad mood today, in a happy mood or if they are bored. You get the energy from the audience and I can work with that. That’s something I’m used to doing. I love that exchange with the audience and what I’m doing on stage. I love it, I feed off of it, it’s something I really enjoy.
What LaChanze looks for in a character:
There are two main things that I look for in a character. If the character has a journey that changes the character in some way, that’s very important to me. Because all of us have lives that are not linear. Our lives are up and down, left and right and they take us all over the place and I just think that that’s what life is all about.
When you’re in an audience and looking at a piece of theater, you want to go on a journey. You don’t just want to sit there and smile and laugh. Sometimes you do, but for it to really be effective and resonate with our individual humanity, you want to go on a ride. Whether you know it or not, that’s what you enjoy the most. That’s what’s good to you. When you leave a show and say, “Oh, That was good,” it’s because it took you on a ride.
So I look for characters that have a journey, that really have a beginning, middle and end and discover something about themselves and have a change: something has changed in them. I think that’s important. They have a growth, a breakout moment, so to speak. So I look for characters like that, and Kate in If/Then has that.
You move on, you forgive, you live this life in forgiveness. Because forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for you. It’s not about the other person. It’s so that you can let it go and move on. I forgive you, here you go, take all that back. I forgive you for everything, I forgive you for all that you’ve done, there you go. I forgive you.
On staying positive and centered:
I have inspirational books that I keep next to me.
I pray every morning. I pray before moments that are challenging. I pray throughout the day to myself. If I’m about to do something where I want to be in the right place and don’t want my own emotional distractions or insecurities to keep me from being in the right place, I pray for it. And I say, “help me not to be intimated or insecure,” and I trust it. You’ve got to trust it, that it works!
I think that as women often times we have a persona that we believe the world wants to see of us. And then there’s another side of us that we love and don’t really share: that part of us that we really embrace. I’m all about putting it together: walking out there, trusting that other side and being ok and saying this is really the part of myself that I want to share with you.
I think that the number one thing that I always tell anyone that I talk to and any person that asks me this is that you have to find out that one thing that’s unique about yourself and blow it up. No matter what it is. Find out what makes you different from the person standing next to you and really shine it up.
Often times, actors talk about auditioning and it can be tough. But I say all the time: You know, you have a basket of fruit. We are like fruit to producers and directors – we are apples, oranges, bananas, kiwis, kumquats and grapes. We’re everything, right? And they are looking for grapes when you’re really a kiwi. So you can’t try to be a grape. You’ve got to be the best and juiciest and most vibrant kiwi in that basket and so you really have to focus on that thing about yourself that’s unique and special. And the way to find out what that is is if it’s easy. If you do something that comes to you naturally where you don’t have to work hard at it, that’s your thing.
A rose doesn’t have to work hard to be a rose. It’s just a rose. When you have to work hard, you work hard and continue to develop it. You know, you want to be a vibrant rose. You want to be red and beautiful or yellow or whatever color rose you are, but you don’t want to change that. You don’t want to try to be a daisy. You gotta really just be fully who you are and have faith in that and blow it out of the box.
You see all these young actors out there now and and they want to be Beyonce. We already have Beyonce. Be something else. Bring something different. Bring who you are to it.
Find & Follow:
Twitter: @LaChanze @LippsOnLife @JessLipps
Instagram: MsLaChanze LippsOnLife JessicaLipps16