Becca Lee and I had never met prior to our coffee chat! We decided to meet at the Starbucks she grabs her fix from between rehearsals for the Broadway bound The Prom. I had been following Becca’s hilarious antics on her former Instagram @unemployedactress and thought she was so funny and enjoyed her take on this crazy career and all that goes with it! Read up below on how she booked The Prom, the long journey to Broadway, and how she stays grounded… with coffee in hand of course.
Drink of Choice: Hot Coffee with Coconut Oil and Coconut Milk
AF: We have Becca Lee on the blog today! So what are you drinking right now?
BL: I wasn’t going to get this…I was going to get a hot coffee but it’s so hot in here I got a Venti Iced Coffee with Coconut Milk, no sugar.
AF: Is that your drink of choice?
BL: In the summer yes. I’m trying to be environmentally sound right now without a straw right now.
AF: I should follow your lead!
BL: Honestly I’m only doig it because you’re here… I wouldn’t be doing it.
AF: Gotta look good for Actor Meets Coffee! I think it’s great Starbucks is trying to be more environmentally conscious. So what is your usual coffee routine in the morning?
BL: It’s boring and simple. I have a Keurig at home, I put in my little pod, coconut milk, coconut oil… that’s it.
AF: Ooooh coconut oil.
BL: Yeah. It’s a good fat for you. It gives you energy.
AF: So Becca tell us your backstory.
BL: I’m from Indianapolis, Indiana. I always knew I wanted to come to New York. At first I went to Marymount Manhattan College. I wanted to be in the city… I hated it. It was not a real quote on quote “college experience” so I transferred to Rutgers in New Jersey because I wanted a school with a football team and all that… and I was still close to the city so yeah! My first professional job was dancing for the New York Nicks. It wasn’t theatre at all. It was really cool and fun and I thought to myself, “This is going to be my door to getting on to Broadway…” It was nothing like that! It was good… it was a good experience. It was really scary at the time. I was eighteen… the youngest one on the team. There were all these fierce New York City women that had cool lives and I didn’t talk to anybody the whole year!
BL: Because I’m a little shy in big groups… So then I did Rutgers dance team after that. So then fast-forward from dance team at Rutgers we did America’s Best Dance Team on MTV and once again I’m thinking, “This is my big break!” Randy Jackson was the one who ran the show and I was thinking about recording a demo, giving it to him, and then I’d be the next Danity Kane. And I actually did that. I mean nothing came from that but…
AF: But you did that. You were confident enough in your skill-set that you thought he should take notice.
BL: Yeah! Our group didn’t make it that far… it’s okay! It was kind of embarrassing… but it’s fine.
AF: You were featured on TV?
BL: We were on three episodes yeah. It was quite an experience. Then after that I started auditioning for musicals.
AF: So getting on that audition circuit started for you when?
BL: Eight years ago. In my opinion it’s been a long journey… I thought things would have happened a lot faster.
AF: It has to be the right time and the right place. So eight years… do you live in the city now?
BL: I still live in New Jersey! I kind of feel like I’m from there! The first professional job I booked was a national tour with a show that Todrick Hall created and choreographed called, Cinderella Rock. We were supposed to tour all around everywhere. It did not tour. We were stuck in Texas for several months. And I knew then and there I wanted to be Equity because I never wanted to be stuck in that situation again. It was very crazy. But I love Todrick. He’s a creative genius and I’m so thankful I got to work with him.
AF: There’s just no control in this business… except for being the best that you can be. And creating side hustles!
BL: Yes- which I wish I did earlier.
AF: Now I want to talk about what your time in the city has looked like outside of theatre… when did your whole video series start? (LOOK UP @beccaleebackstage on IG. Hilarious).
BL: Okay so what happened was I’d been doing The Prom since 2015 with the first lab… and we did an out of town run in Atlanta in 2016 in the summer. We were told originally the show was going to come to Broadway much sooner than now. I knew there was still time… at least seven months so I needed some way to creatively fulfill myself in that time. It was a little bit of a trick to people because I knew I had a job coming up but I called it “Unemployed Actress” anyway because there’s still so many silly things to be said about auditions. So anyway- I started it in February of 2017 and then I was told that Prom was never happening. Like never, ever, ever, ever… It was supposed to open last summer and then it kept getting pushed back. It appeared it was not happening and since I’d put all my eggs in this one basket since 2015 I wanted to quit.
AF: I feel like a lot of people have stories like that…
BL: I was so devastated because I really thought this was it… It’s the lesson everyone learns. So many out of town shows that people think and hope will come to Broadway never make it… You can’t ever think it’s going to work out until you’re on the stage on opening night. And then a year ago… last September I was sitting on my couch. I was depressed for real. My agent called and said, “I have some good news…” and I said, “What?”… I wasn’t even auditioning. She goes, “You have an offer for Prom on Broadway” and I go, “I thought it wasn’t happening?”
AF: How many months was it from the time they told you it wasn’t happening to this phone call…?
BL: Four months.
AF: That must have been shocking.
BL: I was bawling. I called my mom and she asked if I was in the hospital. The point is… the “Unemployed Actress” videos turned in to be more real than I anticipated because for those four months I was like, “Oh sh*t…I really am unemployed forever.” There was nothing coming up.
AF: Better to laugh at this crazy career.
BL: It cheered me up. I selfishly was doing it for myself. The lives that we’ve chosen are crazy! It actually is funny what we do.
AF: Oh my gosh all your videos about self-tapes… they are so great. I think it’s brilliant. That’s all so real but also encouraging. The fact that you were with the project since 2015 and then ready to give up and then it came back around! Okay so the marquee is…
BL: Going up today!
AF: What time!?
BL: I walked by it before we came here and it’s going up now!
AF: Do you need to be over there??
BL: No! There’s still trucks and things so you can’ really see it all. It’s just one of those things… You imagine things happening- all the small details. I was excited about getting my wig fitting.
AF: Take advantage of every single moment! You don’t know when the next opportunity will come around like that.
BL: Exactly. You just never know. I have this day I’m going to appreciate everything all that it has and the marquee is going up and that’s amazing! I didn’t know it was going up until yesterday!
AF: Okay- so after coffee we’re going to go and take a picture of you in front with coffee in hand. Can you recall your audition story for The Prom?
BL: Oh yeah. My audition story is a little different from the other people involved because Casey Nicholaw, who is amazing, and who I will be forever grateful for, he is known for running auditions knowing who he wants, and casting them after he sees them once or twice. So most of the ensemble members that I’m with… that was their story. Me? No. I had to go in seven times. I don’t know what that says about me. It was very long. I went to an ECC on a Friday. I remember that morning I was so tired, but I just knew I had to go to this one. There were a million people there obviously. The next day we had to go to Telsey and sing. And then I danced again for Casey. Then they kept having me back. There’s two girls in the ensemble who have a few extra lines and they were having me read for the nicer girl and then they realized I should be the meaner one. After the seventh time I actually had to cancel my trip to Vegas. I had booked my first ever trip to Vegas and they told me I had a final callback that morning. So obviously I went. And that morning something literally came over me and I said “I am going in to get this right now.” It was weird.
AF: I just got chills!
BL: I’ve had so many final callback sad stories… another one I didn’t get, another one I didn’t get… so I went in and then I flew to Vegas right after which was perfect.
AF: They always say…book a trip and you’ll book work.
BL: It’s true. I don’t know why but it does happen… So yeah it was a Monday and I was with my mom on her birthday in Vegas and my phone starts ringing, it’s my agent… and she’s like, “You booked Prom!” and I’m crying in the middle of the casino because I cry over everything. Even back then I knew it was going to be my Broadway debut.
AF: Four years in the making.
BL: I’ll never forget that.
AF: How sweet that you were with your mom. So here you are… you’ve had your wig fitting, you’ve seen your costumes, the marquee is going up! If you were to pitch the show… what would you say? What’s it about? What’s your favorite part?
BL: Okay, my favorite part about it… before I tell you the whole thing… is that it has a great message. I’ve obviously seen the show so many times but I cry watching it every time from backstage. I’m from Indiana weirdly enough and the lead girl Emma wants to take her girlfriend to the Prom and the town says no because they’re very small-minded. They are not into anything that is “different.” There are these four Broadway stars in New York- another part of the story and they’re not happy with their careers and they need to do something with their lives so they find this story about Prom in Indiana and they decide to go save the day and make a difference. It’s so heartfelt and hilarious. There are a bunch of fun songs and the dancing is really great too! I hope people come and see what it is before it opens.
AF: When do you begin Previews?
BL: They start in October and we have a long Preview period. October 23rd-November 14th, which is a bit longer. We’ll be rehearsing and then doing the show… every day!
AF: Exhausting but so exhilarating. Changes every day I’m sure…
BL: Yeah. We’ve done the show for so long I’m curious to see how much will be changing- that will certainly be interesting!
AF: So you’re also getting married…planning your wedding… how’s that AND prepping for your Broadway debut?
BL: It’s actually timed out perfectly because I’m getting all the big stuff out of the way now. I’m getting married in April so I still have time!
AF: Okay now I always ask… what are your words of wisdom? What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring performer… somebody who feels like they want to quit…?
BL: It’s hard for me to pick one! I think everything is a bit cliché but things that are simple are really important. This career has led me to be more spiritual. If you see my Instagram I’m always talking about inspirational podcasts, quotes, or books, and because you just got to remember to take a deep breath. If one day you don’t want to go to an audition, and you want to do something else that makes you happy and fulfills you creatively do that instead. Find other things that make you happy outside of acting. For years I didn’t do that and I was miserable.
AF: What’s your go-to podcast?
BL: I love The Universe Has Your Back and Oprah’s “Super Soul Conversations” Podcast, “The Almost 30” Podcast, and Analisa Leming’s “A Balancing Act” Podcast.
AF: What is your take on social media and comparison and how do you rise above that?
BL: I started unfollowing anyone who would post something that made me feel bad about myself. It’s probably stemming from my own insecurities but even if I like the person I don’t want to look at things that make me feel bad. And comparison in terms of success… you just have to tell yourself to stay in your own lane. I think that’s a constant battle where you just have to own where you are. It’s easier for me to say now because I have The Prom but thank goodness it took this long because it’s the right timing for me!
AF: Yes and you’ve got some good life experience under your belt! Well you are so lovely and wonderful and I feel like we’re old friends.
BL: Yes me too! Thank you for having me!
AF: Cheers to your almost Broadway debut!