Having spent a good part of the past two years dabbling in the remotely new (and still growing) swing dance scene in Malaysia, you can say that I've developed some form of immediate respect for people who are willing to put in the time and effort to organise free recruitment drives, community outreach programmes and the like. I really do.
Ramin Karimloo and Annalisa Kerrigan (Pic credit: Olala/Quin)
From questions regarding typecasting to keeping a role fresh, or how it was like to work alongside Nick Jonas in Les Mis - I felt that both Annalisa and Ramin did a pretty great job in keeping their answers real.
Best video recap I managed to find online!
Parents questioned the practicality of a career in the performing arts while students frantically searched for a fast track to success. (I squeezed in a question about how side projects such as releasing an album aids in improving their craft/career) But it seemed like no matter what your role is in the creative business, be it singing, acting, writing or dancing - it is focus, true grit and determination that you'll need to overcome obstacles in the industry. And of course, lots of passion and practice. There are no bloody shortcuts! Even if you struck gold in a reality TV show - it's best that you arm yourself with the capacity to keep on learning, no matter what.
I can't recall their exact answers to most of the questions (still slapping myself for not bringing a recorder with me!) but I remember Annalisa sharing some stories about her time in Florence and most notably - how it's not always about looking abroad but making a name for yourself in Malaysia first. Start off where there's already a pretty receptive yet unsaturated market and grow it from there on. Most of us dream-chasers tend to forget that, don't we? Yeah well, I'm guilty of rashly jumping into deep ends too.
The pointers she gave were smart, sharp and most importantly, really genuine. She may be diminutive in frame, but that lady's one heck of a fighter - which made respect her so much more!
Ramin, on the other hand, sounded like a complete bore... nah, just pulling your leg there! This "honorary principal" of the academy and mentor of the students came off as a man who seems to be really honest with himself.
Clearly, the take-out from that was that you reap what you sow. Yet, he advises that one should not go making unnecessary wars with things that are out of your control, say... roles that just don't fit you. Some things just aren't meant to be - but they open up windows to other opportunities. (I couldn't agree with him more!)
When questioned about what his goals were in playing roles that were preceded by the likes of Michael Crawford and Colm Wilkinson - his response was that he did not go in aiming to top anyone, but as someone who has something to share and to tell a story.
I find that this holds true in most creative industries, especially advertising.
"I spent years trying to be someone else and it got me nowhere. You are more interesting than anyone else."
A quick shot with Ramin at the door. What a privilege to have him and Annalisa take on my question!
"Oh wow." I think the 25th Anniversary Souvenir Book might have caught him by surprise.
Signed programme book by Ramin and Annalisa from the night before.