Eliza Ohman chats Hamilton B-way Debut, Persistence + Gratitude!
Hey Guys! Sarah Brinson here! It's been a while I know-- but i'm excited to be back with my column as part of the IDTV Hub and couldn't be more stoked to kick off w/ an interview w/ the very special, Eliza Ohman.
I met Eliza 10 years ago... (wow, that's a long time...lol) at the NYCDA summer dance intensive -- I had just graduated from NYU and was working about 1,092.8 jobs. haha -- a bit of an exaggeration but it sure didn't feel like it at the time! I was invited to be one of five 'counselors' at the two week intensive where about 60 young dancers from across the US and Canada joined together in NYC to study all genres of dance, acting, music, and more! Eliza happened to be one of those lucky little ducks. A truly unforgettable...dynamic, bubbly, KIND, and a tremendously hard worker. But... I think the most memorable and contagious part of Eliza is her smile -- it lights up a room and without a doubt beams with joy deep down!
We connected again in NYC several other times-- which as I think back now we're quite pivotal/celebratory moments for both of us -- when she first moved to NYC for school (not for dance however-- you'll read more on that later) and I was back in town for SYTYCD auditions -- she let me stay with her on whim for the callbacks. Again at Broadway Dance Center about three years ago...maybe more (?) -- I was teaching one of my first classes at the studio and ran into Eliza in the hall -- she had just joined the BDC Training program! And the final of our three very special encounters was this past summer at NYCDA Nationals following her recent BWAY debut (yes...her bway debut!!!! again...more on that later). She's a gem...I hope you enjoy getting to know Eliza just as much as I have!
SB: What city do u currently call home? :)
EO: New York City
SB: Tell us a bit about ur journey-- where did u first come in contact with dance?
EO: I grew up dancing at a local dance studio in Parker, Colorado. I've been dancing since I was 3 years old and was OBSESSED with the old RKO, MGM movie musicals. My mom rented Singin' in the Rain from our local library every week, so I could dance along with the film.
SB: What's ur fav book, podcast, or magazine?
EO: Ah man, depends on the day. At this moment my favorite book is probably either The Circle by Dave Eggers or Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
SB: What inspires you on the daily --do u have any tips for when u don't feel like doing something u have to or know u should do?
EO: GRATITUDE. It takes so little to think outside of ourselves for a moment, gain perspective, and take notice of the gifts we've been given. I walk myself through a list of things I'm thankful for. It only takes a few before I feel differently about my situation. I also think it's incredibly important to carve out time for yourself. Go on a walk, take a Yoga class, journal. Whatever it is, just make sure it's something that's just for you.
SB: Most exciting career moment f/m the past year?
EO: Broadway Debut!!! I don't think it gets any better than that.
(SIDENOTE: NOT JUST ANY BROADWAY DEBUT---HAMILTON BROADWAY DEBUT!...yeah)
SB: Tell us about your journey to Hamilton and what your currently doing within the production.
EO: Casting called me in to audition as an immediate replacement for one of the Broadway ensemble tracks. That day we learned Yorktown, sang, and learned Room. Then the following week we were called back in to learn My Shot, review Room, sing again, learn some vocals from the show, and dance everything again. Both of those audition days were about 7-8 hrs. After the second audition, casting called my agents to tell me I wouldn’t be the immediate replacement, in June they had me come in for a one on one vocal session with the music director where I sang my own songs and learned some more music from the show. I left that audition and an hour later got a phone call from my agent that I booked the show!
SB: what challenges have u faced/overcome? And how have they made u stronger?
EO: I stopped dancing in college and didn't start dancing again until my last semester. There's part of me that will always feel like I'm playing catch up, whether it's for technical elements I haven't maintained or knowledge I didn't spend 4 years of my life studying. However, I think taking time to study Art & Philosophy from a non dance perspective and investing time to learn who I was as an individual, apart from dance, made me a stronger artist than I would have otherwise been. We all have our own journey of getting here, but patience and persistence are generally part of that process.
SB: What does ur creative process look like?
EO: I like to fully immerse myself in the material. I'll listen to music on repeat, read the story multiple times, but I won't actually create until I'm in space with other bodies. I can see the ideas in my head, but the vision doesn't fully come to light until then.
SB: Current featured artists on ur spotify?
EO: Recently I've been really into Kamau, Michael Kiwanuka, and Portugal. The Man.
SB: What's next for u?
EO: Isn't that always the question? :) We'll see! Shows like Hamilton come around once in a generation. Right now I'm trying to focus on being fully present in my current position and soak up every piece of the experience.
SB: Anything else u'd like to share w/ our readers about your journey?
EO: Half the battle in this business is saying yes to yourself when it feels like everyone else is telling you no. Whether that's imagined "no's" that tell us we're not good enough or explicit "no's" that casting doesn't think your right for the project. Whatever the case, don't be one of those no's. Say yes to yourself! Say yes to rest, yes to collaborating with friends for projects that will restore your tired heart, and yes to putting yourself out there. As a performer, our job is to be available and willing. If you do that, you've already won half the battle. There are so many things outside of our control, but our mindset is not one of them. Reclaim that for yourself & say yes to who you are and what you love.
I recently interviewed with Confetti on the Dance Floor (you can view my confetti convo by clicking the link) and LOVEDDDDDD this part so much -- soooo I decided to pass it along and incorporate a few fun "would u rather" questions too! :)
WOULD YOU RATHER?
Insta or Snapchat:
Beach or Mountains:
Sushi or Ice Cream:
Rap or Acoustic:
Sour Candies or Chocolate?:
NYC or LA:
Thank you so much for joining Eliza and I! Be sure to follow her adventures on social media!!! :) :)