Updated: Aug 6
Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Carrie Goyette
Current Location: Long Beach, CA
Carrie, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
My mom's best friend had her daughters in dance classes, so my mom put me in as soon as I was old enough to join. I loved it and kept joining more classes, and soon thereafter joined the dance company, which included singing lessons. Then in 6th grade I got a flyer in school for a children's theater audition for Annie and begged my Mom to join, even if it had to be my Christmas present- because it cost $150 to "pay to play." That show was my Christmas present, but then I was in it for the long haul, so my parents just kept paying for me to do every show with them after that. That first show was a bit of a let down. Not only did I not get a lead role, I didn't even get into "specialty dance" despite having 9 years of dance experience. And then because I was so tall, they placed me as a maid, and not an orphan so I have never had the chance to live out my Orphan Annie dreams. Even, after that, I was hooked, and determined to come back and make it into specialty dance and get a lead. Which I did.
From there, I continued to do musicals and take dance classes. At age sixteen, my mentors recognized my talents and I became a tap teacher at the dance studio, and a choreographer for the children's theater. I had no idea why they were entrusting a sixteen year old to take on such high priority jobs, but I guess they saw something in me that I didn't at the time, because I was good at it and later made a career out of it. I can happily say I have never had a job that didn't involve teaching or performing. I have never had to be a temp, a server, or a barista like many of my friends have. Not to say I didn't struggle.
At age 17 I had a busy Saturday going from rehearsal for a tap company I was in from 9-11 AM, then teaching tap 12-1, then jumping over to teach choreography for whatever show I was choreographing until 5 PM, and then rushing to Downey Civic Light Opera to make the call time for my first professional show Crazy For You. TJ and Daniel Dawson, of 3DT, were in that show with me, and while carpooling to the theater, they told me about their performing arts school the Academy for the Performing Arts, APA. I was interested in doing more advanced material, so I joined the Academy for the Performing Arts and performed in their main stage show Cabaret with our very own Tim Nelson as director. It is still one of my all time favorite shows to date.
I then ended up going to U.C. Irvine for Theater, and doing their New York Satellite program my senior year, so that I could get that New York experience at a lesser cost than out-of-state tuition would have been to attend NYU. As much as I loved that experience, it made me realize that I wasn’t as cut throat as some of the aspiring artists out East, and that I didn’t want to raise a family there, so I moved back to California and decided to perform on a slightly less professional scale, and teach! Since then, I have taught everywhere from elementary to high school arts programs, performed in New York, at the Rose Parade, at the Rose Center Theater, 3D Theatricals, and down Main St Disneyland. It's been a wild ride.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
I am a mother of a beautiful, almost, 2 year old. So between trying to spend time with my Rainbow Baby and the Covid-19 pandemic, I am home… all day every day currently.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Have you had to overcome any on your journey?
Had I stayed in New York and pursued a Broadway dream, it would have been a much more uphill climb. Here, I did well enough to make ends meet, but by no means would I say being a performer is ever an “easy” road. I was considered a “triple threat” so I did okay in community theaters, but definitely got beat out in the bigger arenas because of certain things. Whether that be I was too white, too tall, I looked too young, my chest was too large, or casting seemed to pick the people they knew over and over again, I definitely had my fair share of rejection. Usually I just stopped auditioning at those certain places, and just chugged along.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
It sounds silly but I would tell my younger self “You are not fat." An older cast member once told my eighteen year old self “You are not fat. You will look back at pictures of yourself one day and wonder how you could have thought you were fat and how you wish you still looked like that." I am now forty and have a baby, so I totally understand that statement now.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
The best piece of advice I was given in regards to musical theater was from my college professor Myrona Delaney. She told our whole New York Satellite program group, “You will never be the prettiest or the most talented in the room. You just have to be you and bring that extra something to the table that makes them want to hire you. And if not, let it go.” Although that may sound harsh, it was a good outlook when I went into auditions. Especially now as a director and choreographer myself, I can understand that casting is a much bigger puzzle that pieces have to fall into. And you just never know what they are looking for with each part of that puzzle.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about a moment in your life you found to be inspirational?
I was the first one in my immediate family to graduate college. So that was an inspirational moment for me personally. But overall, I love to be a role model and a positive influence on the younger generation. So other moments that have left an impact on my heart were times when I truly connected with someone and felt I made a difference in their life, whether for a moment, a season, or a lifetime. I had an impactful moment with a Make A Wish Foundation child during a parade at Disneyland. I did something special while stuck behind a stalled parade float for 30 minutes, and made that little girl smile from ear to ear in wonder as her parents behind her sobbed and signed “thank you” to me. I have had a handwritten note from a parent saying that their child was suicidal and then they had me as a teacher and “friend” and it turned their life around. That’s why I am grateful that even though I can’t say I was on Broadway, I can say my path has lead me to some great people and great experiences.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
As a kid I had an annual pass to Disneyland, and I would always watch the parades and think “I’m gonna do that someday,” and can proudly say I did! It may have taken me 5 auditions to fit into that perfect piece of the puzzle, but in 2005 I opened the Parade of Dreams at Disneyland in a role created for a tall, leggy, showgirl type. Voila! I was in the audition room for 11 hours, even though I only danced at the very beginning of the audition. I assumed that was a bad sign. But at the end of the night when my number was called as a “wave girl” I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I called my Mom and we both cried. Maybe I was the prettiest or the most talented girl at that moment, in that room, for that part. They chose me. And I finally got to be the one dancing IN the parade, instead of watching it from the sidelines. I know many stories like that. So for those who want to audition for Disneyland, do not give up!
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
I think 2020 has shown us that we need the arts. We all need to feel connected. To escape. To laugh. To cry. My hope for the future is that the arts come back stronger and with more support than ever before. The people who have decided to stick it out and still pursue the arts as a career will be the cream of the crop. And the audiences will be ready to soak in the feeling of a long overdue live performance.
Nancy Hickey Photography
Britt Dietz Photography
Isaac James Creative
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