Updated: Sep 21
Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Elizabeth Romero
Current Location: Chicago, IL
Elizabeth, thanks so much for taking the time. Before we get started, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Fountain Valley native and attended the Academy of the Performing Arts at Huntington Beach High School. My senior year I was lucky enough to win the National High School Musical Theatre Jimmy Award as well as the LA Music Center Spotlight Award. I then moved to Chicago where I attended Northwestern University. Just after graduating, I accepted an internship in New York City with the General Management company, Baseline Theatrical, where I worked on the Broadway productions of Hamilton and The Great Comet. I continued working and auditioning in New York for several years before I moved back to Chicago in early 2019 to continue my performing arts career on stage.
Can you tell us about what you're currently working on ?
Unfortunately, this pandemic has massively hit many theaters across the country and caused a lot of temporary and permanent closures. I was looking forward to working on a new piece at the Goodman Theatre in downtown Chicago, but am hopeful we will be able to launch this production in the new year. For now, I’m grateful to be safely hunkered down in Chicago where I am focusing on my health and fitness, immersing myself in educational and activist resources, virtually visiting with friends and family, and finally catching up on some books and tv shows that I’ve been too busy to enjoy until now.
Overall, has it been a smooth road? If not, what are some of the struggles you've experienced along the way and how have you overcome them?
It is hard to imagine a journey that is smooth or easy for anyone in the arts. The business is constantly filled with competition, hierarchy, and rejection- often for reasons that are trivial or out of our control. Quite frankly, it can be emotionally draining and physically exhausting being turned away and never really knowing why. Amidst the hustle, I remind myself to only focus on the things that are truly in my control; how I prepare, how I walk in the room, how I look, how I choose to feel, and to think positively in the moment. It helps me regain a sense of grounding and pride to know that no matter the outcome, I did the best I could in the given circumstances and the rest is out of my hands. It also never hurts to plan a self-date or activity after a tough audition to keep yourself distracted and treat yourself for doing your best.
Are there any other lessons that you have learned along the way? Anything you would want your younger self to know?
The arts and show business are filled with so many incredibly talented people. As beautiful as that is, it can sometimes be difficult to find your own voice and know how to be yourself. When lined up with hundreds of other actors auditioning that look, sound, or act just like you, it’s easy to feel like one of many and gloss over the qualities that make you unique. I often compared myself to those around me and would lose sight of who I was in the chaos. I felt like I needed to mold into what I thought was expected of me or into what was seen as successful, or hirable, in those around me.
If there is anything I could tell my younger self, it’s to embrace what makes me, me. There is no use in trying to be someone else or shaping yourself into something that is not authentic to your truth. The more I embraced who I was and what talents I had to offer as an individual, the more success and happiness I found. Not to mention the more genuine artists and people I began to befriend and surround myself with. It’s a hard lesson to learn and not one easily accomplished, but I am proud of the progress I’ve made and feel all the more fulfilled for it.
Working and auditioning with the best of the best in New York and now Chicago, has there been any advice you've been given that has stuck with you?
Stop getting in your own way and telling yourself “no” or “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough." You are! You have to be your strongest advocate because no one else is going to do it for you. Be your own number one fan and hype-person. That being said, learn to be kind to yourself when things don’t go as planned or when you just need a break. I’ve learned that the mental component of positively affirming your own abilities as well as taking a breather every once in a while is just as important as the physical hours you spend preparing or rehearsing. The sooner you believe in yourself and take care of yourself, the stronger and more confident you will become.
Is there anything that has inspired you to pursue a career in the arts?
I am driven by the need to share stores that unite and educate us. I believe the arts create an open forum for people from all walks of life to come together and share an experience or story- to educate others about different lifestyles and occurrences in the world that deserve to be celebrated or desperately need our help and attention. After all, that is what all artists are in their most basic form - storytellers. It is these kinds of people and events that inspire me to do what I do- to share our human experience, relish in our victories, and learn from our downfalls.
What do you consider your proudest moment?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint a specific moment for which I’m most proud - it really is a culmination of special memories. It humbles me to know that I have accomplished some pretty exciting things in my career and that my hard work has been recognized. From the Spotlight and Jimmy Awards showing me that just being my authentic self on stage is enough and worth sharing, to my college production of Little Women that gave me the confidence to continue pursuing the arts outside of the academic realm, to the original musicals I helped produce and create on-campus that taught me that it takes a village to make a beautiful piece of art and that the obstacles along the way are worth it. The professional performances and companies for which I worked that helped me realize that I have so much more to give than just my voice- my opinions, feelings, intellect, and empathy- are just as critical to the creation of art and my own sense of self. But above all, so much of my success is due to the people- mentors, teachers, friends, family- that believed in me and helped me along the way. It is their encouragement and tough love that has helped me grow. Having them in my life has made the struggles and successes all the more meaningful.
Given the current events of today, what role do you think the arts plays in society?
I believe the arts are a fundamental part of society and so often serve as so much more than just an “escape from reality.” Yes, sometimes it can be nice to just sit back and enjoy a show, movie, or exhibit. More often than not, however, I believe art serves as a mirror to our lives and sheds light into how we are all human. Our similarities and differences make us stronger, and presenting those unique qualities or shared experiences through the arts opens the door to more education, diversity, and inclusion.
With the arts industry seemingly at a standstill, what are your hopes for the future of the arts?
I am very hopeful that when it is safe to reopen and reunite, the arts will learn to thrive in an adapted and more inclusive society. I am excited to see how it will evolve with the implementation of new technology. It is interesting to see how it has already adapted via social media and film in the past few months. Even so, I hope that live performances will be reopened with a greater appreciation for the people that make them possible and a greater respect for the purpose and community they build. I don’t think anything can ever replace the live arts. I hope more people will recognize its value and encourage its development in the future.
The upcoming Virtual Revue you are performing in is titled TOGETHER AGAIN. What role do you think the arts have played in unifying people?
I believe the arts empower togetherness and community in a way no other industry can. There is something so satisfying in having a shared reaction with a room full of people during a show or in a movie. Beginning conversations with others about a piece of artwork and discussing interpretations is thrilling when it opens our eyes to new opinions or points of view. The creation of art is a unifying experience as well. I have met some of the most inspiring and creative people through projects that we built and shared together. I have learned from these experiences the value of community, collaboration, and communication- all words I would use to describe unity and the importance of its power. With unity comes family, and I will forever be grateful for the family I have found in the arts.
Justin Barbin Photography
Suggest a story: The Rose Center Theater's Inspiring Artists Series is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.