Bret Shuford is a veteran singer, dancer, and actor of eight Broadway shows including Beauty and the Beast, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Little Mermaid, and is currently in the Broadway cast of Wicked. He has appeared in several feature films including The Wolf of Wall Street, network television such as Law & Order SVU and The Good Fight, and several web series. Shuford’s best collaboration has been with ballet dancer, actor, and husband, Stephen Hanna, and together they host the Broadway Husbands’ podcast.

 

TRANSCRIPT: Actor & Broadway Life Coach Bret Shuford

Hello and welcome to episode 49 of Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive!

Can I share a secret with you? I can’t do what I do without the guidance of my previous and current coaches and mentors showing me the way. Until a few years ago, I was 100% DIY and that is a respected way of doing things as I’m sure many of you are currently trying to build your career all on your own. However, since I discovered coaching I have seen that life is so much easier when someone with more experience than you in an area that you lack shows you the way.
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That is why I show up for my musician and actor clients. Although I am passionate about arts and entertainment, I really do what I do because it allows me to connect with other creatives on a personal level. I am able to have an impact on their lives by helping them build confidence, grow their audience and achieve goals so that they can build a thriving career in the arts without feeling overwhelmed or doubting themselves.
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That is what my coaches do for me and I’m very grateful. I still hustle but now I hustle with a clear plan of action to achieve the life of my dreams. There are a million reasons why I love my job, but this is what really lights me up.
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Who is your supporter?

This upcoming month I am offering free coaching sessions to qualified musicians and actors who are driven to succeed but lack a strategic plan. If you want to stop letting fear and a lack of knowledge hold you back, I can guide you with strategies to propel you to the next level. To apply visit dianefoy.com/thrive

 

Speaking of coaches and mentors, my guest today and I work with the same coach in Dallas Travers and that is how we connected.

Bret Shuford is a veteran singer, dancer, and actor of eight Broadway shows including Beauty and the Beast, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Little Mermaid, and is currently in the Broadway cast of Wicked.

Hailing from Texas, Bret has been living deep in the heart of the acting world since he moved to New York City in 1999. He has appeared in several feature films including The Wolf of Wall Street, network television such as Law & Order SVU and The Good Fight, and several web series. Shuford’s best collaboration has been with ballet dancer, actor, and husband, Stephen Hanna, and together they host the Broadway Husbands’ podcast.

As the Broadway Life Coach his mission is to help artists bridge the gap between creativity and commerce so that fulfillment becomes the norm rather than the exception in show-business. Bret hopes to continue working as an actor on Broadway and in television/film while helping other actors reach their goals.

Thanks for doing this.

Bret Shuford  3:39

Thank you.

Diane Foy  3:41

So I am fascinated by both your career and also your career as an actor but as your Broadway life coaching that sounds interesting too so we’ll get into that. So I’m curious. Well first of all, like your most recent acting before COVID head was wicked. How long were you in that.

Bret Shuford  4:04

I just joined the cast in November. Right. So only I think four months into my there. Crazy.

Diane Foy  4:15

And then everything shut down. Yeah. Were you a little, like, I guess was everyone were just like okay now what do we do

Bret Shuford  4:26

well, you know it’s interesting as I feel like immediately. It’s no different than when a show closes like what that’s happened so many times in my life. That usually. It was a very interesting thing like people who aren’t used to working in a freelance life. I think probably felt totally lost. And I actually say to a lot of people like in my family, especially like Welcome, welcome to this is what it’s like when you don’t know when the next job is gonna come

Diane Foy  4:58

I was feeling like that too, I’m like, my life is no different. Welcome to my world.

Bret Shuford  5:07

you know, just the way that I’ve always been as a resourceful and intelligent and so it’s like I’m always thinking how can I help How can I help the situation how can I be of service in this moment, that’s my first impulse it’s not like telling me like sit and watch movies, it’s like no I want to do something I want to get into action.

Diane Foy  5:28

I’ve been crazy productive.

Bret Shuford

In this. It’s been interesting you know we landed, we live in the East Village in New York City. When I say we, my husband Steven, and I and we have an Instagram account called called Broadway husbands and we have a podcast called Broadway husbands and we we podcast about our lives as artists, making a living and and marriage and we want to grow a family and all that stuff so we live in East Village. And when the shutdown happened. We made it about 16 days before we were like, let’s just get in a car and go. We were lucky to have a car through a weird turn of events last year that was given to us. And so we were like we’re lucky we have a car we can get out, we don’t. We’re not going to contaminate anything and so let’s just go and we went to Pittsburgh and we were in Pittsburgh for about three months, and then we came back again to New York two weeks ago so we’ve been back in New York for two weeks.

Diane Foy

Okay, so you had a little bit of an escape.

Bret Shuford

It was good, it was exactly what we needed. There was nature, there was space, walking around the East Village during the shutdown was really intense seeing bunny rabbits and deer outside of Pittsburgh was, was soothing. Oh,

Diane Foy

yeah, yeah, even in like I’m Toronto and first everyone’s like, all the wildlife sightings like a fox in the middle of downtown Toronto and I think on my street there was a wild turkey.

Bret Shuford

Oh wow, I love that

Diane Foy

giant wild turkey just walking down the street. Okay. It was fun. But, you know, we’re slowly getting back. But, yeah, so, what was it when you were young that first inspired you. Did you always know that this is the career you wanted in performing.

Bret Shuford

Yeah, when I was really little so I have three brothers I grew up in Texas, and a three brothers have a twin brother, and two older brothers, and they were all into sports. Baseball naturally football, soccer, and of course my parents tried to get me to do all of those things as well. I think mostly for convenience to not have to drive. Everybody everywhere. But I was in love with musicals, I skipped insane and hopped around the house. But when I saw my first live performance I was six, and it was at the local library and as a bunch of kids singing about don’t talk to strangers don’t do drugs. And at the end of that performance, I just wept like my mom thought I got stung by a bee It was very dramatic the. The feeling was very visceral and I. She wants you to come to me, I just said I want to do that. And so she went to the woman who had been conducting the kids at the front of the stage and said, my son really wants to do this, how can you get involved and that’s when I started performing so I was six in Beaumont, Texas doing singing, dancing and it was in dancing was a natural thing for me. And I, you, you couldn’t stop me like that was it. It was like tunnel vision from that moment on, this is what I’m going to do this is who I am. This is what I want. And I think for most of my childhood it provided an amazing escape. And it also kept me. I didn’t feel like I belonged there I didn’t feel like I fit in there and so I could fit in on stage. Yeah, I could fit in, you know, in the in the dance class and in choir, because I was good at it. And, and it brought joy to people, and made people feel good and I loved that. So yeah, that’s when I started,

Diane Foy

and you were in acting classes dance classes everything since you were young.

Unknown Speaker

Yeah, I am. I mean I did mostly community theater, until like middle school and then I read a book. I was a huge this is showing my age, I was a huge Debbie Gibson fan. Oh yeah, and I had her poster from my wall, and I read some book from the Book Fair, about how she got an agent, I don’t even know what that meant. I just went to my mom and I said, Mom, I want an agent.

Diane Foy

She has one.

Bret Shuford

Yeah, I was like whatever Debbie did I want to do. So she was like what is like how do you even know what that is, I was 11. So we went to the local family portrait studio and took some photos and put together a resume of all my community theater shows and sent it off to Houston which was the local closest town was Houston, and I’ve got an agent who’s so much was about an hour and a half away. And the agents that he needs acting classes, and some. My mom being supportive enrolled me in acting classes and I took it a studio in Houston and she would drive me twice a week an hour and a half each way to take acting class, and then I took dance class three days a week, I really kind of stopped when I got to middle school with dance classes because kids made fun of me until a really fifth grade and then in eighth grade I was like you know what I miss it. I love dancing so I went back into ballet and jazz. Tap I took tap but I didn’t love tapping. I love jazz and ballet and. And so I was in I was in choir, and I sang in choir and I still did community theater. I mean, I feel like at one point in middle school I was doing like five productions of community theater, a year.

Diane Foy  11:37

Wow, that’s amazing

Bret Shuford

and my mom and my mom and dad were just like, figuring out carpool situations because they knew it made me happy. And if they grounded me for, like if they would ground me they would try to like, I would have to not take dance class. And I would lock myself in the room and just so depressed and so they were, they were scared, they would like if we if we don’t let him do this. What’s he gonna do to himself. Yeah, so, so I that’s what I did. I mean I just threw myself wholeheartedly into it and I know like, that’s pretty lucky, but I also realize I’ve realized later in life that focus, and that commitment is what got me where I’m at. It wasn’t talent, you know, that’s a byproduct. it was that learning how to be that focused and that committed and seeing this vision of what my life could be. Not, not letting whatever things get in the way of that vision, stop me from going after it.

Diane Foy

Yeah, and that’s really important it’s like so many people want that life but you were obviously just born into it you surrounded yourself, you wanted it so badly at that young age of course you’re going to end up on Broadway. No question. So, did you go to theater school after high school or anything.

Bret Shuford

Yeah, so we ended up moving in high school to a really small town. But the drama teacher at the high school. Ironically, was very good, and he had done directed some shows that the community theater so we knew him so we moved to the smaller town. They had a better baseball team for my brothers in the better drama department but then he quit after my freshman year of high school and moved. Ironically, his daughter is a Broadway performer and is still in my life, but we lost touch for about 10 years until we reconnected in New York. But when I graduated high school, I, I got my first professional gig at a summer stock theater outside of Houston and Galveston, Texas, and I did my first paid professional gig. When I was 18 I turned 18 that summer. And it was I mean, it was I was so green I mean I came from a small town in Texas, and just was surrounded by these people from New York with all these Broadway credits and I, when I think about and I even when I run into some of those people these days I always want to apologize and be like, I’m sorry. I was so green.

But then I went to level, our first time at University of Oklahoma which was a BFA conservatory musical theater program and outside of Oklahoma City in Norman. And after two years of that without getting in too long into the stories. I ended up transferring to school in New York City, which was a smaller liberal arts college called Wagner college. So I really in my four years of college, I knew I had to get my degree my parents were not going to let me not get my degree, it was like a thing for them. I was like, ready to go. I wanted to work yeah I’m really glad I did it because it really taught me a lot about being a human being, and not just being a performer robot, getting that education for me, provided and, and not only that but the people that I met who are still in my life from those four years have made my life, complete in a way that I think that if I had just tried to work at such a young age, may not have happened so I graduated from minor college, got my degree got my equity card that summer at papermill Playhouse I worked every summer between my ears in school so I was full throttle,

Diane Foy  15:30

you were in New York already for school. And when did you kind What do you consider your first kind of big break.

Bret Shuford

Yeah, well I mean getting my equity card a Paper Mill Playhouse was pretty much, I thought a pretty big deal because you know you’re always, especially when you’re young and like this idea of getting your equity card seems like such a hard thing but then to get it as a reputable theater was was pretty cool. But my first Broadway show was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And, you know, I, I’m a huge Disney nerd anyone who follows me on instagram knows I’m a huge Disney nerd so you’re talking about. It’s not a Disney movie but it’s the Sherman Brothers who wrote Mary Poppins and all that it’s so getting to that young age to get to work with the Sherman Brothers and pick their brain about their life with Walt Disney and it was a fun show we and Gillian Lynne choreographed it who choreographed cats recipes and, you know, just getting to like that was a huge spectacular first Broadway show to be a part of. Some grateful for that. So, I was, I was such a, I was at that time, I was such a strong dancer you had to be for that show required a lot of stamina so I’m super grateful for that.

Diane Foy

One thing I’m curious about I was probably gonna save it for the coaching part but I just got to know why on actor resumes is there no years?

Bret Shuford

I don’t know, that’s a good question. I think you don’t know i don’t know i mean i don’t think that I don’t think it is relevant to the job, you know like, as an actor, they’re not going to be like Oh you did that in 2008. And also I think could potentially reveal your age, and that sometimes and auditions if they assume you’re a certain age but you look another age or whatever so

Diane Foy  15:39

I only notice it as like an interviewer. I like to go through your journey. I don’t know the order these.

Bret Shuford

Yeah, so that was 2000,

Diane Foy

maybe you did Wicked it at the beginning and not now I don’t know.

Bret Shuford

That was 2005, but you know most shows don’t run that long. So yeah, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang only ran for nine months so most people know that was 2005. But, you know, Buting the beast I joined in 2006, and I think they were into their 13th year.

Diane Foy

Wow. Yeah.

Bret Shuford

And there were people still on the show who’d been there from the beginning, which is amazing and wicked same thing I mean the wicked is the. Besides, beating the beast probably the longest running show that I’ve joined. And, you know, 16 years that shows, and running. So it’s really interesting, very different process to join a company like that. Then to start something new like when I originally did a little mermaid or Chitty. Yeah.

Diane Foy

Cool. And then you’ve done some national tours, is that kind of in your earlier years are you still do national tours now.

Bret Shuford

I’ve done two national tours. I did a national tour of the sound of music now I was young, I was wrong. So that’s, that’s how young I was, I was looking I was 17 going on 18. And I then did, I did that one tour I worked a lot, regionally but actually my favorite thing to do to work or regional theaters. I did the national tour South Pacific which actually we went to Toronto for five weeks. Oh yeah, that was in 2010. And so that was the only other national tour that I’ve done

Diane Foy

on your resume it says Dreamgirls,

Bret Shuford  19:30

Dreamgirls, is a great story. So Dreamgirls happened in 2007, or eight. And I remember that they that I went to the open audition and while I was in line to go into the room I emailed my agent was like, hey, would they be willing, like I’m in this line but I’m just curious I feel like this could be a really good job for me that it’s the guy that sings Cadillac car the one white guy in the whole show. And they said, Hey, I’d really love to, you know, I’m at the open audition and he said he just emailed me back get out of the line I’m getting an appointment and got me an appointment. And I went in and booked it and all I had to do was spend one day in a studio shooting and recording the song. And then they projected me on an LED screen on the stage for the number. And I was in the bar in the playbill, I got a check every six months, and I didn’t have to go on the road and and actually go on to people like texts me like, Hey, I’m here in Boise and I’m seeing the show, I’d love to say hi afterwards I think I’m not there.

Diane Foy

Give me a call.

Bret Shuford

But it was a sweet gig

Diane Foy

was fun. Yeah. So, what are maybe some of the stories from auditions, then that’s something that listeners can learn about his audition process, any challenges that you’ve met along the way, in your career and auditioning and in shows any kind of words of wisdom for a, the up and coming actors that wants your career,

Bret Shuford

you know, when you’re starting off. Especially when you’re first, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t be afraid to fail and be open about the vulnerable, be willing to say, just be willing to try. I think so many young actors are wanting to produce this like super polished super finished thing, and they’re missing out when they come into the room on the actual thing that’s going to connect them to the people behind the table which is who they are, who they are as a person. And, and we’re young, everyone knows you’re discovering that everyone knows you’re figuring it out. And the people who are going to stand out are the ones who are willing to figure it out in front of people. People who are willing to just say I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna sing this song or even ask them which song would you rather hear this song or that song like engage people and let them guide you, because that’s what’s going to help you be seen as a human being. And I just see, you know, I see so many people struggling to be perfect. And to be seen as ready. And the thing is like when you’re an artist, art, the most successful artists don’t wait to be ready, they just go for it. They just try. And then, you know, and then as you get later on, you do become known. You know that’s the goal, the goal is not to book work the goal is to become known and but by becoming known you book work. And so once people know you

Diane Foy

love that just because that that’s what I teach, or coach is getting known that’s my area’s getting you known, and that’s a thing. You have to get known, and then everything else comes into here.

Bret Shuford  23:09

But the thing that I think happens with so many young people is they’re so stuck on the house like they’re just trying to figure out how how did Kelly O’Hara get there. How did you know Audrey get there how you know I didn’t go to Juilliard. Oh, that’s, that’s not gonna happen for me. And they’re forgetting the why. Yeah. And they’re forgetting why they do in the first place. And if you start with that if you lead with that. And you know, like, what, why you do what you do and what did it and then what it is you bring to what you do, which isn’t just on social media auditioning is marketing auditioning is networking auditioning is part of the experience that you create in the world.

Diane Foy

Yeah, and I was thinking that how you said that to be open with the casting directors and just be like, would you like the song or the song and be a little bit more willing that kind of shows that you’re easy to work with, that shows that you’re not going to be a know at all.

Bret Shuford

And that you’re, you’re just willing to engage people and listen. There are some people who aren’t gonna like it. But your job is not to get people to like you. Your job is to become known. Yeah. And going in going to an audition, to me, is really yes you need to be polished and that you need to be prepared. Like if you’re gonna have two songs know them both really well. Yeah, but invite them to be a part of that experience, people just want to help other people that’s part of unless you’re a total psychopath. Like, that’s what people are born on this earth to do. And if you’re not engaging people and not inviting people to be a part of your journey to help you, you’re actually not allowing people to be who they are put on this planet, to be.

Diane Foy

Yeah, there’s no connection. Were you always doing theater and Broadway and what made you transition to television film or was that just along the way you did some TV and film.

Bret Shuford

No I actively started wanting to pursue more film work, but my resume was so musical theater heavy and I knew that the tools I had in that area, weren’t going to translate to television and film auditions I just wasn’t as experienced. So of course I studied to learn the skills, but I also started working on learning that area of the business a little bit more with casting directors creating a target list and really specifically targeting that area. Submitting myself going after that work more actively, and I started booking. You know, I did some small independent films. And then, and then I’ve done some television film work since then I was in the Wolf of Wall Street. And I’ve done. Just, just this year actually just in January I shot an episode of the good fight. And so that’s been, you know, an interesting world to explore and I’ve done a lot of commercial work. I really loved doing commercials like that was like, when I booked I think it was after Little Mermaid I was like, I’m gonna just do commercials all the time I love doing commercials it’s super fun. That’s funny because

Diane Foy

I don’t really hear that very often. It’s usually actors. I’m doing commercials to pay the bills but I don’t like it, but that’s

Bret Shuford  26:39

oh my gosh, it’s so fun. It’s so fast paced and and then it’s over, you’re like, that was fun I got to be silly for a whole day and I got paid a lot of money. And then those residual checks come in and you’re like, yes. Yeah. But, but it’s not arts you know I think it’s I also love doing film and television it’s just a totally different experience I mean being on set for the Wolf of Wall Street for an entire week. Next to Leo DiCaprio and and Matthew McConaughey was probably one of the most professionally, Marty Scorsese I’ve never experienced anything like that yeah you’re working with the best. I love it all and I think that ultimately it’s just about really committing, and seeing. Not necessarily, waiting for a result is what so many actors do is they’re like waiting for that thing like I’m going to get that thing and then my whole life is going to be solved. Right. And I’m going to finally feel fulfilled. And what I’ve learned and why I love to coach is I want to teach you how to be fulfilled now, because then Broadway TV film just becomes a stamp along the way of this journey to fulfillment.

Diane Foy

Yeah and you said something about making a target list and going after that. What are some of the steps to do that, like what do you mean by that, like you made a list of casting directors and stalk them on socials or. That’s, that’s usually my advice. Internet stalking can get you far.

Bret Shuford

I wouldn’t say, stalk I would be careful those words because I do think that you want people do smell. Someone who’s after something.

Diane Foy

Oh yeah, for sure. you have to be genuine, authentic

Bret Shuford

theater people are even more cynical about it’s interesting theater people are very insular. I think it’s part of the same reason why I fell into theater is that we grow up, wanting to feel safe and so we want to keep theater feeling safe. So, you have to genuinely want to build relationships with people and can’t just be like, I want to be friends with them so they’ll get me a Broadway show right and. And so, I learned that pretty quickly I think in LA I mean I think in television film, the relationship dynamics are a little bit different because I think the jobs, come and go a little bit quicker. So you’re, you don’t have, like, you know, I’m not saying to like, you shouldn’t invest in those relationships. It’s just a different experience in the television and film world than I, I’ve noticed in the theater world.

Diane Foy

I’m assuming it’s a bigger industry too so there’s just more.

Bret Shuford

There’s more.Totally. So when I say target lists, I say really narrow it down so many actors are trying to do everything. So when you really understand that you can do everything you just can’t do everything all at once. Pick the one thing that you know you’re really good at it may not be the eventual party like the pie in the sky thing that you really want, but you know it’s going to get you working, it’s going to get you in like I never like I loved dancing, but I never wanted to be known as a dancer I want to be known as an actor, but I could dance, and I had that skill, and I was good at it. And that’s what got me it right so what’s the thing that you know your skill is there, and that you can believe in wholeheartedly. And, and commit to to going and like commit to that okay if I know that like, I’m really good on camera. I’m really, and my passion is television. I love doing sitcoms let’s say love doing a single cat camera sitcom I know I’m good at that style of comedy. Then, who are the five casting directors who are working on that. And it doesn’t have to necessarily casting directors, but I would say narrowed down to like five to 10 people, the showrunners the casting directors. Those are the people you want to sort of look at Okay. How do I get to know them, what are the tools at my disposal to slowly and genuinely start to build relationships with them and find out if they’re my people. Is it casting director workshops Is it an agent who are the people who are on their shows who are their agents, like to start to kind of pool and narrow it down and say, like, one of these five shows are the shows I’m going to be on. And then don’t let distraction come into play well I could do commercials, I could do modeling, I could do theater like you’re going to end up watering down all of your efforts by doing that, by narrowing it down and just committing to one path, you’re gonna end up getting through the forest into the meadow. With a lot more clarity.

Diane Foy

Yeah, I think that’s great because I think as creatives we, we are easily distracted we want to do so many things like you’re, you’re passionate about all this and then I guess if you’re also at a place where you’re not really sure how to go about it and that’s where great coaches come in but you know you do tend to go in many different directions. and then not really get anywhere. So it’s a good advice to really focus in on what’s something that you are the most skilled at right now that you can actually make happen and just get working and then you can always transition later.

Bret Shuford  32:08

Yeah. And what will end up happening though even with that is you’ll start on that path and because the universe sees that you’re on one path. These other paths are going to intersect and doesn’t mean no I’m on this path I’m going towards television and a Broadway show comes along, you don’t take it. Yeah. You know, it just means that like the universe is gonna be able to find you a little bit easier when you’re really committed to one thing.

Diane Foy

And I think it’s also really knowing what you want.

Bret Shuford

Well that’s, I mean some time to figure that out too sometimes and that comes back to why, like, why do you want to do this. Yeah, you know, it has to be it has to be a value that you feel is bigger than you It can’t just be about becoming famous it has to be what do you want people to experience. What do you want people to have, what do you when they witness you on stage or in an audition room. What do you want them to feel and experience of you.

Diane Foy

Yeah. And then what made you transition to get into coaching coaching other actors.

Bret Shuford

For me, I mean before I booked my first Broadway show I had struggled a lot with addiction. And I finally made a decision to get sober one day at a time in 2005. And ironically three months later is when I first put up my first Broadway show and there was something about that that reassured me that that was the right decision to commit to staying sober. And that personal development path really began there. How do I become a better version of myself. How do I start to become a service to others. Those are principles, you know that I learned in recovery, and I know that a struggling as a young gay kid in Texas, who had this big dream of being on Broadway. No one gave me the tools I needed to confidently approach that. Yeah. And part of that was, you know, part of the result of that was falling into addiction and falling into other things that were negatively affecting my life and financial, you know I was sort of, I hit rock bottom. And I committed at that time I’m not going to let that happen to myself again. And I want to help other people prevent that from happening as well, because you don’t have to struggle to be an artist, you just don’t. Yeah, and I just had heard so many lessons and so many thoughts that have been taught to me that artists struggle, and to be successfully successful as an artist financially you’re going to be in so much pain and deal with so much rejection and all these key words that we constantly hear that, I think, you know, they dysfunction our belief systems,

Diane Foy

you can get stuck in that.

Bret Shuford  35:00

Mm hmm. And then you forget what do you really want what do you see as the outcome. And, and clearly you envisioning that so that you can really go after it.

Diane Foy

And then was it back then you, that you got in to get certified for being a coach.

Bret Shuford

I mean coach for a while just happened naturally, I’m really good with social media I’m really good. Even when Facebook was the only thing existed I was good at social media and people would come to me how to do that. How’d you get an agent, how did you how did you do all, you know, all these things and so I was like, Well, I’m giving all this information out for free and I need you know is like between shows I was like, I need a side hustle. Why don’t I offer this for people, I don’t know, and, and, because I think this is worth value I think this has taken me at that time 30 years to figure out why am I giving it away for free. I think that there’s a lot of value here so I started coaching, and I love it, I just love coaching, a lot. It’s really watching people realize their potential is just such a gratifying feeling as I’m sure you know

Diane Foy

yeah it’s amazing that’s that’s I think the, the major thing to take away when I you know I studied coaching did all this practice coaching coaching coaching coaching. And then when you actually start coaching. It’s like when it’s life changing. Like after a couple sessions, my clients are saying this is changing every aspect of my life. That is powerful. And you actually make a difference. And you can help someone get to where they want to go faster because you’ve already. You know, we learned it the hard way. So, I love your name of your coaching. The Broadway life coach is, how long have you had that.

Bret Shuford

I started that in 2009. That was when I came up with that title and I think it came up there was like a. There was a moment so exists on that chat which was this whole chat room for Broadway fans and somebody and CC me and said Brent does coaching, and somebody had said I’m looking for a broadway life coach and I was like, it’s pretty genius. So I bought the domain and boom. There we are.

Diane Foy

That’s amazing. Because it’s really clear of what you coach on, like, you’re not the television film coach you’re a Broadway coach you want to be on Broadway. Let’s do it. So what kind of things do you coach on. Do you coach, acting as well as how to get their career or what have you,

Bret Shuford  37:46

I don’t because i mean i i have and i can, but it’s not where I think the most value comes in because what I, what I’ve, my goal, really, because Broadway, the community of Broadway stands on its own. It is really this community, and my mission really is to help build a sort of integrate into that Broadway community people who are healthy, and who are confident and who are want to help shift the Broadway community into the most positive version of itself. So, My mission really is to help empower actors, and creatives to be more authentically themselves and everything that they do between marketing and auditioning, and even showing up to their shows, and also help people really like I said discover why it is they do what they do so that they really bring the best version of themselves to to that experience because they you know you’re seeing a lot right now especially with racial justice movement that the theatre community needs to change. And I believe that change starts within. So how do we help people change themselves so that we can empower the community to be its better self.

Diane Foy

Right. And so, clients that come to you for coaching, what is kind of their What are they coming to you for what is their. I know, as coaches we can tell you what we think they need but what is their question, like what what

Bret Shuford

oh they always certainly for you. Almost always start with. Hey, will you tell me my type. Will you. A lot of them want to discover how to get more followers and social media. I and I. Listen, I can talk social media for like an entire day I’m a nerd about it I love it. A lot of them want to know how their audition book is how I look at my songs, we do talk about that but I go to it on a much deeper level than they’ve ever had been discussed right and he looked at, who they are and the values and the things that they bring into the room and then we look at their songs and go, does this reflect that. Right. Does your social media actually show those things. Why are you starting a YouTube channel just to like sing 16 bars of what you really want to do is do scripted television work you know like they’re just. There’s so much to to separation between who they are as a person and what they do as a performer and I wanted help I feel like my goal is to help them find where those two things intersect.

Diane Foy  40:36

Yeah, I think that’s exactly how I approach it as well. They all want to skip those foundation steps and get right to. That’s why they come to me as a publicist, like, No, I don’t want to do all that I just want to have some PR, and I’m like, No, No no, it’s that’s I think my struggle is trying to express or try to explain the reason or what that, you know, slow down, how do you how do you kind of approach it to kind of explain why those early things are important.

Bret Shuford

Well, I think the most important thing is to understand that you have to be in this for the long haul. You can’t. This isn’t a short term career. This isn’t like okay I’m gonna just like, wait until I get there always show and then be like okay I’m good, because the Broadway show may never come and then you’re just frustrated and those are things you can’t control. So we start with like what are the things you can control what are the things you can control, and we start with looking at. Okay. I, if I’m committed to this for the long haul. How do I want to approach, every day. How do I want to be in this moment if I know that that’s gonna happen and I strongly believe it and I feel it in my bones and I see it and I’m committed to it, which is the only people I want to work with. I don’t want to work with people who are just like I just wanna get famous and be done. It doesn’t work that way. Yeah, right. And so, finding those people who are fully committed. And then we help them learn how to take to get there one day at a time and not try to get the quick, easy, fast answer because relationships. All it’s a process it’s like you don’t want to play the end of the scene, when you’re acting, because then the audience doesn’t get to have the journey. Yeah, yeah,

Diane Foy

yeah, I think I’m always kind of sharing that. And I say it was such passion because I’m in there to have everything will always take longer than you hope, it’s just the way it is. And it’s frustrating as hell. But are you only into this for six months or is this a long time career and you just have to, if you’re in for the long haul and you’re going to do whatever it takes, then, you know, eventually, you’ll get where you want to go. It’s just

Bret Shuford

what I say is like it also doesn’t have to. It also doesn’t have to take long. It can happen tomorrow, it’s like letting go of results, and understanding that success lies in the actions that you’re taking not the results you make. If you’re taking action every day towards being successful you are successful.

Diane Foy

Yeah, I like that. Great. And then so you have a podcast to tell me about that.

Bret Shuford  43:06

Yes, you know, I started podcasts called the Broadway husband’s podcast, and that’s more about how we, you know, we interview people who are making a living in the arts LGBTQ couples mostly to talk about you know we really wanted to normalize LGBTQ marriage with a greater perspective because we didn’t have really role models as kids for that and also for a couple that makes a living doing what we do. He was primarily a ballet dancer with New York City Ballet. And I’ve been doing musical theater my whole life so it’s been a really fun project for us to do together. And, of course, right now we’re documenting COVID craziness and how the Broadway shutdown how we’re managing that. And so really interesting time.

Diane Foy

That’s great. And how long you’ve been doing that.

Bret Shuford

We started that in November.

Diane Foy

Okay what episode Are you on.

Bret Shuford

We are on episode 31. Great and the, we have. We’re part of the Broadway podcasts network which is a network of theater Broadway centric podcasters.

Diane Foy

Wonderful. So anything out that you want to share.

Bret Shuford

Um No I listen if you’re if you’re open to it I would love to just invite your listeners to come join the Broadway life coach group it’s totally free. And we do interviews with Broadway industry people every month. And it’s just a really great community of supportive artists who are looking to pursue a career in the theater.

Diane Foy

Yeah, I was also gonna ask like is it only New York based Broadway people or other areas.

Bret Shuford  45:09

Yeah, you know I always say you don’t have to be on Broadway to live your life. I mean, yeah, it’s, I have people all over the world for a part of the community who are really just trying to stay consistent, especially right now there’s, it’s really hard to, to keep that vision in mind when things are so uncertain.

Diane Foy

What is your why?

Bret Shuford:

I wanna help people see the world and themselves differently so everything I do, performing, coaching, all of it is to help people gain a different point of view.

Diane Foy:

It was so great to talk to Bret, I love talking to fellow coaches because they really get the importance of knowing your why and building an audience to get known.  If you dream of a Broadway Life, Bret may be the coach for you. Visit him at https://www.bretshuford.com/

And again if you are interested in connecting with me for a free coaching session to get clear on your goals and to see if I am the coach to help you achieve them visit dianefoy.com/thrive