Jennifer Pielak is a performing artist and coach from Vancouver, Canada. She’s a multi-disciplinary performer with over 15 years of professional experience in comedy improv, musical theatre, musical improv, experimental/physical theatre, singing, voice acting, and TV/film/commercials. She has trained and performed at improv theatres and festivals across North America, founded the group Off Key Musical Improv, co-wrote the Ovation Award Nominated Connected: The Musical and has most notably performed in local theatre productions as Marcy in Dogfight and Maureen in RENT.
She recently created and performed in an experimental musical theatre piece – about the inner voices in her head – called Inside Voices: A Musical in the Key of P for the Vancouver Fringe Festival with her long-time creative partner, Peter Abando (composer & musician). She can be seen playing Jessica Mulroney in the Lifetime Movie Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal, and her improv skills have led her to book many commercials over the years (most notable are Lays, Danimals, Nintendo, & Paypal). Jennifer has a degree in Psychology and Philosophy and has over a decade of experience teaching kids, teens, and adults.
Hello and welcome to episode 45 of Sing! Dance! Act! Thrive!
How’s everyone doing during this isolation time, Toronto is starting to re-open some retail and services. But it’ll be a while before we can enjoy live concerts and theatre and film and television can begin shooting again. As an introvert, I’ve been thriving. I love my alone time, and I’ve been so productive these last couple of months preparing content for you all. It’s been great to connect in the Sing Dance Act Thrive Facebook group. If you haven’t already, please join us at DianeFoy.com/Facebook, as I’m planning some great free content that will only be available inside the group. Facebook groups is where it’s at these days.
Today’s guest is someone I connected with inside a Facebook group. Jennifer Pielak is a performing artist and coach from Vancouver, Canada. She’s a multidisciplinary performer with over 15 years of professional experience in comedy improv, musical theater, musical improv, experimental physical theater, singing, voice acting, and TV, film, and commercials. She is trained and performed at improv theaters and festivals across North America. Founded the group Off Key Musical Improv, co-wrote the Ovation Award Nominated Connected: The Musical and has most notably performed in local theater productions, as Marcy in Dogfight, and Maureen in Rent. I love RENT.
She recently created and performed in an experimental musical theater piece about the inner voices in her head called Inside Voices: A musical in the Key of P for the Vancouver Fringe Festival with her longtime creative partner, Peter Abando. She can be seen playing Jessica Mulroney in The Lifetime Movie, Harry and Megan: Becoming a Royal, and she also has a degree in Psychology and Philosophy and has over a decade of experience teaching kids, teens and adults.
Diane Foy 3:09
Thanks for doing this.
Jennifer Pielak 3:11
You’re so welcome. Thank you for bringing me on.
Diane Foy 3:16
So, what have been some of your career highlights as an actor? Improv? Everything.
Jennifer Pielak 3:24
Oh my goodness. There’s just so many images that swirl in my mind. I think the very first highlight was my first audition which was an audition for an improv group. And that was sort of what sparked me like diving into saying yes to being an actor and taking it seriously. And it was this improv group that I was following for a while and then I found out they wanted to add a female performer back then it was like, let’s add one female to this group of dudes. And I loved and I found this out and I didn’t have much improv experience. I was very green as a performer. But it was like this thing nagging in the back of my mind that I needed to take this leap and so I showed up to one of their shows, and I’d like indicated interest, but I showed up to one of their shows, which was at this little coffee shop, in a in a suburb here in Vancouver, and it’s Coquitlam because, you know, Vancouver, right?
Diane Foy 4:31
Yeah, I grew up in New Westminster.
Jennifer Pielak 4:33
Okay, so you know, it was in Coquitlam. And I showed up and I was like, I’m interested in auditioning, let me know when they are and stuff and they’re like, Oh! okay, well, you’re gonna do the show with us. So I went, I was like, okay, so I did this hour and a half show. I did improv with them. I it must have been just a mess like I have these weird memories from it like, my adrenaline was like over up through the roof. But that was a huge leap. And I’ll never forget it because making that choice to say yes and do it, even though I didn’t know what I was doing was a huge highlight. Another was I started a musical improv group. I started getting into improvising musicals, and the major highlight was getting them to New York City. And we, because I applied to this musical improv Festival, which is so niche. Like I didn’t even know they existed, right. And I was googling. I was like, of course, New York has a musical improv festival and I applied because we would just joke around that one day we would go to New York, but we just never thought that would actually be possible. And then I found this festival. I didn’t tell the group and I just applied because the registration fee was like 25 bucks or something, and it’s a small festival small theater in New York, but like well known in the improv community.
And, and we got in and I was like, What? But we had to pay our own way to get there. And so we like scrambled together and did an Indiegogo campaign. And because the story was just so amazing like, we’ve pulled the story of like, tiny little improv group from Coquitlam goes to New York City. You know, we fundraised super fast we got we were able to pay for everybody’s accommodation and plane tickets. And there were 15 of us that went so it was like, pretty amazing that we were able to raise that much money and go and so just be able to be on a stage in New York that was a few blocks away from Broadway made us feel like amazing.
It was one of the most amazing experiences and then, I guess another huge highlight for me was two years ago, I produced my first two-person show, it was just me and a piano player on stage. And I’m improvising the voice songs and characters based on my insecurities and my inner critics. And like my fun, sassy self, like all the different parts of me that make up me that just show up moment to moment, like just honoring what I’m actually noticing is coming up and sharing that with audience and breaking into song, which is like the most vulnerable project I’ve ever done. But being someone with having a psychology background, and I’m super obsessed with personal development and how we work and as human beings. It was just the most rewarding experience and also the level of connection I was able to have with the audience was like, yeah, that was probably the that’s the proudest thing I’ve ever made. And the other highlight would be finally booking a huge but big role on TV. Like it’s something like I’ve been I’m a creator, I’m a multidisciplinary artist I love you know, I think at the end of the day, my big dreams are to be creating big, like projects that I’m directing and producing and in of all different kinds, but I’ve always been like trying to get up the ladder as an actor in like the traditional way like getting in those doors with casting directors and it’s taken me a really long time. And finally, it was like kind of getting more of a business sense on and working on like, you know, making sure I had the right team and finally like getting those auditions and breaking through doors and I thought all my first my I was booking tons of commercials and doing really well with that.
But just TV and film in Vancouver it was just a huge struggle for me to get like in which like, I’d go to classes and teachers would be like what is going on like you should be like seen. And then finally and so I thought, okay, well my first role on network TV, it’s going to be like a one liner, like that’s typically what happens. My first role in network TV was a supporting role in a TV movie about Harry and Megan, you know, the royal couple, and I played Megan’s best friend, Jessica Mulroney. So we just kind of was very cool.
Diane Foy 9:28
Was that movie aired?
Jennifer Pielak 9:31
It aired on lifetime, on lifetime network. So it’s definitely one of those cheesy, like movie like TV movies for sure. But lifetime’s more like it’s less. It’s not quite as cheesy as Hallmark. It’s like kind of cheesy but dropped dramatic. There’s more drama in lifetime movies.
Diane Foy 9:49
Jennifer Pielak 9:50
Yeah, so and they actually did a pretty good job of like, staying true to the story. The actual story of Megan and Harry and it was interesting. I wasn’t a huge Royals fan like before, but going through the process of preparing for the role and learning all about them and what they were doing, and it was really it was really cool experience. And it was awesome to like, get that validation to like I think we’re all looking for that too as artists, like as much as I give the advice, like you got to find that validation in yourself because this industry is so tough.
Diane Foy 10:28
Jennifer Pielak 10:30
There’s still a lot of joy when you finally do get that external validation.
Diane Foy 10:36
Yeah, for sure.
Jennifer Pielak 10:37
It’s like good job. You know, you’re like, Okay, I’m capable of this.
Diane Foy 10:41
All that work was maybe worth it.
Jennifer Pielak 10:44
Okay, it’s worth it. It’s worth it, yeah. So those are the highlights.
Diane Foy 10:51
What got you into this? What was your childhood like? Were you always performing? What was your first interest?
Jennifer Pielak 10:58
Yeah, I think the very first spark moment, I remember my parents buying me one of those tape recorders in the 80s that had like a microphone attaches like for like a five year olds, I think I’m gonna be like four or five. And I would sing into it in gibberish and record it and replay it back. And that was I think, the beginning of me loving, performing. And so through my childhood, I was one of those kids very lucky kids that have parents that were like, follow your dreams, follow your passion. And so I grew up with that messaging and I am so fortunate for that. And when I was 10, my dad noticed I was very good with music, and I was taking piano lessons, but I was also pretty good at singing and he was taking singing lessons. Just because he was a periodontist. But he also always had like, was artistically inclined and stuff. And he asked the singing coach because she wasn’t accepting kids under 12. And he asked her to, like, meet me. And so she met me and I was a very, like, shy, very academic kid, like, I was the top of my class straight A’s type of kid, very interested in everything and thought, like, I want to be a doctor, I want to be a marine biologist. I want to be a singer. I want to be a writer. Like I want to be everything. And, and then so she met me and she agreed to take me on as a student and then she actually recommended that I audition for a local touring, an international touring children’s choir and I auditioned for that and I got in. And so I’ll never forget the first day like going into this nerdy choir of kids. Who all were musically gifted and singing together in harmony and the like, tingles that went through my whole body was just I’d never had that feeling before. And I was, yeah. 11 or 10 years old. And when I got involved in that, and I was in that choir for about four years and be toured all over and singing, and I’ve been singing in Westminster Abbey.
Diane Foy 13:24
Jennifer Pielak 13:25
Crazy. So that sparked it, but then I left that because I really wanted to play sports, also a multi passionate person. And when I got to high school, and this choir was like a huge commitment. So I decided to just kind of do children’s choir, choir school and babble and stuff, but I was always making plays in my basement, making my brothers like be in them. I was always like, at school, the projects person like I loved projects. So if my science teacher was like, you guys, make an open like the project was open. I’d go up to them and be like, Can I make a video project? I’ve made so many video projects. So there’s like clues everywhere.
Diane Foy 14:08
Jennifer Pielak 14:09
So that Yeah, that was probably the beginning for me. Yeah.
Diane Foy 14:14
And then did you go right into it after high school? Or where did you go?
Jennifer Pielak 14:20
No, so I think a big piece of my story and it’s funny, I’m trying to figure out what the core of my own story is when I you know, promote myself and stuff. But what happened when I was 15 was I watched my dad was he’s like, he was like my hero growing up. But he was also a periodontist. And he was in a profession, like in hindsight now as an adult, he was clearly an artist. Clearly creative being and in the total wrong job. He was very good at it because he’s such a he’s such an empath and stuff but he based I watched him go through burnout and so bad that he caught the shingles virus internally along one of his nerves, and huge nerve, the phrenic nerve, which ended up causing like chronic pain and partial lung paralysis. And so I watched my dad go from like successful professional to a totally like you couldn’t work at all he that which then led to a lot of mental health issues and this massive struggle with chronic pain so I watched someone who is a huge light in my life totally lose it all. And it totally impacted my family but it taught me a massive lesson like even if you try it you go on a path to like he wanted because he grew up really poor and wanted to not have his own family live that way, which was why he wanted to become someone like in the professional field like periodontics which is by the way, it’s a type of dentist that deals with gum disease if you’re wondering.
Diane Foy 15:58
I think it has something to do with dental.
Jennifer Pielak 16:00
Yeah, yeah not pretty to look at every day. But yeah, and I was very deeply impacted by this. And it, like solidified in me that I was not going to, it wasn’t worth it to just go along a path where I would get success and money just for the sake of that and there’s just so much messaging in school around making a choice like that and I was like, I’m going to listen to my heart and follow my passion and whatever that is. And so when I, but at the same time, I was watching my dad, as I was graduating high school watching him really struggle with his mental health. And it was it was hugely traumatic and everyone in our family, it was huge. And so I started getting very interested in our minds and how we work so I being an academic student I was took every class in high school so that I could have everything, every opportunity open to me. So I was like, you know, be a doctor, maybe be a lawyer, maybe I’ll be this. And I ended up choosing to go into psychology and philosophy at university and I thought maybe I’ll become a psychologist, so I could help people who are in pain, because I’m really good at listening. And I knew that I was, I always had people coming to me for things and I was, you know, always like, supporting people in that way. And I had actually started developing a phobia of singing in front of people. And I feel like maybe part of that was because I got I was going through so much grief, that I just couldn’t, I didn’t like have my voice anymore.
Diane Foy 17:41
Jennifer Pielak 17:42
And, and so I went through university and did that degree and I kind of took the odd acting class and the odd like, like I was, it was always this thing in the back of my head, like you should perform, you should perform. You know, that’s like how you feel like, but I thought that Is that really where I could best serve the world? And I just had so many questions and doubts. And then I met my now husband at university, I was involved in this club so we’ve liked plans and trips in Vancouver. And we, when I graduated, we went traveling for a few years and I taught English in Taiwan, and then when I finally came back to Canada, because I had traveled something kind of changes when you travel, I think. It’s risky in itself to do that and create a whole life somewhere else. I came back and my voice my inner voice, that little whisper of like, you should act you should perform it was like crazy loud, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. And I thought, okay, I just I need to somehow create a leap and I had this thought of like, I remember that. This question came into my head. If you’re lying on your deathbed at the end of your life thinking back on it, are you going to regret not getting acting, singing, performing a try? And like, the answer in my head is a resounding yes. I will regret it. So I was okay. I’m going to do it. And then and then that’s what led me to that very first improv group, like audition.
Diane Foy 18:01
Right, and improv is all about taking risks.
Jennifer Pielak 19:26
Oh my gosh, yeah.
Diane Foy 19:27
Did you always somehow withdrawn to that, or were you somehow fell into it?
Jennifer Pielak 19:34
I so, if I rewind back when I was 16, I did like a film camp at Vancouver film school learning how to make films. And, of course, because my parents were encouraging of doing the arts, we had one of the first like decent digital cameras in the 90s. And so I brought that camera to that class. I got became friends with the editor who was there working and helping all the kids like, cut their stuff together and he remembered me. And he actually had a connection with the improv group that I auditioned for, like 10 years later. And but that improv group had when I was a teenager had invited me to do film work for one of their sketch show. They’re doing like an improv sketch show. And so I filmed them. And so I knew about them. That was the first time I’d seen improv and I thought that’s interesting. And I loved watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Wayne Brady was my hero watching him improvise all the songs I just got. It just blew me away. I would watch it every morning before going to school. Yeah
Diane Foy 20:43
I did go to theater sports a lot in Vancouver.
Jennifer Pielak 20:46
Oh, you did? Yeah. I’ve performed with them, they’re just amazing. Everybody. Our improv community. Improv communities are really cool. They’re just very warm and welcoming and a bunch of very weird people because they’re all silly.
Diane Foy 21:03
Yeah. The outlet to let out all that stuff.
Jennifer Pielak 21:09
Yeah, I think another piece is I’ve always been a goofball like, ever since I was little like there’s just this the humor is a huge value for me and even in my relationships I need I think humor might be my number one requirement. My husband is hilarious. And all the friends that I’m closest with we’re silly. There’s just a silly goofiness. I think it’s this don’t take life too seriously thing.
Diane Foy 21:38
Jennifer Pielak 21:40
And the idea of play, being allowing yourself to play can really take you far.
Diane Foy 21:50
Yeah, taking risk is the big thing because and also just sticking with it. Because if you only play, you’re not going to get very far especially in the entertainment industry, you have to have a strong work ethic that, okay, I’m doing this no matter what because we get knocked down a lot and keep going.
Jennifer Pielak 22:14
Yeah, totally. I love that you said that because it makes me think oh, that’s why it’s been working for me it’s like my, my straight A student work ethic has really taken me far because I always love projects and leaving them and I would get like 100% on all my projects, good follow through and would do the work. But you can’t really do one without the other in a creative field that you have to let yourself play because the place where all the creativity comes and where your genius comes out. But you also have to have that work ethic to keep getting back up when it gets hard and and to like strategize about how you’re going to market yourself or how you’re going to sell your show or even just like, structure your time to like actually get the thing you’re creating finished.
Diane Foy 23:08
Yeah. So I love coaching artists on just finding out your why and your value.
Jennifer Pielak 23:14
Diane Foy 23:15
And you know what you’re passionate about. Most of you don’t stop to think about those things. But once you figure out what your core why is, then when those you know, when you get knocked down, it’s easier to get back up because you know why you’re doing it.
Jennifer Pielak 23:32
Yeah, you just connect to that deeper part of you. I feel like knowing your why is insanely motivating. So I often get artists coming to me and asking, like, how do you stay motivated? And I’m like, well, sometimes I don’t feel motivated. I’ll wake up and I’m grumpy. But I still get up and I show up and I do my work. And it’s and then I’m like, well, why is that? It’s because I know what my life is or because it’s a deeper thing that’s worth getting up for and working through.
Diane Foy 24:06
Yeah, because like, you know, it would be so much easier if we all just stopped being creatives and got a real job. But no, but we something in us in creatives, you just have to do it and it’s figuring out why that is and a lot of times it does come down to, you know, childhood or family experiences that drove you or why that’s the route that makes you want to go down this path.
Jennifer Pielak 24:35
Yeah, totally. The Why, can I ask you a question?
Diane Foy 24:40
Jennifer Pielak 24:42
What’s your Why?
Diane Foy 24:43
My Why is I have just always loved performing artists. And I think when I got down to the real core of it, because well, yeah, why? You know, it’s like because you love this. Okay. Why? And I think it was because as a child, I was so shy. Like, you just look at me and I would hide behind my mother, I was so shy, but then I’d watch all these performers, and just like, showing their personality and their talent and singing and dancing and acting, and I just loved it. I was obsessed with it. I never really wanted to be them.
Jennifer Pielak 25:25
Diane Foy 25:25
But I just needed to be around.
Jennifer Pielak 25:28
Diane Foy 25:29
And I actually started out as a photographer.
Jennifer Pielak 25:33
Diane Foy 25:34
And not because that was what I was wanting to do. I was, you know, in high school, my counselor only cared about the people with high grades that are going to university. If you weren’t going to be a doctor, he couldn’t care less about you. So it’s like oh for you people that don’t have straight A’s in physics. Do you want to be a teacher or secretary?
Jennifer Pielak 25:58
Ah, that’s horrible.
Diane Foy 26:01
I know, and so I literally look through my Pat Benatar tour program. And look at all the job titles because I was like, I have to be in the entertainment industry I have to. And I either didn’t know what the titles were or it didn’t appeal to me because I saw photographer I’m like, Okay, I gotta be a photographer. I’ve never actually had a real camera.
Jennifer Pielak 26:23
It was like, I love that.
Diane Foy 26:26
I want to be around performers, I’m going to be a photographer. And then I started getting good grades. Because when I was in journalism and photography. I got good grades. Yeah, I went to college for photography. And but, you know, in Vancouver to make a living as a photographer, you have to just shoot all kinds of other things. Besides, I’m like, I just want to shoot like actors and musicians and models. And so I moved to Toronto, and then I fell into being a makeup artist and the same thing. I always wanted to do the video shoots with musicians. And beyond set be backstage and finally I discovered obviously I want to be in the entertainment business on the you know in the inner circle so then I got into publicity and here I am now coaching. I’m like your multi-passionate I can go on a million different things I want to do you got to rain yourself in.
Jennifer Pielak 27:23
I know and for sure and but it’s interesting listening to your journey and it makes sense in my mind like that you’ve you started with photography and makeup like it’s like the jumps actually makes sense cohesively for you to go from photography to makeup to then publicity and then realizing like because I bet you realize in doing publicity, like you’re like, oh, there’s a deeper you want to just go deeper. You’re like, okay, there’s a deeper thing going on when I’m working with artists because publicity brings up all kinds of stuff. When you have to like ask like, what’s your story and how you’re going to frame yourself.
Diane Foy 27:27
Yeah, and a lot of times, a publicist is the artists kind of first person on their team before they even get an agent or manager, and like that kind of publicity was the first kind of thing. And so you end up being a bit of a manager as well and helping them on and actually making a difference and helping them.
Jennifer Pielak 28:19
Well, I can imagine because of that, you’re not just dealing with publicity, your job, I said, that really weird publicity. You’re dealing with, you’re also going to be dealing with their like, insecurities and emotions and uncertainty and self doubt. And so and your job is to build them up.
Diane Foy 28:42
I talked a lot of artists off the ledge when they get a bad review.
Jennifer Pielak 28:48
Oh, geez, bad reviews are the worst.
Diane Foy 28:52
But even that, like yeah, it was, I mean, I’ve done it for 16 years, but even so, even that’s changed so much. And I think that’s what led me to coaching is because it’s harder and harder to get press for the up and comers that I like to work with. Sure if you’re already famous and got a lot going on, yeah, the media is there. But without that, it’s like, so hard to get now. So that’s kind of where I was a couple years ago, or a few years ago, I was kind of, I didn’t know where I was going to go. Am I going to be a photographer again, because like, publicity just wasn’t fun anymore. I can’t, you know, can’t get anything I want to be successful too, because it’s not fun, like, and nobody’s happy so I was like, I don’t know what I’m going to do. And I kind of rebranded myself I kind of gave up my company name and I’m just going to put everything that I do on DianeFoy.com and see where it goes. And so I kind of floated for a year.
Jennifer Pielak 29:56
Diane Foy 29:56
Did in the field of photography more and started doing photography. and maybe I’ll do this maybe I’ll do that. I played with jewelry design and all kinds of things.
Jennifer Pielak 30:06
Diane Foy 30:07
And then at the end of the year, I did kind of go to a workshop on branding for artists. And, you know, she was really great at kind of saying, well, what can you do that would take the least amount of work, but get you like making money sooner? And it kind of came up well, I guess consulting is sharing everything I know.
Jennifer Pielak 30:30
Yeah because you know so much.
Diane Foy 30:32
But she was a coach and I’m like, coach, I swear coaching was the light bulb. And like within 24 hours, I was in a coaching program. I spent a year like taking every psychology and coaching program I could think of and find and then just been kind of developing this program of kind of coaching artists on those fundamental things that the reason I can’t take you on as publicists right now is because you don’t have all this stuff. But now it does send me a way, I can help you. I’ll walk you through it. I’ll get you there. In the end, I’ll teach you how to do the publicity yourself if you want to, you know, but at least then, and I’ve done that where I’ve coached an artist and then we went right into publicity cherish it together. It was great.
Jennifer Pielak 31:22
Yeah, well, because you can’t yeah, you have to have a shit together. And I think a lot of ours aren’t. There’s so much, especially the level you’re talking. There’s just so much you don’t know. And then there’s no guidance.
Diane Foy 31:34
Jennifer Pielak 31:35
There’s nobody there to like, tell you what to do.
Diane Foy 31:38
Go get your stuff. You got to have professional photos. Okay, my friends have thrown for a wedding photographer, but they’ll get it right?
Jennifer Pielak 31:48
Yeah there’s a lot of aimless flailing around.
Diane Foy 31:51
And you waste a lot of time and money just trying to figure it out on your own and then you get back to thinking of giving it up. So I’m loving you know coaching artists on you know I try to avoid the marketing talk like the word marketing and branding. Well artists are getting a little bit more okay with the word branding now but my marketing copy for my coaching program I kind of hardly use marketing words and that took a while to just like explain the benefits you know the benefits of each stage.
Jennifer Pielak 32:32
It’s funny that you say that because it’s interesting listening to you because I feel like I’m in a similar boat to you in that. I’m learning about how that I’m a coach but I’m still I think I’m a few about a year and a half behind where you’re at.
Diane Foy 32:49
Jennifer Pielak 32:50
Where like, I’m inside and a lot of senses just figuring out what kind of a coach I am.
Diane Foy 32:55
Jennifer Pielak 32:57
And I’ve been taking all kinds of classes and I you know I I’ve been doing personal development work for years and so now like what I want to share is like the tools I use as an artist that work for me and from like just 15 years of my life but there is something that I’m noticing about like I love learning about business. I love like words business, marketing, branding, don’t scare me but I’ve always like even just in in my circles bring light coming in with too much of an aggressive business tilt or using the word the wrong words like it totally turns people off.
Diane Foy 33:40
And you run away.
Jennifer Pielak 33:42
Yeah, money. Oh God, why do you talk about that?
Diane Foy 33:46
In so many ways I’m the same way like marketing I get but like any other kind of finances, I’m like, oh, you’ll run away. But as a coach, that’s an opera singer, financial coach. I’m like, I got to have him on the show. But even that scares me. But he teaches and coaches, artists, performers, on how to get your stuff together with finances. So we need people like that.
Jennifer Pielak 34:16
We do and we need people that are going to teach us in a way that’s not going to be scary and terrifying. And I think like, I wonder if part of it is I, you know, I think about why is it scary to people and I think it’s the type of world we’ve been brought up in and what we think business is and what we think marketing is, and it’s, and we there’s this like story and a lot of artists had that that’s inauthentic. Or it’s not, it doesn’t, it’s actually just like complete opposite of what they do as artists and hippies. But it’s actually when you realize what it actually is, what business actually is and what marketing actually is. It actually they work together really well.
Diane Foy 35:03
Yeah. And I think for a long time in the entertainment business, there were stories of actresses and singers that the machine kind of put out rap for them.
Jennifer Pielak 35:15
Diane Foy 35:16
That wasn’t them. And so even though, you know, it’s been a while since that’s kind of happened, where again, I’m sure so happens. That fear of that and I’m always like, no, no. It’s just really getting to know who you are, and putting it out in the world and that’s going to connect with people. When someone connects with you on a more personal level, then yeah, I want to know what shows you’re doing and what your career is happening and what’s going on there. But without that, I mean, I’ve had I’ve worked with a lot of artists, a little bit more musicians than actors. I just want to create and I say good luck with that.
Jennifer Pielak 36:04
I know that it’s one of the ones that’s so frustrating they’re like I’ve I just want to create I don’t want to do the producing like in the theater world, you know, like I just want to create things I don’t want to produce and like if you’re the one actually creating whatever it is the play that like you really need to be in the room if you’re deciding on what you’re going to like how you’re going to be marketing it and like you need to be there you need to be the one writing stuff like that copy or like with the people writing the copy because it’s your baby and so it’s completely connected.
Diane Foy 36:39
Yeah, and so you’ve been producing a lot of your own shows as well right?
Jennifer Pielak 36:44
Yes, yeah, I’ve done boy I wish like when I first started like to have a publicist would have been amazing. But I learned by doing and learned about, you know, writing my own press releases and even like, and using social media and as social media has evolved and how to like a lot of it I realized early on that it’s about the story and so it’s like okay, what story am I telling and with publicity too. I was like when I write a press release I want to write something that’s gonna make whoever’s on the other end receiving this about to put it in the news like make their job easy.
Diane Foy 37:24
Jennifer Pielak 37:26
You just read it and they’re like, oh okay. You’ve done and how much time that takes is insane by the way so I really like mad respect for crafting something like that. But then also I got you know, there’s one. One year when I was running my The Musical Improv Group their name, they’re called Off Key. And then, I moved on from with them, but they still exist, which is really cool to start something and have it still continue after you leave. My last year. I really started getting interested in this the question of it, because sometimes you just want to create to create as an artist.
Diane Foy 38:02
Jennifer Pielak 38:03
But then you’re you’ve also got to think about okay, but is this for me? Or do I want other people to like, have it and so you end up or experience it. And so you end up with this question all the time of like, do I adjust what it is to serve the audience that most likely is going to come and watch it? Like, what are they going to want from this, you know, like, try to get people to come see your show. And so I was doing improvised musicals with this group. And so I decided this one year to experiment with trying to create a show that still feels really fulfilling artistically and challenging artistically for everyone involved, but also attracts an audience. And so what I started what I did one for Christmas is I was like, everybody’s Christmas shows work well, like, people go see theater at Christmas. And so what I decided to do was I was like, okay, well, love actually is like a huge movie that people watch it for you. And so I was like, what can I do? So I created a show called love musically. And we basically took the format of that movie, and then improvised, improvised a version of it every night, but it was also a musical. So I called I called it love musically. And that was the one of the first times that light bulb kind of like it worked. Like I got the most press ever got interviewed on CBC and I was like, Oh, Okay, I get it. You know, when you create before that, and that was the first time our audiences were coming in that we didn’t like recognize people because often in the theater world, it’s not just, it’s like…
Diane Foy 39:47
It’s not just all your friends.
Jennifer Pielak 39:48
It’s all your friends. And this was the first show I produced. I was like, oh, everybody’s coming like I don’t know these people. This is so great. We weren’t we sold out the show because of that. And at the end like, you know that clip in love actually where I forget the name of the actor, but he’s got the sign. And he’s like telling. He’s got a sign and he’s like changing the sign and he’s telling, I’m forgetting everybody’s names. That he loves her.
Is it the older guys singing or no?
No, it’s the guy that’s got like the, posters, he got posters he’s in love, he’s totally in love and towards the end, he shows up at her door, because he’s been treating her like sh*t. And then he shows up to her door, and she opens the door, and he basically tells her that through posters by moving the paper that he is in love with her. So we took that part, I got the audience, we just asked the audience if anyone would like to like tell somebody that they’re with that audience, a nice message. And let us know and so what intermission they could come and make their own little posters, and then stand up in front of the audience at the very end and share it. And so it was such a cool thing like merge these two things together and so it works. Because of the idea of nostalgia and familiarity like audiences wants to see things that are familiar to them or they get attracted to by that so that was yeah one big light bulb moment. And then the last show I did that year was we called it Broad What, because Hamilton has just come out that year. Everybody in theatre was like just obsessed and so we kind of did like a period that era, period piece. Where we dressed like Hamilton, we didn’t call it Hamilton but we like took you know, made suggestions of it that was the popular thing at that time so why not lean into that and work. And we still found artistic fulfillment from doing that.
Yeah so you found a way to involve the audience, it’s just great.
Yeah because yeah at the end of the day, when I do think about what is it why am I making art? I want to connect to people so you need to do take into account your audience.
Yeah, yeah and what is your why?
So I feel like I have two callings. One is as a performer, creator, as a performing artist, deep down it really is value of connection like the feeling of connection and to feel that out of deep human level that, it’s an awe type feeling when you really feel it when you’re there with other people. I see you and you see me and we know that we’re here together, like in a very existential way that’s why I do it. And also, because I believe that, I just tie that to my other whys, I just believe that art and creativity it makes people think, it makes people laugh, it can shift a moment for somebody when maybe they’re having a hard day and that I think is everything. It’s a challenge in thoughts, paradigms that we’re in, it helps us understand each other, that’s just so much that’s artists are so powerful.
Yeah and tell the truth. You can get away telling the truth and calling things out through art that maybe you can’t do through a conversation.
Yeah, for sure.
And so I just think it’s powerful and can change the world and so then my other piece is I also like you want to help other artists and mentor them to get their work out there. Or to let their creative selves shine because I feel like the world would be of millions times better if more artists are able to get their stuff out there, because of that.
I just think its world changing and people create shows and plays and songs that are about like out environmental issues or social justice issues or you know, artists want to have impact, deep down.
And create change and make the world better like I also have that why too. Like I want the world to become better, I want more quality, I want our environment to heal, our mental health, like I want people to be happy and not suffer or struggle with mental health, there’s just so much pain and all that. I want to help with that.
Yeah when people are in pain, I mean what do I do, I listen to sad songs and watch stuffy movies.
Yes! We need, imagine the world without movies, without music, without dance.
Or other people would do the opposite or maybe a thriller.
Well it also helps you feel, you know a lot of people haven’t been trained you know, as actors we learned how to feel our feelings, we use our feelings and our instruments but a lot of people haven’t been taught to do that. And so but what they can do is listen to a song that will help bring out help better their feelings or watch a movie, identify what the lead character, the heroe’s journey right? Identify that part of themselves with that, give them hope or make them think differently, just brings in the whole psychology, of all that what we do to ourselves. I think even like it’s a spiritual thing, I don’t identify with specific spiritual religion or anything but and sometimes I even hate saying a word, but I think there’s a spiritual reason.
Why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Like I even say that in my bio that like, you performers, you artists, like you can change the world with your talent and there’s too many artists quitting because its so hard or not really knowing how to make a living as a performer and so if I have like a way of helping them you know, achieve that, that’s amazing.
It absolutely is. It’s like you’ll be helping the world change in a massive scale by helping all these artists.
Actually get themselves in the world and you change lives because imagine I just go through my mind imagining like there’s so many people know that they’re brilliant they just lack a little bit of knowledge or a skill or they need to work on a mindset thing.
Yeah and a lot of them is I know I’m all about coaching now of course because I’m doing it but I’m also now I have two coaches and wow you can accomplish things a lot faster instead of struggling for years trying to figure out on my own, like I was like do everything on my own for so many years also I was just a go with the flow girl like oh, I think I’ll do this now and I’ll do this and never really get anywhere with any of them. And its like now oh I wish I’ve discovered this earlier right? Or I think I did, I had a coach once before but it didn’t work out. So I kind of changed my kind of coaching I think.
Yeah that would be like going into therapy when I realized like I’ve been through trauma, I try to like do it myself by like I’m going to go yoga, meditate which helps for sure and you need to I actually think you have things to work through that you definitely need to approach to holistic perspective. It wasn’t until I found you have to find the right person too and so every coach you know you need to find a coach that works for you. But I was a bit tainted by because I found a few therapists and stuffs probably because I had a psychology degree and very already into personal development and my awareness is pretty high that like sounds like narcissistic but there are certain therapies I’ve known that I was like, think I can out think you like I need somebody who can out think me or see me and see what I don’t see.
Yeah or just kind of know a little bit more than you or be able to bring something out of you.
Or even its just their energy whatever like there’s so much involved in finding that coach, the right coach and yeah you’re right you can’t do it alone the lone will only get you so far. You do need to listen to your own heart at the end of the day in your own like wise self but human beings were born as social creatures and I do believe we were born to love together so and it’s evident when you find the right people we just grow so much faster.
Yeah that’s part of you know what I’m coaching artists too there’s a lot have come to me for publicity and I’m like all you’re telling me is that you’re yet another musician with some music and really nothing else going on. It’s like we know that’s not true because everyone has a story everyone has and it’s just bringing that out and when you start sharing about yourself and your why you get people to connect with you than I’m going to buy everything you give me you know tha’t how you that’s how you get life-long fans that will support all your projects. Is this you could share something more to them than just I have a song.
Which is in ironic because musicians, actors, artists their work always tells a story like their natural born story tellers but this just disconnects when suddenly it’s like you slap on marketing or this on publicity or to it but it’s actually the stories that you need for that.
The story behind that song or you know this thing that you wrote or how did you get that emotion as an actor you know what’s the story behind that. That gets me interested.
And so its the same stuff that help movie forward like in a professional way.
Yeah no matter what you do. What are you working on now like when you actually can go to anything?
Well I’m a bit grateful for the pause because it’s hard to because I’m starting I’m building an e-choir and I’m pivoting my web like changing my website and stuff and it’s hard to do that while also getting called for auditions and having to change my schedule and like you now. It’s slow down a bit and so I’m really able to focus on that but the same time I cannot spend too long without filling my artist’s cup I’ve just learned that about myself an artist or teacher coach it like I need both. And so I do have a friend to I just shot an indie film with she in the fall, early winter and she contacted me with an idea to shoot a indie film but like in isolation, like an isolation indie film. We’re going to experiment with she got the script and everything and we’re going to be somewhere it’s in the works and we’re going to be shooting it like with our phones it’s basically about online dating journey in pandemic. So yeah we did a script read though on zoom and then when we start shooting I’m going to shoot with my phone, he’s going to shoot with his phone which is a two-person film. And then we’re going to send in the footage and she’s going to send it to an editor and going to cut it together and stuff and yeah we’re figuring it out. So I’m really excited.
You got to be resourceful and that is my main skill is I’m resourceful and I’ve done so much stuff I’m an introvert so I’ve done this a lot of times. But now I’m being called back to work and called back to you know socializing friends and I’m like, oh it’s over.
It’s over, the break is over. So much time, yeah. And I guess another I all saved to and experimenting with is just offering free zoom calls for people in my audience and community for like artists they kind of come sporadically right now I’m just experimenting week to week but some of them are co-working sessions because I know artists are sensitive and can get really overwhelmed by feelings especially during a pandemic and isolation and loneliness and stuff and so I’ve been kind of like build that connection and just for two hours we work on something together we see the screen of each other and you know we start with like a little meditation and we get to work and we come back and have a little stretch a little deep breathe and then we get back to work for another hour. So I’ve been doing those.
I’ve had a coach that does that.
Yeah they’re great I really love them.
It’s like two hours you’re actually forced to do all the stuffs you’re procrastinating them.
Yeah crazy how many of them relate, it’s just the most productive I’ve been all week.
That’s great. So where can people find you online?
People can find me at Jennifer Pielak, it’s @jenniferpielak and on Instagram and on Facebook and on Youtube and also my website is jenniferpielak.com
Wonderful. Thank you so much.
That’s a lovely conversation.
Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Really great to meet you and chat with you and connect on a very very similar deep Why.
Hope you enjoyed this episode, and if so can I ask you to do me a favor? Can you leave a review on apple podcasts, stitcher, castbox, or a new option is Podchaser which is not an app but a directory and social network for podcasting which is pretty cool. You can follow your favourite podcasts but also your favourite guests and it will notify you if they appear on another show. Check it out Podchaser there’s a link in the show notes. For links and transcripts visit singdanceactthrive.com/045.
I hope you enjoyed this episode and if so can I ask you to do me a favor?
Can you leave a review on apple podcasts, stitcher, castbox, or a new option is Podchaser which is not an app but a directory and social network for podcasting which is pretty cool. You can follow your favourite podcasts but also your favourite guests and it will notify you if they appear on another show.