10 – Krystina Alabado: Self-Care, Social Media, and Sustainable Success

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01:07 Tony:
Hello, it's Tony Howell, digital strategist for artists, and I am so excited to welcome you to this podcast. Today we are going to have a conversation with Broadway’s Krystina Alabado. She is currently starring as Miss Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls, but her résumé is diverse with Broadway, TV, film, voiceover, concerts, developmental work, originating, replacing, and understudying at amazing places beyond Broadway, such as the New York Theatre Workshop, LaMama, Atlantic Theatre Company, A.R.T., Long Warf and more.

I thought Krystina is the perfect guest because we are wrapping #LatinFutureMonth. And we're heading into October's #BusinessFutureMonth. Krystina has experienced the highs and the lows of a life in the arts, and we discuss it all: growing up in the theatre, juggling life, marriage, auditions, and even rejections. I am so excited to share this conversation with you and I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the other side.

Hi Krystina. Thank you for being here.

02:18 Krystina:
Hey Tony, it's so good to see you and hear you. It's been a while.

02:22 Tony:
It has been a while. So for those that don't know, Krystina and I did the national tour of Evita for what was that? 2014, 2015?

02:31 Krystina:
Yes. I think 2013. I don't know now. Oh my God. Long time ago.

02:35 Tony:
It was a ball. It was a rainbow tour. She's amazing. And I'm so thrilled to have you here on the podcast.

02:42 Krystina:
I'm so happy to be here.

02:43 Tony:
So people who don't know you are Gretchen Wieners on Broadway in Mean Girls. That is so fricking fetch. So can you just give us the brief history of what led you to this moment? So how you fell in love with theatre and how you got to where you are?

03:03 Krystina:
Yeah. Quick life story. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I lived there, I graduated high school and started going to school at Arizona State University. I was studying musical theatre and then I transitioned into just studying acting, but I was only there for under a year because I booked the First National Tour of Spring Awakening in 2008. I impulsively flew to Boston and auditioned in an open call. I was sitting in the snow. I was number six at 6:00 AM and they checked us in at 10:00 AM. It was crazy. And I actually booked it. So I always tell young people, sometimes those do work out, even though it seems like a crazy cattle call and like impossible. I mean, that show was very specific because it wanted raw teenagers, but I took a chance and it worked out.

So from there I did that tour for two years. I moved to New York. I gave myself, even at that age, I said, girl you have two years. And if you don't book another job, your butt is back in school. At 20 was like, that's what's happening. And I booked my Broadway debut five months later in Green Day’s American Idiot when I was 21. I think I had turned 21 already. And then from there just lots of new work, a lot of Off-Broadway stuff and developmental stuff, regional development stuff. And then a couple more Broadway shows. And now here I am Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls.

04:29 Tony:
Shazam and there's plenty of highlights in there that I just want to say y'all, she's underselling herself. There are some huge, incredible things. So I'm just curious, I want to rewind, you toured with Kate Fuglei. I hope I'm saying her last name correctly. I adore her. So she is such a wonderful spirit. Were you very connected on the road?

04:51 Krystina:
Yes. Oh my gosh. I loved Kate. The show is interesting. It's all these young people and then the two adult characters in the show and their covers. So I got to know four plus (four, five, six, because there were some replacements in there), older people that I looked up to. I totally look up to Kate Fuglei. She was such an amazing energy when she came into our company and I still stay connected with her every once in a while now. I mean she lives in LA I'm pretty sure. So I don't see her all that often, but her spirit and her warmth, especially again, now that I'm an adult, I wonder what it would be like to be on a tour with a bunch of kids. So all of them, I mean all those adults. I looked up to all of them so much at that time as if I was young and wanting to do what they're doing.

05:44 Tony:
And I want to say yes to all of that. I love Kate and I just wanted to throw her a shout out while you and I are in the room together. So let's go back to that moment. And was that a difficult decision for you and your parents to say I'm going to take this job and do this and leave school?

06:00 Krystina:
Yeah. It was one of those things. In my youth I was doing theatre and once I really decided this is what I want to do, I'm very serious about it, just my personality at that age. And sometimes I look back and I say, gosh, where did that come from? But it is what makes me, I think, continually be successful and get past the difficulties of this. Even at 16, 17, I was like, I want that. I want Broadway. I want New York and I will get it no matter what it takes. And that was my entire goal going into college. I was like, I want to get out of here as fast as possible. That didn't mean I thought that I was God's gift. I just knew I wanted to learn by doing, so I immersed myself in class as much as I could.

And in community theatre productions in the valley to learn as much as I could. And then I was watching the Tonys in 2006, or 2007 that's when Spring Awakening won. And I saw that performance and I remember being like, that's my show. I feel it in my bones. I belonged on that stage because they were singing rock-y. And that was always my thing. I never really sang much classical stuff. I was always a little more pop rocky. I almost feel like I manifested it by saying it at 17. And then everything just kind of fell in line. But when I did book the job, there was no hesitation. I was thinking this is it. This is what I wanted at the end of my four years in school. And my parents were so right there with me.

Of course, a little bit, asking, are you getting paid? Is this a real thing? Obviously, yes. I remember when I was like, yeah, this is what I'm making. They said what? They said oh yeah, go, go, go, go, go. This is a real job. So it really was easy. It was an easy decision. When I got back, I knew and I had the wherewithal to know, I'm young. I didn't go to school. There's a lot to learn.

I learned so much on that tour. I was a swing. So the education I got in the two years, I always say I went to college at Spring Awakening school. But with that, I knew I needed to come to the city and be immersed in acting classes and singing lessons and dance classes because I was still 20 and hadn't really gone to college. I always tell young people, I didn't just leave college to leave college. I left college for a really good job and knew that I had continual learning I needed afterwards.

08:28 Tony:
There's so much there that I want to unpack. So I'm going to start, you talked about the idea of manifesting and I know from your Instagram that you have some practices just to maintain balance and self-care. So what are your mindset ways that you really take care of yourself, whether it's auditioning or performing? How are you practicing self-care?

08:50 Krystina:
Yeah, that's something that is number one on my list of priorities. Even above anything else in this business, that's the number one for me. I went through some years of very difficult anxiety, some really dark times in this career. Especially as a young person, I moved here without my parents. I was 20 by myself in the city. I had my friends from the tour, but I didn't have a community here, and I wasn't used to that because on the tour, it's like a family and everyone is with each other, good and bad. But when you get to the city and you're 20 years old with your family across the country and everyone scatters, you're like, oh, I'm alone, and I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm afraid and that is honestly how I started my time here.

And so I got into therapy very quickly. The minute that I landed in New York from tour, I started working with a therapist that I love to this day. I really read everything. My main thing when I was young was I read every book I could, every Buddhist book I could find: The Power of Now. The Four Agreements. Everything that I felt, that is my practice, I was reading. And also I don't know what the word is, you pound it in and even when you've read it, you read it again.

10:17 Tony:
Repetition? Affirmation?

10:18 Krystina:
Yes, I guess so. And just like remembering what those are and it's a practice and that's why I always tell young people when I coach or when I'm teaching class or doing Q and A's, is that you have to practice your mindfulness and also you have to practice beating your own brain, like winning because it is a game. It is a continual game. And so that's been a huge focus for me is reading and meditating. And some journaling, though journaling kind of goes in and out for me. Sometimes it helps me, sometimes it doesn't. But it's something that is a huge part of me and my husband's life. And I think that's one of the reasons that we connected really strongly is that we both, that's just so important. It's the most important thing. It makes you a better human. It makes you a better actor. It makes you a better friend and partner. And I will never stop that. And even now I'm always reading something. Spirit Junkie. I love Gabrielle Bernstein, always a Super Soul Sunday in my ear. I just really believe in that stuff.

11:16 Tony:
I love that. I'm just like, oh, so many questions. Let's zoom in. You're married now. So congratulations. So for anyone with a limiting belief that career first, relationships later, what would you say to them?

11:34 Krystina:
It's a balance, it's a real balance. The relationship I was in before, sort of what isn't the same, it didn't feel balanced. And I will say when I met my husband, it was so clear that you can have both, and that you should have both, and that you need both. Again, not only as a spouse, but as an actor, it's really both ways. And I think our relationship together is full support, but also we take our marriage so seriously. And there's something so comforting in a business that is so not consistent and not stable to have stability. I never necessarily thought that would be so calming to me. And the thing that keeps me, I have a lot of techniques in how to get over, not getting a job or whatever, but the main one is that I have my family, which is my husband and he is my rock and I'm his, so it goes both ways.

And I believe in the 10 years, 11 years I've been doing this that you can't just put this first. It wears on you in a way that can be totally detrimental. And also you won't make it because there's too much at stake with everything and life, again, with all, everything that I practice, life is so important and sacred, and life is not just your job, in any career. It can be easy in ours (in acting) to feel that way because it's high stakes all the time, so much rejection, but life is still life, and so finding a partner that believes in the same things as I do and works as hard as I do, as an actor was like the universe being like, here you go, you guys are supposed to be together and help each other through all of this.

13:26 Tony:
I'm really happy to hear that. And thank you for sharing the best and the lows with us as well. So you moved to New York very young and now you've been in this business for a decade. I do want to ask you because yeah, you fast-tracked here. So I'm sure there have been many, many teachers both in craft, business, spirituality, etcetera. Can you give us the top three people who have had the biggest influence on your life?

13:56 Krystina:
I always talk about my high school drama teacher, Christina Vail. I moved high schools in the middle, so it's not to discredit any of the other drama and theatre teachers I had. All of them made an impact on me. From every choir teacher, band teacher, music teacher, dance teacher throughout my entire education. But Christina Vail, when I moved high schools, she was such a champion of mine. She still is. She still is to this day. She just encouraged me so much to be myself and to do what I thought was right for me. When you hear a kid in school, say I want to do Broadway. I think she really was saying, you're going to do it, and even talking to her now, we are still friends. She comes to all my shows.

I talk to her, she's such a great person. But I remember I didn't get the lead. I'll never forget this. She didn't cast me as the lead in the show at school and me being the feisty, saying I'm going to do this, I auditioned for High School Musical at our community theatre version of High School Musical. And I got Gabriella and I went into her office and I was so afraid and I said, “I'm going to drop out of the school show. And she is going to hate me. What am I doing? But I need to do this.” And she said this is what you should be doing. Go do that. And that's her show, that's really important to her. So she's just always been a huge champion of me. And she believed in me and she made me feel like I could do it.

And I didn't have an easy time in school. I was bullied and I did not have a lot of friends. I think part of that was transitioning to a new school, and part of it was just the luck of the draw. I was not a popular kid. I didn't have a good social circle or social experience in high school, and she was really helpful with that for me. So she always believed in me, even when the theatre kids were not nice to me, and that's weird because usually the theatre kids are the ones that are your friends, and I didn't have a great experience with that. So I love her. She'll always be my number one.

The other one is an English teacher, his name's Patrick Corton, same school and same vibe. I was bullied pretty intensely by the popular kids in school, and I remember this specific moment. I was hazed pretty bad, publicly in my English class. I don't know why. Sometimes even now I'm like, why were these girls so fixated on making me miserable? And long story short, I don't need to get into it, but they made a satire piece about me. It was a project in English, and they made a video mocking me and dressed up as me, and he kicked them out of class and failed them in that project. But he pulled me aside. I was obviously very upset, and he said, I don't remember the exact quote. He writes it, every time I see him he writes it in the card. He said those bitches are not even going to know what comes to them when you are like the star of the world.

And this was my English teacher in high school. I mean, he was such a believer in me as well as a performer and he loved Broadway. And he just was like, don't let them get you down. They have no idea what you're going to do with your life. And to hear that from an adult who did not need to say that, I could cry. He doesn't even realize what he did for me, because that's hard at 16 to be treated that way. I hope he’d maybe listen to this and I can't tell him now how much he impacted my life as an adult, especially because he validated how I felt. It was amazing.

The third one is probably my parents. I mean they never once batted an eye at anything that I said I wanted to do or accomplish. It was always “yes” and “yes you can.” And they're both immigrants, so they didn't grow up with this idea that you could have anything you want, but they knew that I could. And that is the coolest thing that they could have given me such a gift. My dad is a musician, so he understood the art stuff. But to have this as a career, never once, but what if, but are you going to, but how are you going to, it was just go, do it, go. And it was just so special.

18:24 Tony:
I love hearing all of that. You won the parenting lottery, it sounds like.

18:28 Krystina:
I really did.

18:28 Tony:
And also I don't like your high school classmates, but look where you are now and the story that you get to tell. So circling back to Mean Girls, I'm so sad that I haven't been able to see the show and that I may not be able to. I'll try to get over to New York, but I also know that audiences love you and that you are nominated for an Audience Choice Award from Broadway.com. What is your advice for other actors who find themselves in the position of being a replacement or portraying a loved character from a film or stepping into an understudy or a swing position? How do you approach that as an actor?

19:19 Krystina:
Yeah, it's a specific thing. Again, I replaced in 2011 with American Idiot. Most of my career, however, has been creating things Off-Broadway, a lot of workshops, a lot of development, and I love that more than anything. And so replacing is a different game. I also understudied and swung for the first half of my career. But replacing specifically is this weird game you play with yourself where you're like, okay, I'm stepping into something that has been created, which is amazing. In this instance created by two people, Lacey from the movie, the Gretchen Wieners in the movie and Ashley Park, my dear friend, incredible actor that I totally look up to, and how do you step into these shoes without trying to feel like you need to make a carbon copy of something that exists, but make it your own, but also still pay homage to the legacy that was before you?

So in this instance with Mean Girls, even from the beginning, from my audition, I did exactly that. I knew what was before me. I respected everything about what was before me. And I also knew that I wouldn't be successful if I tried to copy that, we never can be. There's no way because it's not authentically you, it's authentically them. So I took what I could from it. And then I just stripped it all away and did it as me as Gretchen Wieners, not me trying to be Ashley, trying to be Lacey as Gretchen Wieners, just me. I remember some of the blocking. I remember the ideas, the overarching idea of what it needed to be, and then from there it worked out because of exactly that. I was me, and through the rehearsal process and everything, they were so good about, you need to do this because this is what it is, but you should do your own spin on it, or we love how you do that.

It's not how someone else did it, but about loving how that's coming out of you, and then sometimes, you're trying it this way. I actually think it worked better the way she did it. So try it. And it was just such this awesome creative, safe space to combine all the greatness before me and the greatness that I was trying to do. And it ended up being something that I think is super successful and that doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes replacing is: you need to do exactly what that person did, and that can be really challenging. I did not have this experience with this show, and I feel really lucky for that. And I think that no matter what you have to go in with that mindset, that you are you and I respect everybody before me more than anything and that will come to the creative process, that is good for you and good for the show.

22:14 Tony:
So let's zoom in on that audition moment preparing, and then having the final callback. I don't know who was in the room, but what I can say I believe Tina and Casey and Mary-Mitchell Campbell were all in the room, probably many others. And then I also know you've worked with crazy people like David Bowie and others. So the real question is, how do you (Krystina) handle these high stake situations that a successful actor will find themselves in?

22:45 Krystina:
Yes. The boss lady herself, Tina Fey was there. Side note. She is the most incredible person, not only as a boss, but as a colleague. She's so amazing because she is the comedian of the world. And she is so gracious and humble and cares so much about Mean Girls, about me, about her show. My friends at the show that were in the original cast tell me all the time she was there every day in the process. She was there so much during BC/EFA this year. And she cast me. She's amazing. And I literally could sing her praises for hours.

But she was in the room. It was incredibly intimidating. I was scared. I was like, oh my God, if she doesn't laugh at me, I don't know what I'm going to do. And not only her, but obviously the legendary Casey Nicholaw, Jeff, who wrote the music, Tina's husband and Casey, Casey's assistant's name is Casey as well, who I know very well. And Mary-Mitchell who's like the greatest. So I was like, okay, just do it, just get it done. You can do this.

But the great thing is that Gretchen is super anxious. She's super nervous. She just wants everyone to like her. So to be totally honest, this audition, I got to lean into that and it totally worked out because I was so scared. I've been in the room with these big people. One of the things I never expected to happen in my career was being in the same room as David Bowie.

And my stories with David are very specific. I did his musical that he wrote right before his death called Lazarus and he was involved in that and took a very special liking to me that I will never forget. I did the reading of it, and he kind of zoomed in on me. He loved my voice and he had me doing demos with him. It was weird that was a part of my experience, that I got to have even just a moment with David, another amazing guy. But how to deal with that kind of pressure is just remembering that Tina Fey is a human being and David Bowie is a human being and we're all just trying to do the same thing, which is go through this life and be creative.

And I think even with casting directors, I don't want to be intimidated by you. You're just a human like me and you want me to succeed. You do, because why would you want me to fail? And so I try to talk myself into just being a person meeting another person. Instead of a person meeting a famous person or a person meeting your idol or something. That can be very difficult, but you do better work and you can be more yourself if you just try to think about it that way. It's still hard though.

26:04 Tony:
Yeah. So more mindfulness.

26:06 Krystina:
Yes. Attempted mindfulness.

26:10 Tony:
So you have been working and working and working. And so you have film, TV, voiceover, concerts, plays, musicals, and original cast, replacement cast, understudy, workshops, so many credits. What's not on the résumé Krystina, what can you tell someone that is a misconception about a career in acting?

26:34 Krystina:
I was talking to Bob, my husband about this because I was thinking about this question and I think that people think it's super cutthroat. I think that in movies and stuff, it's like everyone's out to get each other and everyone's out for themselves. And yes, there's a certain truth to the fact that you need to be very focused on what you want and how you are going to get it and what you're going to do to find your success. But I've met so many wonderful, nice people. And to be totally honest, the ones that are difficult have a harder time consistently working because in the end, Casey Nicholaw and his team wants to work with people that are easy to work with. And they are kind and gracious. I keep using that word because everybody at Mean Girls is so gracious.

And especially Ashley, when I was coming in, just wanting me to feel like it was mine with her and that doesn't happen all the time, but I do think people think it's more of a yeah I'm going to get it, and you're not, all time. My friends have gotten roles that I was in for. And I am so happy for them. I have gotten an email that says, blah, blah, blah, this pilot, this role. And I go, “oh my gosh, my best friend is perfect for this.” I pick up the phone, “you need to call your agent. You need to go in for this.” It is this small community of people once you get to a certain point and we all want the best for each other, and I think people sometimes think it's not that way. Not all the time.

There are definitely difficult people and people who say, I don't want to come anywhere near you. This is not my vibe. But for the most part, it is a wonderful community of people. And I feel safe with them and I feel special with a big group of special people. So that's what I think, sometimes people don't think about it, other than people sometimes asking me if I get paid for what I do, and then I want to rip their head off.

28:41 Tony:
No, I do it for free.

28:42 Krystina:
Yeah. I do it for free. Just a hobby.

28:47 Tony:
So you have been all over and literally flying to other sides of the planet to film things. What, and how did you make the transition into TV and film for those that are also interested in doing that?

29:04 Krystina:
Yeah, I think another possible misconception and maybe that's changed now over the last decade. But when I was in school, you do think you're going to move to New York and only do theatre and only do Broadway. There are so many things to do as an actor, as a performer, as an artist in New York City, LA, wherever you are. And I do think that sometimes, at least again, when I was in school, it could be totally different now, I think it may be. You don't even think about the fact that, oh, the majority of my auditions coming from my agent are actually on-camera auditions. I didn't have an on-camera class in school.

Again, I was only there for a year, but that wasn't something that the musical theatre department at my school at the time had access to. And until you're here you go, oh, I'm auditioning for TV, film, voiceovers, commercials, concert appearances, guest artist spots. There are so many things that are available to us. And I think with TV and film, it was a natural thing. Once I saw that it was an option, I was like, oh, I want that. As a kid, I wanted to be on Broadway, but I want that, too. And then I think as I got older, I was oh, I'm actually good at that. I have a good look for it. I was like, this is something I'm very serious about.

And so I had that transitional conversation with my agents. It could be hard to transition though from theatre to TV and film, but I said, I want to push this. I want to try. And still, I am. I haven't done everything I want to do yet. I've done a couple of guest stars, a couple of co-stars, and a movie. I have so much more I want to untap in that arena.

But what's difficult is I'm very successful at theatre, and theatre takes a lot of time. So when I'm in a show, TV and film is on pause and I'm committed. So I do have to make a decision here if I want to really say I'm focusing on that. And that means a big break from long-running theatre stuff, because I can't audition right now while I'm in Mean Girls. So I think that as a young person, I would always say, see what you're interested in, but remember that there are all these different things that you could do and that you're probably going to be auditioning for TV at some point. So it's important to exercise that skill and take a TV film class and watch CSI and understand how their rhythm is. So it is something that is top of my priority list as far as my next goals. I have dreams about it and I want to push as hard as I can to make them happen.

32:03 Tony:
Well, we'll be following and watching and cheering you on. Now, what about voiceover? How did that crack open for you? And is it a whole different technique?

32:13 Krystina:
Yeah, voiceover is completely different. Again, all these things are under the same umbrella, but completely different sects. Voiceover was, again, something I've always been interested in. I thought I had a good voice for it. I never knew how to do it. And for six years I had a voiceover agent that was just commercials, I would go in for maybe one every six months. It wasn't a super palpable relationship. And in 2015 or 2016 after American Psycho, I had a meeting with my manager and I said I'm really serious about cracking into this world. What can we do? I met with a couple of voiceover agents and I signed with Stewart Talent’s Voiceover Department. And I am obsessed with them. They have a specific animation department and they're so good at what they do.

And from that, I started getting an influx. I mean, still now, I just did two before I talked to you. I get five to nine at-home records every week. It is like clockwork. I'll do Folgers and I'll do a Dreamworks show. And then I'll do an Apple commercial. It's all these auditions and it's all about volume in that business. It's hard. I have been heavily auditioning like this for four years and I've booked a lot of things, but I've also gotten basically none of them. So it is a volume, I think it's volume in all of this. But I did crack in by booking a recurring role on Voltron, which was on Netflix, a Dreamworks show. I had a 13 episode arc on that. And it was the funnest thing I've ever done.

And honestly, I'm addicted to it. So I want that so much. It's so fun. It is like being a little kid. And when you do ADR for Voltron, which is about fighting the bad guys, it's like you just play. And it reminds me that we play for a living and it's a really good way to do that because you're watching yourself as a cartoon and fighting bad guys. It's really fun. It's been my favorite thing that I didn't realize I would be doing as an actor that has come to me. I feel very fortunate to have kind of found my way there. But even with being in there, there's so many voice actors and it's so competitive. So I just do my thing and send it. And sometimes they hit and most of the time they don't.

34:49 Tony:
So you do a large volume of auditions. And so you're very acquainted with the nos, but we both know, I think we all know listening sometimes the no will sting. The one that you really, really wanted. You don't have to give us specifics on what that job was, but how do you rebound from that when it is something that you really are attached to.

35:15 Krystina:
Yeah, it is the most challenging part about what we do because I wrestled with this for so long. Because I do so many developmental things. Like I said, for people listening, like readings and workshops and labs, which is pre when a musical or show goes to, its full life. And with that, you don't have a contract. You don't have rights, you don't have anything. So you just do it. And I have been replaced a lot and that has been something that has been really, I think more than the nos in the room, that's been the hardest. Because you can't detach yourself from a four week lab of a show that you don't know you're going to continue with because the minute that you close off and say, this probably won't move forward with me. Or if it does, I need to protect myself because I can't feel anything about this, like it's going to destroy me.

You do not do good work. You cannot connect to a piece if you are already protecting yourself by having one foot out the door. And so the thing that I have done is really lean into every experience as something specific. And even if it's my one day being that person in the audition room, I get to be that person for a day, for 15 minutes, for four weeks doing a lab, for a regional tryout of a show. I've been through the gamut of nos in the room, nos after a workshop, nos after a full production, that's transferring from out of town. And it's really hard. And I think if you try to tell yourself it's not disappointing is when you get in trouble. It can hurt. And if it doesn't, if you don't let yourself, like all the things I read, if you don't let yourself have that and allow yourself to feel strongly, you're not going to give enough to ever get anything.

And so I do let myself be upset. I do let myself feel disappointed, feel hurt, feel betrayed, disrespected, whatever it is, whatever the emotion is with however it feels. But then you take a second and you go, what's next? That was not written in the stars for me. There is nothing I can do to change that. So what's next? Let's go. And every time maybe it's practice. Maybe it's just my mindset. I have done that. And it really helps me.

My agent gave me great advice the first time I got replaced from a big project that hurt bad, very bad. She said cry about it today. It's okay. But tomorrow get the F over it because this is going to keep happening to you because you have now done it. Congratulations. You're a successful actor in New York City. You will never not be replaced in things.

You will never not have to deal with this emotion of feeling completely dug into the ground, come back out of it. And if you don't, then you're not going to make it. And I said, cool. I take that wholeheartedly. It's thick skin, but it's also like, I'm good enough. And if you think for whatever reason, I'm not the person for you, it's not because I'm not good enough. It's not because I'm not capable. It's not because, and they can think whatever they want. But the bottom line is, it's a business for them, too. And so they're going to do what's best for them. And I need to do what's best for me. So to the listeners: it is challenging. It will never not be challenging, but you have to make the decision to get past it.

38:52 Tony:
Thank you. I'm like you’ve got to write a book, Miss Brené Brown in the house. The second question is: you are juggling a lot, and you are doing 8 shows a week, doing self record and all these things at home. So what are some of your practical tools and tips for finding equanimity, balance, structure, harmony, whatever you want to say, wellness. What are some daily things?

39:22 Krystina:
It can be tough because I'll be at three events during the day. Like yesterday, for instance, I woke up in the morning. I showered, kissed my husband, and a voiceover came in that was due immediately. So I had to be like, okay, the one hour I had with you, because he's in tech, I have to go do this. Did my makeup, went to a Google talk that we did with Mean Girls for four hours, then went right from there to meeting a friend for a quick coffee, then to the theater. And then I got home at 11:30 and I had to do another full voiceover record, and then I went to sleep.

So it can be very nonstop back to back. And the thing that's helped me the most is, I think it's fun. I actually like it. I think that there's a line where you go, okay, this is going to be to my detriment. I need to sleep. And I need to have time with my husband, but there's a balance. Yes, I had that day, but today I get to talk to you and then I get to do dinner with my husband before I do my show, and I did have my coffee date with my friend yesterday. That was part of it. But it's like you pick and choose what your priorities are. And to me it's all a priority. So I do it all and I want to do it all.

And sometimes that works out better than others. Double duty with a Broadway show is really hard. If I have a 10 to 6 rehearsal process and then I do the show, that wears on anybody. But I just think there's so much goodness. And I just feel happy to be busy. But I do find my moments no matter what, even if it's at the breakfast table for five minutes, three things that I'm grateful for every morning with Bob, we go back and forth. You can never have a repeat. So that's like a practice of ours.

When I bow at the end of my show, I say thank you to the universe every single time. And that will never go away because I think that every opportunity I get as an actor is a gift. And I take it very seriously and I also just believe that. I mean, it's a gift. What we do is a gift. And the fact that I get to keep doing it is a gift. And so with those little practices and I read on the subway or sometimes on the subway, I'll meditate. I take the time that I am given, even if it's my 30-minute subway ride, that's my meditation time. That's my time for me. I listen to Harry Potter. That's my time to do an Instagram post or text lovey dovey things to my husband. Or text my mom and be like, I miss you.

So you just find a way. There's always time. Even when it feels like there isn't and Deepak said something on a talk I was listening to. The people that say they don't have time to meditate, should meditate twice a day.

42:12 Tony:
Isn't that the truth?

42:13 Krystina:
Yes. So I always try.

42:18 Tony:
So speaking of having fun and doing all the things, you're also a musician: flutist, piano, guitar, ukulele. Again, are you actively practicing all these things or do they float into your life when the universe says it's time to pick up an instrument and make some music?

42:35 Krystina:
It's more so that. The flute I've known since I was 11. So that is a skill that will never go away. So if someone calls and says we need a concert, which they never do by the way. I've played my flute, maybe twice in my career. I can pick it up very quickly. Guitar and piano are very different. I am a beginner at both, but I can play the piano better than guitar. If I practiced, I would be much better, but things get in the way and I don't get that much reach out, but it is funny when I get an audition, that's accompany yourself. I'm like, well, you should have been practicing.

So again, you have to pick and choose what you want to work on. So if I do work on an instrument, I am working more on guitar versus flute because with guitar people ask for that more. They ask more for piano than flute. So I work on those instruments more, but they're not my strongest. So I always go in and out, when I have the time, I think I should pick that up again. But being a musician has helped me immensely because I can type read very fast as a singer, which people appreciate. So I love it. And I'll always be a musician, but it is amazing when you look back and you're like, oh, I haven't touched the guitar in a year. You're thinking you should probably do that.

43:57 Tony:
So you touched on social media and obviously you know what it is that I do. So can you talk about your day to day relationship with social media and how you use it as a tool?

44:07 Krystina:
Yeah, social media for me has changed immensely since joining Mean Girls. Immensely.

My entire relationship has gone a full 180 with what I use it for and my connection with it in general. I had my Instagram before. It was pretty active, with my core following of people. But this show kind of exploded my Instagram a little bit. And so it has been interesting for it to change from an Instagram for my friends and some diehards to the 25,000 Mean Girls followers that are following me.

It is a different game. It's not even a game, I take it seriously. I do think that people that pop poo it, I don't agree with that. I also don't think that it means anything at the same time.

It means, it's a tool. It doesn't mean anything about you, because I'm the same actress that I was when I had 3000 followers. And when I have 25,000 followers and a blue check mark, I have not changed.

My belief in things has not changed. My skill as an actor has not changed. The only thing that changes, I'm in a commercial hit that has the fan base to support that. And honestly, when that number started going up, because I was always like, I wonder what it'd be like to have that many followers? Like what would that feel like? It feels like nothing. It feels the same. You're like, oh, you guys just didn't know that I existed. And now you do because I'm Gretchen Wieners, which I totally am grateful for, don't get me wrong.

But it is an interesting exercise and what really changed? Nothing, nothing really.
But I do use it more specifically now. It is a business tool only. It used to be both. It is no longer that. It really is. I want my followers to feel engaged with me in Mean Girls. I respect them all so much. They write to me, I love interacting with them at the stage door, on social media. They are so supportive of our show. They're so supportive of me. And I want them to feel heard. That's why they follow me.

So I do a lot of Q&A, especially because with this also, it's not only Mean Girls fans, it's young actors that want to know my experience. I get so many questions when I open my question about how do you get through auditions? What can I do to prepare and that stuff I love, I love teaching. I love that part of it. So I really have opened it up more as, for right now I'm in Mean Girls. So it's kind of all Mean Girls content, because that's what I've got going on and trying to connect with young people and young actors.

And take it really seriously. I take social media very seriously and I think it's a tool and I think it was a tool when I had less followers as well. I think that it's not about the number at all. So I just, I know I value it a lot for what it is.

47:08 Tony:
I could talk to you all day, but unfortunately we are running low on time and I want to highlight some of the work that you're doing. So if people have questions for you or they want to learn more, what is your Instagram handle where they can go ask you all the things I want to know?

47:21 Krystina:
I'm on Instagram @KrystinaAlabado, so no dots, no space, just at Krystina Alabado.

47:28 Tony:
Shazam there she is. So I know that you have an upcoming class with Desi. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

47:35 Krystina:
Yeah. Me and Desi, we started this Pop/Rock Broadway thing. We had ideas about this kind of stuff for a time. I had, she had separately, we came together this year and it just sort of clicked. Both of us have gone down this pop-rock trajectory in this business and things. So we are doing this. Our first class sold out in a couple of days, which is awesome. And so we opened up a second class and on November 3rd, 10 to 1 in New York City, we're going to start getting guest teachers up here, all focused on pop rock, specific voice technique and audition technique and all that stuff. And we have a lot of ideas for it. We're really excited. It was very right for us to do that, we felt really good about it. And Desi is still one of my best friends from Evita.

48:30 Tony:
Shout out to Desi, who's a delight and an amazing human.

48:33 Krystina:
Totally. I love her. But yeah, we're excited about this new venture for us. I think it was the right time for both of us, so we'll see how it goes. We're super excited to teach and we both teach separately, so it was just kind of combining forces, which we're so pumped about.

48:48 Tony:
I do want to zoom in on teaching because it's a page on your website. So do you love it? Is that why you do it? And if so, are you still offering private coaching and teaching in your copious amounts of free time? And I have university professors that listen in, are you interested in going and teaching more master classes, what's teaching for you?

49:15 Krystina:
It's all types of things. I started getting really into it. It was because of touring. So all the tours, they would be like, can you teach this master class at this university? Can you do a Q&A with this senior class at this school? And I love it. I love sharing what I've learned with young people trying to do this. And even if it helps one student. That's why on my website, my goal would be to try to be more of a career coach, an audition prep coach.

Someone that wants to move to New York from college and sit down once a week or once a month or whenever they need, what do I do this week? How can I fix my résumé? Which EPAs should I go to? Who should I be talking to? What should I be doing mentally? How do I get prepared for this? Is this song good for my audition? Can I run my audition with you? How does it feel? What is the vein that I'm more interested in?

I do teach some vocal technique and some things, but I'm not a voice teacher. So I really thrive in auditions like Pop/Rock Broadway, what me and Desi are doing. It's your 32 Bar Cut Audition. We're going to tweak it so that you can sound more pop/rock. That's our goal for that, and get you prepped for going in for those pop/rock shows.

And then we're going to do a big Q&A, and that's why I do the Q&A's on my Instagram. I want people to feel like they have more information from people on the ground doing it.
I would've loved that at that age. And every time I do it, it feels like there's a lot taken from it. And I love it. I want people to be successful. I want people to come here and not quit if they don't get it in six months. Stick it out, push. I just believe in that so much. And I think if more students heard it from us, I just can't imagine that wouldn't help. I'm very serious about that.

And yes, for people listening in Desi and I's goal is to be able to take our masterclass to universities and colleges, and really focus on pop/rock, because that is the direction that Broadway is going. And you have to be able to straight tone and mix and sound authentically pop, not a Broadway singer singing pop. And me and Desi have always been that. So we were thinking why wouldn't we try to help the next generation feel confident singing pop/rock, folk, country, all that stuff. So I'm just super passionate about it. I love young people and I want to help and it feels good and I love it. And I feel like it makes a difference and I want to.

51:45 Tony:
It does. You're blowing me away with this interview. So I'm super excited to share it. Krystina, it's been a delight and everything that is out there is incredible: your résumé, your career, your words, your light, your humanity that you're sharing today are all stellar. So something I like to ask all the guests, is how do you personally define success? Because I know it's different being on the inside. So how do you define that word?

52:20 Krystina:
It's easy to say success is being on Broadway. Success is booking a voiceover. Success is this. To me, I feel most successful when I feel like me and me is not just being Gretchen Weiner Mean Girls on Broadway. It is having friends that are so supportive and having empathy for those people around me, going through the same thing that I am. That's why even when I audition, I never sit and look at the person next to me and I'm like, you better not get it. It really is, one of us is going to get it and it's going to change our life, and that's freaking great, and if it's you, that was your destiny. And I respect that.

And so I think success for me has changed because that to me and having the insight has set me free in a way that I didn't quite realize that it would, because it changes what your life is about. And my life is theatre and acting. I love it. It makes me so happy and fulfills me more than anything. But success in itself is doing what I'm doing and still being myself and not feeling like I have to be somebody else or be cutthroat or be this that, I just get to be me. And that means being happy for somebody that took a role from me or coming home and having pizza with my husband and just chilling out and having fun and helping someone with audition sides and being on Broadway and bowing at the end of the night, all of that is success. That's what I think.

54:01 Tony:
Amazing. Amazing, amazing. So what's coming down the pipeline for you? Are there things that you can share with us?

54:07 Krystina:
Right now, not much, I'm always in a reading or in a workshop of something. There's always stuff developing, but with that kind of stuff, it's like, you never know. So I'm always doing a reading. Concerts are always happening. So if you can check on my page to see when I'm performing where but right now I'm in Mean Girls until March and then we'll see what happens. I don't know. So right now, that's all I know.

54:38 Tony:
Great. Well I know that there will be exciting announcements ahead. What is the best place to stay connected to you? Where should we go?

54:46 Krystina:
Best place is my Instagram @KrystinaAlabado, all my info is there. And I'm pretty active on there and I post a lot and that's where you should follow me.

54:56 Tony:
Thank you so much for being here my dear.

54:58 Krystina:
Yeah. Thanks for having me, Tony.

55:04 Tony:
Thank you, Krystina, for giving us so much of your time and also thank you for allowing us into your ears. Now I hope that you're feeling inspired after this episode and if that's the case, please share it with a friend. Of course, I would also love it if you take a screenshot and share your gratitude with Krystina or your biggest takeaway and tag both of us so that I can see it.

If you want to connect with Krystina, you can follow her @KrystinaAlabado and I will link to that in the show notes, or you can visit her website at KrystinaAlabado.com. Of course you can find me @TonyHowell or TonyHowell.me. And this is only one of the many episodes ahead and behind us. And so if you enjoyed listening to this podcast, I would encourage you to subscribe and go check out what we've got going on.

If you would, I would also love it if you would leave a review. Now, once more, this is October which in the Tony Howell community is #BusinessFutureMonth. So I want to hear from you, I want you in a social media post to take us behind the scenes of how you are working in your business, take a post, hashtag it #BusinessFutureMonth, tag me to make sure I see it, but I'm interested in seeing how you are taking your business or even our industry into 2020.

Thank you so much for listening and I wish you an awesome day, boss.

Currently starring in Mean Girls on Broadway as Gretchen Weiners, Krystina Alabado has always been a precocious young adult in show business. Starting her career with the First National Tour of Spring Awakening at the age of 18, her diverse résumé now includes Broadway, TV, Film, Voiceover, Concerts, and developmental work… .originating, replacing, and understudying at incredible institutions like NYTW, LaMaMa, Atlantic Theatre Company, ART, Long Wharf, La Jolla, and more.

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