Deneen: Welcome to the VIP Ignite podcast, your source for tomorrow’s talent today.
Hear real life stories of models, actors and musicians breaking down barriers, launching careers, and sharing their stories of overcoming obstacles and finding real success.
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My name is Deneen White and I am the host of the VIP Ignite Live podcast.
This is a special series of podcasts and interviews that are being taped during the quarantine due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Our purpose is twofold.
First of all, we want to create inspiration for our listeners.
Second, we want to let you know that right now you can be planning and building what’s needed to continue pushing forward in a career as an actor, model or musician.
Today I am here with Stax Coredo, and I am so excited.
She is coming to us live from New York City.
So Stax, what are you doing to keep yourself busy right now during this crazy time we live in?
Stax: Well, I am keeping busy with all of the wonderful events and webinars the VIP Elite 30 X challenge has to offer.
I have been communicating with everybody that has something going on, and we just finished A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
We’ve had a few nights of two, sometimes three hour rehearsals.
Definitely faced some challenges.
But everyone really rose to the occasion.
I’m excited because I was really intimidated by Shakespeare for a long time and now I’m excited about it.
I might memorize one of these monologues.
Maybe I’ll audition for something Shakespeare.
This opened my eyes.
So I’m really grateful for that!
Deneen: I mean, it took you no time.
I think you started a week or two ago with us, correct?
Stax: About two weeks ago.
I was on for the call with Havilland Stillwell and Mark Christopher Lawrence, and Robert Galinsky.
And for the talent night.
Deneen: Let’s talk a little bit about how you dove in.
When you dove in, one of the first things that you did was that call.
I think you signed up on Sunday.
Then Monday we had Havilland Stillwell, who did a coaching session.
For those of you who don’t know who Havilland Stillwell is, she was Fantine in my favorite play on Broadway, Les Miserables.
She played in Fiddler on the Roof.
She’s done extensive Broadway work.
She does voiceover work.
She’s been in more movies than I can even count.
She reached out to me and she asked, “Hey Deneen, you know what I would love to do?
I would love to do a workshop with people and work on their monologues.”
I thought that sounded awesome.
So I put out a call to see who wanted to work with her on their monologues.
Stax, you were one of the first people.
I knew you were a part of the Facebook group, but it was like that.
It was instantaneous.
Can you talk a little bit about what it was like for you to learn that iconic monologue really quickly?
What was it like to work with someone like Havilland and how did working with her help you cultivate that monologue?
Stax: I am a go-getter, so when there’s an opportunity I’m going to rise to the occasion and I’m going to go for it.
Once I saw that I said, “Oh wow, I need to find something.”
I think it was on a call when someone asked whether or not they could use the monologues that were in one of the rooms that’s created on the Facebook page.
I thought, “I’ll go in there and I’ll see whether or not I find something that I like it.”
It happened to be the monologue for Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinny.
I was reading that and I thought it was so funny.
It was between that one and someone that was going to get divorced and I don’t remember what that one was, but I thought this is so funny.
I said, “You know what, I’m just going to try it.”
So I tried it.
I just went forward.
And it made her laugh, which was great.
I’m on the call, I’m nervous, and I found Haviland to be really sweet.
She gave great feedback to everyone and when it was my turn to perform the monologue, she really liked it a lot.
She offered a suggestion as opposed to the way I had performed it, which she loved, but she also offered a suggestion for me to tweak.
It was an animal activist.
So we’ll be putting a spin on that.
Being able to take the direction, even though it was just small, but to just take those directions made the monologue totally different.
It took it in a totally different place.
It’s still funny, still comedic, but just with a different spin on it from the character.
I loved it.
Deneen: Yeah, it was awesome.
When you took that direction, that’s already an iconic monologue.
This is my second favorite monologue from that movie.
The other one is when she’s talking about our biological clock going tick, tick, tick.
When you made that little tweak, it’s amazing because the first time you delivered it, it was phenomenal.
It took it to the next level and it was like watching a magic trick right before my eyes.
I loved it.
Stax: Thank you.
I was having fun with it, and it’s so cool how we can do this virtually.
I’m really happy that she was available.
I’m happy that she was excited to give back, to be able to share her gifts, and to see how you can put a different spin on a monologue to take your character to the next level.
I’ve really appreciated her feedback.
Deneen: Didn’t you also perform that monologue for Ryan Colby when he did his call as well?
Stax: I did.
He loved it.
He thought that it was excellent, and he was telling me how he just had lunch with Marissa Tomei not too long ago.
As crazy as it sounds–I guess because there’s just so much going on–I didn’t even realize or remember that she’d won an award for this.
What if I did it and I bombed this award winning performance?
For it to be so rightly accepted by the communities was really important for me.
For me to be able to take the monologue and make it my own was really important.
And they both had really good feedback.
Deneen: So when you signed up for the coaching, what were you expecting?
When you sign up for the VIP Elite Talent Academy, what exactly were you expecting?
I know I talked to you personally.
Did you think I was just a good salesperson, or what was your expectation when you joined us?
Stax: I thought that you were genuine.
I felt like Alicia was a powerhouse.
She’s a business woman.
She wants to get it done and you want to ensure that everybody is on task.
I believe that that’s who you still are.
And I believe that that’s what she still is.
I take everyone at face value until they show me anything different.
I’m not going to bring any old stuff with me.
In saying that, I can also see how serious you guys are about what it is that you do.
You really are bringing industry professionals directly to us.
Although it was virtual, there’s something that they don’t have to do.
So because you have great relationships with them, this is how you are able to make this whole thing go, which is amazing.
I’ve really appreciated it, especially during this time where a lot of people are suffering mentally because they’re wondering how they’re going to get through to the next day.
They’re allowing all this stuff to get in their heads.
I think, “No, I’m going to get this Shakespeare on my head.”
I’m going to remember this monologue.
I’m going to really consider the 15 actors that I would want to work with.
I even started thinking about directors I want to work with.
That may be the next challenge.
I’m just thinking about the people that I want to surround myself with, you know?
So whether it’s good music or tuning into the webinars and really being involved, this is what I want to wake up and do.
I say that every day to myself.
This is what I want to wake up and do.
So any way that I can be involved is not for me to be the teacher’s pet or anything like that, but it’s in my heart.
Deneen: I’ve been doing this for awhile now and I’ve definitely been in a coaching position, not only with VIP ignite but in past companies that I’ve worked with in past organizations.
I could tell a teacher’s pet apart from someone who actually engaging and wants to be successful.
You’re definitely the latter.
You’re definitely that person who jumped in with both feet and you have been swimming like it’s your job.
It’s been really amazing.
So many times people get in and they think that they’re going to sit back.
You say “No, this is what I’m doing.”
It’s just been phenomenal.
Something that you mentioned a couple of times that I really want to touch on is Shakespeare.
I feel like a lot of times, especially in our modern world, Shakespeare is kind of the elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but no one really wants to acknowledge because it does seem unattainable at times.
I was an English major, so I love everything Shakespeare.
Can you talk a little bit about how you’ve overcome, I don’t want to say a fear, but that overwhelming feeling that you’ve got with Shakespeare?
Stax: I would also like to highlight someone, Zuli, because I really thought that Zuli was amazing just by putting herself out there and saying “I directed and produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
I really know the play.
So do you want to get together and do it?
I thought, “Oh God.”
I’m going to try it because I could have just watched Mark Christopher Lawrence and waited to see what everyone else did.
But I wanted to try it.
The first call with Zuli, even up until yesterday, was when she actually broke it down.
She broke down the play.
We discussed it.
Stax: The way she told the story was kind of like a soap opera.
So you want to know more, you want to be more involved.
When someone is excited about something and that comes through in the way someone delivers something to you, similar to yourself and Alicia, the way you deliver the message is how we’re going to receive it.
If it’s monotone, if it sounds like you’re just reading a script and you’ve read this 30,000 times and you have no interest, that’s how I’m going to take it.
Which is probably how it may have been introduced to me in high school, but Zuli was so animated, and she was really with it.
So I wanted to get into this too.
And I started writing my notes.
I read for Hippolyta and Helena, and I was excited about it.
I was excited about Hippolyta and I was really excited about Helena, and how she just put herself out there to be walked over by Demetrius.
I said “Damn, he’s just saying anything there.”
She’s just letting him say it so that she could be a part of his life.
It’s so true to everyday life where you may see your friend with a person who doesn’t want them anymore.
You just have to let them go through this because they want to go through it.
But it’s not that deep.
You know, another bus will come.
You just have to let that go.
It’s not for you.
It’s really not.
So taking that on, and her being jealous of Hermia, was really like a soap opera.
I was no longer intimidated by it.
I wanted to actually do it justice and I wanted to be able to be as engaging as these characters.
That was really the challenge for me and I had a good time with it.
Deneen: Now, did you think when you talked to me a couple of weeks ago that you’d be having this conversation today excited about Shakespeare?
Deneen: Okay, my work here is done.
We can end this podcast now.
That’s phenomenal, because that’s the whole thing.
What you just described is the epitome of what we want to do.
It’s so easy to get distracted by all this other stuff.
It would be so easy for us to just sit around and think, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe what’s going on in the world.”
But you’ve made a decision that instead of sitting back, you’re going to dive in.
You performed Shakespeare and you just talked about Shakespeare with more excitement than any of my college professors ever did.
Has anyone ever described A Midsummer Night’s Dream like that to me?
No, and I went to a school that was known for its English department.
Seeing that is amazing, because the whole point about the VIP Elite Talent Academy is we want people to be in momentum right now.
We want people to walk out at the other end, because this is going to end; this whole pandemic and stay at home are going to end.
They can’t go on indefinitely.
There are people who are sitting at home waiting for it to end, and then there’s the rest of us who know it’s going to end so we better be ready.
I mean, performing an iconic monologue multiple times, performing Shakespeare and being excited about it?
Let’s talk a little bit about the variety hour.
You performed there as well, right?
Stax: I performed at the variety hour, and when I saw that Ryan was on, I said “Damn it, I shouldn’t do this because he’s seen this monologue!”
But I had already signed up.
So I knew I was going to do it, and doing it was fun.
A whole bunch of people hadn’t seen it yet.
So I didn’t back out.
I did it anyway.
It was still well received.
But it also let me know that you have to be prepared, and your arsenal has to be full.
I can’t be a one trick pony.
So that was good for me.
That was a great lesson for me.
It made me start thinking about other monologues that I may want to learn.
I was thinking of how I want to be able to present.
But I loved that everybody showed a different side.
You have people singing, playing the piano, and really showing all the different sides that they have as artists.
I really appreciated that, especially at such a time like this.
I really did.
It makes me smile every time I see everyone so engaged.
So I was excited.
I can’t wait to see what everyone does on Friday.
Deneen: So for anyone listening, what we’ve done is we have developed the VIP Elite Talent Academy Variety Hour.
It definitely has to be shortened.
It’s a mouthful.
The awesome thing that we love about it is that we wanted to provide people who are going through the Talent Academy an opportunity to perform, and an opportunity to show off everything that they’re learning.
So many times like you’re learning, learning, learning, learning, learning, and it’s not like we’re going to give you a final exam.
What we did was we cultivated an environment where you can come in, and we have a little dance party at the beginning.
We have a lot of fun, and what we’re doing is we’re just giving everyone a safe place to really show off their talents.
So I’m glad that you enjoyed it.
It sounds like exactly the way we’ve planned it is the way that you’ve received it, which is awesome.
We want to make sure that during this time, we understand that there’s a lot going on, but we actually want people to have fun and we want people to grow.
We want to see change in the world and with every person that we change, every person like yourself who gets lit up by Shakespeare now, you’re going to be able to talk to someone else about Shakespeare.
You can get them just as excited.
Or for monologues, because I know your primary focus is music and this whole time we’ve been talking about monologues!
Who would’ve thought we’d be talking about Shakespeare?
Stax: I’ve never gone!
I feel bad even saying it, but I’ve never gone to see Shakespeare in the park.
Deneen: Now you live in New York City.
I’m not shaming you, but…
Stax: Oh, I hate bugs.
It’s the whole thing about central park.
I like it, but, oh God.
I hate that this is all in the park, but again, as an adult, after just having this experience with the cast, I would actually audition for it.
Deneen: You heard it first on the VIP Ignite Live podcast, breaking news, breaking news.
Stax: I would do it.
I would actually do it.
And I had an opportunity to see a play.
I think it might’ve been a year ago.
It escapes me right now, but I supported one of my friends that actually did a Shakespeare play in Brooklyn.
I think it was at the Bam theater, but it was good.
I felt so impressed.
For me to actually be a part of it, to be engaged in wanting to know more, opened up a different side of my brain.
Deneen: That’s awesome.
When you audition and when you get a part for Shakespeare in the park or any Shakespearian play, you know my phone number, you have it!
So you better let me know because I’m coming to New York to see that.
Stax: I’m going to give you some bug spray so you B-Y-O-B-S, bring your own bug spray.
I have a little VIP bag for you.
Deneen: Your swag bag includes Cutters, the best bug spray ever.
Stax: And the blanket and some wine!
Here you go.
Deneen: It’s fantastic.
So Stax, a question I would love to ask you–are you happy that you joined the VIP Elite Talent Academy?
Stax: I’m very happy that I joined.
I’m really happy.
I really didn’t have any time to say I’m going to do something.
I do it, you know?
And once I was on the call, I said, “I want to see what this is about.”
Is this a lot of talk about being able to go to the next level?
I want to go to the next level.
You have to invest in yourself in order to do that.
I believe in me, and I definitely see that you guys believe in yourselves to work with someone who has won five Tony awards.
I’ve worked with people that haven’t gotten one, and now, they’re off Broadway.
I want Broadway, I want film, I want TV shows, I want Netflix, I want all these things.
I work hard and I just need the opportunity.
So if I can come and learn how to attain these opportunities, let’s do it.
Deneen: You’re actually meeting and networking with people virtually, face to face.
Like Robert Galinsky, who was 50 Cent’s acting coach, for an example.
Mark Christopher Lawrence, that you mentioned.
He’s been a coach with us for the longest time.
He actually trained as a dramatic theater major.
That was his background.
He loved Shakespeare, so when I said, “Hey Mark Christopher Lawrence, can you help with Shakespeare?”
He said “Yes, where should I start?”
He was so excited.
He’s someone who has been in the entertainment industry for over 30 years.
He was in Terminator 2, he was in the Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith.
He was in the show Chocolate, one of my favorite shows of all time.
He started off as like one of those minor characters who was so good and they loved him so much, he became a major character in the show.
So these are the types of people that you’re meeting and networking with or training you.
If you want Broadway, if you want TV and film, you’re in the right place because you’re making an impression.
He knows your name now because you performed Shakespeare, which was the challenge that he gave you.
So it is life changing.
Everything you’re doing is life changing.
And again, I’m so happy that you are a part of our family, of our community.
You’ve definitely been a great addition and I can’t wait to see where you go over the next couple of weeks.
You’re so much more animated than when I talked to you last time.
I can’t wait to see you and have another conversation.
It’s just amazing.
So thank you so much for being a part of our community, and thank you so much for doing this podcast with me today.
I had a great time.
I hope you did too.
Stax: I did!
It was definitely my pleasure.
You are everything that you told me you were and more.
I have nothing but love for you guys.
Deneen: Again, thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Thank you for sharing your story and hopefully I’ll see you tonight.
We have a call, 7:00 PM Eastern standard time!
Stax: I’ll be there.
Deneen: I’ll see you on the interwebs.
Thank you for listening to the VIP Ignite podcast.
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