Last year when I was in France, I found Julia Albain’s blog. Julia, of Team Starkid fame, had been writing her blog whilst living in New York, and there were sections on homesickness and the true, hard reality of living in a new place that I found I could really relate to at the time. Fast forward a few months, and after moving to Chicago with the rest of the Starkid graduates, she had turned her story into a book titled “A Glamourously Unglamorous Life” (available here), which I downloaded and read in one sitting. Full of musings on her career and life in general, with inspirational quotes placed at handy intervals, you finish reading and are left motivated.
I decided to email Julia to see if she would be willing to answer a few questions for me, and she was lovely enough to agree to a skype interview (my very first. Gulp.). So, on Saturday morning I anxiously waited by my computer for the call to come in, so that I could chat with the actress behind Crabbe in A Very Potter Musical and Sequel, and Specs in Team Starkid’s newest show Starship. Here’s what happened next.
The interview is super long, so I’ll be posting it in three parts. This part is all about her book, New York and her career path. (note: I am hopeless at tech-y things and cannot for the life of me work out how to get rid of the giant gap between this sentence and the ‘read more’. It looks horrible, I know, and I do apologise!)
Thanks so much for agreeing to do this!
Of course! I can’t believe it’s tomorrow morning! It’s like I’m talking to the future! This is quite an experience!
First of all, what inspired you to turn your story into a book?
I was leaving New York, and I was just like kind of getting nostalgic and reviewing the blog that I had kept while I was there which was just something I really did for me and I saw you know, what a journey I’d been on really and I thought, ‘hmmm maybe I could turn this into a book’. And then I just kind of started working on it and it really just came together very organically and I don’t think I was ever super serious about publishing it. And then one day I just thought that that would be a great challenge to take on, that that would be something I had never thought I could do so I might as well try it and that was kind of how that happened. But it was really this thing that I wrote throughout my time in New York just for myself and then I looked back on it and saw that the book was there, you know what I mean? It had basically written itself.
How long did it take you to come up with the finished product and what was the process involved?
Like I said, I journaled basically for my year in New York and when I was leaving in August, it was when I decided I should probably turn it into a book, so from August to March really was when I was working on it, so what? Eight months?
So not overly long, as far as some books go.
No, no. It was very short.
In your book, you talk of having a bit of a career crisis. When you were in highschool were you sure you wanted to be an actress?
Yes. At the time, in high school, when I was leaving high school going into college, I was 100% sure that I wanted to be an actress. Throughout college I discovered a love for directing and I didn’t lose my love for acting, but I just discovered this new found love for directing, and then writing came as a kind of a way for me to be creative any time I wanted. You know, as an actor, a director, you kind of have to wait for opportunities or create the opportunities yourself but it’s not an instantaneous thing. Writing was something that at any moment, any day, I could sit down and just appease my thoughts and just my need to create. And that was kind of how that formulated. And then it became a crisis because I didn’t know which one I wanted to do most.
Was there one moment in your life that made you believe acting was for you?
You know, from the time I was little, I like did all that. My parents say they like knew from when I was six years old cos I wanted to go to Dance Class and I was like doing all that stuff.
In your book, you said you began to describe yourself as a Storyteller. Do you still feel this describes you?
Yeah. I realized that I didn’t have to pick one. I didn’t want to have to pick acting. I didn’t want to have to pick directing. I didn’t want to have to pick writing. I found, and it’s a journey I’m still going on but I’m discovering that I need all three in my life, so instead of trying to be burdened under some label I said ‘what do all these things do’ and it’s all just telling stories. And I think for me it’s just understanding that different stories demand to be told in a different way, there’s some stories that I can only tell by acting them, and there’s some stories that I can only tell by directing or by writing them. And it’s all just like finding the things within myself that like, my voice, my little internal voice is meant to say and I think that when you tune into those, the right projects come along that facilitate you to tell the stories in the way they’re meant to be told.
How did you get into directing?
I ran a theatre company in my home town during the summers between college and that was actually my first taste of directing. And I think it was just kind of like something….I probably just fell into it. Like I was the only one willing to direct the show that summer for the company so I did that and it kind of sparked an interest. And when I went back to college I would always take directing classes as an actor just to get in more acting time but then I would also be receiving all the directing kind of teachings and stuff. And they have this organization called Basement Arts which is where the Potter shows and stuff were produced and you know it allowed the opportunity for anyone basically to propose a project and I found this play that I was in love with and I, my senior year proposed that just ‘cos I wanted to tackle it and that show really solidified that I loved directing, that it was really such a powerful thing for me.
If you could pick just one, what would your highlight of living in New York be?
My highlight of living in New York was certainly the musical community that I sort of stumbled backwards into. But I just unintentionally met a lot of musicians and spent a lot of time around musicians there and I loved it. I loved it. I loved those people and I loved kind of the atmosphere and the like, community that they created. And I met, you know, some incredible musicians that are just up and coming. Like I’ve got this friend Rachel who I think in the next couple of years is going to be world known but I like knew her before and it’s just kind of like this cool thing that happened and it was so accidental, and I’m not a musician but I found that that is actually a community that I really like, get drawn towards, and I don’t know what the reason for that is but I’m always really drawn towards musicians and the musical community.
At the other end of the spectrum, you mentioned a lot of hard times in your book, but what was the hardest for you living in New York?
The hardest part is being there and not knowing what it exactly is that you want to be doing. And I think that was what kind of made being in New York tough, cos I was on a journey trying to figure out what I wanted my life to look like, and I still am obviously. But especially being there, there’s so much going on that you can just get so overwhelmed and lost in it and there’s also this, there’s this kind of, you don’t have it figured out, and you won’t, you know, in your twenties. I don’t think you’ll ever have it all figured out. But in New York it’s so big and so scary you just go ‘I could get lost here and I could get trapped’ and I saw myself…I was so afraid that that would be the rest of my life. That I would find myself ten years from then nannying still. You know what I mean. And having just been so overwhelmed by the fear of the city that I never like pushed forward and did what I wanted to do with my life.
You worked a few jobs while living in New York, is this still the case in Chicago or do you work full time for Starkid?
Here in Chicago I do work full time for Starkid and then I also do some private teachings and coachings and obviously I’ve gotten more invested in my writing a little bit and trying to like monetize that, but I’m happy to say I don’t have to nanny any more. Not that I don’t love kids, but it is nice to, for at least now, to be scraping my livelihood together from the things that I really love, so that’s a cool thing.
Yeah, that would be cool. You mention in your book that a lot of actors have to work lots of jobs to like, pay the rent, so be able to make a living out of what you love would be great.
Yeah. What’s funny about now is that when I was working the nannying job it was at least more stable, and now it feels like more of a hustle, like you have to really work to bring in the opportunities to like make money off of your art, but it’s worth it.
TO BE CONTINUED.
So many thanks to Julia who was lovely enough to chat with me. It means so much. Parts two and three will be posted soon. You can expect more about Starkid, and some wonderful advice on life.Reminder that her book can be purchased here.Julia can be found in Team Starkid’s shows over at their youtube page
frangipani princess xoxo