Ask Me Anything
Last night, I did an “Ask Me Anything!” on Instagram and I got a TON of amazing questions. I wanted to go more in depth on some of these and answer some of the questions that merited more than a 140-character response, so I figured this would be a great place expand on them.
Any tips for photographers trying to get noticed on Instagram?
The best way to get noticed on Instagram is to find ways to make your images stand out from the rest of the shots people see in their feed. One of the easiest tricks is to think about where you are positioning your camera. We so often take pictures at eye height, and it makes sense — it reflects what the human eye sees — but will it really stop a scroller in their tracks if every other shot is from the same vantage point? Instead, try taking a photo from above, or with the camera positioned around knee-height. Or, try taking the photo at an angle or with a wide-angle lens. Capturing a subject in an unexpected way is a great opportunity to stop a user from scrolling through the monotony of Instagram photos and actually engage. Here’s an example:
Look at this first photo. Sweet! It’s nice and straightforward and looks pretty much like what every other style blogger is doing on Instagram.
But look at the same subject taken from below and at an angle. It’s the exact same information, but this time, it throws you off your game a little bit. Even though they are similar photos, I guarantee the second one will have higher engagement, based solely on the fact that it will look different than the other photos surrounding it in someone’s feed.
Tips for coming out
I wrote about this on Instagram, but my first tip is to come out to yourself. It might seem small, but accepting yourself is by far the hardest and most important step you can take. Also, make sure that you first and foremost you feel safe before coming out to your family or loved ones. If there’s ever any question, call the Trevor Project. It is a 24-hour lifeline to help LGBTQ+ people in crisis. Also, understand that it’s not a race. Don’t feel the need to put a label on what you are. Even as you get older, gender identity and sexuality can change. Eventually you will find an identity that you are comfortable with.
Favorite clothing store/brand?
Recently, I’ve been going online to buy almost all of my clothes. Especially in New York, shopping is super chaotic and time consuming. My current go-to place is ASOS. They have more than 40,000 styles available to purchase, the majority of which are super affordable. Of course, that means that there are TONS of items to dig through, which, can be a little overwhelming. I’ve started curating a section of this blog where you can look at all the outfits from my Instagram and shop the ones you like. They cost the exact same on my site as they do on the online store, but I get a little kickback if I refer you ;) For those of you who don’t have time to do the endless scroll, this is a great place to start out.
What advice do you have for younger performers?
I feel like I wasted a good part of my emulating my favorite performers. I grew up watching these incredible stars like Kristin Chenoweth and Nathan Lane and wanting to have careers like them. My way of interpreting that was to try and make similar choices when I was acting or to copy their shtick. What I didn’t realize was that the world already had Kristin Chenoweth, but what they didn’t have was me. It wasn’t until I started showing up in audition rooms as myself that I started getting work. I always tell young performers to find out what makes them different than everyone else. Granted, this can be hard advice to take, especially when you’re a teenager where all you want is to just fit in. But in the end, what makes you different is what makes you special.
What is your skincare routine?
Developing a skincare regimen is unique from person to person. My skin and my skincare have changed a lot over the years, and I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all solution. You know your skin better than anyone, and it’s best to just read the clues and figure out what works for you. That being said, I do have some tips based on specific skin problems. In the summer, my skin gets oily. To combat this, I wash it twice a day with a gentle cleanser like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser and follow it up with their toner and moisturizer with SPF. In the winter, my skin gets super dry and sensitive, and applying products often make it worse, so I’ve found the best thing to do is wash it only with warm water and then pile on a rich moisturizer like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm. For breakouts, the best product I’ve found is to apply Mario Badescue drying lotion directly to the zit. Works wonders!
Does your relationship to social media ever stress you out?
This is a great question. When I first discovered social media, I felt so lucky to find a place where I could interact with likeminded people and build a community, but at times, I’d feel myself getting anxious or jealous of the “lifestyles" on my feed. Recently, I’ve had to enforce better online habits to facilitate my mental health. For instance, my favorite platform is Instagram. I love seeing the incredible photography and art that people are sharing, but I began noticing that sometimes this constant stream was bleeding into my life in unhealthy ways. For a while, I was following a lot of male models and fitness bloggers thinking that they would inspire me to go to they gym or make healthy food decisions. But ultimately, rather than giving me “gym-spiration,” I would look at these unattainable bodies and it would make me feel like I could never measure up. Today, my Instagram is a lot sunnier. I ended up purging a lot of these model accounts and instead follow food Instagrams like @Foodbeast or @TheSweetWanderlust and style bloggers like @ColorMeCourtney and @joshjjo, who create images that not only give me lifestyle inspiration but bring a smile to my face.
How do you edit your photos to look so teal?
Funny you should ask ;) I actually created a Lightroom preset that I use on all my photos. You can download the preset and learn how to use it here!
What was your favorite part of being in Newsies?
The camaraderie! As someone who grew up with two big sisters, I always prayed for a brother. Little did I know that one day I would have eighteen of them. I’ve never been someone who had much interest in “Greek Life” at college, but being in Newsies really felt like being in a fraternity. My heart beats for each and every one of these guys and I’m so proud of the incredible work they’ve all done since graduating from our show.
What is the best way to process college rejection?
I can’t tell you how stressful of a time this was for me. In fact, I’ve been up for huge roles on Broadway and in film and television and none of them were as stressful as applying to college. Of all the places I applied, I only got into one school, the University of Michigan. But I will tell you what, it was where I needed to be! If I hadn’t gone there, I would have never met my best friends and collaborators. Heck, I wouldn’t have even met my husband (Scott was introduced to me by my college bestie, Benj Pasek). And I know it’s hard to believe when you’re staring down rejection, but wherever you end up is where you were meant to be. Getting accepted into a school means that there are people there who believe in you and understand your gift, and that is the best environment to thrive in. If you didn’t get accepted to your dream school, it just means they didn’t fully appreciate you. And why waste your incredible talent on people who are not going to be your #1 cheerleader?
What food, dieting, core workout do you recommend for most effective results?
First of all, if you’re a teenager, skip this section! Food should not guide any decisions you make at this age unless they’re Flamin’ Hot Cheetos ;) But if you’re older and trying to get into shape, I’d say it’s a lot like skincare — you know your body better than anyone. No diet or exercise works exactly the same for every person. I’ve done many diets and exercises over the years and have landed on a regimen that works for me and doesn’t compromise my lifestyle. I have seen great results with the paleo diet, but found that totally cutting out grains didn’t feel like something I could maintain long term. So today, I follow many of the paleo principals (lots of protein and vegetables and little to no dairy), but have added in complex carbs like oatmeal and whole grains which give me energy in the morning and have lots of fiber to keep me full throughout the day. I also ALWAYS allow myself to indulge when I’m out or celebrating. Life is too short to not enjoy chocolate cake.
Header photo by Emil Cohen