By Maria Rochelle (@duraniemaria) – Guest Contributor
Damon Gillespie is from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He’s a very talented young man pursuing his dreams in New York City. He’s an actor, dancer, and singer. I saw him perform on stage in a musical in Chattanooga and was quite impressed with his talents. I have to add I think he could easily be a comedian as well; you have to check out his Instagram to see more of that. He was in the parody band with Amy Schumer for the song “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup”.
I love what he says about making a British soldier cry, but you’ve got to read the interview to find out what that is. Read more about Damon who is on Broadway and truly going for what he wants out of life.
Tell me a little bit about yourself: hobbies and interests.
I actually like to do a lot. I love playing and recording music. I play Guitar, Bass, Drums, etc. I like to learn how to do new things. So, at random times I’ll learn how to play a new instrument a couple of years ago I picked up a clarinet just to try it, and now I can play a pretty mean scale. 🙂
I also love taking classes. When I have the time I go to take Acrobatic classes, dance, music, and acting. I guess you could say I love learning what all the body can do.
If I’m not in class, I’m with my amazing girlfriend. She finds all kinds of weird things to do in the city that has been around for years. Born and raised New Yorkers have never been some of the places she finds.
What do like about living and working in New York?
The really cool thing about living here is how small of a world it is. I’ve bumped into people who I literally met once at a get together or something. I’ll also bump into people who I’ve worked with before, or people who have seen me in some smaller things around the city. My first thought every time is, “You saw that show?”
When you were a child, what did you dream about being?
Honestly I dreamed about being a Vet that was also a chemist. When I got older I realized what I really wanted to do was to be on Broadway.
Are you living your dream now?
Yes. Yes I am. And I couldn’t be happier.
Who do you look up into the entertainment industry?
Jennifer Lawrence. Let me explain why. She is in her early 20’s, has an Oscar, she’s incredibly talented, she doesn’t take life too seriously but she also fights for what is right.
You’ve played Chino in “West Side Story” back in March, what was it like to play him in the musical?
It was really interesting. I didn’t really know what to do with him, because I couldn’t really relate to him. As rehearsals started, and I really started playing with the character I found out I had almost everything in common with this character, at some point in my life. I found that somebody has been, “stolen” from you and it can drive you past the point of no return. Once I found that, I found Chino.
Did you enjoy being on stage with Skylar Astin?
Skylar is my homie! My first day meeting him we sat and talked for hours about the business, Mixed Martial Arts, Video games, everything. We actually had a lot of conversations that lasted a couple of hours. We really didn’t get to spend a lot of time on stage together. We had two interactions: me telling him to get away, and then me shooting him. So…yeah.
You’re in your second role on Broadway in “Aladdin the Musical”, how exciting has it been? What was the audition like?
Yes. I’m in the ensemble. I was actually really nervous at first but then I met my dance captains, my “teachers of the show”, and the energy they brought in the room, you felt like you could do no wrong. They were nothing but supportive and complimentary, and wanted nothing more than for us to look incredible on that stage. Now that I’m actually doing the show it’s wonderful. It’s very hard, and tough on my body, but I’m having a blast and my cast has welcomed me like I was just another member of their family.
I’ve been in auditions for this show for about 3 years actually. I auditioned when I was in school, then when I moved to New York I was called in for the ensemble. The most recent audition, the one where I booked it, I got an email from my Agent on a Thursday saying, “Aladdin needs an immediate temporary replacement. Your audition is tomorrow.” I was like, “hahahaha…ok.” I got a callback for Tuesday and I got the call on Wednesday that I booked it. They said, “You start tomorrow”. Again I was like,” hahahahaha…OK!!!!!!”
What do you do to prepare for a role?
I write out a list of characteristics about him, find out what he wants; in the scene and in the overall play, then I find out who his friends and enemies are, and apply them to my life. This way I can put a face and feeling to other people in my cast.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My supporters are my family especially my Mother and Grandmother, Grace (my girlfriend), and most of Chattanooga.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
Hopefully as a Principal character on Broadway, or Feature Film or TV. Ensemble life is nice but my body is aging faster than I am, because of all the wear and tear over the years. So, I’m trying to slowly but surely transition into the acting roles.
You’re a dancer, singer, and actor: what do you like the best?
I’d have to say I love singing the most. There’s just something about the power of the voice that if it’s used right, you could make a British soldier cry.
I’ve seen you dance in “Titanic the Musical” with Grace and both of you are just awesome dancers and great together. How much practice did it take to prepare for musical?
We actually didn’t get a lot of practice for “Titanic”. I was in Chicago at the time and she asked me to be her dance partner and her dance captain; she was choreographing. She sent me a video to learn the choreography and in the beginning of rehearsals we had for a brush up rehearsal. We collaborated and changed a few things and then I had to go back for school. I came back to Chattanooga two days before the show, during tech rehearsal, and we rehearsed staging and choreography and we were on in two days.
I share quotes with my readers, do you have a favorite motivational quote or inspirational quote that you would like to share that you go to when you’re having a tough day?
“You are enough. You can’t give more than what you have to offer. So be proud of who you are, because nobody can be you better than you can.”
This is one of my funny favorite ones though, “Remember, out of thousands of sperm cells, you’re the one that made it.”