Meet Our MP3 Mentors

It’s that time again when we get to gush over some of our MP3 Mentors who just finished up their session with their mentees at the end of August! This was our first 12 week session and these Mentors really stepped up to the plate to share their knowledge and expertise. We couldn’t be more thrilled to feature them and show them a little extra love and appreciation for all of their wonderful dedication to making this program such a success!

What made you decide to apply to become a Mentor with Off The Lane?

Nichole: It was a really easy decision, honestly. I just thought about my experience moving to NYC and how thankful I would have been for some guidance. Being in a position where I can make that transition for somebody else felt like the obvious choice.

James: I’ve always considered myself to be very financially savvy and I know that programs aren’t necessarily helping graduates with entering life after college.

Leah: I decided to become a Mentor to give my mentee the tips and tricks I’ve learned and be a guide that I wish I would have had coming out of college.

Nicole: I was curious to learn if I would be 1) good at this and have something to share and 2) could possibly give insight to my own experiences moving forward as well.

Jason:  I love Mustard Lane and Off The Lane, and I love any chance to pay it forward and help others. 

Do you have a favorite Mentorship Program highlight?

Sharon: Being able to share my NYC tips and lil’ nuggets of information!

Nichole: First sessions with a new mentee are always my favorite. Meeting a young person with stars in their eyes reminds me of why I love this career, community, and city so much!

Jason: That’s a tough one—it is a toss up between 1) receiving feedback that this is your mentee’s favorite part of their week, and 2) When your mentee texts you about how they’ve been able to apply their sessions to real life and succeed. Such as negotiating pay rates and budgeting hacks.

Leah: Hearing my mentee say that I had been helpful!

Nicole: At the end of our time in our last session my mentee was gearing up for a huge life shift, moving to Israel. She asked that in our session I lead her in a guided meditation (which is something I do as a parallel career). It was an honor that she asked and wanted that. 

James: Each of us tuning in every week from a different locale!

If you could offer one piece of advice to incoming Mentors, what would it be?

Nicole: Find your truth and know that it’s allowed to shift and grow with you. 

Nichole: Try not to doubt yourself. It’s so easy to feel like you aren’t successful enough to guide anyone else, but you have so much more insight than you realize!

Sharon: Don’t stress about making every session super structured. I feel that when I left some room for seeing where things will go, the session would be so much more fun and more engaging.

Jason: Think of this program as merely helping get a friend get acclimated to NYC living and the professional world.

What does mentorship mean to you?

What lesson did you learn from your Mentee?

Leah: Patience. My mentee, like probably most, was dealing with such an unknown time and taking it all moment to moment. It was a reminder that we can know what we want and take the steps that we can and know that things will line up as they are supposed to. 

Nichole: That creativity overcomes all obstacles! My mentee had to return to Australia due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing her craft and creating her own work!

Nicole: That we are qualified naturally to support each other. Wherever we are, there is something to learn and something to teach each other!

Sharon: Facts about North Carolina!

Jason: Trust the process. Life is more enjoyable anytime you allow yourself the chance to play the role of the student. 

What made you decide to move to NYC and how long have you been living here?

James: My first job at the Lyric Opera of Chicago had many New Yorkers in the cast and that piqued my interest. I needed to go to a place with more opportunity during the times I was off and I’ve been in NYC for about 10 years now.

Nicole: Five years! The non-stop passionate energy of those following their dreams and creating.

Sharon: Since the first time I came to NYC when I was 10, I decided I wanted to move here, but ultimately I moved because I wanted to study theater. 

Nichole: I have been living in NYC for almost 5 years, and it was something I had wanted for a really long time. Coming from rural Virginia, I felt that moving to the city would give me the best chance at success within my career, and so far that has been correct!

Leah: I moved to NYC because it had been calling me ever since I can remember and I had Broadway dreams!

Jason: I made the move to the Big Apple for career, culture, and once in a lifetime experiences & opportunities.

If you could offer one piece of advice to new creatives to the city, what would it be?

Nichole: Look for community everywhere you can! A friend once told me that a busy city can be the loneliest place in the world, and it can certainly be true. Putting in the initiative to find like-minded people and creating a community that you jive with can be a real game-changer!

Leah: Take risks. If that audition/class/meeting etc feels scary, just do the work and go. 

Nicole: Make your own work! Allow yourself to make mistakes. Find your people and let them love on you.

Sharon: Be open to meeting new people to learn new things. NYC is such a random city and it’s full of surprises.

James: Start your rainy day fund NOW. That’s your emergency fund. Because things WILL come up and in this industry it’s always feast or famine. Do your best to have a job that doesn’t interfere with what you came here to do: train, audition and perform.

Jason: Be open. Be Adaptable. Be malleable. Be prepared. Learn to set & respect boundaries with others. Know your worth. Step into your day like a lion: strong & laser focused, ready to tackle the tasks ahead. End your day like a lamb—be gentle with yourself. Go to sleep knowing you’ve done all you can for today. And in the next day, rise again like a phoenix to do it all again. Go to the audition—let them say no. Don’t you say no to opportunity. Think of auditions and interviews as a “play date” with possible new best friends—this takes the edge off and helps you be more open, to showcase your true self. Work on your money management NOW. 

One word to describe your mentee?

What would you describe as one of the pivotal moments in your career?

Leah: I think every moment I have had has been pivotal. I’m not always successful at this, but I try hard to see every step and experience as important to moving forward and part of who I am in and out of my career. 

James: It will always be when I decided to drop my first passion of instrumental music and follow the advice of my college professor and start dancing. It’s been a constantly evolving journey since then.

Sharon: Producing and starring in a play for the New York Winter Festival and being a part of the modeling show ”The Face” with Naomi Campbell.

Jason: For me (and not to sound like a cop out but) every experience, every situation, and every opportunity is connected. Everything we involve ourselves with is pivotal in our journey. From doing a show with an actor who would then become my partner who inspired me to move, to performing in shows where I met best friends who connected me to other projects and side jobs, to landing dream roles, to receiving heartfelt & touching letters about my theatre work reconfirming my path, to receiving international exposure for my work with The Key of Awesome, to depression, to taking a break from the industry and rediscovering myself, to side jobs with New World Stages/Ford Models/& Mustard Lane, to meeting some of the most encouraging and inspiring friends, to receiving representation at Innovative Artists—with the most supportive team Marla Mickey & Allan, to self help, self care, & self development, to crystal healing. 

Nichole: In 2019 I performed in a touring show for young audiences that was primarily non-verbal! Coming from a Musical-Theatre background, this show challenged my own perceptions of my skills and abilities and opened up my view of this industry. It was really rewarding to stretch my own performance muscles, and see the limitations I had set for myself melt away.

Nicole: When I realized I was in control. Yes there are people who help, but I ultimately get to choose who I work with and surround myself with.

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC?

Jason: BRUNCH, BROADWAY, & ROOFTOP WORKOUTS, film screenings, bookstores, street fairs, bodega iced coffees (they just hit differently), macaron & cupcake impulse buys, taking out of town guests to Patsy’s Pizzeria.

Nicole: Performing and exploring

Nichole: My friends and I fondly refer to it as “the walk-about.” It’s when you have one activity in the city that turns into a full day of adventure. It’s something that I haven’t been able to experience during the pandemic, but I look forward to it again!

Leah: I recently took a trapeze class.

Sharon: So many things! I love brunching, I really love going to museums and going to a bar/restaurant where you are a regular and know everybody!

James: Taking dance classes, strolling around downtown looking at the older architecture and frequent getaway trips outside of the city to Fire Island and the Hamptons.

Who do you look up to in your industry and why?

Nichole: Recently, I’ve been following Analee Wright and she is such a positive influence! Her insight and creativity has been such a beacon of light as our industry goes through a massive shift!

Leah: I love Marin Ireland’s career. I think she has been strategic about choosing projects that are important to her and not driven by fame or money. And has been able to maintain a career both on screen and on stage. 

Sharon: Whichever actor that’s humble and cares about the craft and the characters they’re portraying.

Jason: My friends Sabah & Anna. Both are insanely talented women who wear many hats and succeed in every facet of their career. They don’t make excuses, they make opportunities. 

Nicole: My acting coach John Dapolito, as well as my friend and mentor Melissa Robinette. Both living unapologetically in their own lanes of bliss and artistry.

James: Everyone who came before me. There’s an entire generation here who existed before dance on video. For them it only existed in the moment.  If you aren’t studying with great teachers, then it’s not passed down to the next generation.

What creative endeavors are helping you navigate these unprecedented times?

Nichole: Reading more, listening to music, watching television and films…these are self-care, relaxation experiences certainly, but it’s also research in our industry. By educating myself and staying up to date on trends in the industry, I can be better prepared when it makes its triumphant return!

Leah: Honestly I have had a hard time feeling or even wanting to be creative since March. But being a part of the mentorship program has really helped. It gave me a task each week and a person to be responsible to show up for. I have loved connecting to a person who is finding their way into the professional world for the first time and trying to remember what it felt like when I was where they are. 

Sharon: I started a part time job back in July and let’s just say it’s not the funnest job hahahaha. I’ve started to pick up photography more and coloring. It has helped big time.

Jason: Prepping monologues, writing, reading, photography, graphic design, crystals, lists, creative meetings

James: I’m very lucky to hold keys to a dance studio I work at, so I’ve been able to start getting back into shape. It was also great to participate in Broadway Bares, even if the live show didn’t happen. It gave me a job to do for a period of time.

Nicole:  I’m an associate producer for a nonprofit The Shared Screen which is bringing theater into homes to make it fully accessible during this time. I’ve made sure this included the Deaf/deaf community as well. I’m also pouring into my business Rewired Healing to make it self-sustaining and soul filling!

One word to describe your mentorship experience?

Stay tuned for our new MP4 Mentor Spotlights happening next week on Instagram!