Although born here, Angela moved to Chicago right around her freshman year, when her dad accepted a job. Naturally high school led to college, but before completing her degree, Angela took a long break and moved out to L.A. to try her hand at acting. "I went out to L.A. because I act and write and do all that fun stuff, and then I decided I should go back to college before it's too late (is there such a thing, really?). But in my mind I was like, I need to get this done."
Angela’s first love is performing, but it wasn’t always that way. As a kid she was very shy and it took an improv workshop in junior high to come out of her shell. In the beginning she did “goofy little plays” but things quickly took off and she acted in her first commercial when she was 14. She laughed as she told me about the experience. “It was for something where you could get all these sega games on your TV. I had to wear overalls in it, so that whole denim look was really really nice… I hope it never surfaces anywhere!”
After her first experience on camera she was hooked, and living in Chicago meant she had ample opportunities. So at the young age of 15 she began calling and auditioning for agents. “So I kind of just started doing it and haven’t stopped and I don’t want to because it’s way too much fun. As hard and challenging as it is it’s so rewarding and fulfilling, like I could not imagine not shooting another film or not doing another play. It’s a great way to express yourself and challenge yourself.”
Now, Angela is more particular about the kind of work she pursues. “I don’t want to do a project just to do it. I need to do something that has meaning and I’m passionate about and I’m willing to give my time. Like I really found that I want to be challenged not only as an actor but as a person after every role. I want to learn something about myself, about the world, about connecting with people. So kind of taking it off the screen.”
The Midwest Appeal
I love St. Louis, but hearing Angela’s passion for acting and writing, I was curious what ultimately brought her back. “I’ve been able to do what I love here more because it’s a smaller market which shocks a lot of people including myself. I honestly get more work as an actor and have more access to projects that I want to produce or people that I want to collaborate with, because you weed out so many people when you’re in the smaller mid-west city versus LA. If you walk into an audition room and there are 3,500 other blonde girls just like you you’re like, ‘What!’ So Saint Louis has a lot more going on than people think.” A lot of the jobs she gets here are industrial work or voice overs, but it was here that Angela wrote and performed her first show!
The boundaries of St. Louis can’t contain a personality and talent like hers, so very soon Angela was performing her show in other cities, like New York City. When I asked how that happened, she told me that she was originally terrified to submit her work to festivals, but she soon realized… “Yep, I need to take this risk.”
At first it was mostly her friends in attendance at the performances, but soon she was drawing the unforgiving New York crowds. “They were not laughing as much as I wished, but they ended up voting my show in, like I could move on and get in front of finalists and do all this jazz.”
“I still can’t believe it. Sitting in the cab with my mom, going to this small little theatre in the city to do a show, it’s one of those moments where you stop yourself, you’re like ‘this is for real?’ I love moments like that. I have to remind myself to stop and take it in.”
She’s Big in Rome
Things became even more surreal for Angela last year when someone found her show and invited her to perform in Rome. Traveling there by herself was unforgettable and we bonded over our shared love of traveling solo to foreign countries. “I think we have the best time when we go somewhere alone, not all the time but sometimes, get lost, go sit and make friends with people at the table next to you at the restaurant…”
She stayed in a quaint apartment off of the main villa where she performed every night that week. But, as much as the locals enjoyed watching her show, she enjoyed watching the locals even more. “You see people stopping and just taking it all in. No one’s in a rush, they’re just embracing the moments. I learned a lot about how fast paced we feel like our lives need to be here, when it really doesn’t need to be. They’re just so relaxed there. What a life style…”
Fulfilling A Unique Role
Angela’s personality, willingness to speak in front of large groups, and experience wrangling the crew or cast of a show, made her a perfect fit as the Brand Manager for Unidev, a St. Louis based software development company. Before our coffee meeting however, I didn’t have a clue what being a Brand Manager might entail. Angela enlightened me.
“It’s interesting. Every day is so different. A huge part of my job is hosting events. I manage most of our social media so I’m constantly scouring Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook. And a big part of brand management is capturing what’s going on internally.” Not only does she capture it, but Angela also shares what happens inside the company with the world. “They wonder why I’m always snapping pictures of food at our team lunch…”
Originally hired as an internet marketing manager, the leadership at Unidev quickly recognized Angela’s people skills, and asked her to fulfill a unique role. “They told me, “We need someone just to be a 24/7 ambassador, get the name and face out there.” So I became the Brand Manager which I absolutely love. I couldn’t ask for a more fitting job with a more supportive environment. Everyone from our coworkers, to my boss, to our CEO it’s kind of like the perfect family as far as what you want your work life to be.”
Loving St. Louis
When I asked my go-to question, her favorite thing about St. Louis, Angela paused. “Oh goodness… I would have to say it’s between the food, because the food is amazing, and the accessibility of things and people and venues.”
As she warmed to the subject, she began to explain. “There’s way more opportunity here and it’s not as far-fetched as it would be in a bigger city. In some other big cities it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle so I like that you can stand out in kind of that big fish small pond vibe. I’m constantly surprised and amazed by Saint Louis. I would have never known that stuff like The Fringe Festival happened here or just some really cool bizarre restaurants. Saint Louis is a charming, little unassuming city, that’s what I would say. What’s your favourite thing about St. Louis, turn the tables?”
In the 2.5 years I’ve been writing this blog, this was only the second time I’d been asked so it took me a moment to gather my thoughts. “I’m excited by the potential.” Angela laughed, “Oh, good one! Can I go back and change my answer to that? You are so right.”