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Episode 67: Talk Nicely to Yourself - Shon Ruffin

Talk Nicely to Yourself features actor/singer, Shon Ruffin, a Kansas City-based performer. Jen V. & JRT spoke with Shon on location at the New Theatre and Restaurant in Overland Park, KS before she prepared for her nightly performance of Effie in the musical DREAMGIRLS. The show closed on Sept, 10, 2023 after a sold out run.

You can find Shon singing with the bands Freedom Affair and Lost Wax.

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Hey, it’s Jen V. This is Episode 67 with Shon Ruffin, who just finished starring in the role of Effie in Dreamgirls at the New Theatre and Restaurant in Kansas City. Dreamgirls closed on September 10th, just a couple of days ago after a completely sold-out run. But if you listen all the way to the end, you’ll hear a tip about how to get tickets even when a show is sold out.

Try this anywhere. Even Broadway has rush tickets at the last minute. This is Talk Nicely to Yourself with actor, singer, Shon Ruffin. Here’s Shon. I lead with love and kindness and as long as I’m doing that, I don’t care however, what you didn’t like that I said. That’s none of my business, how you felt about what I said to you, because if I didn’t disrespect you, it’s none of my business.

Welcome to the Speak with Presence podcast. I’m Jen V. And I’m JRT. On the Speak with Presence podcast, we believe perfection is overrated, leaders listen, and we all speak up to influence change. We exist to share the stories of powerful leaders who have used their voices to inspire change. We’re wondering from you listeners, what will it take for you to use your voice?

And today… We have someone who uses her voice in so many ways. In fact, JRT, you’ve been fangirling. I am a fangirl, and don’t think for one minute that I’m not leaving here without, I mean, a ton of photos. Because I am, I am here at New Theater with the star, the lead. From Dreamgirls. I was just gonna say Effie.

Welcome. Yay. Thank you. You can call me Effie. Dive right in and tell us what it is like to play Effie in Dreamgirls in Kansas City at the New Theatre. It is overwhelmingly amazing. I am having so much fun. It is an iconic role. I was nervous at first, but I also was very prepared for it. I, this is not my first time playing Effie, but I feel like I am in a different place.

This is my first time doing it in a full production, but I feel like I’m in a different place in my life where the character means so much more. This story means so much more to me, and it’s a little hard to figure out where Shon and Effie blur like those lines, you know, intersect sometimes on stage and off stage and she’s taught me a lot about being confident this character. Not even kidding last night, I was crying on my way to sleep because I was thinking about the lyrics I have to sing for I Am Changing. And I went, oh my goodness, this is what art imitates life sometimes. I’m just overwhelmed to be able to play this role and for it to mean so much to me and to other people and for all of this hype too.

I’m so happy people are loving the show. And I couldn’t have asked for a better cast. I love that I get to work with some of my dear friends. It’s so great. And I’m really trying to soak it all in. So it’s a lot of focus for me to stay present and focus on the character and what the character is saying and not so much me because if it were me, I would lose it.

I mean, I sat there in the audience and I, it was a surreal experience. It was almost an embodiment where I felt as though I was one with the message. I think it takes a lot to move some people, but I felt you like I felt your energy, I felt the words when I say I see Effie, that is who I see and feel. I don’t see Shon, I see you as one.

Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. And Jen, there’s a huge turning point in my, in my career because I, I knew musicals from movies that my mom would watch, the classics. Um, I had one uncle that taught theater, but we didn’t know that much about it. And it wasn’t until I saw Speech and Debate, I went, I want to do that.

It wasn’t a musical. I remember, uh, the actress on stage in a bodysuit, and I remember her being slightly thicker than normal, what I’m used to seeing. And I was like, oh, well, then I can do that too. I want to do that. And it wasn’t until Jen cast me in The Music Man, playing Eulalie. I didn’t even know I could do that.

I didn’t know I could use my comedy for good. I didn’t know I could, uh, not be perfect, I guess. And I remember coming to her, I’m like, why did you put me in this show? I don’t look like, like, with, like everyone else. And she even, she didn’t care about my race either. I had a white husband and white kids.

And that’s, that wasn’t the point of the show. And I’m so happy she didn’t highlight that. That she just went off of me playing Eulalie and she’s like, you’re fit for this, this career. So that’s when I, I just kind of went, okay, somebody believed in me because I didn’t feel that before her. At first, I was gonna give up and then I was like, okay, I think I can do this.

So it meant a lot and I’ve kind of carried that with me and, you know, just in my career and auditioning and going for things that people don’t think I can do. And yeah, so thank you, Jen. Oh my gosh, everyone said Shon is amazing. I hope you’ll play you lately again if you haven’t. I would love to. You were so good for that role.

You know what else is funny about that show too? You also taught me about being truthful when you approach a production or a job and finding the truth in it. Because the first thing you did for our first day of rehearsal. Oh no, I don’t even remember this. This is dangerous. You wrote on the dry erase board, you said, I do not like this musical.

We’re going to figure this out together, the purpose of this musical and what it means to you and everyone else. I remember going, she does not like this musical. But you know what, I don’t even remember that and then I ended up loving it because of you guys and because of what Kathy did and all the designers.

I appreciated your honesty though. That is what got me. I kept that. In this case, Jen saw you for who you were and created opportunities. Maybe without that moment, you wouldn’t have had the same confidence to pursue the arts. Yeah. I think you play an important role in how society needs to change and, and see things in a very different way.

You see your performance, Shon, and you know this, you’ve read all the reviews and you’ve heard all the feedback and it’s just unbelievably strong, rich, beautiful performance and production overall by our dear Jerry J. Cranford, of course, but your performance in particular. Um, it’s important for people to know that you didn’t start there.

Mm hmm. Yeah, no. And, um, yeah, it’s, uh, it’s been a long journey is it’s crazy. The lines that I have to say is Effie like she’s It’s always been beautiful, but I’ve got the voice and, um, you know, you can’t put me in back. You just can’t. And it’s stuff that I felt in, in the city and the, the best part, one of the best parts about doing the show is that the guy that plays Marty, Damron Armstrong.

He has been a Marty to me. I met him when I first started and he has taught me so much about treating myself and protecting myself and shaping me in this business. And he’s helped me find jobs. The first show that I did here at New Theatre, he vouched for me to be in Hairspray. And… He cast me as Effie in concert for his theater, and so when he’s telling me off and he’s like you’ve gotta stop thinking you’re better than everybody else and sometimes he checks me too. I’ve called him crying before he goes you have a show to do our imitates life get it together and get to work. Okay, thank you, and so having to sing to him and talk to him every night is just a feeling I can’t even explain, um, because he meant so much to her.

He knows how I felt playing that role in Kansas City. Do you feel like your roots are here and that you’re known in Kansas City as an artist, as a performer? The way people are responding to this show, it’s been great. It’s so nice. Some response I get, they’re kind of giving their opinions at the same time.

Or telling me like what I should do with my career and I’m like, do you think I was sitting at home in a dark room waiting for this call? I have been working my patootie off for years in this city. I have touched so many different stages. I have worked with so many different companies. So many um, theaters.

I’ve performed for different people for different reasons. That’s why you’re selling out. You have to trust, you know, and I’m happy that they trust knowing that I would help continue bringing my following here. I have a great group of supporters in Kansas City, and I love every single one of them. And now I’m happy that people are kind of joining on the bandwagon.

Like, oh, I’m like, I’ve been here, I’ve been working and it kind of, it almost made sense. I had to play this role. I had to be, play this role for my city. It is, this is my heart, this is where I work, this is where people know me. This is not my first time touching the stage either, so, um, and I’m also introducing a lot of people that have supported me in other ways into traditional theater.

They’re, they’re getting a new, you know, demographic in here as well. And people that have seen me do other things, even with my own family, who haven’t seen a show before. Extended family who have seen, haven’t seen me on in a musical or a play before. But here they are, like, whoa. And, you know, my bandmates, they were like, you know, Shon, when you joined the band, we knew you could sing.

But it was like, when we saw you in the show, we saw everything you can do. So do not argue with us with what to sing anymore. I said, you can’t get away with anything else because we know what you can do. It’s a way to create change. You’re creating change in the work that you do. Do you feel that? Yes, I do.

Just with all the hype and people reaching out and you know, there’s an older woman who asked me one day, she said, Oh, you’re a Dream Girl. I said, yes. They’re like, so what, what, who’s the star they bringing in? I froze. I didn’t know. I went, this is so strange. And I wasn’t offended. I was just amazed that I could say, they’re not bringing anybody in.

They’re using me. And she goes, what? Well, cause you know, they bring in celebrities or old stars from out of town. I’m like, yeah, no, it’s me. So, I’m really grateful for the opportunity that they trusted me and my name and my work in this city to put me in, and I, you know, of course thank Jay for being a huge influence on that decision, just trusting me and my work that it’s going to turn out okay.

I think Kansas City is ripe for using their own. We can never comprehend today what 10 years into the future looks like, and the change that you all have made because of your presence here. It’s so, like I said, I’m just speechless. I’ve had people coming to me crying, overwhelmed by seeing something different.

And I think even just being mostly local here in this show, um, knowing that they’re using their own in this city. They feel prideful and happy that they can say they live here. They can come right here in the backyard and see their own. And I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here. I mean, I have no plans to leave anytime soon, but you’ll still see me.

I’m so happy that they connected with me through this show and through this character and can continue to follow me and follow everybody else, too. Everyone’s working in this city. Kansas City has so much talent and this is proof. Why Kansas City? Well, it is my hometown. I was born and raised here.

Getting into a new career that I didn’t think I could get into and then looking at how I look and not knowing where I fit in, it was easy to start out. But it was hard to keep going and I just wanted the challenge. I just wanted to keep going and, um, I didn’t connect with other cities. I love Chicago. I stayed there for a little bit.

I could not move to New York. There was something in me that was like, I cannot do it. And I tried. I had right before COVID. I was planning to move to New York and that was the third time I attempted to move to New York. Everything shut down. I was like, there is some reason why I cannot move to New York and I feel like I’m forcing myself.

And Damron had even, you know, explained to me that like, you don’t have to leave to find what you want to do. Like you can work here, keep working, make a name for yourself. And so I was, it was all silly. Easier for me to touch on so many different stages, so many different companies, and just figure out what it is that I want, what makes me a performer.

Um, and yeah, I mean, I’m still open to going somewhere else too. I’m open if the job and the opportunity presents itself. I’m open to it, but I love this home because I feel like I was taken care of. I was protected. I was able to balance my social life, being with family, my career, still being a union actor, still being able to get insurance from performing.

It made it, it just, I don’t know, it’s like easy but challenging at the same time because there are people that moved to Kansas City. They think it’s easy, and then they get lost and caught up with a new career, and they stop performing. Even though I didn’t go to grad school, I used every single experience performing, and realized how that was kind of its own education, in its own way.

Oh yeah, every time you open a play, you learn something new about people, and walking in someone else’s shoes. Yeah, so I just… continue learning lessons. So it’s like everything that I’ve been through, every decision I make kind of led up into this point. And that’s why I’m just left speechless and can’t even put into words how it feels to play this role in this city.

It’s, I don’t know. It’s, it’s just great. So what is next for you? And the answer could be as concrete as, I’m doing XYZ next, I’m closing the show, I’m doing this. Or it could be, I really want to do this, or I want to have this opportunity. And we can use this as a way to get that energy and thought out into the universe.

Yeah. So a year, a year and a half ago, I joined a band, the Freedom Affair. And when I do something that I believe in and that I love and desire, I’m going to commit. So when I joined last February, I was like, I’m going to focus on music because that’s somewhere where I didn’t really get into. I, I, I sing all the time, but singing in a live band with live musicians that are really good, nine piece band, I don’t have that experience.

I’m still nervous. I’m so used to give me the script, teach me the, the, the words and I will say them. So having that freedom and figuring out where my voice can go, I’m still learning that now when it comes to a live band, it’s just different. So I was like, I’m not going to do theater for a while. So it wasn’t until I got this call that I was like, I have to do that.

Mm hmm. So after this show ends, I will go back to being committed to my band. I’ll do a little traveling after the show closes so I can enjoy some free time and downtime too. And we have plans to record a second album in Memphis in November, focusing on the band. And of course, if if theater. presents itself or if there’s a show that I’m like, maybe I kind of like, like I said, I don’t say yes to everything.

I have learned that and that has served me well for some reason when I say no and then I hear this was what happened during that show. Well, there was a reason I said no to that. There was something I had to say no to. So, um, If an acting gig presents itself, I also still sing in Lost Wax. It’s a wedding and corporate band.

They were voted number one in the city. Um, we do a lot of live shows. Um, I actually performed, uh, for Eric Stonestreet’s 50th birthday party one year with Lost Wax. We’ve done a lot of, who else? They work with the Chiefs. They performed for the Super Bowl, um, Lost Wax. Yeah, so I’ll be doing a lot more music.

I’m starting a Christmas band of my own because I love Christmas, and I already have musicians. I have a business plan set out, um, people that are going to record. It’s, I am so excited for this. I really wanted to do Christmas in July and sell it in July because Christmas pop up bars are getting very popular in Kansas City, and I love Christmas.

I love how cheesy it is. Everybody wants performances at Christmas time and a lot of people, a lot of bands and stuff are like we’re not doing Christmas music. But all the corporate parties, everybody needs to hire someone to do Christmas music. Yes, I have a lot of people that are helping, willing to help me with getting this on its feet.

I’m very excited about it. It’s like, it’ll be called the Winter Wonderband and it’s like a Christmas snow globe threw up on stage and it’ll be me like Mrs. Claus and then the three musicians in the back will be dressed up as elves. So 2024. 2024. The Winter Wonderband. How do you show up with presents both on stage and in your life and are there any tools, tips, tricks, advice, solutions for people who are looking to not only speak with more presence because you are the voice of presence, but also just operate in their life with more presence because you have it in spades and you always have, whether you knew it or not.

I’m still figuring it out actively, figuring it out, but just knowing where I’ve been, how much I’ve had to advocate for myself, because no one’s going to care if you don’t care about yourself. And you taught me that too, Jen. I mean, I remember in classes, you had us watching this TED Talk on power posing. Oh my God, that’s Amy Cuddy. I don’t even remember that. And I talk about Amy Cuddy all the time now. Uh huh. And I remember learning how to do power posing. Like if I have to speak up for myself or if I have to be in a room and talk in front of crowds of people.

So, um, and you know, I can get real. I can get insecure real fast. I can overthink and I can worry. And then I’ll just kind of ball up in a shell. But I started doing less of that because I realized physically present, I am short. I am a black woman. I can get dismissed easily and I know that for a fact. And I have had a friend of mine, um, when I was doing a show, um, who was a white male and he was my, um, one of my co stars when I was doing a show and long story short, I kept complaining about like the sound was not make as like I can’t hear the sound the kids are yelling over it and it’s tracked so I’ll get off tempo if I can’t hear it.

I told the stage manager and what this the sound is set. It’s done I kept telling my friend. It’s like Jake, you hear this sound. He’s like I haven’t noticed it. He hears it one day goes. Oh, I noticed it. He goes to the stage manager. We know where this is go. We know where they know where it’s going stage manager says, oh, I’ll fix it and I’ll have the sound designer to adjust the sound and make sure it’s fine.

He looked at me and went, oh my God, you saw that. You, you heard that, right? Because I just told him what my response was, and now he saw it, and I was so happy and grateful that he went, that was not okay. And I learned from there, it doesn’t matter. I have to speak up for myself. I have to say no. You, you, you should have, that should have been your response for me.

And I’m the one singing the song. He didn’t say anything because he doesn’t sing the song, it was me. But I had to have a white man get the response I needed for a song he wasn’t a part of. A lot of musicians are, they’re all, it’s all male heavy. And… I’ve seen other women kind of wait on the side or just be quiet.

I want to get in. I want to know exactly what you’re doing. What amp is this? What’s going on? And I’ve had other singers like, oh, you just wait till they connect everything. Wait till soundcheck. I’m like, no, I want to, I want to know. I’m always curious. I want to know what’s going on. And I remember one time I had to, I arranged a band to sing for, um, there was an Asian American corporate, some, um, large gathering or something in a hotel and they asked me to sing.

And I was like, okay, I’ll get a band together. And I had three guys behind me, we’re trying to mix the sound. And I remember going, hey, you know, this amp, this tower, it’s kind of turning that way. It’s not mixing in the house while I’m like, oh no, it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine. Another guy comes out and is like, you probably need to turn that.

He’s like, oh yeah, let me adjust it. I’m like, what is wrong with you guys? What on earth? What on earth? So yeah, that could be my what on earth moment too. I have spoken up and I have had a couple of actors come to me and go, you ask for things. You are the best asker thing. I said, I’m gonna put that on my resume, huh?

And so just when we go to lunch or something, like, can we get a chair over here? Can we do this? Or if we’re even in rehearsals, if I don’t agree with something, I say, Can you explain this to me? What exactly should I be doing? How is it? And I have to remind people that I can’t do that because I, and I was like, I know I’m aware that I’m a black woman.

I can easily be labeled as aggressive or difficult. And I have witnessed other black women in spaces doing the same thing. And it really doesn’t matter. I, I’m always leading with kindness and love. And if I care about something, that’s all I care about. That’s, that’ll show. I never try to be rude and I know I have to be careful with that.

And I tell people it’s okay to speak up if you’re doing it in a nice way. Say exactly what you want. It’s how you say it, not what you say. At a certain point, I’m about to be 35. I know I’m not that old, but just knowing how I couldn’t speak up for the girl that was 20. I’m tired of it. I don’t care anymore.

If you’re going to be mad, you’re going to be mad. That’s why I over communicate and I overthink. I do care. So sometimes if I say too much, I do worry if that was too much for somebody else. And then at some point, I have to learn how to say no or say exactly what I want and not feel guilty. And I’m still learning that now.

But I just know that I don’t care. How people take what I say because I said something, uh, you just have to deal with it. The life is too short. Everybody I, I, I lead with love and kindness. And as long as I’m doing that, I don’t care however what you didn’t like that I said. I said, that’s about you. Not about me.

Yeah, I can’t. That’s none of my business. How you felt about what I said to you. Cause if I didn’t disrespect you, it’s none of my business. I was working as a tax, uh, tax assistant in the tax department for an accounting firm, and I remember my first interview, they said, do you have any, any questions? And, and I said, will you protect me as a black woman?

Because I noticed that everybody here is white. You don’t have any people of color. They kind of were shocked by it. Well, we have. Who did they have at the diversity department? Somebody on the diversity and Eli and he’s gay. And then I went, what, what? Okay, fine, whatever. But I did, I asked that question. I have been taken advantage of as a server.

I remember there was a customer. Yeah, he’s basically touching my butt the whole time while I’m serving him in this very popular restaurant. And I asked him, could he not? And cursed me out, said, we’ve been nothing but nice to you. And he was sitting at a table with three other, with two other women and another guy.

The mistake was the bartender had accidentally given him one too many drinks so he had gotten too drunk and I ran to the owner crying my eyes out like this man touched me. I feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want the restaurants full. I couldn’t go off because I had another one of the white women. She’s like, if they were me, I would have went off and I went, I’m so happy you don’t have to worry about that. I’m happy. You don’t have to worry about what you look like if you go off on a customer as a server in Milvers. I do, being the only person of color here. Okay. And on staff. And so I ran in, and she pulls her glass out. Oh, those are my friends. I went, oh, okay. What does that mean to me?

I’m crying in front of you. This is your restaurant. You’re here working on a busy night and I just told you that I was touched by a customer and then he cursed me out and I don’t want to go over the table. So, um, rest in peace, a dear friend, Chris, who was the bartender ran over and said, do you want me to take care of it?

So yes, he came over. And he asked the guy to leave and said, you cannot touch servers, you can’t destroy. He walked away and said, if you ever need anything, you let me know. And I felt like, I guess, I could have just stood up for myself. I could have gone off like the other girl said, you know, and maybe not care about how I looked because I felt so uncomfortable.

And the only thing that owner had to say about that, after, and after he left, one of the girls at the table, they felt so uncomfortable, comes back in secretly in the very back, gives me 50. I’m so sorry. That was unacceptable. I went, so you knew that was wrong. And the owner was standing right there. Still didn’t comment.

I had friends come in. I’m just kind of overwhelmed cause I stayed on my shift. And the only comment she had for that was, yeah, it’s not every day he gets sexually harassed by a gay guy. And that is how she, that was their only comment to that. And I went, I won’t work here anymore. I don’t like this. Nope.

And, um, and it sucks because this was an establishment that was built for queer people, and they wanted people to come and feel welcome, and then here comes COVID and we’ve got a Black Lives Matter sign in the window So it just I at this point, like I said in my career, I don’t care anymore I’ve been taken advantage of enough, and if I can speak up I can speak up for other people when other actors come to me and say I felt uncomfortable about this, this is my opinion on how you could handle it in the best way possible.

When it comes to playing Effie, being present, knowing who I am, knowing what I look like, everything I’ve been through. When I’m on stage, sometimes I can get in my head about things, situations, and people, and I just have to be present and breathe. And now I am. Right here on this stage. I’m telling a story.

Someone’s why everybody’s watching me. So just breathe. I get nervous. I overthink even when I’m in the car and I’m I feel like I’m getting, you know, my my heart is racing fast because of I’m overthinking about something. I’m like, just breathe. Be present. Look at what’s going on. And that helped me, too.

Viewpoints. What you taught me in college, too. It’s taking a step, closing your mouth, and just opening your eyes and opening your ears. That’s my long winded answer of, of being present and when to speak up and all that good stuff that I just, I wish I did back in the day and realized it didn’t matter then if I did say something. So why not say it now?

It doesn’t matter. You know, you got one life to live, and you got to advocate for yourself. I have to speak up for myself. I don’t have an agent which sucks sometimes because it legitimizes your work. And so I have to be my own agent. And I have to speak up and look at, you know, what I’d be losing if I said yes, I’d be losing my confidence.

I’d be losing, I’d be feeling uncomfortable because I didn’t get paid enough or I wasn’t treated properly. I, so, I have to speak up to prevent those feelings because I hate feeling that way. I hate feeling insecure. I hate feeling like I should have said something. That’s, I think that’s also why I don’t care.

I’m always feeling regretful. Like, I should have said something. I should have spoke up. I could have just sent an email. I love sending emails. Yeah. Well, you are somebody who knows who you are, have found your way. And of course, that’s always a journey as we change throughout life. You know who your audience is.

You know what you believe. And because of those things and many other things, but especially because of those things, you have presence everywhere you go. You always did. You just didn’t know it. That’s one of the things I love about teaching and also working with our clients is I get to be the one that, um, helps uncover what’s already there.

And I think think about if I could go back in time and look at that little sophomore in college. If you came as a guest artist to talk to you when you were 20 or 21, trying to do Viewpoints, trying to figure it out, trying to fit in where you looked different. You would be over the moon. You wouldn’t even be able to go up and talk to you.

You wouldn’t. You would have been like, oh my god, I could never be like her. Can you see that? Yeah, I don’t know. Yeah, maybe. It’s weird because it’s like she’s still in there sometimes. I just have to quiet her down a little bit and find those people that… You know, validate the good work and the progress that I’ve made.

Um, I think that’s why it’s great working with Donovan. He knows me from being a student. He plays Curtis in Dreamgirls, and he’s one of my best friends. And he’s always saying, like, he just told me this morning. He’s like, you are a leading lady. It’s so crazy to see when you come out during curtain call, and you mouth thank you to everybody. You are. You were like, Alina went, what? So own it. Don’t you think that part of your ability to show up as the woman that you are today is because of a lot of those really crappy moments of having to sometimes learn it. Not that I ever, I say this all the time because I don’t think we should have to go through it.

I don’t think that we should still live in a society where a woman thinks that she should go through a back door and hand you a 50 bill. Because she’s mortified, rather than just using her voice at the table. Yeah. Like, I, I’m, so I’m just saying, that in no way am I saying any of this is right. I know. And the, and the woman owner, who still didn’t speak up.

Yeah. It happens a lot. Every day. All the time, it happens, but the beauty of what you just did through story was remind people of how they can be different. And maybe there will be that person that’s sitting at the table with some jackass that acts inappropriately that I hope that they find the confidence to say something.

Or for the, the you, I know for the two of us this has happened, where something has happened to us, and we didn’t feel at the point where we could use our voice in our younger years. I think we’re in a little different space today. We’re good. We’re good today. I try to talk to myself nicely. I know it sounds cheesy sometimes, but, you know, when they’re like, don’t tell my, don’t talk to my friend like that.

I do try to talk to myself and I also video blog my future self too. So if I’m going through something that’s difficult, or even if I’m happy, I just say, hey, checking in with you in the future. You should be here at this point. You know, giving myself confidence and like stop crying, stop worrying about it.

The opportunity is going to come it’s gonna happen for you. You’re not gonna feel like this all the time. This is temporary and I’ve done about like three or four over the past like ten years of those and it’s helped so much. Just kind of treating myself and I and I care deeply about a lot of, and I want them to care about themselves that way too.

So, it’s, because being a woman is rough. Because it’s so easy for us to self-deprecate. It really is. And then we try to make fun of it. And, you know, we may, you know, we think it’s like cute and fun. It’s like, no, I’m amazing. I’m cool. I can’t say it all the time. It’s weird, but I do say it to myself. I’m just like, you’re good, girl.

You’re good. We’re good. Thank you so much. This is just the beginning, Effie. Thank you. This is just the beginning. Kansas City, watch out.

I’m Jen V with JRT. Thanks for listening to the Speak with Presence podcast. If you or your team need to gain speaking presence or build communication skills without being perfect, I can get you there. I use actor training tools, but revamped for the professional. So don’t be nervous. Go to forward slash chat to book a free call. Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week.

I know you have a show tonight. We could sit here all day. I want to sit here all day. I know! Can we see the show tonight? You can. Sold out. Because you can do rush tickets 30 minutes before and there are a lot of people that don’t show up. Are we allowed to say that on the podcast to get people to come out?

Uh-huh, like 30 minutes before the show you may not be able to get dinner. Two options. You can call and get on the wait list for the dates that you want to try and come. People will call and give up their tickets sometimes and you can either take those tickets. Or you can show up 30 minutes before the show starts and get rush tickets.

And so when people don’t show up for dinner, which it’s more likely, you’ll be able to get in for rush tickets because the buffet opens around 6:30, and normally people don’t show up to eat. They’re not going to show up. So, um, you get rush tickets, and they’ll bring you down. There was a friend. One of the cast members friend was in town She didn’t have she bought a rush ticket and was in the front row on a Saturday night.

So it’s possible. It’s possible.


Jen V. & JRT

Jen Vellenga and Jennifer Rettele-Thomas are the co-founders of Voice First World®, a communication and executive coaching company. They train executives and leaders on the Presence Paradigm™, a communication technique created from Jen V’s decades of training actors to perform authentically, with presence, on stages, on audio, and video. If you want to learn more about how to speak and lead confidently, book a discovery call at

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Jen has been magical in helping me to identify my voice and my VOICE! The ways that she has holistically addressed my strengths and my areas of improvement have all made me feel so much more confident.

-Cate R.
Politician, Chicago, IL