ON THE WAY SERIES: A series of interviews with Non-Union, EMC and recently turned AEA actors working + living in New York City. Sit in on a conversation while we chat all about auditions, survival jobs, NYC + everything they have learned on the way to achieving their dreams.
Garrett Marks is a dancer, singer, actor based out of New York City. Originally from Orlando, FL he made his way up to the big apple 5 years ago and has been working ever since! We asked him for a little blurb about himself and he responded with: I enjoy rhythmic frolicking and calories of all flavors + varieties. I think that's an accurate depiction. I got the chance to photograph and sit down with this super talented performer and get a glimpse into his life in NYC- check it out!
Name: Garrett Marks
Profession: Dancer, Brand Supervisor, Illustrator
Current Location: New York City
Union Status: EMC
How did you get started in this crazy career?! Was there one particular memory that drew you to it?
I tell people I accidentally became a dancer. My cousins were all in a ballet company and come Christmas time they needed boys to be in The Nutcracker (because there will never be enough guys to put on a full length ballet). I volunteered because I was "that" kid who had been putting on full scale musical productions in my house since I was little. (PS: Sorry mom and dad for the pieces of furniture I damaged during rousing renditions of "16 Going on 17" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious") I showed up to my first ballet rehearsal in basketball shorts and Skechers and from that moment I was hooked.
How long have you been performing?
Coming up on 20 years
What has been your favorite role so far + how did you book it!?
I performed in a production of "On the Town" about a year ago. It was such an amazing experience because it was a Showcase contract put on by a newly developed production company, directed by Richard Stafford, and choreographed by Liz Troxler. It was an incredible experience to get to create such a minimalist but fully realized production. [I will gladly volunteer to dance to Bernstein music any day of the week.]
It was an incredibly short callback process. In fact, I think it was all done in a matter of a few hours. I sang "Tonight at Eight" from She Loves Me. Actually, it was in that audition that I learned I had spelled a former director's name wrong because someone behind the table was good friends with her. Oops!
It was in that audition that I learned I had spelled a former director's name wrong because someone behind the table was good friends with her. Oops!
How did you first move to New York? Who did you live with? How did you find your first apartment?
I had just finished a cruise ship contract and was trying to decide what the next step was. During that contract my parents moved to London for work so moving home was out of the question. I kind of just took a leap of faith, packed up my 2 suitcases, and moved to the city. I lived in a series of sublets while I looked for a place of my own. I even had to spend a few very expensive nights in a hotel way out in Queens when a sublet fell through. But eventually I found an apartment I really loved, got approved for it, and here we are now!
What were a few things you didn't realize about moving to New York?
1) There is no such thing as the perfect Carrie Bradshaw/Friends/Gossip Girl apartment. You will find one with an amazing view that is a 6th floor walkup, one with laundry in the building but a 8 block walk to a local subway line etc... Find what is important to you and make decisions based on that.
2) Everyone knows everyone in the city. It never ceases to shock me how many people are interconnected. So, be nice to everyone! You never know when someone will have worked with someone who you once met in line at Starbucks!
3) Know where at least 3 nice, clean, public restrooms are in proximity to you at all times.
If you could change one thing about the start of your career OR move to New York what would it be?
I wish I had realized that you can't "white knuckle" your life into submission. No matter what level of micromanagement or over-planning you commit to, some things will just go wrong. This is coming from someone who keeps a bullet journal. But, if you take things in stride and keep chugging along, it all works out!
So, be nice to everyone! You never know when someone will have worked with someone who you once met in line at Starbucks!
What do you do when you are not auditioning or performing? (Your survival job, if you will)
I am "that front desk guy" at Pearl Studios.
Why did you choose that? What are the pros + cons of it/how does it work with your audition schedule?
I had known the manager for several years so when I moved to the city I reached out to see if they were hiring.
It offers me a decently flexible schedule and keeps me close to all the action.
Other than your survival job + following your dream, do you have a side hustle or hobby to keep you sane??
I have always been a bit of an artsy-fartsy person but during my first streak of "unemployment" (i.e. not having a performance gig and just side hustling) I started to do a "Sketch a Day". For 365 days I did some sort of doodle or art piece to keep my mind creative. It was during that period I realized I was decently good at it. That started - what is now a full side business - of doing art and branding for people called Unison Branding & Design
Sometimes it's nice to have a client that has a clear end goal/project to create work for. But it's also just nice to sit down with my iPad (how millennial of me) and doodle to clear my mind. It makes me feel like I have done something productive with the day.
Auditions can be hard, especially if you’re non-eq or EMC. How do you get past it and keep going!? What advice do you have for others?
Just keep going. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take and you don't book 100% of the auditions you don't attend. That being said, work smarter not harder. Pick the auditions you really are passionate about so you can commit yourself fully to them. It's better to go in super strong and committed to 2 or 3 calls than to go in for 9 things in a week and feel terrible about yourself because of it.
What's one thing you didn't know about auditioning in NYC that you wish you would have known?
Helping other people have a good audition won't make your audition worse. Be nice to the other people in the holding room. Lord knows, you'll be seeing a lot of them during the audition season. We are all shooting for the same thing so you may as well ask them how they are doing, offer to sign them up on a list, or ask if they want to grab a coffee while you wait for the monitor to arrive. Auditioning is inherently stressful so you might as well make the parts you are in control of, not.
Helping other people have a good audition won't make your audition worse.
What is the best life advice you’ve ever been given?!
My grandma has always said "it is always an ordinary day until it isn't" and I love that. I think it is impossible to plan when important, wonderful or life-altering or monumental moments will occur.
What advice would you give your 22 year old self!?
It ain't that serious. Take a second every day to relax, look around, and enjoy what you have going on. The time you spend stressing and super serious could be far better spent having a good time and enjoying the ride.
Do you have a favorite quote!?
"It always seems impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela
What has been your biggest on stage mishap??
There is a beautiful video of me completely wiping out on my Instagram.
Do you have a favorite dance class in the city?
SO SO MANY. Stephanie Bissonette, Morgan Rose, Natalie Malotke, Chio, Ryan Daniel Beck, Ellenore Scott, Chris Medlin to name just a few.
What is your go-to drugstore makeup product?
What is the last Netflix series that inspired you from an acting/artistic standpoint!?
Tie: The choreographic components of "OA" and the cinematography of "Versailles"
What is your favorite audition song!?
I rarely get to use it but I love singing "Golden Slumbers" by The Beatles
I wish I knew how to...
Favorite Podcast is...
"You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes" or "This Might Get Weird"