WhyWeWork BrianVee
WhyWeWork BrianVee

Episode 46 · 1 year ago

#46 EMPRESS (Shannon Marie Rugani) - Artist - BrianVee Whywework

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

EMPRESS (a. Shannon Marie Rugani) is an artist. She is also the Founder and Artist of Stardust World Productions LLC where she supports females in the music industry.    

Contact Info  

EMPRESS  

Instagram:  

https://www.instagram.com/empress.mus...

Twiter: 

https://twitter.com/empress_music

Website: 

https://empress-music.com/

Youtube: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGWE... 

Biography 

"At just four-years-old, EMPRESS’s life was changed when her hands touched the black and white keys on a keyboard for the first time. Her love for music evolved into a career as a professional dancer, and she was one of the youngest members of the San Francisco Ballet. As her talents developed, EMPRESS moved to New York City where she performed on Broadway as the lead in the Tony Award winning production of An American in Paris. Today, her career comes full-circle, as she creates music as a singer/songwriter – but she’ll never stop dancing. Find the beat at www.EMPRESS-music.com." EMPRESS Youtube Bio  

Shannon’s Profile  

LinkedIn 

linkedin.com/in/shannon-rugani-5a279615 

Instagram 

https://www.instagram.com/shannonruga...

Twitter: 

https://twitter.com/shannonrugani?lan...

Website: http://www.shannonrugani.com/ 

About 

 "A native from South Lake Tahoe California, Shannon trained in ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, modern, and character dancing in the Reno/Tahoe area before moving to San Francisco to train with the San Francisco Ballet School on a full merit scholarship in 2002. Shannon Joined the San Francisco Ballet Company in 2004 as one of the youngest members in the company's history. 

Over her 11 year career she worked with world renowned Choreographers including Helgi Tomasson, Christopher Wheeldon, Val Caniparoli, Alexi Ratmansky, Yuri Possokhov, Justin Peck, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, John Nuemeier, William Forsythe, David Bintley, James Kudelka, Edward Liang, and has danced numerous roles in ballets by Marius Petipa, Agnes De Mille, Jerome Robbins, Serge Lifar and George Balanchine. 

She has danced all over the world including France, Iceland, China, Denmark, England and the United States. In 2015, Shannon left SF Ballet to join the original cast of the TONY award winning production of An American In Paris on Broadway (April 12 2015- Oct 9 2016) as an ensemble member and Lise U/S (lead role). AAIP was nominated for 12 Tony awards (won 4!) in 2015 and was nominated for a GRAMMY award in 2016 for the Original Broadway Cast Recording. Shannon received the ACCA award for Best Broadway Chorus in 2015 for her involvement in AAIP.  

Shannon is an accomplished composer, singer, songwriter, pianist and producer. She sings under the stage name EMPRESS and is currently recording her first solo album. EMPRESS released her first single, Lovely I Am, in April 2019. Shannon founded a record label Stardust World Productions LLC that supports females in the music industry in 2019.  

She is currently working on developing two startups in the XR tech industry that will bridge the gap between technology and the performing arts. Shannon plans to develop both Augmented Reality (Miraliti) and Virtual Reality (My Empire XR) companies to enhance the performing arts." - LinkedIn

...welcome to why we work with your host, Brian VI ous. He speaks to people like you from all over the world as we together dive deeper into our motivations, struggles, joys, seemingly missteps, hopes, warnings and advice, which would be an encouragement to us all to get up, get going on, keep on working. Working is tough, but working is good. Now here's your host to why we work. Brian Way. I'm Brian V, and this is why we work today. I have the great pleasure of speaking with Shannon Rouhani. Shannon is a very talented individual. She is a professional ballet dancer. She is a singer, songwriter, composer, pianist and producer, but not only that. She sees the benefits of getting into technology. Thio integrate thes two fields. I want to see what motivates her. What keeps her going? What gets her up each day to work hard in an industry such as hers? Join me in this conversation with Shannon Rouhani. I'm Brian V, and this is why we work today, as I just mentioned, I have the great pleasure speaking with Shannon Rouhani, but she also goes as empress, her stage name, the one for her writing career in her seeing career that is starting to flourish. So I'd like to welcome Empress. Good afternoon, young lady. Thank you for having me. It's nice to be here. It's wonderful to have you. Could you give a little introduction as I just mentioned? A two beginning. But could you give us a little pathway of your life? And then we'll bring it back a few years. I love it. Okay, sounds great. I am Shannon Slash Empress. I am a singer songwriter and a former professional ballerina with San Francisco Ballet and a Broadway actress, um, in a Broadway show called An American in Paris. And, um, let's see. Yeah, that's That's me in a nutshell. We can crack that nut now on. And I'm sure, you know, thank you for coming on here. You've probably had to crack that not many a times and to repeat yourself. So let's go back. And even this is probably something you had to repeat many times. But when did you even get your first job? I know just reading up on you and listening to some of your interviews. You started dancing at a very young age, but what was maybe one of your very first jobs. Oh, yeah, Let's see. E feel like I just went to a dinner party. And that was one of the questions was like, What was your first job? My first real job, actually was, uh, let's see. I was seven years old and I was chosen to be the little list girl in The Nutcracker for Oakland Ballet, which came to my hometown. Not lots of, but yeah, lots of nuts have been cracked during the holidays. For me, for sure. Lots of nutcrackers. Eso started at seven, actually. And I chose, uh, and I chose I was chosen to be, um there's always like a little a little girl that really doesn't do much. He, like, comes on stage for, like, the value add of being cute and then, you know, it's the end of the dance, and everybody's like, Oh, you know, that's that was me. So seven years old, that was my first job. So this is paying sort of position that you Yeah, I think I mean, it was dollars and sent to me. It was really not much, but But that was that. And then I Oh, and this is a really fun job. Thio. When I was, uh, I don't know, like I want to say nine. I was chosen to be in this film with It was till the start. Tilda Swinton, Back when nobody knew who Tilda Swinton, Waas. And I got to be a little extra in this film called The Deep End. They cut that entire scene basically out of the film. So but we I spent the entire day with Tilda. She has twins. Eso we're hanging out with them around the same age is the twins. And, um, and years later, I am saw her. We went to this restaurant in Paris while this is a flash board, an American in Paris opened in Paris like the best marketing forever. So So we were in Paris and we went to this hotel. I think it was called Low Tell or something, and the bar had on the menu that Tilda Swinton drink. And I was like telling all my friends about...

Tilda Swinton and it sounds like a joke, but it's not. Tilda Swinton walks in a bar, walks into a bar that I was in E. And I just told the story about how you know, met her a long time ago in this film that nobody's ever heard of. And like before she was famous and she walked in. So I ended up buying the Tilda Swinton drink for Tilda Swinton and then walking over to her and being like, I was an extra in the movie. Do you remember that movie? Even though she's done everything since then, you know? So it was just It was one of those, um, that was a cool first job to be in a film, even if they did cut my entire scene. So this is at nine. And then at seven, you were doing the other with The Nutcracker. And what? I know that you started dancing at a even earlier age. Obviously, since you're on a stage and doing these other things At what age was that? Was that? Yeah, I think my mom actually corrected me. I've been saying I started dancing when I was six. She said I started dancing with that when I was five, but I actually got kicked out of my first ballet class. Um uh, for crying the entire time, like the beginning to end. I just was screaming and crying, and so the teacher had to, like Hold me the whole time and handed me back at the end of the class was like, Please do not bring this girl back, Thio. It's funny, my I have a daughter and she's 11 and I asked her a moment ago. I said, Do you want to come in and say hello to her? And she said, E, I recall And she loves ballet. I recall bringing her to ballet the first time when she was about four and there was the little girl's there. There was some So I mean somewhere, probably too excited to be there because they have had the talent that they probably needed at the time and they could develop themselves. But then there was these other little girls that we're just petrified. But you knew that, like at home, they were probably dancing and twirling and would have lovely on that spot. It's so weird. Yeah, like people they forget how toe walk. Even like I've seen kids, I'm like, Okay, I know you know how to walk, but when you tell some little girl toe walk like a ballerina all of a sudden, there. Like I don't know how to walk at all like I don't They're, like, walking with same arm and leg. And you're like, No, no, no. You know how to do this. I've seen you tutorial around. That's appear. What? You know, it's like people just, um they know that ballet is all about perfection. And so then all of a sudden, it's like, I don't know how to do anything. How do I breathe? Not breathing, you know? So when you went into ballet for for us, I believe we kind of steered our daughter into ballet, but it wasn't hard sell, right? You weren't like a stage mom or stage dad kind of thing. You know, I was just a proud papa going making sure no one is looking at my daughter and making sure you know, no one's bullying her. And I'm like girl. Yeah, yeah, that's what I did. How was it for you? Oh, my God. Funny my parents also, because I was the first borns. They're like, what do we do with a little girl? You enroll her and dance lessons because that's just what you dio and they have the funniest story I don't think I've ever shared. This one is my parents, um, came to the parents students like or whatever they have, the parents can watch. Whatever. Yeah, eso They come in with all the other proud parents and everyone's, you know, it's like the kids aren't competitive. The parents are more competitive, but like my parents were not their competitive in sports. But they were just like, Oh, isn't our daughter cute? I waas Okay, so it was a split class tapping ballet. It's like half a hour was happened. Half an hour was ballet, and this is like a not a school. This is like dance studio. It's super Dolly Dinkel. Um, there's only one in my town. So it was, like, not hard to find dance, you know, it was like to choose, um, Marsha's Thoreau sick, shining stars and I am the Onley girl sitting upright on my knees, like with my hands on my knees, totally like a statue on this like line, and all the other girls are like running around and screaming and dancing around. And I'm just sitting there like a stoic right, you know? Yeah, and my parents were mortified. They're like, Oh, there's something wrong. Like, what is she doing? She didn't go play with the other kids, you know? What is she doing? She's so weird. Like, why is she doing? And then the teacher walks in. She goes now, ladies, you know where you're supposed to be. And all the girls formed the line. I was sitting in the middle of everyone just like like, the ducks in a row. And my parents were like, huh? That was weird. Okay, Because she knew. Yeah,...

And I was just like I worked so hard. And I remember thinking I remember this one moment. I was seven. There is a ballet teacher that taught the the like, the seniors of 17 to 18. And so she came her classes right after our ballet class, and I remember her. She came and she would not stop staring at me. And I thought she was staring cause I was really bad. So I was trying really, really hard, and she went up to the marches. Siro sick! And this Well, I asked her if I could be in her class. I was seven and she's teaching the 17 year olds and Marcia had a very strict rules, like kids cannot like. They're they're in her grade levels and that's it. It's like aged and grade, and that's how they're You know, it wasn't by like, beginner, Intermediate advanced. It was just like my grade. And she had. It was pretty strict that way, and and the teacher asked, and Marcia said no and the woman and ended up saying, Well, she's not in my class then I'm not teaching here next year. And so, of course, here I am, like seven years old with a 17 year old all of a sudden, which isn't saying much, to be honest, like I don't wanna shoot down all of the important girls in that class but probably thought that they were so good. But it's a really small town, and there's no real formal training, so I mean, it's really like big fish in a small pond, you know. But for me, seven year old, um, I like Rose to their level pretty quickly. So, like you asked how I went from like 6 to 7 to being on stage with the Oakland Ballet, it was because I I was like a dry sponge that just got thrown into a big bucket of water, and it was just like absorbing. And I thrived in that environment, and it was always like I was always the youngest. As a dancer, I was always the youngest in all the groups that I was with because I was always in a small town. But then I got into San Francisco Ballet School when I was 14 and I was the youngest in the I Went from There's Level eight is the highest level. I was the youngest in the highest level, one of the youngest in history. And then I got hired at 16 which was one of the youngest in in San Francisco Ballet's history, too. So that was a theme throughout my whole. You know, career was always, you know, setting records for being the youngest. And you're like those those rookies that come up in sports and all the veterans air like, Yeah, they're like puff puff, like Who is this young? Little extra elbows or shots are e definitely got bullied a lot, but I was so naive that I didn't know what bullying, even Waas and I was home school, so I didn't really have that peer pressure at home. So I just I was very naive to bullying for a long time. I'd be like, Gosh, they're being kind of mean to me. But then, you know, like as a seven thio 15 year old, you're just like you just kind of brush it off. Like, whatever. There's gonna be a million more friends in my life. You know, it was interesting how you mentioned your parents, and I was getting the sense that they weren't pushing you. You were the, you know, first daughter, and Okay, well, what do you do with this child? Will put this child in this thing and see how she goes? It wasn't okay. This is what you must do. And a subtle that seemingly settled difference, or it could be perceived suddenly. It is a major difference on how parents parent yet And for you also mentioning homeschooling. So usually I don't know your parents. I don't know you very well. Um, but it seemed like you were nurtured, um, in a you know, a caring, supportive home. So would you say that helped you? At least initially because eventually added, you know, fly on your own. But how especially for this podcast of why we work and understanding even people who become parents on here's Here's the way you might wanna consider raising your kids because they, too, will get into the workforce and be a productive member of society. So for you, how how did that help in the way? You know, I'm a parent. I fail. I am a horrible parent most of the times, but I'm trying to be good some of the times, so I'm not trying to see oh, are ideal. But how was their nurturing, um, effective in bringing you? Yeah. Yeah, they were incredible parents on so many levels because they they always supported me without pushing me. And they always offered, um, their support as if it was always the backup plan, like I couldn't fail. So go and try that. And if it doesn't work out, you can always come home. You know, like that was always the the thing. And ironically, my mom and dad, um, they...

...sat all of the kids down at some you know, it was like a homeschool thing. We actually had a great homeschool group. It was like this the small town that we actually had a couple of families that would like we'd get some tutors and things going for for, like, you know, just writing less like, Yeah, exactly. We had, like, tons of it was pretty cool because they had just My mom didn't teach us everything. It wasn't like she was the chief for everything. Did you do that from primary through grade 12? All? Yeah, all my entire school. Um, schooling Waas. I went to preschool for, like, a month, and I was not doing while I was super shy and I tried higher time E. That's that's commendable to your parents. Like they tried public school. They tried, so they gave it try. They tried it wasn't working for me at all. And actually, my mom volunteered at the school one day and and it was art class and the I loved art so much, I was drawing something, and, um and I always came home with half finished artwork. And so she volunteered for that class just to see what was going on. And it was it was because it was it was times right so I only have, like, a half hour for art. And I, um There were certain things that I got really fast, like as a kid. I was really good at math. So I was like, I get math really fast spelling like I suck it spelling to this day. I'm still like, How do you feel that? I have no idea. Um, and eso, like my mind works in different ways. But when you're homeschooled, you could kind of edit for your kids because, like, she was there when the alarm rang, or like, the bell rang for us to, like, move onto the next thing. And I was like, I'd always, like, freak out like No, like I didn't finish, you know, like, I'm not done with my art piece. And then I'd be like, Yeah, okay. Gravity rockfalls like, Can I go back to my art now? You know, it's like, um, there was it was it just wasn't working for me personally. And so my mom had a friend who had homeschooled all of her Children, and they were amazingly behaved kids. They could look adults in the eyes and have ah, conversation with people. It was like they were really evolved for their age, and my mom thought that's it's just interesting. And then she read this book called Home Grown Kids and another one called a Thomas Jefferson Education, and just decided that, like changed her mind. And my brother and sister were home schooled until high school. And I basically graduated high school weight early because I was dancing professionally. So but when I was seven, my mom and dad sat me down and said, Okay, I want you to write down your dreams and goals in life, and, um, I was I was like, pretty concise with mine. It's pretty good salary to be able to write that down to for somebody I know exactly seven years old. So ballerina one actors to singer three. Is that not like I mean, you're you know you're only young, finished it all. I now have a lot more dreams, but they're, like, more specific. That one was It was a big, broad stroke, but it was pretty specific for a seven year old toe like now what I wanted to do with my life, and I mean, that's when you know that there's someone upstairs that has your life kind of planned out, that you were sent here on the mission. I know that my mission was definitely to be a performing artist, and that's, you know, grateful that I have been able to do that, you know, because a lot of people want to do it. And then, um, you know, get injured. You don't have your body type, you have parents that don't support you. There's all kinds of variations, but I was just like and my parents don't dance. They don't do me, but no one's really in music. My dad plays the drums, we loves it, but it's not like the piano or singing and song writing. Or, you know, so it just there's no reason for me to have chosen those things that seven years old, there was no one guiding me. There's no one in my small town to tell me like I'm a ballerina, and this is what you should do. It's like I just I don't know how I knew, but I knew it's interesting how well you said someone upstairs to have a purpose for your life, which I agree, but and also not but but and also having your parents to give you that breathing room. I mean, you were a young, but it wasn't that hand on. You must do this. And there was no seemingly alternative reason for them to get you into those. So allowed you thio to open up to think about what it is you would like to dio. Yeah, some good answers. And, uh, some degree, one of my girlfriends really fascinating. Throw this. And she told her kids and I...

...love this. It's kind of along the same lines of all of this, but I love that. She said that this your kitchen goes, um, find your passion. Um, find where you wanna live and then figure out how to make money, doing what you want to be doing in the place that you want to be living. And I always thought that that was so interesting because I kind of knew San Francisco Ballet was the place I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to be there like there were so many little tiny things that I was like, um, I was guided with my parents. I mean, they kind of were on this journey with me because no one knew what we're like. I looked back. We did all the right steps, but we had no idea what we were doing. I mean, my mom would just She just asked me after ballet class. Did you learn anything today? And if I started saying no, then she was like, Okay, well, I'm not paying for that s so let's find a better class for us, and then we go to the next one, and it was just the It was the right things to have happened, but we had no idea what we were doing. And it happened kind of more out of, you know, my mom. Just like I'm not paying for whatever is going on. Yeah, yeah, for you. For you being in California. Do you think? I mean, did that give you many opportunities to get in to, say, the Nutcracker into the you know, some of those extra scenes with the movie or anything, So I think so. I wonder sometimes because, um, you know, in San Francisco Ballet in particular, I danced with people from all over the world, and they all have different backgrounds and upbringings and parents and all the things. Yeah, and they're all in the same place with me. You know, at that at the time when I was in the company, it was like we're all there together. So it's funny how, um, you know, it's it's written in the stars for you. Like I think there's there's definitely a destiny for every one of us, But like I think growing up in California, it does give you more opportunity. But I think about like, Well, if I grew up in San Francisco, what I have just been a better dancer because I would have had better training from a younger age because, really, my training only started when I was 14 when I got into the San Francisco Ballet School. Because my my dance classes, you know, I learned each teacher I kind of consider like a fairy godmother that gave you one or two gifts. One of them would be like, you know, graceful arms, and then another one was really fast footwork and someone else with stage presence because she was a showgirl in Vegas and, like knew how the like, you know, the fucking audience in, and then another one would be acting, and one would be speaking French. So, like, they all gave me little nuggets. But there wasn't one teacher that gave them all to me like they would have been a big ballet school. When are you gonna get your What are you going to write your movie? Your manuals? That would be a cute little movie, wouldn't it? That this little girl went to go? And you have these little to these? I mean, you could make it puts, um, technology. I know you're getting into technology, but these little fairy godmothers that do this and give you this, and then you get this and then, you know, I love that That's a really 1%. 1%. All right, well, it started here, and everyone that's listening, but it would be very I think that would be I mean, ballet movies, that my daughter loves them, but they and I enjoy them to you always get a tear and you like you see how they progress. But that would be very interesting. Toe have thes this girl little girl growing up. And then she has this little teacher that gives her this and this and this and it could be, you know, dramatized or something along the way. And then in the end, she's dancing on stage, you know, singing lovely. I am. Or something. Oh, that's so beautiful. I love it. Yeah. Okay. Well, it's happening. We're just just Yeah, all right. It love it. So I don't e I don't want toe drag you through the ballet school and all that you experience. But how about the education that you received along the way? How How important was that for you? I mean, you can speak about ballet, but I'm sure you've answered so many questions about No. Yeah. No, this is amazing. These They're all amazing questions, by the way, that I have not been asked. So thank you very much for getting creative on these. The ballet. It's interesting. So the lesson the one take away that I really like this has helped me so much in life was we all work hard in the ballet. I mean, in life in general, like, there's a lot of people who work hard. The difference between, um the like, court ballet and then the prima ballerinas was the difference in the way that they thought before. They need to find that I don't know what you're talking about. Yeah, prima ballerina like That's right. But what's that? Yeah, okay, so there's usually there's three or there could be more levels. But in San Francisco ballets, specifically, there's the there's apprentices. And then there's the court...

...of ballet. And then there's soloist and principal Corda Ballet, and it's C. O. R P s Corda ballet. And so the court of ballet is the ensemble that, like the group of of swans you know in Swan Lake, and then the principle is the lead swan. And if you have, like, a little solo part or something that's a soloist generally, and in San Francisco ballet it's unique because they're not super rigid. On the the ranking, it's more based on your ability. Like if you could do a principal role and your your brand new in the company and the court ballet and the lowest rank, they will still give you a principal role. Yeah, because and you might not be first cast for it all. But like But you know, let's say your second or third casts and you get a couple performances that's a huge opportunity for you and yeah, and then And it, like, actually is really beautiful thing. Because when you're talented, you actually get to dance the roles where I was, like in in some companies that have very strict ranks. And if you're not a soulless, you're never going to do a solo like, you know, our principal, there's there. They only ever do that and sometimes break someone's leg or something to finally get there. They have to be black Swan black swan shenanigans. Exactly. Um, that's encouraging for young people, especially like yourself, who is going up through at the talent. Then you could shine, opposed to waiting your turn. Yeah, exactly. And that was most of my opportunities came from just being prepared for the opportunity because, you know, people get injured and sick and something happens where the casting has to shift because someone else has to do another role, and then it all these things. And here I am. I know the part, and I'm ready. And I've, you know, they I was like, fourth cast, thinking I was never going to probably do it, but I was prepared for it, just in case and the just in case usually happened for me. So that was actually the best opportunities. The best opportunities I had, the ones I prepared for S O that was Yeah, the just in case factor is really, that's I mean, it's having a good attitude, being easy, going about things. They threw me on stage for some, like a couple of performances in my career and not just a couple of many, many performances where they just, you know, Oh, she's easy going. I'm just gonna like just the opposite. It's the opposite of what she does. She could just reverse it. And it's like, Oh, my God, like my brain is already fried from 16 hours of rehearsal and all these things and sure I'll do it whatever you know, like they trusted me and because I I learned how to be like they called me cool as a cucumber on Broadway because, like if something went wrong, you just have to. The show must go on, so you have to figure out a way, and I always did, and you always get through it and you go to bed at the end of the night and you're fine. I used to do this thing. I had one partner in a show that was was not my favorite show in the world. I will go unnamed. And my partner was was miscast. He was pretty shorter than I was, and he was not. He just had a shoulder injury. And we had all these crazy shoulder lifts and things he was just not He should not have been on stage with me. And for there. Are you gonna tell me that you lifted him up and started twirling him around? E wish? Oh, my God. It would have probably gone better than it did. But I would do this. This mental exercise of imagining myself bowing healthy at the end of the show every night because I could have gotten injured several times working with this guy on bond. You know, these these lifts were not easy. And it was just It was a nightmare. So I would just imagine myself healthy and safe at the end of the show, bowing and like, going home at night, being totally healthy, like before the show started. I'm just, like, visualized that and, um, knock on wood. You know, like every show. I got to go home safe. There are a couple of moments where I was like I could have died, but, you know, I didn't So but with the one thing you did ask me, um, to go back to the beginning of this whole thing that I took you on waas The learning to work smart, not just hard. That was the main take away from my education there and actually like asking, asking people to help. It's really hard to do because you have to be super humble and you have to be open to hearing what they have to say, and it might not always be what you want to hear, But if you knock on someone's door and they they they will open the door. And if you asked to come in, they will welcome you in with open arms 100% of the time. I mean, there, the people that I worked with...

...were so talented and they were all from different backgrounds, and they all had different strengths. And if someone was an amazing turner and I was having trouble with this, you know, like a certain turn, then, um, I would go up to them. I say, Do you think you could help me with this turn? What do you think about when you do this and and watch me do it? And what am I doing wrong? Because it's not working. And they would they'd say, Oh, yeah, it's this and then they would work. Or, you know, they'd say, Oh, it's because of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah And something would click, And then it was, you know, so much better. And then there that channels open. So when they see you, you know, in company class, Mr Something warm up they go, Hey, you know, your you know, blah blah. Your back leg is is too far behind you, and that's why you're off, you know, whatever. So they'll they'll start, like giving you little tidbits on, because when you get when you go from the Valley school, which the whole focuses technique and then you go into a ballet company, they expect you to have the technique already baked in, and now they have toe transform you into an artist, and so you become an artist. But then what happens is your technique starts declining. A little bit. And if your technique starts declining, then you get injuries. You don't get better roles. There's all kinds of things. You have to like it. You have to take it upon yourself to continue your education, because you should never stop learning ever. But for whatever reason, we learn in a different way when you get into a company, so you just have to kind of go back to the basics every day. I mean, the best dancers go back to their six year old self and, you know, like they're still absorbing. You know, there, that's that dry sponge. There's still warning its's amazing thing. So working smart was the thing that I really took away from that, and that's helped me in life on so many levels. So you said that you were finished high school or home schooling through high school or high school, through home schooling at a younger age. Of what age was that? I finished it all when I was 16. Yeah, I was just We were working full time. I was starting so home schooling. I couldn't be homeschooled once I got hired. So what I did, I asked for all of the school work that I would have to do in the next 2 to 3 years. And I finished it like over Christmas break once he like, I just That's all I did was school 24 7 for, like, I don't know. I want to say three weeks or something, and I just graduated high school early. So how far did you go with mawr? Academic schooling while you were in ballet school? Yeah, well, I always just taking lessons, but it started becoming What do I need to learn to help me, Whatever it is that Yeah, in my career. And it was interesting because, um, I do really well with private, so I was always taking lessons. Like singing lessons, acting lessons. Um, then I was I started taking, like, Tai Chee lessons and things because I was getting into my body more and doing Pilates lessons. And like all kinds of cool things that were helping me in my career and still to this day, I'm always learning. I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna take a writing class, and I'm going to do this. And I'm always kind of absorbing, but I've never gone back full time to school because I always felt like, um, my career as an artist and this is I mean, this is my opinion on Lee as an artist. Um, you know, working is the best school because working with, you know, all of the people that I got to work with Yeah, it was that was amazing. And I know a couple of dancers who actually couldn't get Professor. You know, teaching jobs in college is because they didn't have the formal training or like education, But they had danced for 30 years and our way before. I know everything about it. Yeah, and they actually have the on the experience. So I always thought that was really interesting saying, because the, you know, college experience for artists specifically, it's like, That's your prime Anyway, like for your body, your body's like, kind of in its prime, and you should be working on Ben, maybe go to school later, which a lot of dancers do now they go to There's this program called the Leap Program, where you could get your college bachelor's degree while you're dancing. They, like, totally tailored for them, and then a lot of them go off to be in Harvard and Stanford and all these amazing things. So, um, you know, people. I had my career transition was always into music and theater and, you know, learning about engineering and all the text stuff that I'm starting to get into. It's just it's been interesting, but I kind of learned as I go. That makes sense. No, it makes perfect sense. And it's only know it makes perfect sense...

...that you would only learn what you need to learn. And you had enough on your plate. And there is no need for anything else. I mean, people carriage that asked me. Yeah, people that would ask me, especially from my hometown. Um, like, what do you what do you do for like, they asked me what I do for a living? I say ballerina like, Oh, but what do you really do? Like Oh my God. I'm just like it's a full time job and I probably make more money than you dio and I do pretty well. Thank you. Look at this. Yeah, exactly. So it was just It was interesting because people don't don't really take it that serious, but at the same time this year. Finally, this happened. Um, what was it? It was something some government, Um you know, uh, statement that came out. That ballet is actually officially in the states, at least the hardest physical, um, profession in the country, which is kind of something else. So officially, 2020 dance was named finally, and dancers on the side will teach fitness classes, and that was like number five. So I was like, Cherry topper and all of that, like, on top of it all, were like in the top five. Twice I was gonna ask that, and then you're bringing it up now is the idea of being a professional athlete e mean by what you just said? Technically, you are. Did you always feel when you reached your pinnacle of or even climbing up, that you were a professional athlete in the sense that especially America, right? Like your football player Or, you know, baseball players a professional. You could take a lot away from baseball. Baseball is good, but they're not the most athletic people at all times, right? And that you're looking at a ballerina who obviously you could probably jump higher and do many other things better than what s. Did you always feel that you are a professional athlete in the strictest of senses and even more so than many others? Yeah, well, it was interesting because I got injured a lot early on in my career, and we would be sent to this, um this like, physical therapy rehabilitation center and this'll woman Lisa Joni Waas. Um, she's kind of like the guru for athletes in the Bay Area and actually just well known and respected in the sports arena in general because, like, she works with everyone from, you know, football, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf even. I mean, I was like, all across the board, all of these things. And then she works with the San Francisco Ballet on. You would have, like this gigantic lineman like next to you working out doing the same exercises, and the difference would be one is like grunting, and the other one's smiling because that's what we're trying to do in pain. You like, just smile through it like *** was super super eaten Totally told them like pain. This is like what we do, and we smile through it and on dso I just remember, you know, seeing all of yeah, like tears. Oh, my God. I've had so many shows where you know, it's so painful to stand They don't tell you this in ballet school, And I'm sorry to break you know this to a lot of the dancers in the world. But in the ballet school, they teach you to be the prima ballerina. And then they never tell you that when you join a company, you start at the bottom. So, like you are going to be swan number 16 like with your arm shaking and like going, you know, to sleep over your head and your feet are going to cramp. And your sweat is going to drip into your eye and sting because the makeup is there and like, you can't move. Oh, by the way, like now you have to do the hardest Slow hop on one leg that you can't feel like. They don't tell you any of this stuff that being, you know, at the top of your game in the ballet school and and then, like immediately doing the easiest thing just standing, that is it was the hardest thing. I got injured Ah, lot because you are training isn't standing. And you you would not believe how hard it is to stand on one leg together. Puts turned out pointed toes Neck is this way. Shoulders down, you know, or like arms up or whatever. Your biceps start spasming because you're just whatever. But there'd be girls you could see it was never me. I mean, I wanted to cry sometimes, but you're, like, so focused that you don't. But there would be girls that would just break on stage in front of me, and you could see their shoulders like shaking cause they're crossed and think like, definitely valet's the hardest thing, Everything for me. Anyways, it's been downhill from here. I mean, even Broadway was, like hard but in a in a very different way and much easier than ballet, you know? So you're surely an athlete. Yeah, for sure. Shannon, I...

...want Thio transition a bit from Shannon to Empress. But if there's but But if there's any anything you like the highlight of Shannon as the dancer, be free to do so. But how did you begin to make this transition? What set? I mean, it could have been the injuries it could have been, you know, just being tired of dancing, like for a career. What was it that transitioned you into this new path of work? The great question. So I feel like the transition was a really gradual. Um, it was finding my voice. Really? It's what it waas and I found my voice surprisingly, in the ballet, where I mean, I was always a loud person, like, in general is always the loudest ballerina you've ever met. They were always telling me to be quiet. And, um, now, ironically, I will not go quietly, you know, like the loudest person ever. But the the ballet had unaudited in for singing, which was, you know, we were not hired to sink. So, like, nobody really is excited about this audition except for me, I, like secretly was really excited. I'm sweating. Yeah, exactly your back pocket. This could be it. So they had us all audition for the role of Anita, which is the only role that sings in West Side Story. Sweet. It's a shortened version of West Side story, and we had Is it really Anita, I love the way this February, so I'm so sorry to hear that, Anita. Uh, Anita? Yes. We're thinking of you and I will tell a fun story about the playing the role of Anita. Love it. So Anita was, you know, it's just a cool role, really. Rita Moreno, who was the in the film, actually came to see the lot of performance because I ended up getting the opening night and saying in front of 3500 people for the first time, I had never sung Happy birthday to my parents like, let alone 3500 people in an opera house for a ballet where no one's expecting you to sing at all. And so you know, yeah, they don't sing ever. So I get this e It was so scary. I was, like, so nervous, like there's so many things that were going on. But I'll skip through all of that and say it was a happy ending. Rita Moreno came backstage afterwards and was like, so proud. And, you know, it was just it was amazing. It was such a great experience, and since that day, I've not shut up. So I was 19 when I found my voice and then the voice just kind of It started becoming like, Okay, I just have to get used to making noise. At first, I just was I still to this day have trouble breaking the silence because that's we just were trained in the ballet to be seen and not heard. And we take a lot of pride in the fact that our jumps we land, you know, quietly, Yeah, so it's just, um, take a lot of pride in our silence. Eso breaking that silence is really tough, and the transition from that to Broadway the loudest place ever. It's not only the City of New York is super loud, but it's the people are louder, you know. And it's like first day of ballet class. We had a warmup class and on Broadway, and I'll tell you about how he got to broaden really fast that night that I did. Anita Christopher Wheeldon, who was the director for American in Paris, was sitting in the audience, and he saw me sing, and when he was casting the show eight years later, he remembered that I was a ballerina who could sing and invited me to Broadway like his latte. How stars align. It's amazing, so super grateful for that transition. But the first day of work on Broadway, so excited we're doing a little warm up ballet class, and the pianist was playing all these pop songs, which I was like, This is awesome, like it's not classical. This is amazing to start playing this pop song and everyone started singing along to it, and I was like, Oh, my God, I've always thought This is this. I feel like I'm a green alien meeting other green aliens And this is like where I was always supposed to be like Oh my God, they met my people and I called Rob That night. I was like, they even get my jokes. I mean, it was like everything clicked for me and that opened a whole can of worms into kind of being okay with making noise and breaking that silence and then, like learning how to make more of it and find my voice. Um, so Empress came from me, actually, just discovering my voice as an artist, and it's the first time in my artistic career where I'm actually making it like mine, you know, it's it's not someone else's steps.

It's not someone else telling me what my costume is, and it's not someone else writing lyrics for me. It's my words. It's my voice, It's my music. It's my idea. It's all the things. It's mine. So it's a It was purely a self coronation as I because, you know, I wear a lot of tiaras for a living. So So it was like every time I put my crown on it, I imagine you know, the the crown is such a interesting symbol, because there can be so much insecurity in a crown like, you know, only because I played a queen, probably 100 and 50 million times on stage before I had to know my history. But the history of the crown is so interesting to me because it's a the um given to you by the kingdom, and it's only given to you for this lifetime, however long or short, that is, and then it's passed on to the next king. So no camera queen. Eso no royal um, that's wearing it really owns the crown, so there's a lot of insecurity involved in wearing a crown because people need things from you and you you have more than someone else. And the you're always pointing outwardly and there's, you know, there's just a lot of of insecurity involved with that. And so when I really became Empress, I was like, Okay, this is a self coronation I It's not that I am trying to rule over anyone else. I'm actually just finally ruling over my own life and actually creating my own happiness and creating my own art and really owning it. And if I can inspire other people to do that, too, I think that's just a beautiful thing. If this world could just shift from always pointing the finger outwardly to just shifting it and pointing inwardly how much beauty and and change we could get when we aren't so angry about the problems of the world or like we take on everyone else's problems and we really just need Thio, the only the only thing we can control is ourselves. That's really like bottom line, you know, And so actually, yeah, and that could be difficult. But when you can kind of start to just realize that you're in control then and you own your own crowning, you don't really need anything from other people unless you give your give it away. You know it za choice, dollar choice. And so I'm here to remind people that we eat to our own crown and that we all have it within our power to take ownership of our life and our creator unhappiness. So I'd like to find out what you do to stay busy now as Empress. But do you have other people in your team helping you out? Actually, where did did you come up with the word empress like? Oh, yeah, Empress was like a That was an interesting moment. I popped into my head one day, so I was like, It has to be royal because I was always a royal in ballets. Like I just feel like I had so much background of being a duchess of, you know, the Queen, the princess, the Empress, the vote. It was always something, um that I knew how to do that walk and do the whole thing. And I love sparkles, and I love tiaras. And that's one of the reasons why ballet was, you know, a perfect fit for me as a kid too, because I was that kid that showed up at the playground in, like, my dance recital costume, you know? And my mom would be like mortify, like know what are you wearing wearing that sparkly Think 22 and a tiara at the playground on, like the middle of the winter. What are you doing? So it was It was always a good fit for me anyways, and it fit my personality. And then it also made me feel like, you know, I could create my own empire through this, which is, you know, being being a ballerina and then going to Broadway. Everyone always called me this, like prima ballerina when I was in New York. I'm, like, not a prima ballerina, but the then I go back to brought to ballet and, um, they call me a Broadway star. And like, it's why do I have to always be something else for you people? Why do you always need to put me in a box? I'm an actress. I'm also dancer. I'm a composer. I'm also songwriter. I'm a singer. I'm like I dio everything. I'm a writer. I do all of these cool things. But why do I have to be one for people, and so being able to kind of have the freedom to create my own like platform my own when I called the Empire and it's mine, it's not someone else's. It's not like I'm trying to rule over anyone else. I'm just trying to take, you know, this box and just, like open up the walls so that so that we have creative freedom to grow and expand the way that we're supposed to. Instead of always being something easy for people to understand. It's like, you know, it's just it's not being an artist being in a box. So for May, I really liked the idea of Empress, and then it...

...wasn't taken, which I was just like shocked. And recently I got it, um, have a registered trademark for the name. So now I actually officially own the name, which is kind of fun to like not only pretend to own your crown but actually own the name Empress Pickles. It's the same thing people talk about branding yourself. I mean, this is a more beautiful way to say your branding yourself is the Empress, and this is your brand. Yeah, that's exactly right, it's the brand is empowering myself and then inspiring others to do the same thing. So, do you have a team? Uh, the team is building for sure. I have so many people involved with with my success. It's like, You know, I told you earlier It's like the fairy godmothers. Each one has their strength, and each one has their purpose in my life. And sometimes they come. You know, it's like an ebb and flow. So I have a few people that I always keep close to me. My husband's one of those people. Um and then I have a producer and I have a song writing partner that I work with sometimes in New York and, um and that's kind of the teams just keeps on building from there. I mean, it's like, you know, it just keeps building and I'm way open to it continuing toe, you know, build. But it xyz interesting, because the music industry is, ah, little bit murkier than any of the queers that I've had as far. And it's not that the people are bad. It's just that, um, you have more options. I mean, it's like the ballet. If you can't physically do it. The steps. You don't get a part. And if you can't, if you're not good enough, you don't have a job. Usually, and so it's It's very black and white that way. Um, in the Broadway world, you have to fit the bill perfectly. And on your worst day it has to still be good enough to do eight times a week, you know, And so it's it's a different thing. But then, in the music industry, there's so many people. It's just hard to know who toe trust and who toe talk to and who to work with. So it's been It's been an interesting transition into that world because it's been a lot of my very close friends, you know, from the from all of the things that I've done who have introduced me to someone, and that's kind of how I've been. Networking is through people that I trust that introduced me Thio, one of their friends. And then that's kind of how it always, um, seems to evolve. I mean, I'm always open, but it's harder, you know, on the Internet. It's like, How do you trust people and you know all the things. It's just interesting. E nit's really interesting side lesson that you just said about things are black and white. Either you have the talent and a lot of these industries or you don't and you can't get a job just because you think you should. Because a lot of people think that you know, that we're privileged. I mean, people feel that their privileged to have something on die don't mean in the negative sense. It's always touted just the idea of they have a right to this job or this position just because no, In reality, if you don't have the skills, you don't have the talent. You don't have even the drive to keep it up. You're not going to last in these industries. And even I'm sure you would say with music as well, it is murky. But when it boils down to it, if you can't sing of which you can, um, then you will not find your position. You will not be selling records. You might be making them, but you're not gonna be selling them. And that's what the ultimate goal. Yeah, At the end of the day, it's a E mean the ballets really the hardest of all the professions that I've worked in as Faras, you know, if you can't do the steps, you're not gonna That's just it doesn't matter who you know how much money you give, you know, like we're dating. It does not matter if you just you have to be able to do the job and you can't get away with faking it. There's everybody sees right through that. You just can't physically fake that on Broadway. You can fake it a little bit, but it's really hard to fake it eight times a week. So they you know, but they have a bigger pool to draw from. Like in the Valley. There's 80 people in San Francisco ballet on within those 80 people. It's like, let's say, 40 women, um, that, you know, now there's only 10 women that you can pick from for let's say, the role of Cinderella or something, because their principles. And then there's only four, you know, like casts, so that now there's really you know, it boils down to you don't have that many people to pick from, Um, whereas a Broadway, you know, it's like sometimes there's like 700 people for one role, and you know, and that's a lot. But in the music industry, there's how many billion people on the on the world like you're in the world. There's probably when it pulls down to it. There's probably only like, mhm, you know, 5000 people that...

...you need to know in the music industry, because they're the ones that are actually like the one percenters that air making, making something move and, like people want to hear it and what not and, you know, And then there's about a billion people that are, you know, also in music industry. So it's just kind of confusing, sometimes within the the murkiness of the music industry, because you can get away with not having the you can get away with a lot in the music industry as faras um, it's not on Broadway because you can't there's no auto tune. There's no re recording live. You have to. You're doing it eight times a week to, so you have to have also like really amazing vocal techniques. You don't lose your voice because you don't get paid if you're not performing, so it's like a whole. That's it's serious. You have to be really talented to dio Broadway and then with music, and you could get away with something like, There's a lot of tricks of the trade that I'm finding out. I'm like, What? That would never fly in any of my prior You know, Industries is just I'm not trying toe talk, you know, e There is a lesson in what you're saying that either you have it or you don't and even if you might be ableto smudge it a little bit and get through. But no, but yeah, at the end of the day, you have to have really talent, and you also have to have the drive because it's, you know, you just have. You just have to have people around you that believe in you. There's a lot of elements that have to happen for someone to they don't just the star overnight thing does not happen. It's years and years in the making and a lot of people around them well, I'll share a little story with you, and I hope it doesn't go far, far off tangent when I was born. This is how the story ghost that I know that my parents were not together. And sometime after leaving the hospital, my mom took me to a hotel, possibly called a motel, and it was called Stardust Motel. Then this year, I went thio back to my hometown in Canada When my mom was sick on and then I had to go to, I couldn't find a hotel to go to. And the only one that was open at that time of night was the Stardust and I happened to speak to the speak to the manager, Uh, and she had worked there for 40 years or something, and I told my mom I was here, and this lady knows that. You know, there was someone that came here years ago with the baby just out of the hospital, and I told my mom where I was and I was in the exact same room that my mom brought me, which was right beside the check in what? And check in, uh and so that leads me to ask you, What does the Empress do in the being? The founder and artists of Stardust World Production's Oh my God, That is the most amazing, beautiful story. By the way, Brian like, Okay, there are no coincidences in life. We know this, but there is someone upstairs. It's just like it's called the God wink. It's still the hotel is still existent in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Uh, obviously Oh my God, I love that in the Stardust. So, yes, you are the founder. Stardust World Production. Yes. So I started start this world Productions because there's really not a lot of female supporting female record labels out there. And one of my missions was just I just feel like women need to learn how to support each other within the performing arts specifically because, you know, that's all I can really speak to you. But the that world is so difficult. Thio Sorry, I'm losing lights. Um, that world is so difficult to support each other because, you know, it's like let's say there's one role for Cinderella and there's 700 girls going out for that park or more, and only one person could get that role. And so that means that 699 people are not going to get that role, and they're all going to kind of be a little bit jealous and bombed out. And and then you're also, if you're like, you know, specifically in the ballet world, if you're learning a role and you're like fourth cast or something, but you are better than the first cast person, there's a chance that you might get that opening night because you're better than the the original person that they chose. And so then what they'll do is they'll put you up against maybe one of your really good friends. Um, and then if you get that part, then the friend is jealous and mad and the whole thing, and they'd like put you against each other. So it's really hard for women to support each other. And, um and I find that that's the missing link with female empowerment is that a lot of times females just were not raised to support...

...each other were raised. If that girl is prettier than me that I shouldn't like her or, you know, whatever it is, and I just think that that's not helpful for humanity at all, you know, and then yeah, and you know, female empowerment comes from within and then goes, you know E needs to be within the female networks a swell. And so I just thought it would be really cool to start a record label to support Empress on then, as well as other women in music industry, in different ways. Um, and not to be like, because men have such I mean, I'm working with Bart showed L who is like one of the most incredible guys, because what he does, he's, ah, man in the industry that opens doors and holds them open for women to get into the music industry and actually be successful. And he protects them, and he's makes you feel safe. And he's just like he's a he's ah, such an amazing advocate for women because he really just like I mean, that's why I have to fight over his time with, like Beyonce and Lady Gaga and Billy violation all of these huge celebrities because they will not record without him anymore. And it's like amazing Thio. Just know that there's there's men that actually we will support women as well. Yeah, and it's just really it's it's a beautiful and my husband's also the exporter of women, and his profession is an attorney. And so it's just you know, it's another world where you know, we're finding equality, but the equality is gonna you know it's going to come from women supporting women. E think, you know, because men are generally speaking. You know, I don't know very many men who are raised with a good mother that would treat a woman poorly in any environment. So there are those. But I'm not going to focus on that. I want to focus on how women that doesn't happen too often. What you're saying is it's usually the women are bringing one another down. Yeah, yeah, You see, you see a lot of of that. And it's just the way that, you know, we've been raised in, you know, there's environments that just don't make it easy to support each other. No matter how much I was like loving on my girlfriends, there would be a time where the awkward because I would get apart and she wouldn't. And, you know, it's like, Oh, this, you know. And I was always happy when I didn't get a role because of the fact that you never want to get a part that you you're not good at because then it actually could hurt your career way more then then if you know the other way around because you don't wanna you don't want to ruin your reputation. You want to do things that you're good at. And, uh, if you're that weak link in a show, people start resenting you because they have to work harder because you're not good enough to do the part. You know, whether that's acting, singing, dancing, you know, whatever it ISS. And so that's never good for someone's crew. So whenever I got apart, I'd be really excited because I was like, Cool. I got the part because I was the best person for it And I know I could do this, and it's gonna be good for my career. But then, you know, like not every girl feels happy when the other girl I've said this a million friends now. So what's What's the life? Yeah, what's No. You're doing very well. What is the life of the Empress? Are you the Empress or Empress? I'm just Empress, I guess. What is the life and day of Empress? Well, you know, I have been doing so much creative. Um e don't know projects during so many during 2020 because there's no reason to release anything. This, like the beginning of Cove. It was just a weird time. It felt very selfish. If you were going to release some music or something, I was just like, Oh, this is not the right it's not. It was not the right time to do it. There's nothing to do with it. They couldn't perform. There's like all the things So when I started doing was all these projects that I've been wanting to do, But I haven't had time to dio because I never home long enough to, like focus on them. So one of them waas this symphony that I wrote about eight years on the piano, and I wanted to compote like arrange it and orchestrated and put it together. So I have, like, a 30 minute symphony that I arranged and orchestrated and did the whole thing that I will. I don't know how I'm gonna release it yet, but they're it will come out at some point this year. Maybe, I think at the end of the year and then I've written and recorded a bunch of music that I will be releasing next month, which I'm really excited about. Been recording a bunch of music videos, which has been super fun because, you know, it's it's made me soon like have to be super...

...creative because of Cove it. I wanted a big cast for some of the music videos, and then I had to get really creative and like now I'm the whole cast, but I have to play all these different characters and, you know, it's so we've been doing covert friendly projects. But but you have You're forced to be more creative. And this year I feel like there's going to be so much that happens in 2021 because 2020 was the year that we all went inside, literally like back in our homes. We have time to be creative. We have time to contemplate and remit and go through memories and find old notebooks with lyrics and things. So it's been really fun for me to like, actually have this time at home at home with my husband. We just moved, so I've been like, unpacking for the past week. But besides that, a lot of creativity and writing a book doing a bunch of things e mentioned. You're gonna have to start writing your manuscript on your new movie, Empress. But also, keep in mind, you're gonna have to put some I don't know the proper terminology terminology for, like, the little someone that got beat by the Empress. And then part two is gonna be Empress to like t o. So you have two movies, right? That little girl that got snubbed and then she's going to be the new swan or whatever to you have to is amazing that that ever to To something. Emperors three, where the two of them come together and become friends to support If it's an empress to To like to 73 it's like to to like a plan work for the two of them together. Come together for startups. World production's okay. Oh, my God, See? And this is the fun part about being, you know, in your own Dr Receipts like everything's an option. Now there's no boundaries, and that's you are now on board with my there's no boundaries, that creativity just flows and you know when it's right, it just finds the right, you know, Little pocket turns into its own thing. Even though you're the Empress, I'm sure you have difficulties. And what would be in your work? Something that is difficult that we can learn from? Well, I think the hardest challenge that I had like because I was so young growing up in the ballet it was It was I was hired. This is a girl thing. So I'm sorry that you're here for this, but it was my body changed. I went from being a girl to turning into a woman, and I had been hired as a I have a daughter have a daughter. It's my biggest fear. Biggest. Yes, its's very difficult, but I have a happy, happy story and transition out of that which Waas my s o I was fired. This is how we started. The conversation was I was fired for being fat. Essentially, they couldn't call me fat, but they said I didn't fit in with the other girls and I was taken out of all the ballets was humiliating. It was just, like, awful, you know, And it's it's just hard being told that basically, you're just like your ugly, you know, it's no one ever wants to hear that. And on DSO just especially in a visual art form. It was really hard because it's just just like you know you. Now you're in a room full of mirrors. Now you're insecure. You don't want to be there. But you have to be there, and all the other girls might have eating disorders around you and you don't. And you're, like, now contemplating do I need to do that? And my best friend, Luke at the time his mother was, um, was going She actually was given three months to live. She stage four cancer, and the last, you know, thing that she decided to try was a raw food diet. And he decided to do it with her, had lost ton of way. And I was like, you could see, like, ligaments in his arms and legs. And he was like, tiny. And he was like, I can't keep weight on. You need to do this diet. And I was like, Yeah, like, sold fat swan number 17 e. I was like, Yes, I do need to do this. So I changed my diet. I got a natural path. We did a couple cleanses. I lost all this weight. I felt amazing. And I got my job back at the end of the year. And I also had a longer career than anyone else that I know of in, um, especially all of the people that I started with, you know, they lasted is 11 years in San Francisco Ballet when the average is usually 3 to 4 years, maybe. I mean, the principles usually keep going if they want to. For yeah, they could go for 20 years if there bodies air hanging in there. Um, but I changed my diet to being so healthy and eating as...

...eating foods is close to its nature intended them to be. And that was like it was a challenge that I accepted it. And then I turned that, you know, lemon into lemonade and kind of literally, actually like lemonade, But but that was that was a huge challenge, I think because everyone has a body, but we all go through some sort of change, you know, growing up. But doing it in the Valley Company was like that was the worst place where I would never wish that on my worst enemy. I'd like to get people. Empress, this is This is your former life. I mean, what is your challenge, Empress? Off California of America of the world? What is my college? I You're too polite for just letting me ramble like that. Zanny people. I mean, you conjured up many questions I want to ask, like on. And then you answered a couple of the length of a ballet artist like the What is your challenge? My challenge. Humble servants could only help you with your challenges. Just let us know. Yeah, my challenge is actually something that you can help me with. Is eyes learning how Thio get my music out there and get it heard and get my story out to people s so that they can be inspired to become the ruler over their own life? I think it's like it's a bigger mission for all of us is to kind of share the message of what Empress and owning your own crown actually means. So it's it kind of if each one of us could just show off our own crown to the next person. I think that that little ripple effect might be a really cool thing, So I guess. Yeah, The challenge now is actually figuring out how to get my music out there because there's so many. There's so many ways to do it. It's just like I have no idea sometimes. So that's always that it's been very using. I said this at the beginning before recording that you have a beautiful voice and I'm not just saying that in my opinion doesn't matter. But it really is. And if people were to go on YouTube and find your videos that you have on there like lovely, I am your other one that you have just most recently, isn't it? We own this crowd, correct, and you have the video with it just for people to listen. Just once, they will know that this dick that needs to be spread so that won't be a challenge for you. I mean, it's initially seems like a challenge, but you're in the right. Yeah, it's getting getting that first little snowball rolling down the hill and, uh, yeah, E yeah, and it's been a weird year for sure, Like I live for being on stage. And, of course, the stage has not been an option for quite some time. So So that's That has been a challenge this year. But I will have an E p coming out in November with a bunch of music videos and a bunch of little projects that I will be really saying. So make sure that you go to my instagram. That's kind of like the one that I keep up to date and my website, which is www dot empress stash music dot com and just like kind of trying to keep up with it all because it's all coming out in November. So obviously, you don't have a promoter. You are your own promoter. Well, right now I am for sure. E no, it's all right. I'll give you even more. I will give you it more opportunity to to as much as you want for to to, uh, what as the Empress, What brings you most satisfaction in your royal kingdom? Being able to create anything that I can think up that's always been my dream is just toe actually just be able to keep creating everything that's in my head. I think it's a great name. I keep saying it. I mean, the more I don't want even call you your other name anymore. But the Empress, it's really good. It's a really So what do you as the Empress or as the entertainer? Because you mentioned acting as well what I understand about what you do and what you're growing into, right? This this sort of new role that you would like people to understand. So they have either a better understanding of the industry that you're in, or just you as an individual. What would you like people to know about you? That you probably don't understand is, Yeah, I like them, too. That's a great way because because, like I said earlier, it's like everybody needs some something that's chewable, Um, but it's that I am an artist and I'm a performing artist and that that means a lot of things that that means that I pop music. But I also do right classical music, and I dio right. I write books, two songs and I'm There's...

...no movies to now eso so and plays and things, so it's I don't want to ever put any limitations, especially on like, um, what I'm singing now might not be the direction that I'm going to go five minutes from now. You know, it's I write music and pop. That's my direction right now. But at some point it could change. And because I love different genres, we might start mixing and matching. So I guess do not put me in a box is all I ask for people and, uh, that they allow me to grow as an artist without limitations. That's all I ask from my fans and followers. That's what you're saying about women in two is don't pigeonhole the Empress and don't pigeonhole women because they're more than just something that they're doing. Yeah, exactly exactly. We are. We're all more than our professions. But I think the profession, if you're really if you give yourself time to dream, and then you you let that dream kind of settle so that you can sort of It's like when you're standing in water and you're moving it around. You can't really see your feet. But then, if you let that water kind of settle, you can start it. You could start seeing a little bit more detail, and that's kind of you know you have tow, let things dream and let it be vague and wish you washing And like, don't share your dreams with everybody because not everyone will be Azaz. You know, excited about your dreams as you are. But when you can dream up what you want to dio and you can kind of let that dream settle Then you have, like, a target that you Kaname at and you can really see it. And then the closer you get, obviously the more details you you can see. Like when I was seven, I wrote I wanted to be a ballerina. And then as I went, it was like, I wanna be a ballerina in San Francisco ballet by the time of 16 by Donna and it started becoming, um, you know, more focused. But I think having a dream and like a goal and, um something that you can aim for will always help you. Yeah, with with, you know, whatever you dio and I think that it's kinda you kinda have to keep editing and drinking bigger and, you know, as you go. But why we work. I mean, you have to you have to love what you dio. I think don't answer that question yet. That's coming. Oh, it is Okay, it is. I promise you thinking back as a dancer, I can imagine. I could only imagine, uh, how you were challenged, Thio. Like I could just picture like a ballerina putting on they slippers and, you know, getting ready. Thio, you know the morning routine. Um, you in your song you mentioned blisters on your feet Worked to the bone like that that there's some very vivid imagery of what you have experienced And I could only imagine, like, some days you don't want Thio and you mentioned weight and I ideal with like like last night at dinner after dinner, we had some potato chips like I don't know how you're not like or some chocolate or some. Okay, let's go to McDonald's. There's, like, one of the I'm just going to do it. But even now, the challenges of being creative, right, writing a new song, getting you know, the music video, right? Take after take after take what is keeping productive? What is Maybe you're motivating factor that get you up and get you going? Oh gosh, I think it's It's kind of like that, that going back to the dreams, it's like you can cut through a lot of BS by just aiming for a target, you know that it's worth it. At the end of the day, there would be times where I'd be in rehearsal and my toes were bleeding and I was getting yelled at And there were, you know, my partner was mad at me, and I, you know, was like just not in a good place. But it was worth, yeah, every reason to quit and and, you know, just being yelled at for being fat, like, Oh, my God, like it's awful. There's all these things that that would happen. And at the end of the day, I would imagine myself like, you know, on stage, getting that applause at the end and feeling really good about it. And you can get through rehearsals like that, and that's life. I mean, if you really you know, there's hard days for everyone, and if you focus on the hard days, then that's gonna, you know, be really tough. It's gonna be a tough life. If you focus on getting through those things, you know the only way out is through. Then you'll get through. I mean, there's always the show must go on always. And if you could just get through those things as light hearted as you can, kind of enjoy that process because everything's, you know, supposed everything is supposed to happen. And if you can learn those...

...lessons through the tough times, then the easy times they're going to just be that much better, you know? So that's how you stay productive. How is it what are what sort of thing keeps you most efficient? What is a tool that you use that you cannot? You know, when I asked this question, some people I don't have a tour, you know, I talk. So okay, maybe my brain and for you, maybe it's a voice. What is your favorite tool and even having the the broad experience that you have in artistry of not only you know, singing but dancing and performing and acting in playing musical instruments and producing like this, there's you have a wide spectrum. So what is But what is you? What have you found to be the best thing for you in your tool belt? Notes. I write down all of things that I need to do in a day and like it keeps me focused. And that has been probably the best tool. My dad taught me that really Early on, he's like, Write down your dreams and goals, but then on a daily basis, right down level things, even if it's like brush my teeth, wash my face. Oh my God, I love it. Yes, all of those post it notes. Exactly. Posted notes. It's the best tool because it keeps you focused. You actually have to physically write it down, and it feels so good, too physically. Cross it off. And I'm not talking about a notes on your computer iPad or something. It's like writing it down actually makes you, I don't know, just feel more satisfied. You can cross it off. It's funny. I like Shark Tank. And I remember years ago there was UNAIDS. It doesn't matter, but an Asian lady who present, I think, the shark tank er, Canadian Dragon then. But I think it was dark and she came with this plexi glass sort of thing to go around your laptop, and it was forced notes. It was on Lee for sticky notes like you would put this thing up and put the sticky notes because you have a sticky notes around Oh, my God, laughter offstage. But this sticky notes are a good thing. They're the best. And whoever the sticky notes, I hope e hope she made. They know, right? Totally. That's Empress. What is your top tip for people getting into work, Thinking of my audience, of people listening, whatever work they may get into? What is your top tip for even a good work ethic? What would you say is that would be your number one top tip, I would say attitude of gratitude. Being really gracious, humble and excited toe work with people will make them wanna work with you more. And that will just I mean, if you make your work environment fun, I don't care what you do for a living. If you kind of keeps some lightheartedness, you're still focused. You're still professional. But if you can kind of be, um, you know, easy going, lighthearted, intelligent. But like, you know, you don't have to play it dumb or anything. You don't have to be the class clown, but just to make it a fun work environment so that you know your work is fun all the time because, you know, you can't just wait for the funny moments or something. You kind of, you know, constantly create your own environment and know that you're in control of, you know, your your reactions and your life and all of the things. Even if it's a stressful environment, just kind of try and make it easy and flow, you know, many times it it opens up opportunities to Yeah, until he does a person. Yeah, When people wanna work with you again, that's a huge compliment. And, you know, and that za good thing to Dio it helped me throughout my whole career. What is What is the Empress do when she's not working? What do you do to keep a good life? Work, balance, Lots of naps. I'm a professional napper and the worst is the emperor story is your in music. So some people say, Well, I'd like to listen to music I you know I like Thio Go sink I e take lots of naps because I feel like I said sleep to dream. So I like I reset my day several times a day. I'll take, like, a 10 minute nap here and there, and it just kind of like keeps me, um, it's almost like it keeps my days and snapshots. So it's not just this, like big whirlwind of the thing. I just kind of like after call or something with you. Like I'll take a little nap even if it's close to bedtime. I'll just do a little nap, just like reset my day. And then I have energy and I feel like I wake up happy and refreshed every time. But I'm a pro napper. I love naps. I couldn't take a nap in like, two minutes. It's like crazy, Nice little book ends within the day. Yeah, you kind of like have these little like Okay, let's start fresh from this moment on. And if you're you're feeling like your day's going sideways, definitely take a nap because...

...then it just stops it and then you can start over. It's great. I'm a power 3 to 6 minute napper. It works well, almost to the point where I just fall asleep and then, yeah, it's a whole new day. It's the best. Oh God, if you look in the in the history books, there's a lot of scientists who used to do that, do they actually wouldn't sleep? Ah, whole night, they would just take naps through, you know, whenever they needed it. It's crazy. So as the Empress what? You know, to get to be an empress. What did you or even better, what do you wish you would have known that would have made becoming the Empress that much easier for a little bit differently. Yeah, I had this thought yesterday. Actually. Is that never lose confidence in yourself? So I'm going to say, Is that you You are you You are who you are. And being confident to that and like not giving power to other people is everything. So, you know, just kind of going into this new career. It's like there's, ah, humbleness that I have that sometimes can actually be go too far and oh, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm doing. And then I realized No, I always knew what I was doing. And, you know, I was just giving the power and control over to someone else and I shouldn't have. I shouldn't have been waiting for this person. I shouldn't have been doing this, so really just keeping knowing that, you know, I am. I do know who I am, and I do know what I want and, you know, not knowing is okay. But But not knowing and giving your power to other people is unhealthy. It's not a good balance. Yeah, I think. And this is true what you've been saying throughout and also being confident in yourself. But understanding, You know, there's other people in the world. There's other factors that are gonna happen. And just because they happen, it doesn't mean you're any different than who you thought you were. And it's just, you know, it's like the the adage or the saying of the airplane, which is true. It's when it's on autopilot. It's always readjusting based on the winds and the flows of the currents of the air. It's going on a straight path to your direction, but you're always adjusting, but it doesn't make any, doesn't make the flight any different or your destination any different or doesn't make the plane What I know The Empress does not make many mistakes, but what is one that you have made that you have learned from that you would like to share. Let's see, I actually would like to say that I have this thing that my dad gave me called losers amnesia, and I don't focus on my mistakes. I don't even remember them most of the time, which is interesting. I do remember what not to do when I'm in the situation, but I really try and focus on what I did right as much as possible because I think the human brain goes down that path of mistakes and then it's like, Oops, I made it again because that's what you're thinking of. It's like I just try and focus on on on doing the right thing. That's a great answer. I mean, it is a better way to think of it, And not only that, I mean, as I mentioned before, the people of forgiveness, when people do make mistakes, I think regardless of recognizing, recognizing one's mistake is being the person who, as you said, is being gracious and humble, but also for giving and as if you're if you're like that landing pad, where planes air constantly coming and going and not gripping onto feeling resentment and maybe hatred towards but being forgiving because everyone makes mistakes and let's not dwell on them. But let's move forward where we can learn from that. Yeah, you mentioned, um, education, and I totally agree with you and because some people get a little defensive like, Oh, I didn't go to college. I didn't get a degree, But what you did is perfectly suited for you. How how do you even though you didn't go to traditional school and you didn't go onto something else? How do you value education or learning for people? So for my listeners, because there's there's, there's some people out there that said, Well, education is not important. They could be hinting at that. You know, higher education at university degree is not as important as that. It's touted to be which I can agree to for some things. But how would you value? Or how would you? What would you Where would you place value on education? I would say that education is everything, but it's learning how to learn for you. What's what's your best way of learning for me? My learning capabilities are not really great in...

...big groups of people. So I was, um you know, a great student in in private lessons. I still am. I mean, even my acting classes. My acting coach in New York, she had me, um, trying taken acting class, and I couldn't do it, But in private, I was fine. It was just really interesting. But I do really well on the job learning as well. So for me, I just at a younger age, I feel like because when you're homeschooled, you're the only one in the class. So they, you know, you're really tailored. Your schooling is tailored to you certain certain subjects. I was really fast in. Like I said, math. I got really quickly on then Other things were just more difficult. Science was actually not very easy for me at for at first and then, like, you know, And then as I got older, I got better spelling. I still suck it spelling. I mean, there's, like, certain things that you just you know about yourself that goes with mistake's. I keep making the same mistake with the same word all the time, and I just, you know, yeah, right. I mean, like, it's just there's certain things, but I guess whatever works for you because you know, and whatever we'll get you to your highest and greatest good for me. If I want Thio College to learn how to do ballet, I would have never made it into a ballet company because that's not the right trajectory for ballerina. The ballet school happens much younger than 18 1928 to 1920 is your prime physical body. So you have to be already in a company by then, you know, I mean, you don't have to, but you should be. And so you know that that kind of changed my course because, of course I wanted to go out of college, but then that But then it didn't make sense because I was full time doing ballet. And if you don't focus full time in the ballet, you don't really get us far in your career. If you're kind of like doing a bunch of other things because it's a full time, you know, profession and and then for Broadway and stuff that transition happened. So then it was sort of like, Well, now I need acting lessons, So I'm going to find the best teacher I'm going to get as much. I mean, I I was taking three lessons a week for, like, two years. I mean, and then singing. I was there all the time, just like getting all these vocal lessons. And then I have a song writing partner We've spent, like, years worth of time working on writing. And I learned so much from her because she's a teacher and, um but I'm learning on the job. So I'm always learning. I'm always trying to grow, but I grow in the direction towards my dreams, right? So it's not like I'm I don't waste my time learning about something that's that's really not going to help me get to my goal. So I think a change. Yeah, it's all educational, and I think it's super important. And if you're becoming a doctor, then like you need to goto you can't just have a mentor. You know what I mean? You just you have toe ended your life yourself. Yeah, exactly. Like we found a frog and I dissected it. And now I'm a doctor. Like it doesn't happen like that. Yeah, I'm good. No. Open up your brain. Yeah, it z each each. His own emperors from your throne. What encouragement do you offer? People especially consider now, But it's no different. I don't think. I mean, we don't wanna put too much emphasis on this year as, oh, it's the worst of all times. People have horrible times all through life. Life is a challenge, and work is a challenge for you. For, um, for people that are working in blue collar jobs, they're difficult. What sort of encouragement would you offer to people who are, you know, maybe getting into jaw in tow, work and scared or nervous, like thinking of you on stage of 3500 people? You probably had some jitters, but it's something that you had that focus to go through, but also people who are disgruntled, not very happy with their career. What sort of encouragement would you have for them? I would say the one thing that really helped me was just to breathe. Breathe through it always. If you're having a really tough moment, that moment will pass. But it's your choice to take the react. It's your reactions. You have control over them. But if you breathe through that, it's gonna be so much, um, easier because you know that you're going to get to the next one and then you kind of focus on something that you know how to dio subconsciously and that that kind of makes you feel a little bit more confident because, you know, subconsciously, even it'll make you feel more confident cause you're like, Okay, I know how to do this. At least you know that will help me get through...

...the next moment, and then just just do it. Just get through those moments because on the other side, there's so much growth that happens between getting through something that feels uncomfortable and getting to the other side of that you feel almost more refreshed. It's like I just got through that and and then that gives you the confidence to go through the next boundary. And it doesn't, you know, doesn't seem as big as the last one, and you get better and better at doing that. And and then there's no fear. And there's no you know, um, there's no more boundaries that you're afraid. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So anyway, just breathe through it, take a deep breath and exhale. I think we did a pretty good job of differentiating between Shannon Rouhani, the person and Empress, the brand, the the up and coming star who has a lot of talent. A lot of know how in this industry, how can we? How can someone reach you on either platform if they're looking to contact you? Or this is your touting Now your two to this is my including of the horn. Okay, great Eso follow me at my my instagram, which is Empress Stop music, Andi Then my Shannon Rouhani Instagram is well, and then, um yeah, it's just I'm there. Mostly There's Twitter and Facebook and all of that fun stuff is well, but it's all the same. It's all at empress dot music on Ben. You know my website, which is www dot empress stash music dot com is where everything is and then stream me on whatever music streaming platforms you confined. Mia's Empress? Yeah, and your videos are on YouTube is well what? Your video YouTube through your website. Empress. Mrs. Shannon, My final question for you. Why do you wear I work? Because this is my purpose in life. Everything that I'm doing is is a dream come true and I work because I know that that was my purpose in life. Or this is my purpose in life. Empress Shannon Rouhani. Thank you kindly. You've been an exceptional guest, and I hope you all the best in your future. And I look forward to seeing Empress and emperors to and emperors to two coming in theaters near us. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for listening to this episode of why we work with Brian V. Be sure to subscribe, Follow and share with others. So they to be encouraged in their work. E hope that you have yourself a productive, joyful day in your work. Mhm.

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