136. This Episode is a Joy Machine because… Jamal Sims!

August 10, 2022 00:59:25
136. This Episode is a Joy Machine because… Jamal Sims!
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
136. This Episode is a Joy Machine because… Jamal Sims!

Aug 10 2022 | 00:59:25


Show Notes

Step Up, Encanto, Aladdin, Hairspray, Footloose... I would name all of Jamal's choreography credits but you'd be here for awhile! I am so honored to have the great Jamal Sims on the podcast today. Although he has all of these credits, he is so much more than them. This episode truly had me smiling from ear to ear, so if you're looking for a good time (and looking to learn a thing or two along the way) jump into this episode with Jamal Sims.

Show Notes:

Find Jamal on Instagram 

Watch Virgin America Safety Video

Watch BTS of the making of Encanto

Watch Do You Remember The Time (Official Video)

Watch Microsoft “Movement” Surface Tablet Commercial

Watch Jamal’s documentary When The Beat Drops 

Watch Prince Ali from Aladdin

Listen to SWV - Weak

For more DANA

For coaching with me, join the WTMM COMMUNITY 

To donate to WTMM through our Fiscal Sponsor, THE DANCE RESOURCE CENTER


Watch and Subscribe on YOUTUBE 

Stay connected with us on IG and TikTok

View Full Episode Transcript

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Episode Transcript

Transcript: Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow's leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you're new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you're in the right place. Dana: Well, hello, my friend, Dana here. Welcome to words that move me. Oh my gosh. I know I say it every week, but I'm so stoked that you are here because today's guest simply radiates with wisdom and passion and joy. Oh, and talent. A lot, a lot of talent. And he is so generous to be carving out time from his six day per week shoot schedule to be here and chat with us today. We're talking to Jamal Sims, one of the choreographers behind the step up franchise, that incredible American airlines, uh, safety demonstration video that we've all seen a thousand times on the airplane and actually watched all the way through because it's so freaking good. Um, speaking of freaking good Footloose starring Kenny Wormald shout out Kenny, what's up been a long time. Hope you good. Uh, descendants the live action Aladdin and yes, a family favorite in Canto. Jamal is in Canada right now working on Grease rise of the pink ladies. And I am so excited to see that, but also to spill all of this awesomeness into your ear holes, but first we're gonna celebrate some wins. And today I am celebrating, adding a new, special skill to my resume that is truly special and quite unusual for a dance type. I would say, uh, today my win is that my husband taught me <laugh>, uh, how to drive a forklift. And y'all, it's awesome. Highly, highly recommend. If you can get your hands on a forklift and a great teacher, preferably not my preferably, preferably not my husband though. I mean, he is a great teacher, but keep your hands often. Uh, you've gotta do it. You have to drive a forklift at some point. This is bucket list. Fork action. All right. That's me. That is my win it's it's top of mind because it just happened today. Um, but it is a win and it is substantial. Trust me, not easy. Uh, so that's, what's going well in my world. Now you go, what's going well in yours. … Yay. Wow. All right. Let's get right to it. Jamal Sims and I are about to go in on process, uh, specifically our process for choreographing animation and live action. Uh, we talk about the good old days of music, videos, imposter syndrome, and how we deal with it. And so, so, so much more I will get out of your way. And I'm so excited to introduce you to, if you didn't already know him, the one and only Jamal Sims enjoy. … Dana: Jamal Sims. My friend Jamal: We're in, Dana: We're in, yes. My friend. Welcome to the podcast. How are you doing? Jamal: Oh, I'm, I'm amazing. Amazing. Absolutely. Seeing your face. It always makes it always lightens up my day. I love it. Thank you. And, and vice versa, even through a digital, uh, I know face, Right? Yes. Yes. I think it still feels real good energy. Yeah. Yeah. Um, well, I hope you are prepared to be, uh, flattered for about an hour because I think the world of you, I think the world of your work, um, and I'm just so grateful for you for being here. I'm excited to dig in. Um, every episode here starts the same way I ask my guests to introduce themselves. So, uh, please, please take the floor. Tell us what you want us to know about you. Sure. Yeah. I am, uh, Jamal Sims. Uh, I am, uh, well, I mean by profession, uh, director, choreographer, choreographer director, uh, and, um, yeah, I'm a boyfriend. I'm a uncle. Uh, yeah. And just a, um, a happy person in general. <laugh> that must be, that must be our, our foundation where we, it is deeply connect. Well, it is for sure. Yeah. Yeah. My husband calls me a joy machine. <laugh> no, I believe it. Since I met the day I met you, I, I knew like I was like, there's something about this person right here that I just connect to. And I didn't really didn't even know you that well, but I was like, and I just felt like I've known you for years, so yeah, you have that familiar. Well now I feel bad because I can't exactly remember the moment yes. That we met. Don't well, don't feel bad. Okay. Cause I don't remember either. Okay, great. Yikes. Don't feel bad. Don't don't don't feel because I feel like it's iit was either in a, in passing through somebody and I was just like, I can't remember exactly the day. I can't remember it's yeah. Well, I'm not gonna hold either of us to that. We're not gonna start talking about that. Good. Um, I wanna talk shop. I wanna talk work. We have overlapped professionally before, and I always have fun when I'm working with you. I wanna talk about one moment in particular, but I'm gonna leave that down the road. <laugh> um, usually I start interviews after the introduction part, by asking about people's early experiences and training. And I, I do kind of wanna get into that, but yeah, I just got off the phone with my sister and I, I am an auntie and I have two nieces. Thank you. Oh, it's the best. I really love it. It is, Um, I've got two nieces. One of them is four and one of them is eight. Yeah. And they are big, big Incanto fans <laugh>. And so I ask them if they had any questions for the choreographer of Incanto and they said, and I wrote it down. So I wouldn't forget. <laugh> <laugh>, it's so precious Jamal, because it's legit adorable, but it's also a legit good question. Um, they said I can't take it. Like I can't take it. Um, how do you choreograph a cartoon? And this is precious because they think the characters are real, but cartoons. Right? Sure. They don't know how you, how you do that. So legit it's I, I know there's a lot of great documentation. There's some awesome BTS of the incon process. Super shoutout, Kai Martinez. Um, yes. There's some side by side videos. That's just so cool. But I suppose my, if I were to like adopt that question, I'm wondering if you approach full blown animation, the same way you approach, for example, Aladdin or live action animation, which is still intended to be like magical and larger than life, for sure. Um, with a real people, what do you have is the different yeah. Is the approach different? Not, not at all, not at all. Actually animation's easier because there's one process of teaching an actor, how to do it. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's eliminated from doing, um, from doing animation, right? You don't have to teach an actor who may or may not be a dancer, how to do something. You could just do it yourself. So I just had a group of dancers come in, created the choreography and then they put it on the animated characters later. So yeah, it just takes one step out of, of, of, of the process. And, um, yeah, that's, that's kind of, yeah. You just create it the same way and then you could actually take it and they'll, um, multiply whatever you wanna do. You know what I mean? You say, if you wanna jump off a cliff here, the animators will go to town with it. So you're actually, um, uh, a little bit more free mm-hmm <affirmative> to, to do so much more than, you know, we, we can normally do with our physical bodies. Right. Which don't defy gravity or stretch or forward or shrink or like move really far in, not a lot of time. <laugh> yes, absolutely. 1000%. So yeah, so that's, that's kinda the, the process. So I, I enjoy doing animation All the time. I do too. It's some, some of my favorite, um, yeah, I got to work on a project earlier this year. Question mark. I don't remember. Time is weird. <laugh> um, where I, uh, I was the choreographer, but also the body that would be that the animators would work from mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I remember feeling that same pressure, but also liberation of being like, you know, there's, the process is gonna be this long now because it's gonna be me directly to them. So there's no transfer of information phase, like to the actor, the workshop period is less, there you go. Right. It's like you do the thing, you hand it off. It turns into something else. Um, but yeah, my, my, I was dancing a creature, um, that has two sets of arms. I'll be able to talk about it another time. But, um, I was so frustrated that I only have two <laugh> how awesome for this. Speaker 0 00:10:20 <laugh> the choreographic possibilities. If I had to two pairs Uhhuh, um, I, I have like decent after effects chops. I I'm a, a self-taught, um, Adobe suite person, a little bit of Photoshop, a lot of, bit of premiere pro, but for certain, certain setups, I was able to animate two sets of arms onto myself, like two sets of my arms, which was cool and awesome. And yo, I, I, I love tools. I really love, I never considered myself a technical person until I met my husband in 2012 Uhhuh. He, he helped me not be afraid of cameras and computers. Yes. But embrace them. And yeah, it's helped. It's helped in so many ways. I, I think, I, I think I need to talk to him because I, I need to do the same thing. You know, they terrify me and I deal with them every day and I'm like, you know what? I just need to get into it and figure it out. But that's awesome. That's amazing that you did that. That's I would love to gift you the thing that he told me and, and anyone else listening, who feels the same kind of intimidation. If, if the device is making you feel stupid, it is not the fault of you, but the designers. Yeah. It is literally the designers and the engineer's job to make it intuitive to a person who's never held or touched or, or used this thing. Yeah. So if it sucks, it's not your fault. It's theirs. Once I get past thinking, it's my fault as a way, easier to navigate that space. Ooh, let me tell you, there has been days that I I'm just like, you know, I just need to hang it up. I need to just go and forget about it, throw it out the window. Be, and, and I really do feel unintelligent. Like I just feel like this has, this has missed me. I, you know's beyond my years, whatever Uhhuh. And, um, so thank you for that. Cuz I will tell myself that next time <laugh> do you, do you think you could choose that? Like do you think you could be like, oh if somebody didn't know where to put the button? Sure. You can. I'm sure somebody made a button, they just put it in the wrong PLA I can't see it. Oh, I'll definitely blame. I'll blame. Somebody else Blame this software engineers. Okay, good. I'm so glad we that's great. Covered that. Yes. That's awesome. Okay. So speaking of maybe not, not necessarily technology, but capture and dance, I think you've been involved in a lot of <laugh> a lot is still an understatement, really epic dance on camera and know there's been a lot of other things, a lot of celebrities, pop stars, world tours, things like that. But would you say that dance for camera is your judge, like, is that your medium? Is that what lights you up? Oh, for sure. 1000%. Yeah. You know, I, I guess, you know, uh, dancing for artists and do a music videos back in the day, um, was my intro. Right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> so that was like the thing that, that the, the training ground of how, you know, just choreographing and, and working with dancers and learning the process. And then as I discovered, um, as I did my first film and then I'm like, oh, but we can tell stories through movement. Ah, I see this now that's way more interesting than putting on just some cool moves on, on an artist, you know, which is amazing. And that's, that's a, that's a thing in itself. Totally. But to be able to tell a story and to make people feel is, um, something that I, I, I, I love and, and it's a passion of mine. And so that's when I fell in love with, uh, filmmaking and then also, um, choreographing for a camera. Uh mm-hmm <affirmative> that's when it all kind of started coming together, I was like, this is where I sit. This is my sweet spot. Cool. Yeah. Um, well you, you brought it up. That's a lovely segue. Let's talk. Do you remember the time? Cause that was a break, right? <laugh> that's right. Uh, yeah. Yeah. I had just actually, yeah, I had just turned 18, but I was 17 when I auditioned. So it was like right in that, you know, little thing in the little spot, but um, yeah. Yeah. Crazy. My first audition. Uh, good luck. The lucky first to book your first, that does not happen often. My friend <laugh> No, no, no, no, no, no. And what's crazy. I mean, now I, you know, after that I found out, I was like, oh, this doesn't happen all the time. But, um, at, at the, when I, when I auditioned, uh, my friend Jerome, who was cutting my hair at the barbershop and there was, it was in the paper, the audition was in the paper and it was like, Michael Jackson is having an audition. Like this doesn't happen anymore, but right, right. In Rancho Cucamonga, it was like, oh, you need to go to this audition, you know? And I'm like, oh yeah, I do. I do. I need to go to this audition <laugh> and uh, went down there rogue, like didn't know how to sign in. Didn't know, no agent, no representative, Nothing, nothing just walking in the door, you know, looking around I'm here and yeah, yeah. What you want me to do, you know? And, um, it was amazing. And then, uh, Fatima Robinson, uh, yeah, she, she, she was the choreographer and kept me around and that was my first job. That's so cool. It's one of my favorite dance music videos that there is. Yes. Um, it's iconic and it, it has some, some staying power, like it still hits. It is funky. Right? Some of the effects, maybe a little, a little tiny <laugh> right. Yes. It's so funny though. I love a throwback music video. Me too. Me too. I was gonna say, because that music video had not only like some great dance, it was a little micro movie. And I, so I'm curious about if you remember any details, cuz music, videos were so different then like how much rehearsal, how many days to shoot that? Like yeah. Was it, did it feel, I mean, you had nothing to compare it to, but you certainly have choreographed music videos since then several countless. Sure. Um, and I think it's safe to say the budgets have shrunk, the production schedules have shrunk. Do you remember what that was like and how different it was to how you work now? Yeah, I remember it was a two week rehearsal period. I definitely remember that. So we'll, we'll never see that again in music, video history <laugh> so that, that won't happen. Um, and then we shot at a sound stage at universal studios, which I've never, after that I've never shot a music video and at a sound stage at universal studios. Okay. Um, the same sound stage that we shot in, I can see from my, my patio. Aw. Aw. That's awesome. Is that crazy? Yeah. That's so first circle, How would I have known that I was gonna be able to overlook that it's just so strange. Um, And who have known, sorry. I was gonna make a stupid joke. <laugh> You go? No, no, say it say, say, say, please, I love that. I was gonna say, I was gonna say who would've known that hair and pants would play such a big role in your career. <laugh> cause those jams, I remember trying to recreate those looking pants out of bedsheets because it was like, I just wanna have pants that are big like that. And it's still my biggest desire in life. <laugh> Oh, bad sheet. Yeah. Tell me that was, oh God. Oh, those hareloom pants and a bird chest and eye makeup. That's all I can remember. But the funny part about doing that video it more so than like the, like the long process, it was film like a movie John Singleton was the director. He had just did boys in the hood. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm <affirmative> so it was like, um, they, they really treated it like a mini movie because you know, you had Iman, you had met Johnson in there. Eddie Murphy. So Eddie Murphy. Yeah. So it was a, it was a big cast. Um, and, and so now I look back and I say, oh yeah, we, that was a mini movie. Not really like a music video as we know it today. But the, the, the biggest thing that stands out to me were the dancers meeting the other dancers, because to me, they were the celebrities. Right, right. Like I had watched them for so many, many years on music videos and being like, I'm dancing next to Oliver from freaking Madonna. Yeah. You know what I mean? A Buddha stretch, Stretch or joie or, or, or big Les, like all of these people that I had watched for years. And so I was more star starstruck by that than anything I think. Well, I mean, of course, Michael, but you know, Right. That there's that power things I remember. Yeah. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Does anybody Starstruck you? Does any wow. Star strike? What's the present tense of star struck star Strucked Are you star Strucked? Does anybody star strike if you today <laugh> Um, no, I, I, I can't say, I can't say right now. I mean, probably Janet I've never met Jen in a person, but I, I think that that would be somebody that would probably like, oh gosh, you know what I mean? Yeah. Yo Marty Kaka has some good Janet stories. He was just, uh, he and Shawn taught a popup class at millennium together. Oh. And, um, they, they invited me to kind of workshop or like re remember the choreography, what Uhhuh. And there were just some, some stories flying around that were so special. You gotta talk to him about it. So cool. Those are, those are his to tell those are so special. I love it. Yeah. I bet. Yeah. It's funny. We, I think a lot of non dancers imagine that us dance types, I include choreographers in that. Yeah. Are constantly surrounded by celebrities and live this fancy life. Um, and I think it's true, but I also think that our celebrities are different. Like when you're surrounded by that frequently, I remember being on the road with JT, my first tour, it became so normal that David Beckham was at the show. David and Victoria are here like that. There were just, that one did catch me. I'm not gonna lie. I'm using it as an example. It really stands out. I don't I've ever seen that good looking of a person in person. Yes, no, no, no. Until then that was that's. That's burned in my memory. Yes. Um, but yeah, when, when that's like, when that happens, often the celebrity element of it, not to bring it back to magic, but the, um, like the kind of magic, the celebrity actual, actual celebrity of it goes away. And yeah, my celebrities right now are, I mean, one of them is I keep trying to get him on the podcast. One of them is a clown slash stage performer. His name is bill Irwin. He's also an actor, fabulous actor. Mm-hmm <affirmative> voice actor, physical comedian. He played Mr. Noodle on Sesame street for many years. And okay. He is, I, Chris Scott was there when I met him. And Chris, Chris saw me melt into a pu on the floor, like Alex Mack from that Nickelodeon show. And he was like, pull it together, go SA hat. Do you want a picture? Do you wanna, do you want a photo? I was like, are you too? Oh my God. He was like, Go gimme your phone. So now I have a photo with my hero. Thanks to Chris Scott. But yeah, it's our heroes change. Right? They do. They really do. Yeah. I, I, I, I agree cuz now that I'm thinking about, oh, like I probably would feel that way about Barack Obama. Like I, I feel like I know him and I feel like he's family or some, some and I, I and Michelle, actually both of them that, that would be, that was, those would probably be two of my star moments. Like, wow. I'll, I'll make some phone calls. I'll see what I can do. Okay. Thank you. I appreciate that. <laugh> you're welcome. Uh, okay. So speaking of Chris, that's a lovely segue also. So I was in the Microsoft surface commercial. Yes. That was, that might have been, I don't, I don't know if that was when we met the first time, but I also did some shake it up way back in the, in the mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> Yeah. Yeah. But, uh, would I, I'm so curious about, because obviously he and I also work together very closely on in the Heights the way he collaborates. Thank you so much. I mm-hmm <affirmative> agree. <laugh> no shame in patting myself on the back there. Yes, absolutely Killed it. Thank you. I love the way he communicates. He is very transparent. He's about honesty. He's about like, be direct. Just talk to me and I'm wondering what your collaborative style is. Is that why you two get along so well? Are you the same in that way? Um, I, I guess what do you value most in a collaboration? Yeah. You know, um, I value what I love to feel is I love to feel a part of a team. Right? So mm-hmm, <affirmative> whether it be choreographer, assistant associate, like you, so you see me doing this boom, boom, Boom. The hierarchy I like. Yep. Yeah. I like this lateral. I like, I like lateral. I love choreographer, assistant associate dancer. I love all of us to be because without E any of us, the, the, the sink, you know, we might sink, you know what I mean? Yeah. So I love the idea that we are all keeping us afloat. So I don't like to feel any kind of hierarchy in the, in the process. And, um, if I feel like whoever I'm working with has my back, I think that that's usually when I sore, you know, but if I feel like there might be some sort of weirdness or, you know, well, I did this, you did that part. And I did. I'm like, ah, this is not gonna too precious. Probably fly. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, um, that's, that's what I value most about a, a, a collaboration. Cool. Yeah. That I, with Chris, I think we, we find, I find that like, we just, we see each other and there's no ego. We let it mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, I think ego will tear down anything basically like if you allow it to, um, and, um, so yeah, so I don't really, um, get involved in all that kind of stuff. And if I feel it, then I probably won't be involved in the Project. Mm-hmm<affirmative>, you know, I hear you. Yeah. I mean, I've had to before, but I don't like it. Yeah. Um, I've heard it. You're a professional. You're gonna stick it out, but will you put yourself in that, in that environment again? Probably not. No. Got you. Nope. Um, I heard an excellent explanation of that when people usually say trickle down, someone said trickle out instead of trickle down, it's a trickle out environment. And, um, I, yeah, I also enjoy those environments, although I will say within the Heights, for example, when there was such a large team and Chris was the same, he introduced us laterally. We are the choreography team. I do think that there can be confusion about who to go to for what and who, you know, it's, it's nice to have a clarity in, like, this is the point person for this number, you know, for sure. Dana's team this and Ebony, you know? Yeah. PA Fe and for any other questions about this, we go to Emilio and for this, we go to Soandso I think having that sharing of power and clarity is helpful to the team, but also to the talent That's right. No, a absolutely 100%. Um, and, and I think that maybe the titles help with that a little bit, you know what I mean? Like, okay. The director will probably just go to the chore unless the chores go, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm <affirmative> but I think when you enter a space, it should, you know, I, I, I love this idea that we're a team, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and to, to stand United, um, when it comes to like other departments, like, you know, oh, I got your back, you know, we'll, we'll hold you tight. Yeah I think that’s dood. We like, we, the team have your back. Yes. And I talk about this a lot on the podcast. We, the choreography team interface with almost every other team that's right. So having a solid unit is so important because getting different information from different people can be so frustrating. So I, yes. Yo unity, unity for the win. Yes. <laugh> which reminds me We have some very exciting choreographers Guild news coming up. Oh my gosh. Um, we have not, we, the Guild have not had our first executive board meeting yet. Yes. But once that day comes, we have some exciting news for choreographers assistants and associates all across the America. <laugh> I cannot wait. I cannot wait Overdue. Huh? Oh, my way. Overdue way overdue. So excited about that. That's amazing. Yeah. So tell me this on the subject of choreography and dance, cuz I would guess that by this point, the majority of your work is choreography. Were you ever a after or sag after member, do you, will you vest, will you vest through sag after and get a health intention from them? Yeah. It's very interesting. Cause you're also in, well, you're in a lot of your stuff you're in descendants. Yes. So that, that's the, That's the, do you do that deliberately? Cause you're smart. Yeah. Well the funny part about it is that was, was like my agent would say, you need to figure out how to get in there some sort of way. And I'm always like, no, no, no. Just so happens that a lot of different projects like Footloose, um, Craig brewer was like, oh my you're the DJ, can you be the DJ? Can you just be the DJ? And I'm like, yeah, I'll be the DJ for sure. Yes. You know what I, Um, and for descendants, I was choreographing with Kenny Ortega and kente. They were looking for a doctorate and he was like, doctor facilitate, you know what I mean? So it was nothing that I ever really tried to push, but it just happened, you know? And so cool. I'm grateful for it because yeah. That's how I get my health and pension. Like, like you said, like that's how, because as a choreographer, we just don't get those things, But man, oh man, if we did, you would be set and that is our goal for future generations. So excited. That's right about That's right. That's right. Like what, um, okay. Kenny Ortega, great example of director who understands dance, um, puts it forward, put dancers, puts dancers forward. I love this. And I see you as becoming that as well. That's amazing. Um, can you're you're welcome. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Um, can you talk a little bit about your experience with grease rise of pink ladies? How did you come to be directing that episode? What did you learn? I mean, we only, we don't have all the time, but like, oh, um, yeah. How that how'd that come about? How did it go? Funny. So I, um, so I, I directed a documentary in 2000, uh, came out 2018, uh, was not that yeah, it's called win. The beat drops. And um, I did it, it was just a passion project of mine. I had been shooting it for five years. Um, actually world of wonder who produces, um, uh, drag race mm-hmm <affirmative> I, I was doing drag race. I told 'em that I had this idea that I wanted to do it. They were like, yeah, go shoot it and send it. So tell us what you, you know, whatever I go back and they they're Like, they're like do all the work and then let us After that. Yeah. I came back in and showed 'em a sizzle. They're like, let's do this documentary. So we finished it. I'm very proud of the documentary. Um, but I, I, I knew that I always just wanted to tell stories and, and I, of course dance is my background, so I wanna have the dance element to it. Um, so, uh, I had, I got an agent, um, uh, and so anyways, long story story, Greece came along and I had just finished, uh, 13, the musical that's coming out next, next month. And I was kind of like, I just want direct. Like, I, I, I, I need to, I, I remember the feeling of being a dancer and wanting to choreograph and I knew that I probably had to stop dancing to choreograph. So others would view me as just a choreographer and not a dancer wanting to choreograph. If that makes sense. It's like when you get pigeonholed, you know? Yeah. It feels anyways. Yeah, go ahead. I'm sorry. I'm okay. You're you're you're no, no, no, no. You're, you're not the first person who has said that on the podcast that they had the urge to transition and they felt that they had to do it all, like all, all swap, like I'm gonna be done with this and I'm gonna start this, but I also have the opposite approach that has some wonderful success as well. I think everybody is different, but if that's what your gut said, that's what it was. Yeah. Do you feel the same thing with the choreographer director transition? Yeah. So I thought that that was gonna be the way that I was gonna have to just stop choreographing to do this, but then something said, do this job and go in there and show them that you are a director, as opposed to just, you know, handling the dance portion, like show them that you could tell stories and you know, where the camera should be. And you know, and I was like, that's, that's gonna be my approach this time. And so I went in, I told 'em I wanted a director, like we already have our roster already, um, for this, for this season, but maybe next season mm-hmm <affirmative> so just so it happened, uh, episode 1 0 6 came, well, our six episode came up and, um, the director that was supposed to direct, um, couldn't make it cuz of the time scheduled and uh, our showrunner, Anna director Jones said, you're up, it's on you. You, and that's how the whole thing came, came about. And so literally I was choreographing a number for the episode five and had to go right into prep on my episode. Right. Because the way that those shows shoot that shoot schedule is so tight, it's So tight. Okay. So that brings me to my other question. I remember on Microsoft surface, almost nothing about learning the choreography because it happened so fast. That transfer period, you must have been so prepared, like as a team, Jessica Keller, Stacy beaker. I remember them. Yes. Um, yes. Like I, I call it the transfer, but teaching, teaching dance Um-huh I remember the transfer happening so fast that y'all must have been so, so prepared is preparation a huge part of your process? I know it is for Chris and I love that cuz I, I live in a pre-production. I, I, I, I love it. But with TV you don't, I never, You don't have time. I never feel like you have time. You know, you kind of have to trust your instincts and know that what you know is going to be the right choice. You know, you really do have to have to kind of let go of, oh, I need a couple days to do this and let me just tinker with this a little bit. Just it's not time for that. You got you, you have actors that gotta learn it. You have live, you have, uh, production designers that are like, what does the set look like? What are they wearing? You know, and you have to have, And they need to know. They need to know. And so they need to know now They need to know yesterday. <laugh> Yes, yes. Yesterday so they can build it. Exactly. That's right. That's right. So, um, that's what I learned on this. Uh, uh, do you know, directing this episode was that, uh, you know, you have to trust your instincts and although every day I felt like a fraud. I showed up to the set and I'm like, I felt the, I felt like I was an imposter, the imposter syndrome so much imposter syndrome. I shouldn't, I, I don't think I know enough. I don't think it's, you know, and, and we got through it and, and then it was done and it was like, everybody was happy and I'm like, yeah, that was crazy. But, um, but I look forward to doing it again and actually I am doing it again. So, um, yeah. So this is, this is good. This is a good thing. Congratulations. I can't wait to see it. Um, what were the thoughts that helped you manage that imposter syndrome in the moment? Or did you just like white knuckle grip your way through it? <laugh> Yeah. The, um, well, the funny part about it is that I would wake up, I think, I don't know who, who said this, but I I've heard this before. And it was like, um, if you just show up, things will start. You know, that's how that's most of the battles just showing up, like, just get there. If you can get yourself there, you'll get through your day, you will figure it out. And you know, so that's, that's what got me to, and I was like, just go to set, make sure you get there and show up and things are gonna start happening and you absolutely before, you know it, the day's over. And so it's like one day, one step in front of, you know, the other. And that's kind of what I did is like, I just gotta show up and I can't let these voices that of doubt. Stop me from doing what I know I am meant to do. You know, I'm meant to be here and I, and I should be here. And the reason I'm here is because they think I should be here. Mm-hmm But you know, there was a couple of calls to mom and dad. There was a couple calls to, you know what I mean? The people that I love Mm-hmm <affirmative> I'm the support, the, the, yeah. What do they call it on that show? Who wants to be million lifeline called a lifeline lifeline? <laugh> help every day help. Yes. Yes. Tell, talk to me, tell me what I'm doing. You know, I, I have an, I have a philosophy about imposter syndrome. Give it to me. I think that it is kind of like jealousy, a gift that we are told not to feel my whole life I've been told. Don't be jealous. Don't be jealous. Just cuz somebody B blah, blah or imposter syndrome. No, you belong there, girl. Like you have a seat at the table for a reason. Like you, you, you deserve it. You should be there. Yeah. Yes. And ah, I don't think we should go burn through it quite that fast because what my brain is trying to tell me is that someone else has something that I don't have that I want. And that might be a skill or that might be a credit or that might be a quality. And if I just, you know, like do away with it and don't feel it, then I might not learn what that is. Then, then I might not go get it. You know what I mean? So I think that if, if I have a seat at the table and I'm feeling like an imposter is probably because there's a skill gap. Yeah. And if I have a seat at the table, I'm sitting with people who know the answers to all of my questions. There you go. So like, there you go. Fill that skill gap while you're feeling that imposter syndrome, at least let it be fuel to this next big learning, big learning, which usually hurts big learning hurts. Cuz you feel like an idiot. You feel like you're learning how to walk and, and when you're, when you've already been proficient or more than proficient at something, feeling like beginners is not my favorite. It's not good. It's not good. But it's not, it's not the worst though. Yeah. I would, I would rather feel like a beginner than feel like I never did anything. Interesting. Tried it. Yeah. That's right. No, it's it's it's the thing is like, I, I tell myself, I'm like, like you can stop now and then tomorrow be so mad at yourself that you didn't continue or you can continue and be so proud of yourself that you made it through. It's like, it's those two choices. Right? It's like, I am so happy that I showed up. I just did it, you know? Yeah. Um, and, and, and, and I, I, I totally agree. I think that, um, uh, and I think about being a, being a choreographer is different because I naturally, I feel dance just comes naturally to me. Right. Um, Oh, it looks like it does my friend. No, no, no, no. But like a faucet, but you know what I'm saying? I hear you. It's something that I don't really have to work, work on that that, well, and so it is, um, a comfort space. It's so funny. Cuz after I directed the episode, then I went back to choreography and I went back to the choreographer. Right. Oh how was that? That back to Craig? And I was like, oh, now this is what I'm talking about. This is where I feel, you know what I mean? But then a couple days I was like, no, I want that. I wanna get, I wanna get back in there. Cause I was learning, I was growing stretching. That's what, that's what was happening. And, and when you're growing, you stretching, sometimes that's painful sometimes. And that's, that's what I was experiencing. But I, it did, it took me to get back into my choreographer space to realize what that was, but it's nice. Cause now I'm walking in next time. I'm like, okay. Yeah, I'm gonna scroll a little bit more and let's figure out, I might say some wrong things, but I I'll learn what that is, you know? And that's a part of it. It's a part of the process. Yeah. I love it so much. Yeah. Um, I, I have one more question before I want to go to a little burnout round, like rapid fire questions live. Yes. Um, my question is this, I, I mentioned magical before because Incanto is literally about magic. Aladdin is about magic and you're asked to create magical things from, uh, from human bodies, which is always a fun challenge. We love it. <laugh> um, although I am always surprised at, at like how little I can do and have a normal, a normal person. I call them normies and have a normy go like, wow. That was really something else. Like I do think there is magic built in to dance just about all of it. Oh my God. Um, but one of the things I, I remember, I don't think I'm wrong, but I could be, I'll ask Chris. Uh, one of the things, one of the words I remember John avoiding on in the Heights was magical. He wanted things to feel real. So even the, you know, even the wall that turned sideways, which is literally magic, he didn't want it to feel like magic. So we, we kind of avoided this word magic. Um, and I love the language building. I love creating, you know, the words that we all use to explain the little organisms that we're living in Uhhuh. Do you have any words in your dance vocabulary that you like to avoid or that you really use a lot? Ooh, gosh, I do let see. Um, oh gosh, that's a good one. Dana. Uh, what words do I avoid? I avoid um, uh, oh my gosh. I'm sorry. I'm not prepared to No, you're fine. I, Cause I do know there are some words that I do not like <affirmative> when, when it comes to, um, like pitching movement or explaining, like trying to explain it or trying to decide on what it is with people. I think the, I think one of the reasons why magical is tough is that everybody has their own idea about what that means, what magic is. Yeah. Right. Yeah. No, it's true. I think that's true. Avoid that's true. I avoid trendy things. I avoid like, you will hear me say work a lot, but you will not hear me. Well maybe like three times in my life call something lit or <laugh> like, oh, here's one here's mine. This is mine. Right. And it was very cool for a while to say that something was everything Uhhuh.I, and that's funny too, because I am a big fan of a full life and I love all of the things. But when you watched one thing, it was not everything. It can't, it can't be everything. It can't be everything like you're lying. No. Cause it was, I don't trust you anymore. You've you've gone and gone and Completely you're outta here. Okay. Well I want you to think on that, did that, did that stoke the fire At all? It did. It did. It did. Um, I don't like to describe, uh, choreography as ghetto. I, that, that takes me to another place. Uh, you know, it's just like, oh, that's ghetto and I'm or, or gimme some ghetto. It is it's, it's tough for me to swallow with that because I, I feel like, um, street movement is doesn't always have to be that we made it up from the ghetto. Right. And so that, that is, that's the thing that goes, you know, to me. And I was just like, so that that's one thing, but I always like to say another word that I love when dances live. I'm like, oh, you were living or that was living. And because that is life, like living is life. And I, I love to use that word. And um, and yeah, so that's one of my, my words I like to hear. I'll take it. Thank you for that. Yes. Are you ready for this rapid fire round? Okay. Uh, did you just, oh damn. I have it of Chris. I got an app and I have it on my phone. Here we go. <laugh> this guy is so funny. I think of him and I laugh at all of his jokes. Oh my God. We Ugh. I can only imagine. Yeah. I can only imagine. Okay. I, this first one, I don't know why I wrote this every, every time somebody asks me this, I roll my eyes. I'm like what? A stupid question, but I really wanna know <laugh> okay. Give it to me. Do you have a favorite style of dance? If so, what is it? Yeah. Tap dance is my favorite style of dance. I had a feeling that you might say that what's your favorite move? Favorite move. Uh, Ooh, gosh. Uh, do do, do do, um, oh, I don't know that I have that. I don't know that I have that. Okay. Um, would it help you if I told you that mine is a ron de jambe? <laugh> I just like a sweep of the foot. I just, Oh yes. It’s really that's. So I call that a Ramma Ramo Maja, a Ramo. Every time I do it, I love to say Ram Maja instead of Ram Maja, I'll say, give me a Ram Maja over here and that's that's that's that's I, I love to say that I cannot wait to work with you again so that you can ask for that and I can give it to you. I'm like I cannot wait. Y'all please gimme a Ram Maja over Here, Ram. Um, gosh, that favorite? No, no words. Now, pada bourre And which is, which is tied for my tied for my favorite move. Yes. Yes. I can do a pada bourre Maja, right? And a little backslide around. Come on. Okay. This is no longer rapid fire. We got to excited. Um, if you were stranded on a desert island with only one song to listen to what would it be? Um, it would be only one song. It would be, I get so weak in the knees. I speak. I love that's. Why? Who is that? Is that Brandy Love that song. I can listen to any time I'm gonna, I don't, I don't know actually how podcasts work, but I'm pretty sure I can't publish things that are already published. Like things that are, I, I would love. I'm gonna link to that song in the show notes of this episode, that everybody can feel that vibe after they get, listen to this. That is my like, yeah. That's my, that's my Uh, yes. I love nineties R and B is my thing. Yeah. Can we talk about Brandy's album full moon for a second because it's I was just listening to it earlier today. So that's why it's top of mind. So good. Yeah. Let me tell you so good. I miss I miss this it's those are, those are me too. I do too. Like no offense to music right now, but kind of offense to music right now Not I'm not, not happy about it. Yeah. Not happy, but let's talk about, let's talk about outstanding happy moments then most outstanding moment as a dancer go. Yes. Uh, outstanding moment as a dancer would probably be dancing. Um, I think is remember the time I, I honestly dance with Michael Jackson being right in front of you. I don't think it got any better than that. No, I can't imagine it. No, no. Um, most outstanding moment as a choreographer, this will be hard. Sorry. Don't feel like you have to play favorites. Yeah. Uh, it just happened, right? Uh, it happened, it did happen when I, I think it was filming prince Ali for Aladdin, because that was a task and I've never been tasked. Oh God like that in my life. I can't imagine. And I've been involved in some pretty big stuff. Horses, giraffes, camels. I mean, and, and, and a, like a long percentage. It was craziness. And then we had people in between and it was, it was pretty, um, it was crazy. It was crazy. And yeah, Go Google. Sorry. Go. No, no, no, no. That was, that was the, that was the proud moment For sure. I can. Yeah, you should be proud. You should have a special award for that. <laugh> it's just like, you know what it would be. I'm designing the trophy in my mind. It's a stack of like the smallest animal on the bottom and then a camel and no, then a horse then a camel then a, this then a, then the elephants on top. But it's so perfectly balanced that it's just the, yes. That, yes. I'm gonna make that for you. I'm gonna send it to you. I have 3d printer. I that thank you. I put it right on. I, you, and that's so funny that you say that like, you know, um, to work in television and film or film and not have a category to even be able to talk about that at the Oscars or, you know, it was so funny when I was choreographing, like the makeup people, everybody was like, oh, you gonna get nominated for Oscar for this. And I'm like, no, You were like, yo, you would think wouldn't you. We won't be no, not in, won't be not in film. Yeah. Well, not this year and maybe not next year, but I'm telling you the efforts that our community No. Amen. And, and I just got through talk, talking to, uh, my best friend, uh, Draco, uh, Johnson. He, and, uh, I was telling him about, uh, we were talking about awards and, and how, you know, they're not important to me as far as like, you know, um, my work is important to me and if people love it, that's wonderful. You know, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it is nice to be recognized every now and then for your work. And I, and I totally totally understand that, but if I was never recognized, the work is still there. And then the quality of work is the most important thing. So I, I, I, I talk about that because you know, every other department is recognized like that. And so they just assume that we are, but we don't have that. You know, mm-hmm <affirmative> so that's why I pointed out. But as far as for me is like, honestly, it is the work that, that makes me the most proud, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, having, having a trophy is the icing on the cake, you know, that would be, I hear, I hear you. I, I, I agree. And I have a favorite saying that goes, the best reward for good work is more work. Hey, But that <laugh>, but that when we come back around to the reward award thing, is that when you have that recognition, yeah. Guess what comes more freaking work? Yeah. You know, no, it's true. And so it is this weird loop where if you aren't getting recognized, and this is another reason why that lateral, um, you know, lateral responsibility and, and lateral kind of teamwork is so important because if those team members don't get credit, yes. Then they are not able to tell or show other people that they're capable and able to continue working. So this is why credit is important. This is why recognition is important. There you go. There you go.How is that for burnout round? You did that. I do. I have one more though. I love it. Okay. Final question. And I'm so curious now to know about the documentary. I'm gonna go watch it. But my last question is if you had a $5 million budget, which is not that high, given the projects you've worked on, but $5 million budget to do anything you want, what would you do? Oh, Gosh, Dana. That is, that is 5 million is not a lot of money. <laugh> Not a lot. It puts you right in the middle where you can like do some, but you gotta be real calculated. Absolutely. Yeah. You have to kinda, so I have a short film that I've been wanting to make and for a long time. And so I would do the short film, even though it probably wouldn't cost 5 million, but I would have some playing around money. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> and really it was, um, and it's based off of, um, when I was growing up, I often ask my friends who are gay. I ask them, when do you think that your mom or dad knew that you were gay? And so everybody has, have they, they answer with these different answers, right? Oh, it was probably the time. It was probably the time I did this da da, well, my, my time is I remember I, I did, um, a lip sync to Donna summer. <laugh> last dance. And, and so that's gonna be my short film <laugh> yeah. It's it's um, it's, it's, it's, it's a, but it would be music and it'll be dance. And it's just a, a heartwarming film, um, about acceptance and, uh, yeah. So that's what I wanna do. And so when I get some money I'm gonna do Jamal <laugh>. That has to be where we end the episode, because <laugh>, it doesn't get better than that. Prompt that question. Like, tell me about the parents. Tell me about the parents. Tell me about the moment where your parents knew you were gay. Yeah. I cannot imagine a more exciting, you already know series of stories than that. <laugh> it's and like you said is heartwarming because there's something, something about being seen for the first time. For sure. It's also, I'm I'm sure funny in some way, maybe not all the ways, but like you have humor, you have heart. This is the recipe for success. Yes. Yes. Oh, I can't wait, please. Let me know how I can help <laugh> I, of course am telling you, I will be, I will hand out flyers to the premier. Like I will knock on doors and ask for money. I love this idea so much. Oh, I love you. That's so sweet. Yeah, no, it's yeah. It's something that I've been wanting to. I'm like, I just, I just have to do it. I have to, it's gonna be great. And you will thank you. And you will, because now you know how yes. Amen. Or you're learning and you'll stretch and it'll hurt. And then you'll know. There you go. There you go. 100% Thank you, Jamal. So much for sharing. And for this big smile, that's been on my face for 45 minutes now. Dang. Oh my gosh. Like I said, I, I knew that this was going to be so easy. So, um, and, and I, I just love talking to people who, um, who you, you have a way of, uh, with your words and, and, and, and, and you're inspiring and you're knowledgeable. And when I, when I watch you in the choreographers, um, Guild meetings and you speak on it, but you are very clear and you, I, I just, I enjoy, um, I mean, I admire you and that's, and, and that's what I confess these. I just admire you so much. So thank you. Thank you. Oh, goodness. I'm blushing. Yes, Yes, no. Besides being an amazing dancer, of course. <laugh>, I'll stop. That's that's that's yeah. You know, what's funny is like, this podcast was very much a part of that. I I've always been, I don't know. I guess my dad is charming. My mom is charming, charming. They're both are people, people. Um, yeah. And so maybe I have that on both sides, but it really wasn't until I started the podcast that I felt like I really had a voice in that way. You know, dancer, dancer, since I was three, we weren't really taught how to speak. Right. And in fact, we're encouraged to not, not so <laugh>, so this has been instrumental, uh, and this is one of the, one of the skills that I think will help me and us, the, the guilds and future generations in the future. It's a gift. It's a gift. And you got it. Yes. Thank you. My friend gift as well. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate I'll see you soon. Love you. Love you. Bye. … Dana:Well, my friend, what did you think? <laugh>, I hope you smiled as much as I did, which is to say the entire episode. I really loved what Jamal had to say about working as part of a team laterally, uh, and how the key to his success is getting rid of ego and feeling supported. That is huge. Um, I also love to hear about the, uh, I'll, I'll say wonderful, not magical, but the, the wonderful, maybe coincidental, uh, but not coincidental. The wonderful ways that he winds up on and behind screen for so much of his, so many of his projects, um, this is simply a great example of what is possible. And I celebrate Jamal for that. I hope you are feeling as inspired as I am right now. I hope you take all of that inspiration and channel it into a review or a rating for this episode. And after that, I hope you head out into the world and keep it very, very funky. I'll talk to you soon my friend bye. … Outro: This podcast was produced by me with the help of many music by Max Winney logo and brand design by Bree reets and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also a massive thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting thedanawilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs. That'll await you there. And of course, if you want to talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit thedanawilson.com to become a member and get a peak at everything else I do that is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone.

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