BABE #144: RACHEL SCHUR, Actress @ Jersey Boys New York, CEO @ RealiTcheck
Today’s Babe has met the elusive goal of being both a creative entertainer and a badass business owner. By day (and by curtain call,) she's a Jersey Boys Broadway cast member (dancer, singer + actress), and between shows, she's CEO of RealiTcheck: an organic, quirky tea company based out of her NYC apartment. In addition to a rigorous schedule and a kickass work ethic, Rachel's perspectives on life (and particularly on not taking things too seriously) is something we could certainly learn a thing or two from. We think you just might learn something, too. (Thanks for chatting with us, Rachel! You are BWH personified.)
Babe you admire and why?
Kara Cronin! She is able to balance the NYC hustle with absolute patience, kindness and energy.
How do you spend your ‘free’ time?
Going to a fitness class, reading, and eating dinner with friends.
Favorite fictional female character?
I love Pam from the Office. She is a true example of someone who gracefully grew into her strength, was unafraid to speak up for what she wanted, and always put people and kindness first.
Go-to power anthem?
Return of the Mack - Mark Morrison
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Cacio e Pepe from Eataly
What is something you want to learn or master?
I would love to get better at guitar and accompany myself in a show or concert somewhere.
What was your middle school AIM screen name?
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
What’s something not many people know about you?
I was a state cup soccer player in highschool.
Three words to describe yourself?
Kind, sarcastic, loyal
What does your typical workday look like?
I perform in Jersey Boys eight shows a week. Our only day off is Tuesday, so we perform two shows on Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes we will have rehearsals during the week as well. During the day, I pack tea, place orders, ship, create new creative content for our tea tags, write blogs and plan future video content.
Where do you think your passion for theater comes from?
My mom was a performer in New York City before I was born. When we moved to Florida, she opened her own dance studio and I grew up there. My household was always filled with music and creativity. I was a pretty shy kid, so theater helped me come out of my shell. My journey in the industry has been incredibly rewarding as well as incredibly heartbreaking. It takes a lot of guts and heart to keep persisting and pushing through when the word you hear most is “no.” I have dealt with a ton of rejection and periods of my life where I was lacking in a ton of confidence. However, those moments made me stronger, more grounded and less afraid to go after what I truly want, in the industry and in life.
What was the audition process like for Jersey Boys, and what is your rehearsal and show schedule like?
So I actually went in for Jersey Boys three times before I got it. Each audition can have four to five rounds and a final callback. I went in for a few different roles until it clicked with landing the role that was right for me. Most Broadway shows have quite a lengthy audition process to see all of the things you can do, if you are consistent, and if you will fit in well with the company. So many variables come into play. I once didn’t get a job because I was too tall. It happens.
What are some of the roles you’ve played in the past?
I loved playing Val in A Chorus Line. She’s so spunky, irreverent and gutsy. It’s so fun to bring that side of me out. I would love to play Jenna in Waitress. I hesitate to say it because I am so superstitious about jinxing myself, but it’s 2018. YOLO. I am putting it out in the universe!
How do the emotional and physical demands of theater differ from other industries?
I can’t speak for other industries, but theater takes everything you’ve got. You have to be so kind to your body, your mental health and your heart. This industry can eat you alive, but when the stars align and you get to perform, it’s heaven on earth. You will miss out on a lot of things—weddings, baby showers, funerals—and that is incredibly hard, but it’s worth it if you really love it.
What is the energy level like working with such a large and talented crew on Jersey Boys? How do you find time to recharge after always being “on”?
What I love about Jersey Boys is we are playing real people. We have all known each other for a while and truly consider ourselves family. Sure, there is a level of energy you have to bring every night (coffee helps), but it’s really great to be around a supportive group when you aren’t feeling great, or going through tough life situations. I’m always a fan of a bath and a book after the show.
Tell us about RealiTCheck.
I’m sure you have heard of the sad actress who wasn’t working and her friends told her to “create something yourself!” Well, not all of us are Lin Manuel Miranda. I spent a lot of time rummaging through my brain of what I could make “my own.” Social media was starting to play a role in my insecurities; it looked like everyone but me was living a perfect life. I saw some people posting inspirational quotes that their tea told them on social media. For some reason, it rubbed me the wrong way and I thought, There needs to be a tea company that tells you what you really need to hear. Something like, “just get a job.” You could call it RealiTea (trademark pending!). And that was all I needed. I began to explore why it’s so important to be honest with yourself and not become influenced by the shiny world of Instagram. If this little tea can help you come back down to earth from all of the selfie-loving highlight reels, I did my job.
What sets RealiTCheck apart from other tea companies?
We love to bring the truth to your morning cup and help you wind down after a long day by telling you, “Eh, you’ll get ‘em tomorrow.” A slap, a kiss, a wink.
How do you balance your work with RealiTCheck and the demands of your career on broadway?
I am lucky that my days are mostly free to do work on my company during the day. I don’t head to the theater until 6:30 or 7:00 p.m.
How often do you feel satisfied and purposeful in your work?
I tend to be pretty hard on myself, so I’m not sure I’m ever satisfied. I always want to do more, grow, reach more and not settle. I am working this year on being more present in the moment and enjoying where I am as well.
Do ever struggle to come up with new ideas for RealiTCheck? Where do you go for inspiration?
Sometimes it comes really easy for me and other times I get stuck. I rely on my friends and peers for help as well. I also only represent one opinion and experience, so it’s important to gain insight from as many different people of different walks of life.
What’s your biggest career milestone and why?
This past year on my birthday, I started rehearsal for Jersey Boys and launched RealiTcheck on the same day. I also sang at a benefit raising money for HIV research while New York City ballet dancers performed. Just one of those moments where you hear Frank Sinatra singing, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…” and you think: I think I did!
How has being a woman has affected your professional experience?
Being a woman in this industry has been incredibly difficult to navigate at times. The amount of times I have been called to an audition with the guidelines to “look hot,” “be bikini ready” or “show some skin” are overwhelming. I never wanted to be an artist based purely on my sexuality (more power to the women who do!), so there were many times I have had to turn down certain roles or shows because I didn’t feel comfortable. I’m sure we’re all aware of the dialogue surrounding women right now. It’s so empowering and important. I feel like more stories will evolve for us and we will be able to tell greater, more female-centric stories going forward. I am in a show currently with three women and 10 men. You have to have a strong sense of self and know you have more power than you think.
What is the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
I really hope it does. We are being heard now for pretty much the first time ever. So, bring on the stories, the shows, the films. We are ready. Time’s up!
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
People think actors are constantly always financially struggling. Though New York City is a money pit, we are a creative, savvy bunch and usually find great ways to make a comfortable living. It’s not always the case, of course, but you can make a great living through theater, where you can own homes, put your kids through college and enjoy the finer things in life.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job that we might not see?
Our bodies always hurt. It’s true. Some more than others, but we are constantly in physical therapy, getting massages and trying to maintain so we can be 100 percent every night.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work?
I spent a few years being super insecure about myself and self worth and, in result, it really affected my auditions. There was a time when I wasn’t getting jobs and it was incredibly hard. Of course, it started the vicious cycle of being insecure, not getting a job and then getting more insecure because I didn’t have a job. I then had to realize that my worth is not in what I do but in who I am. Once I did the work on myself, I found beauty and flaws in places I never even knew. That made me an even more interesting artist.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
I so look up to Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler. They are so smart, hilarious and believe in the power of using your voice for good. I also adore how they don’t take themselves so seriously. Life is hard enough.
Are you involved with any other community organizations or side projects?
I am very passionate about animal rights. I have always been a huge supporter of The Humane Society. In fact, the cast of Jersey Boys is putting on a Valentine’s Day concert in New York City to support this organization. If animals can’t have a voice, we need to give them one.
What motivates and inspires you?
I love overcoming fears (I tend to be a bit fearful at times). If somethings scares me, I have to try it to see if I can stomach it. That makes me brave, at times. Whether it’s a scary dance class, a confrontation, a roller coaster—whatever it is, if I can at least show up and try to attempt it, I am inspired.
What does success look like to you?
It depends on the day, but I think at the end of the day, if you can come home, smile, take a deep breath and say to yourself, I really did the best I could today, that is success, to me. I used to think success was confetti coming out of the sky with all of my friends and family saying, “you did it!” (whatever “it” was). Now I know success is when I feel happy and proud of myself—even if all that consists of is a solid day at work or a good day off.
How do you find a work-life balance?
That’s been my biggest challenge thus far. Being on a show schedule tends to rule out time for dating, due to the fact that as I am heading to work, most people are getting off work. I haven’t lost hope yet! I love my dog and exploring New York City with her, so I always carve out time for her and always make sure to meet up with my friends at least once a week if possible.
What helps you wind down?
I am a big fan of baths! I also love yoga, pilates and meditation. The Headspace app is amazing!
What are some notable experiences you’ve had on the job?
On the opening night of A Chorus Line, during the opening number, I fell flat on my face. Picked myself back up and kept going, but the entire creative team was there watching.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love to see RealiTcheck grow into a full lifestyle brand that engages with a community of like-minded individuals who thrive on honesty, humor and humility. (Ooh! Humilitea! I’ll be here all night.)
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Try your hardest not to let the success of others affect your path. What you have to offer and what you will create and become, is far different than anyone else, and it’s vital to our world. Be patient, work hard at whatever you’re doing in the moment and find time to collaborate instead of compete.
In partnership with: RealiTcheck
Founded + produced in Broadway actress Rachel Schur's Manhattan apartment, RealiTcheck is an organic tea company that provides a gentle (and delicious) reminder that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Check out their shop for all the scoop, then try a box of your own with free shipping using code 'teababes' at checkout!