CONNECT THRU CREATIVITY MAY 8 - 15

Solo artist Diana Varco led an art therapy exercise - Connect Thru Creativity - daily on IG Live @dianavarco during COVID-19 stay-at-home-orders from March 18th to May 15th.

Thank you to everyone who has joined Diana along the way for Connect Thru Creativity - wow, it’s been quite a journey both personally and artistically!

If you missed the journey, feel free to do the exercise on your own or with loved ones!

Just…

Grab a piece of paper and some coloring utensils.

Draw your current thoughts and emotions as if they’re a ‘Weather Report’ (ie: is it sunny in your inner world or cloudy with a chance of rainbows? Are there green tornadoes?)

Draw for as long as you’d like or are able to, then write down the narrative of the picture after.

**No need to stick to just weather, anything goes in your weather report - so draw away! **

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. They can also be complex and varied. Follow your intuition and draw truthfully from your heart, you might be surprised at what comes out!

Catch up on the final days of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

May 14th:

May 15th:

Here are a few of Diana’s favorite pictures from the journey:

April 9th:

April 18th:

April 28th:


Spotlight Series: Meet Elizabeth Adabale Who Studied Pre-Med at USC Before The Stage Called Her Elsewhere


This Spotlight focuses on Elizabeth Adabale, a dedicated musical theatre entertainer who studied public health and theatre at the University of Southern California and taught high school biology with Teach for America, until the stage pulled her elsewhere. I first met her in 2013 when she began to audition for productions in Los Angeles and knew with her talent and stage presence, Elizabeth was destined to “hit it big” on stages across the country! I reached out to her to find out how is she dealing with the cancellation of her national tour in The Color Purple after 111 performances.


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your own theatrical background?

Elizabeth Adabale (EA): My musical theatre career has been a windy road, beginning with my claim to fame, "starring" as Passenger #3 in my middle school's production of Anything Goes. From the age of 11, I realized that my happy place was on stage singing and dancing in front of an audience. So much so, I begged my parents to let me go to a performing arts high school, but instead went to a medical magnet school that would prepare me to study medicine at the collegiate level. I was still able to participate in some children's theatre in high school, and went on to study public health and theatre at the University of Southern California.

During my time at USC, I realized that there were a lot of opportunities I missed out on because I wasn't a theatre major. I was able to perform in a few shows, but felt I didn't have the training to pursue a career right out of college. Though I was pre-med throughout my time there, I decided at the last minute to pursue another career and joined Teach For America as a high school biology teacher. During the day, I would teach 11th graders about photosynthesis and eventually helped found the theatre program at my school. At night, I would audition and pursue regional theatre in the greater Los Angeles area.

 

(SB): I do remember you were teaching during the day and doing theater at night when I first met you when you walked into the Westchester Playhouse to audition for Little Shop of Horrors in 2013 and blew us away with your voice and stage presence. As I recall, it was one of your first community theatre shows in Los Angeles.

(EA): And my first paid performance was in the ensemble of Queenie Pie, a Duke Ellington opera, with the Long Beach Opera. Realizing I could get paid for my passion lit a fire in me to take things to the next level. My turning point was participating in a musical theatre competition called LA's Next Great Stage Star. It was a 6-week process where 19 contestants and I sang audition cuts to a panel of judges (think American Idol) that included casting directors, agents, and directors.

I signed with Across the Board Talent Agency in 2015, and went on to book shows at various regional theatres in LA such as 3D Theatricals (Parade and Oklahoma), 5-Star Theatricals (Evita, Children of Eden, and Hunchback of Notre Dame), Performance Riverside (Sister Act), The Cupcake Theatre (Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, and Urinetown) and the Taylor Performing Arts Center (Sister Act and Joseph...Dreamcoat).

In January of 2019, I took the big leap and moved to New York City to further pursue my career, and waking up at 5am to stand in mile-long lines in 30-degree weather paid off! Within 9 months in the city, I made my Off-Broadway debut in Revelation The Musical, played Jan in Grease at the Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival and played a Dynamite in Hairspray at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. I also made my national tour debut as a Church Lady and Sofia in The Color Purple. It was a dream job, working with Tony Award-winning director John Doyle and the original set and costumes from the Broadway revival.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be postponed or cancelled?

(EA): I was on the beautiful island of Key West, Florida and had just completed my 111th performance of The Color Purple. We were making the drive to Cutler Bay, our next tour stop, when our company manager notified us, first by email and then later in person, that we would be laid off for a month. Our tour bus was pretty silent as the weight of the situation dawned on all of us.

Truth be told, we hadn't felt the effects of COVID-19 yet because Key West was such an isolated place that hadn't put any stay-at-home measures in place as yet. It wasn't until we stopped at a Walmart on our way into Miami that we realized the severity of the virus, amazed that lines were irrationally long and it was impossible to purchase simple things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and gloves.

Our company of over 35 people were on planes home 2 days later. Originally, we were to resume performances in mid-April and finish the rest of our tour, which was due to run until the end of May. But 2 weeks later, we were informed that Key West was indeed our final performance and the rest of our tour dates had been cancelled. It was devastating to say the least. But while I am unaware of any plans to pick the tour back up in the future, I would love the opportunity to continue telling this story across the country as part of a future touring company.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(EA): I was in the audition process for a lot of projects that would have started after my tour ended in May. It's so difficult to be unsure of when I'll be able to perform again, but know that everything will work out exactly the way it's supposed to!

(SB): In the meantime, how are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(EA): I am so grateful for the wealth of resources that have been available to artists during this difficult time. I am in a Facebook group called No Marking which is led by casting director Kate Lumpkin. From Tuesday-Friday, the group provides various Zoom calls on topics ranging from audition tips to meditation to financial literacy. 3D Theatricals also has a similar program called 3D+U that provides virtual classes geared at supporting the artistic community. I've also been a part of a few virtual cabarets and readings that have helped raise money for The Actor's Fund. But then sometimes, I need to just unplug and take the time to rest. But I am grateful that I know where to go and get resources should I need it.

(SB) Any other thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(EA): Stay strong! These are unprecedented times and it's easy to find the bad in all this, but focus on the good. I am using this time as an opportunity for self-reflection and preparation. I've been ruminating on why I've chosen this profession, and what I want to accomplish. I've also been taking the time to update my resume, fine-tune my self-tape skills, read, and network. We will get through this, and can't wait to see how our industry evolves once this is over.

Let's stay in touch! Follow me on Instagram and Twitter or check out my website at ElizabethAdabale.com


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



CONNECT THRU CREATIVITY - MAY 7 - MAY 13, 2020

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future.

Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

May 7:

May 8:

May 9:

May 10:

May 11:

May 12:

May 13:

 

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



CONNECT THRU CREATIVITY - APRIL 29 - May 6, 2020

 

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future.

Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 29th:

April 30:

May 1:

May 2:

May 3:

May 4:

May 5:

May 6th:

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



Connect Thru Creativity - April 22 - April 29, 2020

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future.

Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 22nd:

April 23rd:

April 24th:

April 25th:

April 26th:

April 27th:

April 28th:

April 29th:

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.


Connect Thru Creativity - a Daily Art Therapy Exercise

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to Connect Thru Creativity and draw your feelings into the language of weather!

LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise is also great to do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on our own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps to support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Like weather - emotions can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer. Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

This past week for Diana saw complex clouds, the sun and moon acting as stabilizing factors, and the present suspended between a difficult past and hopeful future. Catch up on the past week of Connect Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 15th:

April 16th:

April 17th:

April 18th:

April 19th:

April 20th:

April 21st:

April 22nd:

This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



Connect Thru Creativity - a Daily Art Therapy Exercise

Join solo artist Diana Varco (IG @dianavarco) as she leads a daily art therapy exercise to draw your feelings into the language of weather!

In this 10-15 min experience, you’ll create a snap-shot sketch of your current inner world and also have the freedom to use art to articulate anxiety, frustration, joy, etc - really any emotion under the sun. This exercise you can do with loved ones and children to open up dialogue on your own unique and collective experiences during this unprecedented time. Mental health experts agree that being able to label our emotions, helps support managing mental health.

No need to stick to just weather. Anything goes in your 'Weather Report' - so draw away!

Join Diana daily LIVE at 11am PST on IG @dianavarco to draw your emotions into art.
Here’s Diana's 'weather' for today, April 15th:

Like weather - daily emotions are different and, at times, also somewhat the same. They can change minute by minute or stay for much longer than we'd prefer.

For Diana, the past week of this daily art exercise has seen a journey of frustration and acceptance - as well as the reliance on (and gratitude for) creativity.

Track your journey by joining Diana daily and writing down the description of your picture afterwards - at the end of stay at home orders, we will have a story of our experience!

Catch up on the past week of Connecting Thru Creativity using the links below:

April 8th:

April 9th:

April 10th:

April 11th:

April 12th:

April 13th:

April 14th:


This art therapy exercise was first taught to Diana at the The Actors Fund - a vital support network for individuals in entertainment. Though Diana is not affiliated with Actors Fund, she remains an ardent supporter of their work. If you’d like to learn more or donate please visit: ActorsFund.org

Mental health matters and you do too! If you need immediate mental health support, contact Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 (US/Canada) or 85258 (UK) - visit CrisisTextLine.org to learn more.


Diana Varco is an LA based actress, comedian, and storyteller.

Diana is the writer/performer of Shattered - a dark comedy solo show that explores dating, dysfunction, and sexual devastation, as well as the complex path of trauma recovery. Fresh off a 25 show run of Shattered at Edinburgh Fringe, Diana is excited to share her use of the arts to support conversations on mental health! Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, Shattered premiered at the 2017 Whitefire Theatre SoloFest and went on to the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Outdoor Voices Festival, United Solo off-Broadway, and LA Women’s Theatre Festival.

Learn more about Diana at DianaVarco.com.
Learn more about Jessica Lynn Johnson and her free solo show class: JessicaLynnJohnson.com.



Spotlight Series: Paul and Alicia Luoma - Two Actors, Who Met in NYC and Moved to LA to Pursue Their Mutual Passion for the Performing Arts


This Spotlight focuses on married couple and soon-to-be-parents Paul Luoma and Alicia Luoma who met in NYC and moved to L.A. together to pursue their mutual passion for the Performing Arts.


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your own theatrical background?

Paul Luoma (Paul): I’ve been doing theatre since I was a kid, around six or seven, growing up in Metro Detroit. I performed all throughout childhood and into high school. I went to college at Western Michigan University for Musical Theatre Performance and, right after graduation, I moved to NYC. I was performing professionally in town, and also regionally. I actually met my wife Alicia at our day job during that time. She was the hostess at a restaurant that I was waiting tables at. And here we are together, in all, going on ten years. We moved out to LA in late 2012 and have been involved performing in the local theatre scene. We’ve had some amazing opportunities to perform together on stage in some great roles, and also apart. We’ve made the greatest of friends because of this theatre community. We’re extremely fortunate. So lucky.

Alicia Luoma (Alicia): I was bitten by the theater bug "waaay" back in elementary school when I went to see a production of “Annie” at what is now the Maltz Jupiter Theater. My mom bought me the cassette tape, and we played the soundtrack in the car non-stop, as I sang along to all of Annie's songs! I slowly began to come out of my shy shell in high school, when I became a theatre student at the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. I was fortunate enough to venture on to Elon University, where I earned a BFA degree in Music Theatre. After graduating, I performed professionally in different parts of the country and even around the world on a cruise ship. I moved to NYC and did the "actor thing" for a couple [of] years, which is when I met my wonderful husband Paul—who just happened to share the same passion for the performing art as me. We then moved to Los Angeles, where I had the pleasure of performing in several amazing productions locally, some of them alongside my husband. We made an incredible group of talented friends doing theater out here.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

(Paul): At the time of this crisis, Alicia and I weren’t part of any productions. We’re actually expecting our first child, a girl, in July. That’s a whole other bag of tricks in this current climate, trying to figure it out and manage. But we were really looking forward to seeing productions Downtown this summer, but more importantly, to seeing so many friends in productions that sadly are now postponed or have been canceled. My fingers are crossed for their entire creative team and cast, that their productions get to see the light of day that they so deserve.

(Alicia): I was not involved with any current productions, as my husband and I currently expecting our first child, a daughter, which is the only current and future production on our schedules at the moment. However, I have many, many artistic friends who were in productions that had to be postponed due to COVID-19. I felt terrible and heartbroken for them. As actors, we put our blood, sweat, and tears into these projects. There is no greater feeling/reward than transporting an audience to a different world with your work. We were also looking forward to attending several touring productions coming to LA, which also had to be canceled/postponed.

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Paul): I read the theatre and Broadway trades numerous times a day, keeping an eye on things and looking out for friends. And, just the other day Alicia and I watched the entirety of “The Rosie Show” revival and donated to The Actors Fund. It’s so important to support the arts and artists at this time.

(Alicia): Many people I know have been sharing their talents via social media, whether it be singing a well-known tune a-Capella, teaching a dance class from their living room, or playing an original song on piano or guitar. I think it's wonderful. Just the other day, my husband and I watched all 3.5 hours of “The Rosie O'Donnell Show,” which streamed live for the Actor's Fund. Artists supporting artists is crucial, as we're all in this together.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the ghost light on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Paul): Alicia and I both cannot wait until we can see so many friends back on the stage, and also have a chance to get back up there too. It’ll be a hot minute as we’ll have a newborn baby girl on our hands come mid-July, but I know I can’t wait. I’m definitely itching to get back on stage. Hopefully, in something Sondheim.

(Alicia): Things will get better. Paul and I are looking forward to seeing all our talented friends back onstage in the productions they worked so hard on!

(Paul and Alicia): Local theaters need help now more than ever. We both encourage everyone, who is able, to donate if they can.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



MIATA EDOGA: The Coach Helping Actors Achieve Financial Wellness (for Free)

There is a mythology about the starving artist who must struggle to create his or her art. Miata Edoga certainly struggled when she first arrived in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a working actress.

Hers was a familiar story – huge credit card debt, working multiple part time jobs with low pay and no benefits. She desperately ran from audition to audition hoping that this might be the one to finally stop the spiral she was in at that time.

But then came the day when she nearly missed a curtain.

She was working a hotel restaurant in West Hollywood, and they wouldn't release her the day of a matinee until the very last moment.

It was a horrible experience that caused her to think, "I'm a failure as an actor, I'm a failure as a human being and I'm a failure at everything I said I was going to be." It's a story she has told many times to her students at the Financial Wellness seminar she teaches at the Actors Fund in LA's Mid-Wlshire district.

"I was sobbing, shaking, I barely even remember the show," she says. She went home and cried for days. She can joke about this now, laughing as she says,"Maybe it was a nervous breakdown."

She tells it because this is the moment that shifted her life when gradually, with a persistence and work ethic she inherited from her immigrant parents, she learned to make the financial changes that would let her focus more on creativity, instead of frantically trying to stay one step in front of creditors.

It is liberating, as Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, for artists not to burden their art with the need to make a living, a point very similar to what Edoga teaches. If you create more financial power, you will strengthen your creative goals – something difficult to do if you have $50,000 worth of credit card debt to deal with, as Edoga did at one point.

"The starving artist mantra is one of the biggest disservices to the artistic community," she says. "As a culture we have a tendency to celebrate it." As she tells it, we've all heard the stories of the actress who had 32 cents in their bank account when she got her big break, or the writer who was sleeping on park benches before he had his.

She feels this has created a mistaken belief that because someone was willing to suffer, they therefore achieved success. Possibly this has made some of us passive, waiting for that big break instead of taking charge of our own careers.

"Stories about someone who says I was willing to have 32 cents in my bank account and that was why I ultimately made it is what we hear about, but there are countless more people with 32 cents in their bank accounts who had to go home and quit," she says.

Edoga believes that acting has such a high turnover rate because people cannot financially support themselves, so if financial training was part of what an actor was taught, they could sustain their creative aspirations longer.

She wants us to celebrate artists who choose to be as powerful as they can be, so - from the parents' POV - "when your child comes home and says Mom, Dad, I want to be an actor, instead of dying a little inside, parents can say, awesome, let's talk and see how you can structure your life so that you can support your career choice."

Her class is free for anyone working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. This represents an exciting partnership for her because she can meet her clients where they are financially – and not ask them to pay for an expensive class when they already heavily in debt.

Photographer: Christopher Smith - Miata Edoga with Adaora Nwandu, a student and film & television director

All of her students are not coming from a rock bottom place – some of them come because they have just experienced a windfall, for instance after selling a spec script, and they need to know how to properly manage the money they have made so it doesn't evaporate.

She stresses, however, that she is not a financial advisor or a tax expert. She will not offer tips on what specific stock you should buy or whether you should join the mania and jump into the cryptocurrency market. Her company is called Abundance Bound – not Wealth or Richness Bound – because the goal is not necessarily about making a particular sum of money, but rather about finding ways to be financially stable to support creative work.

Dealing with financial hardships requires self awareness and can be a painful experience, especially when we stop ignoring those numbers and instead start facing where we are at this given moment. Edoga does not sugarcoat this or tell her students only what they want to hear. Optimism is fine, but without doing the hard work of identifying expenses and coming up with a plan, she believes it is simply not enough.

This does not imply that Edoga is stern or unforgiving. In person, she is very confident and charismatic, using her hands to illustrate her points, laughing often, her thoughts very clear and precise. You sense a passion behind her words – a love for acting and for any kind of artistic pursuit. She is not in love with money.

"My mission is to help the creative community recognize that we don't have a choice about having a relationship with money – it's just one of those relationships you must have," she says. "It is our choice to make that a healthy relationship, and that takes what any good relationship needs: communication, a sense of humor, patience and persistence."

Her own persistence is probably something she learned from her parents. They both came from real poverty – no running water or a roof over their head, sometimes in war-torn environments. Like so many other immigrants, they had a very strong work ethic.

They became professionals – her father a surgeon, her mother an attorney – and Edoga says they literally changed the course of her family for generations to come. They broke the cycle of poverty cause they simply worked hard enough to overcome it. And this gave their children the security to pursue their own ambitions.

So perhaps they were not entirely thrilled when Edoga fell in love with storytelling and decided she wanted to be an actress. They expected her to pursue something more practical and choose a profession close to their own. Deciding instead to be an artist wasn't something that would have ever occurred to them; it was simply not a part of their own experience.

Edoga discovered she could sing, and after falling in love with musicals, scored her first casting coup around 12 when she got called back for Dorothy in a regional production of The Wiz.

"I came home one day and said to my Mom, I think I might get Dorothy, and she said sweetheart, you will not get Dorothy, maybe you'll get a chorus part, but not Dorothy," Edoga says.

This was her parents' point of view – not negative in Edoga's estimation, but very realistic – "Don't get your hopes up too high, face the truth, and always keep working no matter what setbacks might occur."

As it turns out, however, Edoga got cast as Dorothy.

"There is no question my choice terrified them for many years, but they never issued any ultimatums," she says.

In fact, they paid for singing lessons and sent her to drama camps, and because of her parents, her choice became more possible. She didn't feel she had to fear chasing her acting ambitions.

But they insisted she do the hard work herself. They wouldn't have let her become homeless, she says, but they weren't going to give her handouts if she got into trouble. They gave her the work ethic and encouraged her to believe in herself, but after that, she was on her own.

She wanted to continue training for musicals and went to Williams College – where, unfortunately, musicals are not part of the curriculum. A blind spot in her research. They were not considered "serious" theatre there.

But she stuck it out, and began working with Tessa Marwick, the great South African Drama teacher known primarily for her work in experimental theatre, and found a new love: Shakespeare.  She won an award her senior year in college, and with the starting money she received, she read some books, prepped a budget, and thinking she was ready, came to Los Angeles from her native New Jersey.  But she was not nearly as ready as she initially believed, and soon began to get into serious financial trouble.

"I didn't expect to be discovered right away, but I wasn't ready for emergencies, for how much things cost, for how hard it was try and get that perfect part-time job with flexible hours, because of course, those jobs don't pay anything," she says.

She had many jobs – SAT tutor, dog walker, nanny, temp, Starbucks barista to name a few – and ran around to different auditions, but without any sense of what her overall goals were, either financial or creative. Credit card debt soon began piling up, and things got really bad when she got rear-ended in a car accident.

"I called my Mom and told her, hey, this accident happened, and things are really bad right now," she says, "and maybe a little part of me was hoping she would offer to send me a little something to help me out, to tide me over, but instead she said, wow, that's really hard; I'll bet McDonald's is hiring."

This could sound very cruel, but Edoga didn't take it that way. Her mother had sympathy for her situation, but as always, she wanted her daughter to take responsibility for her choices. It is a lesson that Edoga hasn't forgotten.

Photographer: Nina Prommer - free workshops at The Actors Fund

Then came that fateful day when she nearly missed her curtain. She was sick of being broke. So she told herself she had to learn how to handle her finances. She had to make money, but also understand it, and have a plan.

"I remember thinking, I'm a smart person, I can do this, and I would go the bookstore, find the financial section and just start reading books," she says.

She took as many financial classes as she could, especially the free ones. She found another mentor, this time Loral Langemeier, a financial coach and self-described money expert who stresses a very practical approach, just as Edoga does now.

"Laurel was inspiring, but also very tough," Edoga says. One step led to the next, and soon Edoga signed for an 8 month personal financing class with Langemeier. It wasn't free, so Edoga had to hit the credit cards again, but this time she viewed it as an investment.

She was assigned a coach who taught her many of the things she now shares with her students. It's not magic, she says, but she got clearer about her finances, stopped working multiple part time jobs and slowly that massive debt began to disappear. She was so focused and determined that at the end of the course she was asked to become a coach herself.

She is certain that this shift would have inevitably occurred even if she hadn't nearly missed her show. Her perspective changed, and this improved not just her bank account, but her creative focus.

"Initially I was just trying to get people to hire me," she says. It was all about how many auditions she could get, finding the right agent, getting that first guest shot, parlaying that into bigger roles.

During a recent 60 Minutes interview, Donald Sutherland called actors who do this "vertically organized"--meaning they are looking at acting only as a career ladder. Process is ignored. This scattershot approach often creates desperation and anxiety, and nothing kills good acting faster than those two things. Or thinking more about what bills you can pay if you book the job rather than the work itself. It's not unlike frantically running in place.

Edoga has not, however, given up on career goals. It is her view of them that has changed.

"I truly want to act and I truly want to be great at it, but the end of the day, I may get hired or I may not – but what I can do is take control of my career," she says. If she doesn't get cast in something, she creates her own projects, sometimes performing a solo show, other times writing a sitcom with her husband, but she doesn't wait for something to happen.

She recently auditioned for the role of Ruth in the A Noise Within's production of Loraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and spent long hours preparing for the role, throwing everything she had into it, studying the part into the wee hours of the morning.

"I loved every minute of the audition process, because I know I did the work, and no, I didn't get it," she says. "But I had a blast working on trying to get it, and the difference for me now is that I've created a life where I can spend hours working on those sides, sleep in a little bit so I wasn't totally exhausted and go into the auditions totally focused, and when I was done, return to running my company." Totally unlike her earlier audition experiences, when she hardly had time to think about the work at all, and left most of them feeling unsatisfied.

So an honest question Edoga believes we must all answer is what exactly are we trying to achieve, and then develop a clearly defined career strategy that helps fulfill those goals. Maybe you want to write and produce your own project, maybe you're doing showcases because you want to find an agent, but there has to be a game plan behind your pursuit.

She won't accept a student telling her that they don't have time for "this financial stuff, I need to focus on pursuing my acting" because she says she's made all the same excuses herself, and there is no perfect time to do this work.

"I am an actor and that means I have to keep studying and growing and trying new things and failing and trying again, but I am also a human being who has to have a relationship with money," Edoga says. The Abundance Bound curriculum was inspired by other financial books and most of the ideas in it are not new. Edoga has tried to specifically tailor those lessons for people working in the entertainment industry, which is very different from most other careers.

"I want people to have the support and tools and community to keep walking on this road, it's not like, oh, come take my class and you will be done forever. You will have the tools and understanding, but you will have to make choices and practice always."

A former student called Edoga a few weeks ago after her savings were seized because of a past issue she ignored. All of the substantial progress she'd made since taking Edoga's class seemed destroyed, and the terrified voice message the student left was difficult to understand. She was in tears, nearly falling apart.

She was calmer, but still very sad when Edoga reached her a few days later. But as the conversation continued, the woman began to calm down, and it was she who started coming up with solutions to her problem, not Edoga.

And that, says Edoga, is awesome, because, "yes, when our savings account is seized we're going to feel horrible, but during that 15 minute conversation my student moved from being a victim, to thinking, okay, this is what happened, and here is what I am going to do about it.

We shouldn't go to a place of thinking I'm a horrible person when we suffer a setback, according to Edoga. It's an ongoing process. Find solutions, and keep going.

Abundance Bound has been around for 15 years now and at this point does no advertising. People find out about the classes mostly through word of mouth. And as the years have gone by, a community has begun to develop between Edoga's students. Several clients have established creative relationships with one another – for instance, one former student cast her in their film, another opened a barbershop in Los Feliz that counts Edoga's son as one of its customers.

Edoga encourages this process, but doesn't try to control it. "No one has any obligation to hire another graduate," she says, "but why not investigate those relationships, provide some structure and create a community without forcing it to happen."

"You have to believe with total certainty that you will achieve the things you want to achieve in life," Edoga says. "And I genuinely believe that most of us have what it takes to change our lives, but we need support and we need education and we need to able to look at what is true right now." Probably this is why she never makes any claims to being a financial wizard, or an investment manager. She provides you with tools and the knowledge, but the rest is up to you.