Welcome to a new series on the blog, “Young, Scrappy, & Hungry!” In these features, I will introduce you to a dynamite human in their twenties who is currently KILLING IT in the industry. We will talk about obstacles, pinch-me moments, and the concept of age in the New York City theater industry. Enjoy!
Meet Amy Sapp! Amy is a 22-year-old New York City mover and shaker. She is the Late Night Programming Associate at Feinstein’s/54 Below, and a freelancer in both editorial and social media management. She moved to New York at the ripe age of 20, just six days after graduating from the University of Florida (I knew us Florida girls would find each other). Here’s a peek into our little chat:
When did you move to NYC and what brought you here?
I moved to the city when I was 20 years old after graduating from the University of Florida. I packed up my life in two clichéd suitcases and trekked to Manhattan. I transplanted here six days after graduating, so needless to say, it was a true whirlwind. I had been offered an editorial job from an entertainment company with whom I interned in college.
What are all of the titles/jobs/gigs you currently hold?
Late Night Programming Associate at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Original Programming Producer at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Social Media Consultant, Journalist, & Dog Mom.
How has your age impacted your ability to make a splash in the industry (for better or worse)?
When I first moved to the city, I never told anyone my age. I was pretty self conscious about it in so far as wanting to be taken seriously for my work. When colleagues and higher ups did find out how young I was, most did not care. In the theatrical industry, if you are professional and kind, you usually will be taken seriously and respected. Being confident and considerate is key in any career, no matter what your age.
What are some ways in which you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
I try to place my faith as utmost important in my life. I have found that going to church, praying, and plugging into a community of other believers has kept my mind clear in an industry and city that are often fraught with unknowns. I am still learning every day how to calm my doubting and wandering mind. I constantly must offer myself grace, a skill I have not mastered yet. I also am blessed to have a core group of friends surrounding me, always encouraging in the hard moments and honest in the confusing moments. For me, healthy and honest friendships have helped keep my feet planted when the stresses of this industry arise.
Do you have any mentors that have helped you get to where you are?
I absolutely would not still live in New York if it were not for several mentors in my life. In college, I had two mentors who pushed my interests and helped invest in my seemingly impossible goals of entering the theatrical industry with a Political Science background. Two professors in particular come to mind – Dr. Mark Law and Dr. Aida Hozic at the University of Florida. Both stretched my abilities and, to this day, call and offer guidance when they can. In fact, I see Dr. Law and his wife once every six months when they enter the city, and their mentorship continues in tangible ways.
My biggest mentor, however, is my mother. She went to Belmont University for Music Business and toured with a rock ‘n’ roll band in the ’80s. She tackled the entertainment industry long before I was born; her wisdom of how the music and entertainment businesses work keep me grounded as I push forward in New York. Though she never lived in Manhattan, her knowledge of the highs and lows of a creative continue to inspire and guide me everyday. For me, Mom was a pioneer for young women in the entertainment business, and I am grateful for her beyond measure.
Tell me a story about a “pinch me” moment you had – a moment where you felt your life sort of click into place, and you KNEW you were where you were supposed to be, doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing.
I have had countless “pinch me” moments since moving to Manhattan, but one in particular comes to mind. Upon my first three months in the city, I attended the red carpet opening of the CATS revival, as press. CATS, like many of my age group, was the first Broadway show with which I fell in love when I was four years old, thanks to a worn VHS tape. The full circle moment of my childhood, though, happened at the after party of the show. As I stood, taking photographs and uploading social media posts, the show’s creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber, walked past me and stood to address a company member near me. In a moment likened to shock and awe, I excused myself and congratulated Webber for his successful revival opening night, the man whom, arguably, is responsible for my passionate love of the stage. As he smiled and thanked me for my kind words, my childhood melded with my newfound adulthood. I was no longer that four year old attempting to recreate the choreographer of “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer.” I was a professional, living my untapped dreams in a life I never imagined possible.
What are your goals and dreams moving forward (the cliché version of this question is “where do you see yourself in 5 years”)?
I wish to be a storyteller, first and foremost. My dream leading up to my twenties was always to move to New York, period. The dream was getting here. By 20, I was here, living in Manhattan. My answer is as clichéd as my life is up to this point; I am on the search for a new dream. I do have a passion for finding new talents, so I would like to delve deeper into the industry to find more avenues of how to embrace these burgeoning artists and invest in their talents.
What advice would you give to a young professional who just made the big move to NYC?
Life is not linear. In New York, the sentiment is especially true. I am a Political Science graduate from the South who works in the theatrical industry. When I was busy debating freshman year of high school on the Mock Trial team, I could have never pointed to attending a Broadway opening red carpet in seven years. Truly, I am of the mind that investing in what brings you joy will motivate you into your definition of success. In other words, I am of the mind that there is no “right” pathway for your life. The truth of your reality can be vastly different than that of your friends, family, and colleagues. The joy of life is uncovering these realities of our potential for ourselves, in our own time. The joy is finding what sparks you into action.
– In the theatrical industry, if you are professional and kind, you usually will be taken seriously and respected. Being confident and considerate is key in any career, no matter what your age.
– Healthy and honest friendships will help keep your feet planted when the stresses of this industry arise.
– Life is not linear.
– The truth of your reality can be vastly different than that of your friends, family, and colleagues. The joy of life is uncovering these realities of our potential for ourselves, in our own time. The joy is finding what sparks you into action.
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I’m so grateful to Amy for taking the time to answer these questions. I found them to be extremely inspiring, and I hope you did too! If you’d like to keep up with Amy, check out the following links:
Follow @petsofbroadway (co-founded by Amy) for adorable photos and feature stories on Broadway stars and their fur babies.
Check out Amy’s next concert she’s producing at Feinstein’s/54 Below: “54 Sings Heathers.” For more info and tickets, click here.
Stalk her life on http://www.amyesapp.com and @amyesapp on all social platforms!
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Do you know anyone who should be featured in this series? Leave a comment or send me a message!