We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea LeSage and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I am an artist because I simply cannot do anything else. In my Shakespeare training as a teen, a teacher told the group that if any of us could do anything else at all with ourselves and our lives, to do that. “If you can be anything other than an actor, be that any other thing,” she said. That resonates with me still as I never have felt I could do anything else with my life. It is what fuels me, my creativity and all of the space in my head and in my heart. That sprung from playing music, but I am fortunate enough to find ways to make the two coincide with one another. Then, acting for the stage sprung to film and television and modeling. Each facet let’s my creativity shine and I can never think of doing anything else.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I remember my mother and father telling me that they would not let me move to New York to go to school to be an actor if they did not think I could do it. They always thought I could, despite my insecurities and sensitivity. I got a great education in the BFA Acting program at Marymount Manhattan College and met colleagues who I got to grow with. The friends I made in college and I find every opportunity to help each other professionally and are all still close.
Being the tall girl, the klutz, the girl who chose music and theater over basketball and track and field was a challenge when I was young, but never one that I would take back. Moving to New York is also tough because the city is a leaving, breathing entity in and of itself and it will eat you alive if you do not grow a thick skin. Rejection starting our was not fun, but it’s a part of the job and does not affect me or my abiilty to push forward ever anymore. The decision to focus more on film and television as opposed to the theater (that has my heart), was a tough decision that I was in the fortunate enough position to even make. Then COVID hit and the theater I am a resident artist at went dark, and I accepted the challenge of taking our productions and putting them all on film. The CDC and union guidelines were an obstacle but it was a way to keep my and my fellow actors’ art alive. No, being an actor is not easy. It never is-but that’s not why we do it. We do it because we have to tell these stories and lay ourselves all out there for the world to see. It feeds our souls. We need it.
I’ve learned to always trust your gut, be yourself and keep your chin up. I have learned to be unabashedly myself and have learned to run my own business because myself as an artist, as a brand, is my business. And that has helped me start other business and production companies that I am so proud to say are alive, thriving and creating.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There is a bagel spot on 21st and 1st in Manhattan called Tal’s that has the best bagels in the city. That is my OPINION. New Yorkers: don’t fight me-I know you have your own favorite. Anyway, it would be essential to eat there several times during my best friend’s stay. Then we would visit my favorite place, Roosevelt Island, where I lived for five years. It’s such a splendid enigma of a place and I miss living there. Then we would eat at The Jeffrey, right over the Roosevelt Island tram. Ideally, every evening would be spent at a theater, watching some live performance. There must also be a tour of the dive bars that I once bartended at. And of course, a visit to Balto in Central Park. When I was a kid, he was my favorite thing to see. Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn is also a must.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many individuals and organizations that have mentored, loved and encouraged me in my career. First, my parents, Sharon and Paul, who have always supported me more than anyone. My family is everything. I also owe a lot to my first clarinet teacher, Senta Brodeur, my high school theater and choir teacher Jess Passetto and everyone over at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA for the foundation that they all gave me to grow as an artist. Thank you so much to all of you. I would not be the me I grew up to be without any of you.
Headshots by JShootsNYC