We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Allison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheryl, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I fell into the field of arts and entertainment very easily. My parents both received their college degrees in music and my father was a minister of music in the church for most of my childhood so I grew up singing with the arts around me. My parents had season tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals and would take me to a few shows each season. The minute I saw my first stage production, I knew I wanted to be up there and perform. From eight grade on I dreamed of moving to NYC and pursuing a theatre career so upon graduation from college, that’s what I did. 30 years later, I’m still performing, acting and most recently directing and producing films.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Most of my professional career has taken place in NYC and it’s not an easy city. I moved right after college and only knew one person. There was no social media and texting in the early 90’s so it was a bit isolating. It’s also a tough place to just accomplish the smallest of tasks. It’s hard to grocery shop and carry tons of bags several blocks to your apartment and then up flights of stairs to your unit. You walk everywhere even in rain, snow or intense heat. It’s not for the faint of heart. However, my parents were so supportive and I knew that I wasn’t alone and had an unwavering family foundation back in Dallas that I could lean on. They helped raise me with a strong sense of self so I was strong mentally which is important in a field of constant rejection and auditioning. The one thing about the audition process is that no matter how talented you are, there are other factors that weigh heavily on whether you book the job. It could be how you look, your height, your weight etc. So I learned early on to concentrate on giving the best audition I could and to release the things I had no control over. So much of it is luck. I was very lucky early on and booked a national tour of Sound of Music after being in NYC for only a month so the stars aligned for me and I worked pretty consistently after that. After many years in NYC and Los Angeles, I moved back to Dallas. I love being back in my home town. DFW has incredible arts and I love working at Casa Manana. I’ve done 10 shows there and have worked with some incredibly talented people. In 2014, I starred in a film called No Letting Go that was shot in NYC and it was based on a true story about a young boy who struggles with a mental health disorder. I saw how that story touched so many people and helped raise awareness to stop the stigma that surrounds mental illness. That inspired me to start my own production company to tell the stories of marginalized groups and bring awareness to social issues. WOW FILMS was started in 2016 and we have completed 4 films and have 2 currently in production. When I look back at my career, the one thing I learned was to just jump in and go for it. I tell young artists to get great training, learn your craft and practice it. Then go for it. You’ll receive a lot of “no’s” but that one “yes” can change the course of your life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love when my friends visit Big D! I can’t wait to show them this incredible city. It’s changed so much from when I was a child. I live in Turtle Creek/Oak Lawn area so an itinerary I love to do with visiting friends is to start out with exploring Uptown and the West Village shops and restaurants. Then hop on the famous McKinney Ave Trolley and head to Klyde Warren Park and the museum district. No visit is complete without going to the Nasher Sculpture Center. A visit and picnic to the Dallas Arboretum is always on the list as well. It’s just gorgeous and has incredible views of White Rock Lake. Another favorite area is Bishops Arts in Oak Cliff. I love supporting the local restaurants and small businesses. Of course on the way there my guests get to travel over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge with great downtown Dallas views and I also like to show them Trinity Groves and support the restaurant start ups located there. If they’re visiting over a weekend, I would take them to visit my church Oak Lawn United Methodist which is right down the street from where I live. Then we would head across the street for brunch at Mattito’s Mexican Restaurant! Religion and margaritas! lol! Other restaurants that are always on the list are Gloria’s, Cru Wine Bar, Cosmic Cafe, Eno’s Pizza Tavern and for more upscale I love to schedule a brunch on the patio at The Mansion Restaurant.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate this story to my parents Brian and Cynthia Allison who have always supported me and encouraged me to follow my dreams. I also want to dedicate the article to Joan Wall who was my college voice teacher. She gave me the training and skills to have a musical theatre career at the professional level. Because of her, I worked fairly consistently and could sing any styles from opera to rock. That versatility really helped me.
Alex Schaefer, Ted Astor, Vonda Klimaszewski, Todd Jenkins, Tom Schopper