We had the good fortune of connecting with Sterling Shea and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sterling, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had recently left Los Angeles where I took expensive classes, sat in on casting sessions, interned for a talent agent, auditioned during the day, and did staged readings at night. I was also a cater waiter, barista, dog walker, or babysitter on any given day (ah, the actor’s life). But when I arrived in Dallas, none of that seemed to matter. I was starting from ground zero. So I created the resource I wish I had when I moved to Dallas. Where is the best place to get headshots printed? Who are the most trustworthy talent agents? Where are we going for drinks after this show? It’s all being crowd sourced and documented at @artsdistrictpod. I want my platform to serve as a bridge. I hope it connects people in the audition waiting rooms, I hope the kid who just moved here knows the best place for comedy classes, I hope the young Shakespearean finds that free, online seminar to watch. I’m also pretty passionate about making sure live theatre lives to see the next generation of audiences, so if I can show locals that theatre is truly for everyone; every culture, every race, every economic status, every neighborhood… that would be thrilling.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an actor, podcaster, and marketing manager. I host and curate every episode of Arts District the Podcast. I work full-time for Shakespeare Dallas and volunteer my services at Stomping Ground Comedy. A college professor of mine once said “Say yes to everything” and I took that quite literally for several years. Do you want to be an audition reader this afternoon? Yes. Can you be our backstage child wrangler? Yes. Do you want to take a summer intensive? Yes. My talent agency needs an intern! Wanna do it? Yes! Even though these opportunities didn’t pay well (if they paid at all) they led me to the next adventure and the next. Being an audition reader taught me what I can and can’t control in the audition room. Being a child wrangler let me observe professional, working actors and taught me how to conduct myself backstage. Doing a summer intensive made me more confident about my skill set. And being an agent’s intern had me question everything I thought I knew about resumes, cover letters, headshots, and phone manners. Every gig I’ve done has gifted me with extremely valuable information. Information I wouldn’t have been gifted if I had been stubborn or prideful along the way. As I mentioned earlier, when I moved to Dallas it was like starting all over. I hadn’t lived in the area since high school and that didn’t leave me with many connections. So, I started the podcast as a way to meet people and keep learning. I began by interviewing friends from the floor of my closet, followed by lots of “Why am I doing this?” or “This was stupid. No one is going to listen.” I’m still pretty riddled with self-doubt but I manage, At the end of the day, I just really love the theatre. Being an actor is incredibly exiting and therapeutic for me. I love storytelling and human connection. Working in marketing allows me a microscopic way to make sure the theatre survives another day. I want people to know that excellent theatre exists, and it’s right here in Dallas. And it’s affordable. And the drive won’t be that bad, promise. The podcast is a huge part of getting the word out on who’s who and what’s happening around town.
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.
Oh we are certainly starting our day off at the Dallas Farmer’s Market. Did you know those mimosas have HALF A BOTTLE of champagne? I highly recommend snagging a jar of Goofy Girl Gumbo and then buying way too many stickers at Lone Chimney Mercantile. To kill an afternoon I like walking up and down the streets of Bishop Arts District. It’s great to hear live music, catch up with a friend, and window shop. For dinner, it’s gotta be takeout from Kebab ‘n Kurry in Richardson. And, in a perfect, pandemic-less world, I’d be taking a friend to see some live performances at one of our dozen-or-so professional theatre companies.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This is a cliché, but there’s too many to thank. So many of my opportunities came from a friend vouching for me or a mentor throwing me a bone. My husband, Aaron, has this unshakeable belief in me that I don’t always understand. When I wanted to sign up for a pricey acting class, he found a way to meet the expense. When I release a new podcast episode, he enthusiastically and earnestly tells me “This is the BEST episode yet!” When I was ready to move to Dallas, a city unfamiliar to him, he packed up and took a leap of faith. He is a pretty incredible parter to me and he deserves a good deal of credit for me being my best.