“Hi there! I’m Caitlin Kinnunen. I’m originally from Camano Island, WA but have lived in NYC for the last 11 years! I made my Broadway debut in Spring Awakening. I then went on to do the first national tour of Next to Normal, the Broadway production of The Bridges of Madison County, and to receive a Tony nomination for playing the role of Emma Nolan in The Prom!”
Connect with Caitlin: @caitlinkinnunen
Q: Can we start from the beginning… What’s been your journey to Broadway?
A: I started acting when I was 3 years old. Taking different classes and doing children’s theatre. I got my first professional show in Seattle when I was 11, then moved to NYC when I was 16 to make my Broadway debut in Spring Awakening.
Q: How have health and wellness been a part of your journey as a performer?
A: When you’re a performer, your body is your work. You have to take care of it so it can get you through auditions, rehearsals, shows, press… So many different things. Keeping it all going is just a part of it all.
Q: Top 3 tips for maintaining energy for your show.
- SLEEP. I’m a person who doesn’t function well on less than 8 hours. So I really have to prioritize resting and recuperating over staying out and catching up with people. I’ve been living like a hermit for the last year to be able to play Emma the way I want to, but it has been 100% worth it.
- Taking time for yourself. It’s so important to learn to put yourself first when you’re doing a show that takes a lot out of you emotionally. Find things that make you feel like YOU again. I like to go to my favorite coffee shop, spend time outside, and see friends who recharge me.
- Meditation! I started meditating before each show and it has been SO helpful on SO many levels. I highly recommend finding a meditation app that you like. My personal favorite is Headspace.
Q: What’s been a personal challenge you’ve had to navigate as a performer?
A: I’ve have a couple that continue to this day! The first one is that I’m a type 1 Diabetic. I have been for 19 years. Learning how to manage that while being on stage was definitely a learning curve. It took a lot of trial and error to figure it all out. I had to find out what I need to eat before shows to get me through without having my blood sugar crash, what snacks I can hide onstage if I go low, where to hide my insulin pump in my costume (I wear it on my mic belt now), and mentally how to be ok with being onstage for long periods of times without being able to check-in and see if I was on track. Second, I also have anxiety and depression. I have for the last 11 years. I started having panic attacks on stage when I was 15. It was scary because I had never had them before and suddenly I wasn’t able to make it through a show. I quickly found help and got on medication. Something that worked very well for me. I had been under pretty good control up until two months ago. When I got nominated for the Tony it all started coming back. Once again I couldn’t make it through a show. So I talked with my therapist and decided to find a psychiatrist to up my meds a bit and get me back to my “normal”. Taking that step got things going in the right direction again. I’m back to 8 shows a weeks and feeling great. Sometimes you just need a little adjustment, but it can make a huge difference. Both those things have thought me a lot about myself and how I need to care for my body while doing a broadway run.
Q: What creates the biggest impact on your performance feeling great or not so great?
A: Taking the time I need before the show. Over the years I’ve figured out my body likes to be at the theatre EARLY. For The Prom, I’m at the theatre 2.5 hours before curtain. That time to get ready slowly without rushing makes or breaks the show for me. If I feel rushed, everything falls apart.
Q: Top 5 products, companies or brands that are shaping your lifestyle right now.
- Moonjuice powders!!
- Weighted blanket
- Good headphones to listen to great music
Q: Fill in the blanks…
A: The best part of working on Broadway is…. The people!!! I love this community so dang much. Everyone is so supportive.
The most challenging part of working on Broadway is… The hours. Most people think all we have to do is the 2.5-hour show. They don’t take into account the rehearsals, press, time spent getting ready, warming up, stage door-ing…all those extra things add up!
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: Getting to connect with people who relate to the characters I get to play. Hearing their stories and getting to help voice them 8 times a week. It’s a special thing.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring performers who have their sights set on Broadway?
A: KEEP GOING!!!! This world will so many things at you that will make you want to up and quit. BUT DON’T DO IT! Keep saying yes to things, keep showing up. Do good work and be a nice person. That will get you farther than you think.
Q: What’s your personal definition of being “Fit for Broadway”?
A: Being honest with yourself and the people around you. Choosing to put your well-being first and foremost so you can get up on that stage and give it your all every show.
Caitlin is wearing “FFB Rainbow Tee” by Fit for Broadway Apparel
Interview and photos by Jane Jourdan
Castmate Cameo by Anthony Norman