Meeting and hanging out with Joe can be summed up through our selfie sesh when we were trying to make two sides of a hand heart and giggling “We love London, We Love Broadway, We love the West End!, We love LOVE!” Which happened in a skate park we stumbled on in London that was the perfect backdrop for an interview about how Joe is balancing the creativity + chaos of moving from Broadway to the West End! Joe’s vibrant life certainly comes from a deep sense of self and a dedication to discovering the balance every single day to be Fit for Broadway & Fit for West End!
NOTE FROM JOE: Hello everyone!! My name is Joe Aaron Reid, and apparently, I’m fit for broadway!! Well…most days. For those who don’t know me, I am an actor is my 30’s from Greece, New York…a town just outside of Rochester, in Upstate New York. I graduated from Ithaca College, and moved to the city on my graduation day, way back when. My time in New York City consisted of some close knit friends, way more acquaintances, a ton of dates, a few boyfriends, a lot of laughs, even more drinks, many trips to Fire Island, one guilty pleasure prime time television show and a bunch of Broadway shows. It’s also where I met my husband, and where we started our journey as a family with our two children. Allinall, it was 10 years in NYC, before we packed up and moved our lives across the pond to London.
For those who DO know me…You think you know, but you have no idea. This is the story of my life. Well…at least some of it. Cliffnotes style.
“Training for Broadway” from Fit for Broadway Apparel
(click HERE or click the picture)
Jane: Hi Joe!! I am so excited to connect in London after both of us ventured over from New York. And seriously, what a treat to see you perform in In The Heights.. you’re incredible! What was your journey to Broadway & the West End? Where did it all start?
Joe: Honestly, the pleasure was all mine. Meeting and seeing you would put a smile on anyone’s face! I’m so thrilled you caught In The Heights while you were here. It is a show that I have always wanted to do, and to move here and have it be my first job and playing the role I’ve always wanted to play, has really been a dream come true. Let me take you back…
Like a lot of people, I grew up performing in shows at school, chorus, show choir, and eventually realized I wanted to pursue it as a career. I ended up going to Ithaca College because they had a great program, but it was also only a couple hours away from home. They taught me a lot, and on a trip to NYC with our senior class, I ended up booking my favorite show, Ragtime, at Paper Mill Playhouse. Sure, I had to skip a couple of lectures to audition, which was frowned upon, but it ended up getting me the job and my equity card. I ended up moving to the city on my graduation day because I started rehearsals the next morning. Whirlwind, I know.
It ended up taking me about a year and a half to find myself gracing a Broadway stage, and I’m glad it took me some time. I know some people will think it’s not that much time, and they’re right, but I think it was the amount of time I needed to appreciate what it was I was getting myself into. I found my successes came in 2’s, so I was always choosing between shows. It’s funny because my last Broadway show was If/Then, and was about choices and chance. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen a different show. Where would I be now?
Well, apparently NOW, is in London with a husband, two children and starring in a West End show. I couldn’t be happier.
Jane: There is so much new for you right now… new city, new show, you’re a new dad! so exciting! How do you balance it all?
Joe: I have to be completely honest, some days I do manage to balance it, and other days I fail miserably. During college I studied abroad here, so London wasn’t as foreign as another city might have been. Although I did have to find a new agent and learn where the audition studios were and the who’s who. That was a challenge. Luckily, as an actor in a West End show, I have most of my daytimes “free”. “Free” means something different when you are a parent, I’m learning. It means “yes”, you can get to the gym, but you also have to take your kids to swimming and Monkey Music and do laundry and preregister them for nursery school, all before lunch. It’s not easy finishing a show at 11 and then getting up in the morning, but if I’m lucky, when I get up I have two smiling faces waiting for me.
We also have a live-in au pair. Without her, I would be toast. She’s really the hero of the household. I don’t know about anyone else, but two babies is HARD work, and she always manages to pull it off with a smile.
To be fair though, even through all of what I just said…sometimes you just need a day to be a teenage boy, so you take yourself to see a superhero movie and geek out alone in the dark for 2 1⁄2 hours. Balance, right?
Jane: What’s your advice for finding the balance between creativity and chaos? Or does it all just blend together?
Joe: It’s interesting, because again, some days it works and some days it doesn’t, but I find that since becoming a father, my creativity fuels the chaos, and vice versa. With my personality and my training and upbringing and my career choice, I’m able to approach being a father in a completely artsy fartsy, weird way, that I find not all parents are capable of. At the same time, the emotions that come with being a parent not only make me enjoy my 3 hours of escape at night, but it has made me much more in touch with who I am as a human being and as an artist. I think the balance comes when you acknowledge that both exist, accept that it may be out of control at times, and allow them each to run their course.
Joe: Fitness is everything. I’ve found that going to the gym or running or swimming has been integral to my success as a human, parent, husband, actor and anything else I’m leaving out. Although I’m one of those people who classifies “working out” as part of the job, it is also a chance to center as a person in this world.
I also have to start really watching my habits, because I will be teaching my children how to live, and I hope that they lead healthy and active lives.
Jane: Creativity + chaos in mind, body, and spirit, right?! How have you managed to tap into each of these and find the balance?
Joe: I think balance really comes from knowing what you can and cannot control. As an actor there is so much left out of my hands that it can sometimes be frustrating, infuriating, depressing, but you can counter that by other creative outlets. Writing your own work, listening to new music…I’ve gotten into a lot of Voice Over stuff, which I find fulfills a different part of me. I think it’s important to remember that if you’re creative, then you need to create and not just wait.
As a parent, a lot is out of your control. Daphne and Axel don’t care if I’m in a bad mood or tired…they are babies, and need ATTENTION. They will throw tantrums, they will cry, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The more I tell myself “These things happen”, the more I don’t feel responsible for changing the outcome. Of course, I’m there for my kids when they need me, but when I started to really pinpoint what was in my control, I could feel my shoulders drop, ever so slightly.
Jane: Creativity + chaos… London vs. New York?
Joe: It’s funny because, London is kind of the New York of Europe, but it’s really, very different. Of course I spent 10 years in New York, and am American, so it’s my home. I’ve only been in London a year, and it takes time for a place to win you over. I remember that for the first two years of living in Manhattan, I didn’t LOVE it. Now, I see why there are so many I ❤ NY shirts.
Everyone views New York as chaotic, and it is, but that is what is so thrilling about it. It’s the fire that lives and breathes inside of every New Yorker. It fuels creativity, but it can also extinguish it, if it’s not being fostered in the right way. The city is tough.
London is creative and chaotic in a different way. You can sense the history everywhere you turn, so there’s a certain stoicism and weight that art holds here. They are also very big on rules and perception, so the chaos is more of an underbelly. In New York, you get what you see. Here you get what they want you to see.
Jane: Who or what inspires you?
Joe: All different things. My children. Other performers. Flowers in a neighboring garden. A song from 1982. I try to be as open as I can be, so with that openness, comes the ability to be inspired. I say “look around”. There is more to see, than can ever be seen. More to do, than can ever be done…See what I did there?
Jane: I love that song!! Talk about a life anthem! And finally, the big question everyone working towards this dream wants to know… What’s your advice for aspiring performers who are working towards a career on Broadway or the West End?
Joe: There is no right or wrong path. Your journey is yours and yours alone. Don’t let anyone tell you how to get there. If you want to get there, and I mean truly, like deep down in your gut get there, then you will. That also goes hand in hand with work. You have to work harder than you thought possible. You have to be patient. You have to be persistent. You have to be kind. You have to be strong. All of those things are if you want a LASTING career on Broadway or the West End.
Most importantly, I think you have to remain open. Sometimes you train hard and have the goods and do all the things you think you’re supposed to do, but it’s still not working. That is ok. Or sometimes you have all that and you don’t really want it. That’s ok, too. You’re allowed to change your mind. We spend a lot of time choosing what we want to do, but sometimes life chooses for us. All we can do is remain open and listen to your heart.