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Your Voice. Your Story.

Chasing His Dream Only To Find His Family

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Joe headshot
Joe K,
Tennessee

“As performers we touch people all the time. You get so close to people, not only because you have to touch them when you dance, but it's such a deep thing to share your body as your art. This is our instrument. This is our business. To not be able to share that does quite a bit to the psyche.”

Even though he was born into a family of athletes, Joe was drawn to music and dance. Growing up he mastered the art of movement by mirroring pop stars. High school was full of show choirs, and then college laid the foundation for an illustrious career.

Joe was one of the lucky ones, he booked a tour almost immediately after moving to New York City.  What often takes hard working performers years, Joe had accomplished in months. His follow up gig was an Off-Broadway Show and he felt unstoppable.

“I’m like, I’m going to nail this career!  This is gonna be so easy!” 

For the next 7 years Joe worked consistently, booking TV gigs, moonlighting as a model and performing for regional theaters.  In 2008, he accomplished every performer’s dream; he landed a role in Grease on Broadway.

“It was the pinnacle. That was what you do in New York. When that happened, I was like, OK, I did everything I want to do.”

Actors in car

Then the financial crisis of 2008 happened, and dozens of Broadway shows closed their doors, including Grease.  But Joe was young and he could bounce back, adapt and move on.

“I literally got a call out of the blue and somebody said, we have a role for a principal singer on a cruise ship that goes around the Mediterranean. Do you want it?” 

It was a starring role on a Disney Cruise Line.  It gave him time to think and plan for his future, and  when he returned, Joe had already decided to make the move to Los Angeles.

“I was going to give myself a year, thinking I can always go back to New York. There’s always a contingency plan. Nothing’s forever. Nothing is permanent.”

Actor in costume

He found that theater was wildly different in L.A., so he expanded into all facets of the industry: live events, television, choreography, film, music videos and much more.  Years passed, old performances became distant memories and one day Joe realized that he was still doing live events and competing with 21 year olds.  Joe longed for those feelings he had back in New York where he was most successful.

“So I decided to go back to New York because I was still dancing. I was still performing, I needed to do it where I was successful.”

But when he got there, he found things had changed in the 10 years since he had left. Last time he was in New York there weren’t a lot of male dancers. He had started his career well before shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance”. The landscape had changed; Joe was no longer a commodity and he had changed too. He was tired of always thinking about himself; his life was in upheaval and he wanted something new.

 

Actor on stage

So Joe embarked on what he thought would be the next chapter of his life.  In the beginning of March, he started interning at a Talent Agency looking to learn the skills to help to manage and develop young talent. Fourteen days later New York City completely shut down, the pandemic had arrived and it didn’t care about career changes.

“I was already in a huge time of change and upheaval.  I was not expecting to be making money for a little bit of time because as an intern you’re not making any money.”

The next chapter of life came, it just didn’t look anything like he had expected.

“When the pandemic hit and I was like, I can’t stay in New York. I’m not grounded enough. I’m not mentally, emotionally prepared to go through this in a studio apartment by myself in Hell’s Kitchen. Get me out!.

Joe negotiated an early release from his apartment, packed himself up and moved to Nashville to be closer to his sister just days before Tennessee itself shut down. With his talent agency career on hold for the foreseeable future, Joe is finding comfort in his family.  Even though he has never been super tight with his sister, he now loves spending time with hre family.

“I have become a part of my niece’s and nephew’s life. Now they expect my face to be around. It’s something that makes me feel really good. I love spending time with them and getting to see all the quirks of their personalities come out piece by piece. That, to me, has become more important than chasing a career.”

Read another story from an actor who refuses to let the pandemic ruin his career.