Gregory Omar Osborne
Gregory Omar Osborne laughs. A lot. A big, easy, un-selfconscious laugh that's hella contagious. He is one happy guy. And he has every reason to be. Gregory has steered his way to a career that's taken him to multiple cities, states, and countries.
Working non-stop since he left college, Gregory's made a steady living on cruises, regional and Equity theaters around the country, and professional dance companies. He's a self-starter who loves his life and his work. He almost makes it all seem easy, but that's the beauty of Gregory. He's put in the work to make it all happen. He knows who he is. We want you to know who he is too.
Best Known Credits:
Equity: Saturday Night Fever, Memphis
Regional: Cats, Chorus Line, Dreamgirls
Dance Co's: Lydia Johnson, Doug Elkins
25 QUESTIONS WITH GREGORY
A4D: Ok Gregory, where are you right now?
GO: At the theater for Saturday Night Fever! We have 15 minutes between shows.
A4D: The life of a working dancer! Lets get to it then. You're a triple threat, how did you begin?
GO: In 2nd grade, I played piano. I auditioned for a little Christmas concert and got a small speaking role, and after that said "Yes! I want to do this!" I moved to Jersey in 8th grade, and had my first professional dance experience in New York right away.
A4D: How did that come about?
GO: It was with Lydia Johnson Dance company. Her son saw me dancing around my locker at school, and told his Mom about me. (Laughs) All of a sudden, I'm dancing in New York! The New York Times review mentioned the boys, that was exciting. It wasn't even my name, but I was like "Hey, yeah, that's me!"
A4D: Do you dance around all the time?
GO: I can't stop dancing! When I'm in the supermarket, I'm dancing!
A4D: What's the weirdest place you've ever had an audition?
GO: An elevator.
A4D: Say what now?
GO: I saw auditions for Chorus Line and I was like, "I have GOT to do this, I need it on my resume!" (Laughs) I called, but submissions were a week earlier. So I said, "I REALLY want to audition for 'Richie'; please, do you have time to hear me?" She said, "We were just about to contact another guy..." I said, "Please let me do this, let me sing for you!", and she said "Sure... if you can get me a video in the next 15 minutes. Well, I ran around Port Authority trying to figure out how to get a video made, then realized I had no money. So, I went into a hotel elevator with my friend, and just belted my life away!
A4D: That's awesome. Were you going up or down?
GO: We held the elevator on the 5th floor so people couldn't come in, but I'm quite sure people heard me on every floor!
A4D: Were your parents supportive of your career?
GO: Yes. As soon as I started piano, Mom got me a real piano, like a real, big, wood piano. She works for a Broadway producer, Cameron Mackintosh (Cats, Les Miz, Mary Poppins) so she really knows the business.
A4D: They don't get bigger than Cameron Mackintosh! Do you think early exposure to show biz played a part in your passion for it?
GO: Definitely. When I was 6, I saw my first musical, Oliver in the West End in London. Seeing those boys up there dancing and singing, I knew it was for me. My first Broadway show was Cats, and that confirmed it; I had to be up there.
A4D: You're a triple threat; which skill is your passion?
GO: I love it all. I just like to be on stage, I'm not choosy. (Laughs)
A4D: What would you tell dancers who don't sing or act?
GO: In musical theater, as a dancer, you really only get cast in the ensemble. Why settle for that? You have to get all the experience you can; it's about working your craft. I say if you're already a fantastic dancer and you want to get into musical theater, stop taking a million dance classes a day and get some singing and acting classes in there!
A4D: Name one personality trait that's helped you, and one you've had to overcome.
GO: They're the same answer. My honesty. People want someone genuine, but sometimes honesty can bite you in the ass. Because some people want to hear the truth but can't handle it.
A4D: How do you decide when it's appropriate?
GO: (Laughs) Honestly, I have to be more discerning. It's trial and error.
A4D: Give an example of when it was error.
GO: I was doing Memphis, and the director said "Let us know if you have any problems, let me know, just let me know." Now, I was a percussionist, so the instruments that influence my movement the most are percussion and bass guitar. There's this rock-and-roll rhythm-and-blues number in the show, but the drummer was playing the conga. I was like "Oh no, this is not okay." So I told the director. (Laughs) He didn't like it much at all.
A4D: How did you say it?
GO: In a non-combative way; "You asked, so I want you to know this is a little problem I'm having. I can't give you life with this beat!" There are very few 'black shows', and when you do a show like Memphis, it needs to be handled like South Pacific or Oklahoma... you don't just change the style of the songs, because it changes the whole story.
A4D: Has race ever been an issue in your career?
GO: If there is an issue, I'm not listening to it.
A4D: Right on. You have so much positive energy. Born with it or cultivated?
GO: I believe everyone is born with positive energy. For me, having something to believe in makes it easier. I grew up in church, and those parables are good stories! But basically, everyone has good and bad stuff in their lives. If you focus on the negative, you're only gonna get negative back. As you grow up, it's easy to start realizing there's a lot of negativity, and react in a negative way to the negativity. (Laughs). And then become a negative person. You have to focus on yourself, and stay positive. You're going to be distracted in life, in good ways and bad. I wake up in the morning and thank God for all I have, and get breakfast going. If the sun is out, I look out the window, and if it's not, I still look out the window and declare "It's gonna be a good day." If you look out and say "Oh, it's cloudy outside and I hate this," well, your day will be crappy.
A4D: What were your first few jobs like?
GO: My first job paid me lunch, and that's it. But I appreciated it! It influenced me to keep working. My cousin was a professional tap dancer, and I said I'll do whatever I have to do to get to that position. But I quit for a while in high school. I couldn't decide if it was really what I wanted. I started so late... and you know, when you're growing up, you're not sure what you might want to be; I wanted to be a pastor for awhile, but when I realized they had to do funerals, I was like "Well THAT'S not for me!) (Laughs)
A4D: How did you begin dancing again?
GO: I was on a stage crew for a former Rockette, and after I watched her recital, I told her how much I missed it. She hired me on the spot as an assistant teacher, and I fell in love with it again.
A4D: Sometimes you have to leave it to realize how much you love it. What was the next job?
GO: I got a job with Doug Elkins Dance Company, which I found on A4D! I auditioned and got Othello in Mooretown Redux, which took me to California. It was a great dance role, but after awhile I missed musical theater, missed singing and dancing. So I did Dreamgirls and a few different shows, and then I landed my first Equity Theater in Arkansas.
A4D: Is it fair to call you an Equity Musical Theater Gypsy?
GO: Well, I'm working up to Equity, I'm just a few weeks away. Once you work 50 weeks in an Equity theater - not neccesarily in a row - you can file for your card.
A4D: Actor's Equity is the theater union; it gives great benefits. What are some of the perks?
GO: Oh, so many. Health and pension benefits, discounts for dance classes, shoes, and other things, and housing, even in New York!
A4D: Once you're a member, you can't do non-equity work, correct?
GO: That's true, I couldn't do Miss Suzy's Performing Arts Center (Laughs). But interestingly enough, you can still work on cruise lines because they're on foreign ships in international waters, so AE doesn't have jurisdiction.
A4D: You worked on a cruise line earlier in your career...
GO: Yes, 2012-2013. I got that from A4D too! It was a tough time in my life, there was a death in the family, and I was like "I gotta find an outlet." I looked on A4D, found the audition, and went the next day, like "Let's do this!" I paid off my student loan with that gig. Anyone who just graduated college, I say go for a cruise line! Pay off your loan, and get great experiences.
A4D: Elaborate please.
GO: You perform all the time, and it has to be great every time, because these people are paying money. Your room and food are covered, you can put away savings. You learn to interact with people from different nations and backgrounds. And you find out "Okay, I can last 9 shows a week." It's very physically demanding.
A4D: I know some dancers who lost themselves on cruiselines by getting too heavily into partying.
GO: Okay, let's keep it real. I like to have fun, and going to the ship club is great, because you've been doing the same choreo over and over, and you sort of forget how you really move. I usually gave myself one or two nights a week to shake my butt. But like with anything, you have to know your limits. You have to be responsible and know you gotta wake up the next day and do the show, and do it great every time.
A4D: How do you look for jobs on A4D?
GO: I like to work. I know sometimes you have to be picky, but first and foremost, I just like to work, and wouldn't be happy stuck behind a desk. So I look for what I would enjoy doing. Right now I'm staying focused on getting my Equity card, I'm so close!
A4D: What's your advice to young dancers ready to make a go of it?
GO: Read everything on A4D, number one. And watch all the videos! Sometimes they may seem a little redundant, but that's great because it drills the points into your head. A4D always helps get me to where I'm supposed to be. Grover and the team are doing such a good job. I started with that website before iDance2, and.... (Loud music starts in background).... Oops, oh no, I gotta go, they're ready for me onstage!
A4D: Go Gregory, go!
Note: After the interview, I went to Gregory's facebook page, where I found Gregory's motto:
'Live in the moment. Make choices. Take risks. Own your mistakes. Keep smiling.'
That's Gregory in a nutshell.
TOP 10 THINGS GREGORY DID TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS:
- Translated his passion for performing into an unbeatable work ethic
- Stayed open to jobs of all styles
- Allowed his natural exuberance to shine through all his performances
- Stayed focused on his positive attitude and his goals
- Actively looked for and found auditions whenever one job ended
- Managed his money so he was able to pay off student loans and start savings
- Set a goal for a union that can pay benefits far off into his future
- Persisted in chasing the jobs he really wanted
- Kept the priority of professionalism over social opportunities
- Found a way to get an audition video done and submitted in 15 minutes!
TOP 3 CHALLENGES GREGORY HAD TO FACE:
Challenge #1: INDECISION
Gregory hit a point where he wasn't sure this life was for him.
SOLUTION: He took some time off from dance, and found his answer by how much he missed it.
Challenge #2: STAGNATION
As a triple threat, at times in his career, he felt like some element was missing.
SOLUTION: He varied the genre of auditions he went to; modern dance companies, musical theater, and cruises.
Challenge #3: DISTRACTIONS
Gregory faced distractions from his path, both good and bad.
SOLUTION: He made sure he always knew his limits, and kept checking in on who he was, and what his goals are.
5 QUICK FUN FACTS FOR GREGORY:
We gave Gregory 15 seconds to answer each question. Ready? Go!
1 - What's in your dance bag?
My tap shoes. All other dance shoes are in the theater.
2 - What's your favorite food?
Roti and curry. I'm an ultimate foodie. I only watch Empire and Foodnetwork!
3 - Last text you sent?
To my mom. She wanted me to do some shopping for her - shopping outlets are so good on the road!
4 - Celebrity crush?
Hmmmm. Oooooh! Rihanna.
5 - What's your power snack?
I don't have one - I don't take breaks. I love what I do, so that gives me energy.
Gregory has been a member of Answers4Dancers since 2009. You can find Gregory Omar Osborne on Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Twitter, and Youtube. (Gregory is on his social network game!)