She’s tenacious, determined and passionate – but it took her several decades of living a comfortable life before she set out to live her badassery life! Gail grew up in a small town in Illinois. She saw her first musical at the age of 10 (“A Chorus Line”) and knew then that she wanted to perform. “I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I felt like my heart just poured out of my eyes.” Rather than follow her childhood dream, she chose the practical route and attended college, pursued a career in communications and got married.
As she headed into her 40th birthday, she also headed into tough times. The dream job she had worked toward for several years went to someone else. Her attempt at getting pregnant resulted in two failed invitro-fertilizations and a devastating miscarriage. And she started to regret not pursuing her passion for performing. Understanding her pain and standing strong by her side was her husband. Brian challenged her to set some specific goals, like performing in a solo show for her 40th birthday. Challenge accepted.
On Feb. 10, 2012, Gail performed at The Cabaret in Indianapolis in front of 140 people. That single performance lit a fire that had been burning for a long time—a fire that ignited an eternal flame and sparked the beginning of a successful singing career.
Later that year, she was invited to participate in the prestigious, audition-only, International Cabaret Conference at Yale University—one of 20 artists from four countries studying with award-winning performers, composers and musicians. For the next five years, Gail went on to perform and produce cabaret shows at such acclaimed Indianapolis venues as The Cabaret at The Columbia Club, The Indiana Repertory Theatre Cabaret Room, The Jazz Kitchen, The Chatterbox, the Indy Fringe festival, She took her last show, “This is U.S.” from St. Louis to Indianapolis, Chicago and 54 Below in New York City.
Although passionate about singing, Gail was determined to pursue acting. She was offered a singing, acting and dancing role in The Phoenix Theatre’s “A Very Phoenix Xmas 12” in December 2017. Following that show, her coach, mentor and friend of many years, Tony-award winner Faith Prince, told her she should consider training in New York. That advice, coupled with the unwavering support of her husband, led her to the Big Apple. In September 2018, she enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse where she spent 9 months studying full-time acting, singing, dancing and more. Today, she is committed to making a living doing just that. She’s spending slightly less time in class and more time creating her marketing portfolio and business plan. She’s learning new material—monologues and songs—for auditions. She’s meeting with casting directors, agents and managers and, most of all, other actors and playwrights to expand her network.
Gail’s new mantra is “choose love, not fear”. She explains that everyone in the acting business is afraid, including producers, directors, actors, agents—everyone. You have to keep choosing to love yourself and your work if you want to work in this business. The fear is palpable. Fight or flight is real for a reason. It took her a very long time and a long, winding path to finally unapologetically choose to love and respect who she is: an artist. Gail reflects for a minute: “Sure, I would love to be a mother. I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over that loss. While I cannot do anything about that, I can do this.”
When asked if she’s living out her badassery life, she responded: “Every day, if I’m lucky enough to have a chance to act or perform, I’m asked to wear my heart on my sleeve, be completely exposed and vulnerable, be brave, composed (not nervous), impolite if necessary, and be my “true self,” after which someone is going to critique that effort! I have no idea why I love that so much. Maybe I’m a masochist, but it makes me feel completely and utterly alive. I love the embodiment of the entire experience—heart, mind, body and soul. Yes, I’m living a badassery life because I’m relentlessly going after my dreams full stop. I’m all in. 110%!”
Facebook: @gailpaynesings Instagram: @therealgailpayne