We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Schermel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and get it wrong. This advice goes completely against everything I was taught, and in some cases I think we can agree it’s absolutely crucial to get it right. But when there is no room for failure, it is impossible to learn, grow and move forward, especially when starting a business in the arts.
Just last year, I decided to write a children’s book. I was already entertaining kids in theater and as a party princess. My favorite princess was “Unicorn Princess Gemma” because she was completely original and I got to create her own unique story. When COVID hit and everything shut down, I could no longer do theater or “princessing.” That’s when I started writing “The Unicorn Princess” picture book – a process that I felt would be short and simple. I could not have been more wrong!
There were multiple points in the writing process where I would get caught up in perfection: following the “rules” of writing a modern children’s picture book, getting the illustrations just right, rewriting and editing to perfection, creating the perfect book description, etc. But here’s the thing. Despite my best efforts to make my book “perfect”, I still made mistakes. Because this was my very first book. And because there will always be something to improve upon. And because maybe there isn’t a “perfect” way of creating something you’re passionate about…
Truth be told, perfectionism doesn’t belong in the arts. I have learned that sometimes mistakes lead to new and exciting discoveries. Changing my perspective has also allowed me to expand my business into new areas (like making kids YouTube videos) where I am applying this exact same lesson. Sometimes it’s still a struggle, but when I remember to embrace my mistakes, that’s when I move forward.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have a full-time job as a Research Assistant in Nutritional Sciences. Though I always knew I wanted a career in the performing arts, unlike so many others in this field, I didn’t start out as a kid. I started singing lessons just after finishing university, and I started acting classes years later.
I eventually started auditioning and working on small tv roles and independent films (still doing this), when I saw a casting notice for princess party characters. As an adult, I’m still obsessed with Disney like I’m seven. I knew I had to audition. I became a party princess and fell in love with making magical moments for kids! That job became so much more than I ever could have imagined.
I’m still transitioning from my career in sciences to a career in the arts. I’m now in the process of writing my second book, but I’m also building a world around Unicorn Princess Gemma. I recently started a YouTube channel based around this character, playing magical games and songs for kids. Building a YouTube channel has had its own unique set of challenges, for example, learning about and troubleshooting cameras, lighting, green screens, sound, editing, writing my own scripts, being my own director, promoting myself, and the list goes on. Princess Gemma has never been busier!
I’m not exactly sure where all of this is leading, but so far I’m loving the journey!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m from Toronto, Canada and there is so much to explore here that I’m not sure where to start! I’m a big foodie and a theater lover so many of my trips will revolve around those two things! Toronto is known for its multicultural cuisine and there are so many interesting pockets to explore. I also LOVE making itineraries so here you go:
Day 1 – Sign up for a food tour in Kensington market. Check out Chinatown, stroll through Trinity Bellwoods park, and shop along Queen West for some unique restaurants and boutiques. Grab a nice dinner on lower Ossington.
Day 2 – Start at the St. Lawrence Market (Saturday) and then stroll the waterfront during the day. Explore the Distillery District in the evening and have dinner here (amazing food, breweries, art galleries and boutiques).
Day 3 – Explore downtown Toronto and see a show. For adventure seekers, try the Edgewalk on the CN tower. For musical theatre lovers, Mirvish is the major theatre company here. There’s also Roy Thomson Hall for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts for opera and ballet. Or if that’s not your thing, check out Second City for some great comedy! Of course, you can see a sports ball game as well, but you’re asking the wrong person. King West is great for nightlife.
Day 4 – Hop on a ferry, rent a bike, and check out the Toronto Islands.
Day 5 – Explore the west end of Toronto – there’s High Park (400 acres for hiking, petting zoo, swimming pool, tennis, Shakespeare in the Park, playgrounds, picnics, and more), Roncesvalles street (some of my favourite restaurants are here), Bloor West Village, and The Junction (great breweries).
Day 6 – Explore the beaches in the east end of Toronto – plenty of shops, restaurants and a great beach in the city!
Day 7 – Travel somewhere outside of Toronto. Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake (wineries) are only about 2 hours away by car.
This is super ambitious, but it should give you some great ideas!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Above everyone, my husband Eric has always been by my side encouraging and supporting my dreams. He is an entrepreneur himself and that mindset comes very naturally to him. For me, the opposite is true and I don’t think there’s a chance that I’d be pursuing an author or entertainment career if it weren’t for him encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone and do the things I’m most passionate about!
Other: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unicorn-Princess-Alyssa-Schermel/dp/1777272718 Etsy (signed copy of The Unicorn Princess): https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/915957956
Kreative Kapture (feature photo)