We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Craig and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, how do you think about risk?
I see risk taking as essential. It’s oxygen and water. I don’t think much growth ever happens until you choose to get out of your comfort zone. To me, taking risks doesn’t mean putting yourself in danger or doing something that would jeopardize your integrity. Instead, the word to me means stretching yourself beyond what you’ve ever done before. Going past the point where you feel comfortable. I sometimes find myself kicking and screaming in the beginning, but then truly thrive in that place because I expand my perspective, get stronger, and learn something. Risk forces a practice in faith. Faith in yourself. We always benefit from that. The process is difficult and usually terrifying, but when I look back at anything I’ve ever been really proud of in my life, it has always come out of some sort of risk I took. So I keep doing it. Intentionally. Whenever I get too comfortable, I look for ways to stretch. The courage always surprises me and shows up. But you have to continually seek out the cliffs to jump off if you want to keep growing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The world tried to tell me – the life of an artist won’t be easy. I didn’t listen. The world ended up being right. But if I had to do it again, I’d do it all the same. My art is film and television as an actor, and music as a singer. I also produce films. I am a tap dancer, painter, and a writer. I love all these outlets, but acting and singing is where most of my passion lives. I’m very proud of my theatre career in New York. I’m proud of the work I’ve been lucky enough to do in television and film in LA. And my debut album came out last year. It’s called From Here. I’m especially excited about music as the world opens up after the pandemic. I sang with a full 46 piece orchestra from Budapest on that album. In terms of genre, it’s traditional pop vocal…classical crossover…I like to say I am the female Josh Groban. I hope to sing with him and Andrea Bocelli someday. Being an artist, the challenge is never about the doing of the thing. That’s the best part. Work never feels like work. The mental game is the hardest. The nos greatly outweigh the yeses. Not letting a “no” change my own belief in my value is the challenge and the secret. Maintaining the belief that I deserve a “yes”, but not getting attached to the “yes” is another delicate balance. Also hard work is a requirement to be in the game, but doesn’t equate success. A lot of luck is involved. Getting good with that is sometimes hard. Overcoming the challenges involves a lot of self care! Baths, journaling, hiking, cooking good meals, reading, treating myself with love and respect, punching a pillow when I need that! I think the most important element though is surrounding myself with a community of people who love and support me. Who pick me up when I need it. With the right amount of grit and luck, you are capable of whatever you can dream up. I believe that. I’ve also learned that it’s not always about the end game. Once you get the end, the finish line just moves. Life happens on the way to our goals, so the better we are at loving the process, the better our life is.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’d spend all our time outdoors! LA has so much to offer from the beaches to the mountains. I love exploring the endless trails around the Santa Monica Mountains. One of my favorite hikes with the best view is Los Liones. I’d start there. I love Temescal Ridge Trail up to Skull Rock too. Insane ocean views. The hikes around Griffith Park are beautiful too. And then a beach day of course. Matador Beach is my favorite – it’s so dreamy with the giant rocks and caves. That feels like a local secret to me. Will Rogers is another beautiful beach. I love riding bikes up and down the bike path that runs through the beach all the way down to Venice. Food wise…I am in love with Fia, a gorgeous restaurant in Santa Monica (the vegan lasagna there is what dreams are made of). Philz Coffee and Wexler’s Bagels in Santa Monica are weekend staples. What a combo. My other favorite spot is Ingo’s Tasty Diner. I take everyone there when they come to LA because the vibe is so awesome and the food is so good. Drinks at Elephante’s rooftop overlooking the ocean at sunset (or ANY rooftop bar in LA, there are many) is always a dream. Sushi in LA is top notch, so I’d say my favorite is a tie between King Sushi and Noma in Santa Monica. Finally, the best Thai food in my book is Cholada on the PCH. I said outdoors, but the exception is the museums in LA. The Getty Center and LACMA are so uniquely LA and awesome. I always recommend that. Depending on the time of year, movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery are so fun. And walking through any of the local farmers markets around town is such an LA treat. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have many shoutouts! It takes a village. I’d like to focus on all the beginnings. My high school drama teacher, Jim Gandolfo was a mentor who exemplified a true and brave artist to me. He pushed me as an actor, and for the first time, I started to believe that I could really do it as a career. I found comfort in the vulnerability he coached out of me. My inner artist and inner courage came to the surface. I needed that push from someone I looked up to and respected at that time in my life. I’m so grateful. Vocally, my roots began at age 12, with a voice teacher that set me up for the most solid foundation I could’ve asked for: Nichole Mancuso. She had the amazing idea of giving me an opera out of the gates, which set in motion a love for singing and a vocal technique that I have been grateful for ever since. My brother Les did a play when I was 7, and I followed in his footsteps right into theatre. Thank you Les. That changed the course of my life. The theatre I grew up in: The Erie Playhouse. Thank you for being an incredible community where I learned so much about performing and fell in love with it. And then my parents were right there to cheer me on and make sure I got to voice lessons, play practice, dance class (thank you Miss Lucy my first dance teacher who gave me stage presence)… Thank you mom and dad for all the time and money you spent to encourage my talents and passions. I was so lucky. My maternal grandma taught me piano and my paternal grandparents played instruments and we all sang together, so one last shoutout to the memory of them for making music part of my life since the day I was born.
Morgan Demeter, Gerard Sandoval