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Conversations with the Inspiring Monica Remes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Remes.

Monica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My life has taken many artistic twists and turns, none of which I regret. I grew up in the small town of Cary, Illinois, about an hour out of downtown Chicago. I grew up almost bleeding my parents dry for the amount of tuition they paid allowing me to take all the dance classes I wanted at a little dance studio called Cary-Grove Performing Arts Centre, just a few blocks from our house. There were a few years when I had to make a choice and drop out of one or two classes, and I was always heartbroken. I understood the financial burden, but dance was and still is the thing that gives me the most joy. Dance is quite literally medication for my depression and anxiety. I was also a natural born singer, though I often took my voice for granted, and an actor. I participated in almost every single production I auditioned for, play or musical, and often had a lead role. People assumed what my future held, that I was going to move to New York City and be on Broadway, no doubt about it. I attended Millikin University in Decatur, IL for a year studying in their BFA Musical Theatre program, but I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t super motivated. I had the talent, but not the drive. I ended up transferring to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study Dance and Cinema Studies. I began developing a passion for dance and film as a hybrid art form, otherwise known at “dance for the camera” or “screendance”.

Even though I had stepped away from acting and singing, NYC was still a possibility for me to dance professionally, but my life took another unexpected turn. I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, which I would have never predicted earlier in my life, to attend the Graduate Screendance Certificate Program at the University of Utah. I lived there for about 3.5 years, dancing professionally, studying at the U, and teaching fitness. I slowly got back into acting, took acting classes, performed in a couple of musicals, and studied Voice Over acting after I was told by a talent agent that I had a fantastic voice. My passion for voice acting blossomed quite quickly, and I was so very fortunate to know many filmmakers in the area who wanted to use me for their projects, even if I wasn’t very good at it yet! Eventually, I began to get antsy, I wanted a change and more opportunities. It took longer than I thought, but I was finally able to move myself out here to Los Angeles, CA near the end of 2016. Nothing like NYC! It’s been a long process for me to settle in here, and to figure out how to live in such an overly priced city (Salt Lake City is very, very affordable). I’m currently in another phase of feeling antsy. I found myself teaching lots of fitness and lots of yoga out here, which has kept me away from my artistic endeavors. I made a choice this past summer to get back at it, diligently practicing, taking classes and auditioning. I’ve gradually been getting more and more voice over work, I started dancing again after 2.5 years of little to no dancing, and I’m a part of a brand new dance company called Rhythmic Intension. I’ve taken commercial acting classes with the fantastic Mike Pointer, and am now trying to build my portfolio to find an agent. I finally have the drive I was missing so many years ago. I love teaching, always have and always will, but it is not my ultimate goal. What is my ultimate goal? I honestly do not know. I know now that I will always be a performer and an artist, that is what I am meant to be. Whether that be dancing, singing, acting, or all three. I am happiest when I am giving myself out to the world through an artistic medium, as opposed to telling people how to squat correctly. 😉 A year from now, I envision my life to be very different from what it is today. I assume I will still be in Los Angeles, but honestly who knows, there might be another twist or turn around the corner.

Any advice for other women, particularly young women who are just starting their journey?
My advice for other women who feel like they are in a constant state of flux, as I do, is to not be afraid of taking risks or making big changes. I know that can seem cliche, but taking that risk that makes you nervous or scared, will change your life. Even if you completely mess up, fail, or make a mistake, those are the moments that sculpt us into who we are. Making big changes in your life keeps you on your toes, challenges your ability to adapt, challenges you to be creative, and teaches you more about yourself. It’s never a smooth road. I’ve struggled with getting people to believe in me, I’ve struggled to believe in myself, I struggled because I didn’t have a place to live, I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have anyone to help me, and those times in my life were indeed terrifying and stressful. But I’m here, I’m still going, I’m back to pursuing my dreams, and I could not be more grateful.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I think most of us hate listening to the sound of our own voice. I am not any different. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me sometimes. BUT, I’ve learned to appreciate my voice, because I get complimented on it all the time. As a yoga/fitness instructor, I get compliments on my voice. When I worked in customer service, I got compliments on my voice. There is something about it that either motivates people, calms people, or entertains them. Over the past couple months, I’ve begun to tap into the nuances my voice naturally gives and why so many people respond to it so positively. I’ve stopped trying to sound like other people, and have embraced my individuality. The past few voice-over gigs I’ve gotten have been animation, and as someone who grew up as a theatrical actor, these gigs have been my absolutely favorite. Being overly dramatic, silly, and outrageous comes naturally to me, and therefore comes off as authentic rather than forced. I get to unleash the beast from within. I am so excited for what the future holds and to continue pursuing my voice acting career. I am proud of how far I’ve come.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
In terms of just surviving and thriving in this crazy world, my mother will always be my inspiration. She shows me that no matter how much awfulness there is in your life, you’ll always be able to move past it and be better for it. Rather than letting past traumas turn you into an awful person, let those traumas turn you into a kind and positive person. Artistically, Maria Bamford is definitely one of my voice inspirations, she is crazy talented when it comes to voice over work and comedy, and had her own strange and unique TV series on Netflix where she was truly and unapologetically her.

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Image Credit:
Jonathan Ventura

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