Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Wimmer.
Sara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My journey as an actress started as a young girl growing up in North Carolina. I started dance classes at the age of 3, training in Modern, Jazz, Ballet, and Tap most days of the week. When I was about 11 years old, Chicago the Musical movie came out on DVD. I watched it almost religiously. The power that the women held in that film using dance and song was invigorating. That was the turning point where I knew what I wanted to do in my life. I started training for musicals immediately. I discovered more of my vocal talents and dove into acting. A couple of years later, Clater-Kaye Theatreworks (NC) cast me to star as the lead, Polly Baker, in Crazy For You at one of the local theatre houses in North Carolina at the age of 14. The show was a hit and it only made me hungrier for more. I then starred in Hairspray as Velma Von Tussle, Grease as Marty, Smokey Joe’s Cafe as Delee, and A Chorus Line as Cassie, learning and performing the original choreography. I met incredible people through doing these shows which led to working on two Broadway workshops. I then chose to continue my studies and move to New York City and train at AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy). The city was everything a young girl could dream except I had been struggling with what everyone thought was shin splints but years later after moving to the Big Apple was it discovered that it was something more serious… I was in excruciating pain daily and all I wanted to do was dance but I was restricted from jumping off the floor. Living in NY was tough with this syndrome. I couldn’t walk 5 blocks without having my feet going numb and finding it difficult to walk because of the lack of blood flow. I was depressed for the first time in my life. I didn’t know what to do and found it hard to get up in the morning and go to a dance class that I couldn’t participate in.
Towards the end of my first year at AMDA, I received a call from a director I had previously worked with and asked if I would be available to do Dreamgirls at The Muny in St. Louis! I was shocked! I was 18 and being offered to work my first professional show. I was even more determined to get my dancing legs back and settle that issue. I met with a specialist that works with dancers and he immediately said that I had been struggling with Exercise-Induced Compartment Syndrome in both of my legs. This was a diagnosis that had taken five years to conclude. I was relieved that my questions and doubts about whether I’d ever be able to dance again, were answered positively. I had the surgery done and that night after the procedure, when I was supposed to be resting, I was up walking around the room without any pain. I was ecstatic! After the surgery, I had about two weeks to heal, and get myself back to dancer shape. So, I did. Working alongside some of Broadway’s icons, Jennifer Holliday and Christopher Jackson was a dream! What a thrill it was to dance and sing with the Greats and to hear 10,000 audience members cheer, there is nothing like it.
I then went back to NYC to finish my last year at AMDA and stayed another year in the city, auditioning and working but I couldn’t shake the depression that had come over me while living there. It was so different from the blue skies I grew up with, on top of the depression that came from my dancing struggle. I needed to get out and find my happiness again. I decided to move to Los Angeles. I had visited it before and it resembled a lot of my Carolina lifestyle. It turned out to be my home away from home. I have been living in LA for a little more than three years and I have loved every bit of it. I found interest in the Film/TV world that only makes me feel closer to my goal I made when I was 11 years old watching Chicago. I have done both theatre and most recently my first TV pilot, Salem High. I look forward to the journey that’s mapped out ahead of me and I can’t wait to see where it goes!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This business is tough. It takes a lot of not just physical, but mental strength. I learned early on that if I get in my head about something, it’s over. I am my biggest critic and am very good at belittling myself if I let it. As an actress in this world, there is a good amount of sexual harassment, competitiveness amongst your peers, and the simple fact of feeling lonely in a big city. It can be difficult being vulnerable while also having to protect yourself from the outside negatives. My advice I give to myself and others, is to “do you to the best of your ability, let the rest fall into place.” An old colleague of mine said that in passing one day and it has stuck with me for years and he was right! You can only control yourself and your actions. All else will find its place whether it’s something you will be involved in or not.
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 specialize in the arts. It’s what I know and breathe. I’m proud to say that my work doesn’t come from a place of showboating or having the need to tell everyone in the world about my work. I do my work because it brings my soul joy and keeps me hungry for more. Being humble is something I’m proud of. Always staying grounded and reminding myself how I got to the places I am today. I’m very lucky to have the support system I have backing me every step of the way. That alone sets me apart from others. I’d also add, that when I am on a stage, I really connect with the people in the audience. I love making them feel emotions that they have been bottling down or perhaps have never experienced before. That is a gift to me. If I can deeply move one person in that audience, I’m genuinely happy. And that’s why I do it.
Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
My way of finding a mentor is going to new studios for dance, acting, and voice. You’re placing yourself in a room with other creatives with similar dreams and goals. Odds are you will find someone there that you really connect and listen to. Clater-Kaye Theatreworks is where I found my current mentors and I’ve known them for 10+ years. They have my back and I have theirs. That’s most important.
Ryan Fuzzesery Photography, Jeff Vargo Photography