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Meet Gina Elaine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Elaine.

Hi Gina, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve been seeking the stage since I’ve been out of my momma, pretty much. My love for music and the stage has been given to me by my loving and supportive parents, Pat and Paula. My mom loves to tell the story of when I was a little girl and there was a Christmas talent show at church. I really wanted to get on the stage (alter) but I didn’t know any Christmas songs, so I just sang “Jesus Loves Me.” When I was in middle school, I joined the show choir. I was very active in it until I was in my sophomore year of high school. The chorus split in two for a traveling show choir and a regular school chorus. I decided to take that year and focus on school chorus and I learned to play the guitar from the renowned Michael Sturgis. My junior year, I joined the traveling choir but was unable to finish the year and go with them to D.C. I decided not to join again my senior year so that I could duel enroll at the local community college taking acting classes from Michael Campbell. That semester, we performed monologues from “Spoon River Anthology.”

Through high school in the CPAC (Culleoka Performing Arts Club), Butch Sutton was our righteous teacher and director. I had many amazing rolls, such as Blind Girl #3 in “The Miracle Worker,” Party girl #1 for “Don’t Drink the Water,” and Josie in “A Trophy for Mr. Heartfelt.” But, in my senior year, I got the pleasure of being Ouiser Boudreaux in “Steel Magnolias.” I was so stoked to play that part because I am an old lady at heart. Hearing the crowd laugh as I delivered lines and applaud for all of us on stage was the beginning of something beautiful for my future. I graduated from Columbia State Community College in spring of 2018 with an associate’s in Vocal Music. I knew before I was about to graduate that I wanted to do voice acting more than anything. Cartoons had gotten me through 20 years of my life at that point. I wanted to help others through tough times or, at the very least, just make people laugh; which is one of my favorite things to do. My performance choir teacher in senior year showed us a video about all of the men and women that make the backing vocals for all of our favorite music and movies.

After realizing how much of an impact they have on our lives without us knowing who they are, I knew how I could make a difference without being “famous.” My best friend in community college told me about the American Musical and Dramatic Academy before we graduated. Our hearts were already in California after one phone call with administration. Sadly, he did not join me on this journey, but he took a path of his own and I’m proud of him. It was hard leaving my friends and family in my tiny town in Tennessee, but I knew I had to go and change my life. And boy howdy did I. I started AMDA in the fall of 2018 as a musical theatre major, and I learned something new every single day. I was given assignments I never thought would be part of a curriculum. I got to work with so many amazing people, teachers and accompanists who know their way around the industry and want nothing more than for us to succeed. All of my instructors deserve a shout out for taking me this far, and there are so many to thank.

Since then, I’ve taken a gap year from AMDA due to COVID and will return as a 5th semester (out of 8) when classes are in person again. I can’t wait to perform, work and learn with the amazing people at AMDA again. I feel empty without it. The workshops I’ve taken while at AMDA have helped me grow as a performer, director, and person all around. I was very lucky to take two voice acting workshops with the amazing Stu Levin (rest his soul) and a ten minute play workshop with my first-semester musical theatre teacher Joel Bishoff. I was stoked to work with him again. In the process, I was a director for the play that my partner, Samuel J Matury, was writing. We finished with an amazing show that we were both so proud of.

I’m thankful for that workshop every day for introducing me to Samuel, not only because he is a stupendous writer, performer and person, but because he makes my days so much easier and I am lucky to love him. My journey from Tennessee to California was not and still hasn’t been that easy. I’ve fallen and had to pick myself up many times, especially during this year. I lost my job in March due to the store closing, but since then I’ve begun working in a different location. I’ve been lucky to have a second job to push myself through COVID, get through to next year and hopefully back into school. I’ve been able to afford an apartment in Hollywood living with one of my best friends that I met through AMDA. Though it’s hard with what the world has going on around us, we’ve been making the best of it, and I couldn’t have done anything or even gotten to California without the support of everyone I love and those who love me.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not. Like I said COVID has really put a damper on some things and even getting to California was hard both times. The first time driving to California I lost my wallet, thankfully I got it back. I tried to maintain a long-distance relationship while I was going to school, and he cheated on me in my first semester. He then manipulated me back into a relationship twice. He never let me have fun out here. He was always jealous of my friends and worried about me calling him at specific times like I was the cheater. Don’t let a man control you especially in one of the most fun cities in the world. My biggest obstacle was definitely him in the first two years of being out here. I never felt more free after I started dating Sam. While I was in high school my choir director never believed in me, she talked me down and never gave me opportunities I deserved. I was extremely thankful for her husband, the director of CPAC, for believing in me and even congratulating me in graduating and moving to California. I’ve had a lot of people doubt me and not believe in me, but I’ll just send them a postcard from Hollywood. Oh, and my bike got stolen a month or two ago. That was a bummer.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m a singer and musician, I play guitar, piano, and ukulele, like every other white girl. I love to paint and I do commissions for some people. I made a little money off my paintings when I got laid off in March. There are a few songs I’ve written that I’m super proud of and I have to get around to recording them. I started a YouTube channel- Gina Elaine, and I’m trying to get consistent with it but two jobs really occupies my time. I can’t wait to graduate and start doing my own thing with voice acting and directing, whether for my friends’ projects, my own, or professionally.

What’s next?
Hopefully, I’ll graduate in a year or two, and when we are both financially stable I hope to marry my best friend and love of my life. I’m also looking forward to everywhere I can go and all I can do. All I know is, no matter what my future is bright.

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