Catching Up with Jamila Sabares-Klemm, Class of 2010

Jamila Sabares-Klemm, B.F.A. Musical Theatre class of 2010, is currently starring as Eliza Hamilton in Hamilton in Chicago.

Catch us up on life since graduation:

I moved to New York City a couple months after graduating and was auditioning for everything and anything until I finally landed my first professional gig on the first National Tour of Hair. After that, I kept auditioning, finally got an agent, and worked on regional shows around the country and a couple new workshops in New York City. I also got married to a wonderful man who is also an artist. 

Describe a perfect day: 

Waking up. Having a good cup of coffee. Journaling and meditating before getting the day started. Getting in some type of activity, whether it be going for a walk by the lake or doing a class. Making a nice breakfast. Going by the lake with a blanket and a book. Coming home, warming up my voice and body for the show, and then going to Hamilton to play the incredibly resilient Eliza Hamilton.

What was the process of getting cast in Hamilton?

I have actually been going in for Hamilton since they were looking for a Peggy on Broadway about three years ago. I remember getting the material and thinking to myself, “Yes, this is a show for me!” It took me about 10 or 11 auditions/callbacks/final callbacks. The last time they called me in before landing the role was about a year-and-a-half ago. When you get so close so many times, it’s hard not to get discouraged, but after some time, I realized that if I really wanted this, I needed to keep preparing for this role even when I didn’t have an audition coming up. So at the beginning of this year, I went into a voice lesson (my first in awhile) with Hamilton material in hand. Two days later, my agents told me that I had an appointment for Eliza in Chicago. Two days after that, I had my initial appointment and the next week, after a couple more callbacks, they told me I booked the role. I was in shock. I truly couldn’t believe it. This last audition was different, though. It was the first time I walked out of the room feeling at peace with whatever decision they made. I thought to myself, “I gave it my all and it’s okay if I don’t get the role.”

What is something surprising about your journey so far?

It’s surprising how my life has unfolded. As a kid, I had this picture in my mind of what I thought my life was going to be, and it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking to realize that life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned. I’m also still surprised every time I book a role. I don’t know if that will ever change. 

Thoughts/advice to share with current students/recent grads on auditioning? On how to create a long and healthy career in this business?

Everyone has their own pace and their own time. Every journey is different. It was sometimes discouraging when I was first starting out in this business to see friends and classmates getting shows and roles while I was still hustling and auditioning and not booking any work. I’ve now been in the business for about eight years and all I can say is that for most people it takes time. Also, just because you’ve graduated college doesn’t mean the learning stops. Keep taking classes. Keep practicing your craft. Get books about acting, read plays, learn and practice songs for roles you want to play someday. Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.  Opportunities come and go and you rarely have control over them, but preparation is completely in your hands. Do the work. Keep finding ways of falling back in love with your craft and know your worth. You are an artist, a creator. Listen to yourself. Your gut is the best advice giver.  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Saying no is absolutely and 100% okay. Lastly, if you feel you want to go in a different direction with your life, don’t be afraid of letting go of what you thought you wanted and go for whatever it is that is calling you. 

What are you most proud of?

This business takes a toll on your heart and your soul. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked myself if this was worth it or how many times I felt not good enough or how many times I wanted to give up.  But I kept going. I kept getting back up and putting myself out there and I am very proud of that. 

What is something you've always dreamed of doing? 

I’ve always dreamed of taking a year to travel the world. 

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