Sara Falaro - Q&A
Your debut single, “My Body Is Mine”, just dropped. Congratulations again! You’ve been singing and writing music for a long time; why this song, why now? Can you talk about that first moment it went live?
Thank you!! This song has been with me for a long time, actually. I wrote it when I was 22 and I’m now 27. So it’s been a long time coming. This song is (unfortunately) always relevant. I actually remember I wrote it around the time that sexual assault on college campuses started to be huge in the media, and my Dad was adamant that I had to release it right away. But I held onto it - mostly for Resistance. But I’m standing more in my power than I ever have, and it was important for me to make this move. And to make it with this song. This song is about reclaiming my body & my experiences as a survivor, and that initial moment of it going live was huge. I was really thrilled, but also deeply emotional. I have this video of me hearing it for the first time on Spotify & just crying. This is my story, but it’s also the story of so many people I know. I am really proud to be vocal about it.
You’re a brand-coach, a vocalist, a songwriter, an actress, and more. How do you stay balanced as far as energy distribution, especially during this pandemic situation? Has your workflow been impacted?
My workflow has deeeefinitely been impacted. I used to spend the majority of my time out in Manhattan, auditioning, creating, and building my business in coworking spaces. Now, the auditioning has obviously died down quite a bit, so I’ve had a huge amount of time to focus on expanding my business at home. It was really difficult to create music for the first few months of the pandemic, because I actually didn’t have a piano in my apartment. So I was feeling really creatively stifled. But I have one now, and it’s been an awesome addition to my daily routine. The other challenge for me has been making sure I incorporate break time. I love what I’m doing (which is great) but I have to remember that I can only keep doing it well, if I’m resting as strategically as I’m working.
What is something we all should know about the impact of arts on mental health?
Oh my gosh, so many things. So many things. I think my personal favorite thing & something that is super important for everyone to really grasp right now is that telling your own real life experiences through art - whether that be in painting, graphic design, songwriting, playwriting, etc - is hugely powerful. Even if you never share that work with anyone else, although I do encourage you to share it because that’s your superpower. But even if you never do, it’s a literal outlet - it’s a space to put things so they aren’t trapped in the abstract. Also, as far as telling your stories goes, there’s no understudy life - nobody is waiting in the wings to tell your experience better than you can. There’s only you. If you don’t tell your stories, they won’t get told. And that’s really sad.
Mental health and art have a nuanced relationship. Are there any techniques for a person to navigate this relationship more deeply?
This is an interesting question… hmmm… I think I’d just really lean into the previous idea: that there’s nobody waiting to replace you, because literally nobody has your exact experience. And that’s special. If I were to implement this in a concrete way, I’d suggest creating an alarm on your phone with an affirmation that says: “Only I can tell my stories, and that’s my superpower. I am absolutely special.”
What role does one’s physical space play in their creative pursuits?
It definitely plays a big role. Not only does the amount of space you have impact your ability to physically move about, but it affects your mental state. I have a pretty small apartment, but it’s got lots of natural light & designated work space. When this space is messy, my brain can’t function optimally. I can’t create authentically, because I’m not able to focus. So I really believe that taking care of your space is part of the artistic process - whether you’re writing music or developing a business.
A lot of artists feel limited by our day jobs. Most of us would love to make a living doing what we are passionate about. In what ways can a person begin to transcend the day job?
3,000% - that’s actually why I started my Survive & Thrive program - a 16wk program, designed to help Artists build their own day job, doing something they love. Almost every creative I know in NYC hates their day job, and it adds a level of stress that impacts their artistry negatively. I think it’s something we overlook a LOT. There are two ways I’d recommend getting started with creating a joyful money maker for yourself:
Identify what it is you want to do: make a list of what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at doing, and what possible jobs include both of those things. ANYBODY can start an online business. There’s endless opportunity & possibility. This will help you understand your priorities. I used to think I only cared about working online, so I could have locational freedom. But it turned out, I didn’t only want to work online - I also didn’t want to have a boss. So that was an updated priority I had to consider.
Identify potential clientele: who are you good at connecting with, who do you really love connecting with, and do I know where to find those people? You want to be really specific with who you’re trying to reach. It’s not enough to say Actors. Peel it back one more layer - maybe Actors in Musical Theatre in NYC. Now you know how/where you’re going to be selling.
There’s definitely a lot to starting an online business, but it is the most rewarding thing to be in control of your schedule, as an Artist. I highly recommend it for everyone. Seriously.
What does “setting intention” mean to you?
It’s kind of like laying groundwork for the day. Everything you do afterwards is built upon the intention. Is this going to be a day built on joyful play? A day built on calm productivity? A day built on stepping outside your comfort zone? It can be hugely impactful, when used diligently.
Have you ever spoken something into existence?
YES! This is something I try to do regularly. Manifestation work is something I really deeply believe in. I think a lot of people might better recognize manifestation as the idea of “shooting your shot” haha. It’s putting it out there into the Universe & then taking active steps regularly to bring it into existence. It’s deciding that something already “is” and then willing it into reality.
Unilalia could be described as the “unknown” space one travels to in order to bring something new into the world. What are some of the greatest things you’ve been able to produce from the unknown?
So many beautiful things. My successful music release, my thriving online business, my degree in Theatre, my joyful relationship with my partner, my perfect NYC apartment. So many things I’m still actively manifesting. I truly believe in creating the life of your dreams. I think the most clear example though is my business. I was working for a company that was mentally abusive, staying there for the money - which I hated. So when I finally had my last-straw-moment with them, I recorded a video of me crying - telling myself I would no longer be trapped in a toxic job for money. That I would develop an online business & commit to being my own CEO. That even if I did struggle for money for a bit, it would be worth it & I would thrive. And then I quit my job with no other income, even though I have no ability to fall back on anyone else for financial support. But because I took that huge risk, I was rewarded by the Universe. In the first month, I was able to make the same amount I would’ve been making in my toxic job. And every month after that? I’ve made MORE. This is something I built from zero, and it’s my proudest accomplishment.
What led you to creating your own platform?
This has actually fluctuated over time. When I first decided to do this, it was as a point of rescuing myself from a toxic situation. But as I started to feel safe again, I was able to fully understand what was happening. More than anything, my platform is special to me because it gives me a space to be authentically myself - in good and in bad - and then allowing others to do the same.
Why is brand-building so important?
There’s so much mystery around a personal/artistic brand, so I love having this conversation. In the performing arts, we learn a lot about our “type” - the box that the outside world tells us we fit into, based on social stereotypes & tropes. Your brand is you responding with “actually, no - I’m ‘this.’” It’s hugely empowering, when it’s done authentically. My method of branding is unique, because I fully believe it’s partnered with soul-searching. With radical authenticity. With this willingness to be transparent and vulnerable, knowing that it’s part of why you’re special. Building your brand delivers a very concrete result: you’ll have a physical platform with high engagement. But it also delivers a very real emotional result, as well. My clients often say they come out of our partnership feeling more like themselves than they have in a long time. That they’re excited for industry professionals to see them on social media, because it’s truly, genuinely them. And when you’re able to feel that completely confident in your identity, you’re better able to explore the artistic world. You’re a better human & a better creative.
Facts. It’s not uncommon for artists to feel like “branding” takes a bit of humanity away from their creative pursuits. Why do you think this is? Is it possible to maintain our human uniqueness while sort of packaging ourselves for the market?
Totally. It’s back to what I mentioned about the type vs. brand. There’s a lot of confusion around the idea of a brand, and people are afraid that leads them back to fitting into a box. But really, the only box it puts you in is the one of yourself. It’s not about becoming something you’re not. It’s about leaning into the truth of who you are. I think a lot of people still associate branding with social media influencers - which are a brand in and of themselves. But as Artists, it’s vital to our success to find that marriage between our individuality and our marketability. It’s the only way we’ll make a living out of this. One time, I was told by my Artistic Mentor that I was talented but it seemed like I was “wearing clothes that didn’t fit.” She was referencing the music in my audition binder. It’s because I was trying to be someone else. I was trying to be what was successful for others. But there was zero Sara Falaro in that, so it wouldn’t sell. It wasn’t until I stepped into my own personal power that I started to see results. We won’t be successful until we understand our own brand. Until then, we’ll always be wearing someone else’s.
Social media is a polarizing subject for everybody, especially artists. I know some artists love the tool that it can be while others can’t stand how alienating it can be. How do you feel about social media?
I fucking love social media. And I love it for everyone. I think it’s empowering. It’s creating your own stage, your own platform. It’s being able to have influence on your own terms. I think it (like most things) is misunderstood, with negative potential. But when people take the time to understand this free tool they have at their disposal, they can find opportunities that they didn’t even know they were looking for. I think the important thing with social media is treating it like it is your mind - your own space. Because it is. Don’t be afraid to unfollow people that trigger your Imposter Syndrome. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to turn it off or keep it specific to a certain time of day. In the digital age, we can’t afford to not be online - that’s where people are trying to find us, so it’s vital for us to be there. But that doesn’t mean boundaries go out the window. You’re allowed to have agency in your experience.
What’s the best way for an artist to get in touch with you for brand advice?
Yes! I respond to every single DM I get, so Instagram is a great place to find me. You can also learn more about my services on my website. All links & information below. Thank you so much for this opportunity!