Disney Ambassadors Ali and Raevon both started their careers in the performing arts at Walt Disney World.
Join Ali and Raevon as they share some of their amazing experiences in the performing arts that prepared them for their other roles at Disney – eventually leading them to become Disney Ambassadors, official representatives of Walt Disney World cast members during the World’s Most Magical Celebration.
Q. What is your Disney story? What led you to become a Disney Ambassador?
Raevon: I started my career with Disney as a performer in 2014. I started performing in the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and even made my way to entertainment at Shanghai Disneyland in China. I eventually transitioned into Guest Relations at the Magic Kingdom, was one of the founding members of the Guest Experience Team and served as a VIP Tour Guide at Walt Disney World Resort before becoming Disney Ambassador.
Ali: I started my career with the Disney College Program as a character performer. After a few years, I was selected as part of the opening cast of Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Eventually, I transitioned to Guest Communications, served as an Entertainment Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and served as a Communications Manager for Disney Live Entertainment before becoming Disney Ambassador alongside Raevon. As you can see, we both started our Disney careers in the performing arts.
Q. What advice do you have for students interested in a career in the performing arts?
Raevon: It’s all about timing and persistence. It took me three auditions to get to where I was as a performer. Sometimes younger performers think they are not good enough because they didn’t get a role. But that’s not necessarily it - you may just not be perfect for the particular role for which they are casting. Be persistent and wait for the perfect timing. Each and every role that you have, no matter how “irrelevant” it may seem, prepares you in some way.
Ali: Sometimes the “no’s” you receive may lead to your “yes.” Timing is everything. There are so many times in my career (not just in the performing arts) that I may not have gotten the role I wanted, but then realized another amazing thing would never have happened if I had gotten the first role. It took me three tries to become a Disney Ambassador – and I learned something new about myself each time.
Q. What leadership skills have you gained from the performing arts?
Ali: Dance, and ballet in particular, instilled the confidence and poise to best present myself. The discipline I learned at the ballet barre increased my confidence and helped me transition into being a successful leader for my Cast Members.
Another important leadership trait that I learned from the performing arts was thinking on my feet. I took a couple of improv classes in my early career at Disney. Many business professionals and leaders were in that improv class because it’s such a great skill that helps you be present and in the moment, especially as a leader.
Raevon: Giving and receiving feedback is one of the biggest things I learned from the performing arts that also carries over into being a leader. When working as a performer at Disney, feedback is publicly posted, which helps the entire cast of a show to train and improve skills. It required me to be open minded when receiving feedback, learn how to apply it and continue on with giving the best performance possible.
Q. How do you motivate yourself?
Raevon: I tell myself this mantra: “When choosing behaviors for success, I promise to be responsible for my choices, to keep learning as I go and to teach others what I know.” It’s all about doing work with excellence. I always remind myself when I go into a performance, when I go to speak or when I go to an interview, if I leave a mark of excellence, then I am good.
Ali: Our Cast Members motivate me. Make sure to surround yourself with people who build on your energy.
Q. What advice can you share about persevering towards your goals?
Raevon: Networking horizontally is just as important and networking vertically. If you’re going out to an audition and you want to get into theater or you want to get into a conservatory, just know your peers to your left or right can give you a different perspective than you have. It’s just as important to speak with them as it is to network vertically.
Try breaking your big dreams into daily goals. So, if you want to be a dancer, what stretches are you going to do every day to get you to that position? What are the things that you’re going to do to get to your goal on a day-to-day basis?
Ali: For me, it is about taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. You must take care of yourself to be at your best and before you can really give it your all.
It’s also about doing the prep work. Prepare for your audition, interview or presentation in advance so you don’t feel like you are scrambling. Be so prepared that in the moment when you are driving to that audition, you can turn on your favorite song or your favorite playlist instead of running through your monologue in your head.
The performing arts and the entertainment industry can be tough. You may begin to doubt yourself after seeing so many other talented people. You may think, “wow their jazz shoes are so great” or “their instrument is shiny” or “their voice is just so good”. While it is extremely tough, if you are confident in yourself, your craft and what you’re going to pursue, then you can make it.
The performing arts are a fantastic way for students to learn how to express themselves, practice achieving goals and gain other valuable leadership skills. Try to find new ways to give your students the time and opportunities to develop these skills in and out of your classroom!
Interested in learning more about Disney Performing Arts? Check out our workshops, where your students can learn theater, vocal, music, and dance techniques from a Disney teaching artist. And, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter for the latest news and updates!