Step Ball Change and Pivot: A New Dream

by Annabelle Fox

If you had told me four months ago that a pandemic would wipe out the theatre industry and I would need to reconsider my entire life’s timeline, I would have either laughed in your face or had a panic attack. Probably both. Well, here we are…

But it’s not the end of a dream, it’s just the beginning of another one.

With theatre on pause, I have the bittersweet luxury of digging deep and, in the words of Marie Kondo, reassessing what “sparks joy”.

I have always loved fashion and home design. While quarantining with my parents in Connecticut, I completely redecorated and repurposed their sun room. It became a café by day, restaurant by night, and haven of solace away from the madness in between. It was exciting to see the space come to life in these useful yet stylish forms.

My hunger to design accompanied me to the new apartment I now share with my husband in Nashville. You heard right, we moved all of our belongings and ourselves across the country to the city where we first met. As former musical theatre majors at Belmont University, we always planned to end up in Nashville. Due to COVID-19, the move came sooner than we’d imagined, but but we’re so happy we took the leap of faith. I began pouring over design blogs and Pinterest boards in the U-Haul so I could perfect our farmhouse/western aesthetic as soon as we re-opened the first moving box! It’s been a fun distraction away from the palpable sadness pervading New York City and our Broadway community.

Annabelle’s new home in Nashville

Job-hunting became another distraction from what was happening in the world and in the arts. I searched nonstop for potential jobs, exploring wild options, looking hard at what I could do. I had all the alert notifications from Indeed set and applied to hundreds of notices. Nothing clicked until I set my eyes on Vow’d, the new bridal sister-store to Altar’d State.

Annabelle on her wedding day | Photo by Ingrid Heres

Weddings are magical. As a young girl I often imagined myself, flowing white dress in toe, smiling groom at the other end, walking down the aisle. Like most 90’s girls obsessed with Parent Trap I was incredibly intrigued by the elegance and poise of fictitious wedding designer Elizabeth James. Then later when I babysat for the CEO of LoveShackFancy I further developed an appreciation for lush lace and creams. Being in such proximity to beautiful fabrics and patterns made me recognize the power in fashion and the finer things in life. In 2016, when I got to plan my own wedding, I relished in everything from the dress to the food to the venue to the color scheme and voraciously attacked every DIY project in between. It was a production, and I was the stage manager, director, and star! I’d never considered exploring the bridal industry as a career until the opportunity found me.

I am pivoting away from theatre for now and stepping into my newest role, (and superpower) as wedding stylist for the dreamiest bridal boutique ever to grace Nashville, VOW’d. I will be part of the Nashville store launch! I am so excited to support new brides as they step into this important season of their lives especially during such uncertain times.

Pre-COVID, I was always on the go. I was hustling to auditions, side jobs, and rehearsals; not to mention producing concerts, prepping for callbacks, and meeting with friends just to stay sane. Without the busyness, I have been forced to reevaluate my life-goals. I have started writing more and have become more in tune with my thoughts. My husband and I were planning for a workshop production of his musical right before COVID hit. It was to be the culmination of five years of blood, sweat, and tears. When it was cancelled we grieved. It was a devastating realization that theatre is never certain and nothing in this life is guaranteed. It was hard for me to turn away from my dreams because it felt like my failure, when in reality I haven’t failed, theatre has, and for very serious reasons.

I see now that shifting the perspective is just a temporary shift of a dream. Dreams can change and the skills needed for one task can be applied to the next.

Perhaps this pivot is a blessing when grappling with this kind of heartbreak. I’m not saying I will never go back to performing, but I am hopeful this new avenue will become a career. I will be contributing my creative ideas and artistic talents to curate the stores’ aesthetic and design, navigating vendor networking, and planting pop-ups. This role feels like a solid parallel to performance. After all, as artists we are constantly gauging how things make us feel, building community and relationships and thinking outside the box, just to keep things interesting.

As actors a part of our job is pretending. Let me be honest, taking this job and shifting gears is scary. Letting go of my timelines is terrifying, and stepping into a totally different world of work brings out my deepest imposter syndrome insecurities. But, I am choosing to walk through life with transparency and empathy to connect with and help people. I don’t want to pretend that this life isn’t hard; I want to encourage people through the challenges. Embracing the difficulties and then forging my own way with my unique skills; that’s a new dream and that’s beautiful. While I’m not preparing for a musical production or show or role, I will be walking alongside brides preparing for the biggest event of their life. I can’t wait!

A note from the Editor:

I met Annabelle on set of my pilot “Under the Influence” last fall. We were looking for background actors and her name was passed along to me by a Connecticut friend. I didn’t realize I would find such a vibrant, talented, kindred spirit and friend in her. Outside of performing and cultivating a new career in the wedding circuit, Annabelle also used her creative mind and connections in the industry to create her blog Actor Meets Coffee, where she sits down with members of the industry to share stories and commiserate over something that brings (mostly) all of us together – coffee. Our interview is still one of my favorite memories from last year. New York will certainly miss her light as she rediscovers her former home in Nashville, but we’ll be ready to welcome her back with open arms when the time is right.

Published by tarallew

Actress, Writer, & latte-loving Manhattanite ✨

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