Chloe Perrier: “Don’t take any rejection personally”

The most important thing is to take care of yourself — you are your own instrument. As an actor and singer, if you are not well-rested, if you don’t have a healthy body and a peaceful mind, you won’t last long. The industry is very unforgiving, and you need to feel strong. I had the pleasure of interviewing […]

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The most important thing is to take care of yourself — you are your own instrument. As an actor and singer, if you are not well-rested, if you don’t have a healthy body and a peaceful mind, you won’t last long. The industry is very unforgiving, and you need to feel strong.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chloe Perrier, a French jazz singer and actress based in New York City and Los Angeles. She started acting, singing and playing the violin at a young age. After years of training at performing art schools in France and establishing a career for herself as an actress, she decided to prioritize her love for music and singing. She studied vocal jazz with Sara Lazarus and composing and piano with Joe Makholm for three years at the Bill Evans Piano Academy in Paris. During that time, she started writing and composing her first songs. In the past few years, she has performed with her two bands, the French Heart Jazz Band and Coeur de Francaise, in various clubs in Paris — such as Le Sunset-Sunside –, in New York City — at Zinc Bar, The Iridium, 54 Below — and in Los Angeles — at Le Petit Paris, Barkley, and more. She has also appeared and performed live on radio and television shows, like Jazzbox Radio, Telematin in France, and Spectrum TV in Los Angeles.

Her natural charm and keen sense of storytelling has gathered eager audiences around her very unique interpretations of jazz standards, bossa nova, French songs, and original compositions — she offers a world of romance and poetry, enchanting the listener while sharing her positive and refreshing outlook on life.

She recently released her second album “Petite Fleur” — a repertoire of French chanson and Jazz Age American standards interpreted with a continental flair — on independent record label Jazzheads in October 2019 with a concert at the Cutting Room in New York City.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you for having me! I grew up surrounded by vineyards in the French Alps and discovered music through my parents’ old records. I started learning the violin and taking dance lessons very young, and ever since I can remember, I have always considered a career in the arts. When we moved to Paris, I was ten. I fell in love with the city at first sight! I started attending a Theater class and I immediately wanted to get into acting: I was very shy, so the idea of becoming someone else and expressing myself through a character was magical to me. I began working as a professional actress at thirteen years old… the singing came later. I was already taking singing lessons but I was way too shy to just be myself and stop hiding behind a character. Later on, I attended the Bill Evans Academy to perfect my singing and learn composition. I guess I just caught the bug early on and never got rid of it!

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was always attracted to the stage. My first time performing on stage was at a huge, gorgeous Theater during a ballet recital when I was a kid — I remember falling in love with that feeling. I couldn’t imagine living without it anymore, whether it was singing, acting, dancing or playing the violin. In many ways, my artistic path has saved me — I was really shy and it was very hard for me to express myself sincerely. Onstage, I felt free! It made it easier for me to get to know myself better.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have a few… Here’s one: I really loved working with French actor and director Jacques Bonnaffé on “Display”. I had previously met him on a movie set — he had a lead role and I just had one day of shooting, but we were constantly chatting during breaks. The amount of knowledge of that man is endless! When he called me to audition for his play a few months later, I was really surprised. I got the part and saw that I was the only one who came from contemporary Theater, movies and television. The other actors, who were all from a classical background, were looking down their noses at me. I was also the youngest cast member and the only girl… When we started rehearsals, I was awed by the size of the Theater: it was the biggest venue I had ever performed in. But Jacques was smart. He made me arrive a day earlier than everyone else, so I could get used to the room without feeling judged. I was freaking out so much that I was losing my voice… But I was inspired by Jacques, admiring how committed he was: he would barely get any sleep, he was always trying different things, coming up with thousands of new ideas… it encouraged me to surpass myself. The actors were hard on me: one of them was hitting on me, the others were showing off and trying to direct me, judging my way of working… but I kept going! One day, I was feeling very downhearted because of it all, and Jacques took me aside, looked me straight in the eye and said: “Chloé, I know why I chose you, trust me!” After that I stopped caring about what the other actors were thinking or doing, and I just trusted him completely. I followed every instruction and wasn’t afraid of trying anything he asked me to do on stage. On opening night, I let myself loose and I really killed it! The other actors congratulated me afterwards, and asked what had “suddenly gotten into me”. I just said: “well, this isn’t a rehearsal anymore”. Jacques taught me so much! It was a wonderful experience!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Lying about my age to get cast in a commercial with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who is one of my heroes. I got the part and was selected to play one of the main characters. At the end of the day, he was joking about the fact that we were only going to get our money for the job in three years — the other girls were all fifteen — and I said, in front of everyone, that I was going to get it right away, because I was eighteen! I should have kept my mouth shut… The clients and Jeunet were not happy. But eventually, he was nice and called me back to be in the photo book in “Amélie”. After that incident, I never talked about my age ever again. Now I just let people imagine whatever they like (laughs).

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I just released a new album “Petite Fleur” and I am really proud of what we did. So, I’ve been busy showing it off to the world right now (laughs). I am also preparing two other albums that I hope to record in the near future. Recently, I am working on creating a live-streaming and social distancing entertainment company that will safely bring a virtual or live Jazz Club to your couch or backyard. And I am writing my first feature film in which I will act and sing. I never get bored. I keep myself busy creating.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

For me, it’s important because everyone needs to dream. If you can’t relate to anything you see, how do you feel? Left out…We live in a very diverse world, so art needs to reflect that, especially television and film. Also, I think that more ethnic diversity on screen or on stage will help in the fight against racism. The same goes for people with different intercourse orientations. If audiences are openly exposed to everything and everyone, there will be a lot less judging going on. Often, people are simply scared of what they don’t know. It is the entertainment industry’s job to teach them about it, because everyone watches TV shows and movies.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

-On set, listen to the director and no one else. When I was a teenager, I was easily confused with too much information, everyone was trying to tell me what to do: the other actors, the DP, the script supervisor…and it’s even worse when you are a kid! I realized it was messing with my performance and so I began listening only to the director. I stayed polite but I didn’t really pay attention to other comments.

-Trust your gut! You may think people with more experience know better, but most of the time you know what is good for you — a project, a person to work with — better than anyone else.

-Don’t take any rejection personally. Each time I was getting rejected for a part, I would get depressed. Then I realized that if I wasn’t getting cast, well, sometimes it was because of silly little things, like being taller than the main actor who was more famous than me… often it had nothing to do with my acting at all.

-Never give up! I gave up on acting when I moved to the US because of my English. That was a mistake, and I got back into it. Now I really believe that if you want something, you can always find a way of getting it. It might take three, ten, twenty years depending on your goal, but if you keep doing everything to get there, trying every possible way, then eventually, you will achieve that goal.

-Don’t forget the business aspect of things. Networking is important too. I was always bad at that type of thing, but now I am learning and getting better at it… but I really wish someone had told me this way earlier!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not burn out?

The most important thing is to take care of yourself — you are your own instrument. As an actor and singer, if you are not well-rested, if you don’t have a healthy body and a peaceful mind, you won’t last long. The industry is very unforgiving, and you need to feel strong.

Keep working at your craft: the better you get, the more chances you will have to make a name and reputation for yourself. And you will feel confident. Don’t take anything personally. Take risks and you won’t have any regrets. Don’t listen to negative people even if they are people you love. Falling is growing, don’t forget that when you fail you always learn something from it. So, it’s good to fail! And for your creativity, at least once a week you should do what your inner child wants to do (watch a movie, draw, go for a walk on the beach…)

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger 🙂

I would be delighted if everyone in the world could give 1% of their salary to a noble cause of their choice. (World hunger, AIDS, children’s associations)

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

For my singing career, definitely the late French actor Mouss Diouf. I was working in his club “le Reservoir” as a busboy, and he knew that I wanted to sing but that I was too shy to try. On New Year’s Eve, he asked me to make a wish, and I said that my wish was to play in his club someday. He immediately got out his calendar, gave me a date, and told me I had three months to put together a band for him. He gave me the push I needed! I was trembling but I did it and loved it. I am super grateful for it. I was lucky enough to meet amazing people who helped me along the way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Never give up on your dreams. When I was twenty years old, my dream was to someday live in New York City. Years later, I finally managed to get a work visa, move there without speaking a word of English and, within a year, I started making a living as an artist.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

Just one? (laughs). I would love to hang out with Tim Burton, the Cohen Brothers, and David Lynch. I dream of getting cast in one of their movies.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on Spotify and twitter with my name, and YouTube, Facebook, Instagram with /chloeperrierjazz

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you very much! Likewise!

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