Community//

Rising Star Stacey Steele: “If I could start a movement, it would be to educate people on the how’s and why’s of mental health issues and how amazing emotional support pets can be in times of crisis!”

If I could start a movement, it would be to educate people on the how’s and why’s of mental health issues and how amazing emotional support pets can be in times of crisis! Because of my history of drug abuse, I started competing in fitness and beauty pageants to keep me on the straight and […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

If I could start a movement, it would be to educate people on the how’s and why’s of mental health issues and how amazing emotional support pets can be in times of crisis! Because of my history of drug abuse, I started competing in fitness and beauty pageants to keep me on the straight and narrow. Some of us become so hyper focused on something that we need a different outlet to become addicted to; addiction replacement, if you will. My thing became the gym. Sobriety along with Mental Health became my platform and I started working towards helping other fit, sober people become personal trainers and fitness coaches so they could have something to focus on other than their own addiction. I also have my sweet little hedgehog, Fiona, who is an Emotional Support Animal. Like so many others, I suffer from wicked anxiety, especially in crowds. I take Fiona with me everywhere and she has become part of my comedy routine. Unfortunately, a lot of airlines are no longer allowing certain pets to qualify as ESA’s because so many people have abused the privilege and have made it very difficult for those of us with unseen health and medical issues who actually need our ESA’s to thrive. Fiona weighs less than one lb! She sleeps during the day traveling in a tiny purse that is hardly noticeable. She does not stink or make noise or come out of her purse unless she has to go potty. Maybe we can start an all Hedgehog owner airline! If you want to learn more about hedgehogs, or Fiona in particular, you can check out our Youtube series called “Hedge-U-cation”! Long live Fiona Steele!!!


As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stacey Steele. Stacey is a Comic, Singer, Actor, Producer, Director. Stacey has been entertaining crowds as a singer, actress and comic for over 20 years and simply belongs on the stage. Stacey performs in many different settings, both live and on screen, in front of the camera and behind the scenes with experience in everything from character acting and drama to comedy and improv, from hosting fashion, awards and radio shows to doing voice overs, is a pageant queen ,an expert fitness instructor and enjoys keeping her hands in many cookie jars! Stacey has toured the United States and traveled internationally with various bands, singing groups, off broadway productions and is a regular act for several well known Florida Comedy Clubs including Off the Hook and the Palm Beach and Miami Improvs. She teaches comedy writing classes for up and coming comedians and performs for South Florida audiences with her father, violinist Sammy Weber, aka The Virtuoso. Ms. Steele has starred in several web series, short movies, and feature films. She has made a living being on both sides of the camera working as everything from an actor to a UPM to a director. Whenever Ms. Steele is entertaining, her personality literally jumps out and grabs you. When she’s teaching, its always informative, creative and entertaining — if you’re in one of her fitness classes you’ll be sure to get a workout AND a show. But just beneath the surface, Stacey suffers from addiction; she left NY to pursue her career goals escaping the horrible grip of drug addiction along with an abusive relationship and is proudly sober 15 years. Stacey also works with her favorite ESA (emotional support animal), Fiona the hedgehog Steele, who you can meet and take pictures with after all of her shows.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you for having me! My career path is quite intricate. I started as a singer/actor at a very young age wanting to pursue a career on broadway. I did many off off OFF broadway and local theater productions through high school and college and eventually I got married which threw me off course. I was young and so into being a wife and possibly a mother that I lost sight of my career. Fast forward several years and I’m singing for weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate functions etc while doing a few films here and there. I realized I needed to push harder which led to an unhealthy drug addiction and eventually, divorce. I left NY and moved to Florida to get clean and start over. I became a personal trainer and group fitness instructor while doing more theater and off broadway tours and soon after created my own one woman show, Stacey Steele Live. Meantime, one of my clients mentioned that he was connected with the local comedy scene and that I should do an open mic. It took a long time for me to get the balls to get up there, but once I did, everything changed. I got deep into stand up comedy, which led to opening for many big names and I began writing and producing films. As I progressed, I started helping out on production management and everyone on set would suggest that I was an amazing producer and should really pursue that aspect of the film industry. That’s when doors began to fly open. My comedy shifted and I was starting to get some recognition. At the same time, I became a UPM, or Unit Production Manager, (who, for those of you who don’t know, is basically in charge of the whole crew on set, the budget, scheduling etc from pre production through to the end of filming) and started co-directing as well. So far it’s been a hell of a ride!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Wow, there’s so many interesting stories! How do I choose just one? Ok, I was just helping out on an indie film and we had a few celeb attachments. One of the name actors (who I shall not name at this time) needed us to make him humongous, ginormous cue cards for all of his lines. My locations manager, one of the lead actors and myself spent hours drawing them out and coloring them in so they were big enough to be legible from a distance. Then we taped them all over the set. There were cue cards EVERYWHERE. And the actor was able to make it seem as if he was not reading them at all, making the performance very entertaining…It was quite amazing!

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?

Haha ok, but it’s about sharing a bit too much. So when I first started in the biz down in Florida, I got to audition for Fear Factor (the version with Joe Rogan hosting). My roommate worked at a local spot that was holding the auditions and she suggested I try out. I went in there wishing I was auditioning for American Idol or something, but once I got there and saw my “competition”, I went all in. Filled out all the paperwork, beat out all the contenders and got on the show with my bf at the time. I’ve always been a very open, honest person and once we got out to LA, I was just being “me” not realizing that I was acting a bit over the top and wayyy too open! For some reason, I had this idea that if I showcased myself in a certain light, I’d be discovered and finally level up…but we all know that the film/tv industry does not work that way. Anyway, I digress. We shoot the scenario; I’m buried alive with rats and worms in a REAL coffin, dropped literally 6 feet under and then covered with 2000 lbs of dirt. Its a race to see who can get their girl out first and we are up against these two California surfer/valley types, who I’m convinced won’t make it past the rats, the worms, and my god, can we address the fact that this chick was so oblivious, she didn’t know how much a quarter million dollars was, numerically speaking?! So we finish the stunt, the perfect couple beating us. At this point I’m so upset that we may be eliminated, I want to kill my boyfriend for not following my instructions. And last but not least, Joe Rogan yells cut telling the team to halt production. He then looks me right in the eye and asks me if I’d like to host the show (probably because I was talking too much hahaha) to which i respond, “of COURSE I want to host Fear Factor! Let’s do this!”. Probably not my most shining moment…

I learned that sometimes you just gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em, ya know? For you millennials, that is a Kenny Rogers reference telling you not to show everyone all your cards right away, aka KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and EYES ON THE PRIZE! I still think you should always be true to you, but in some instances we may need to hold back a little, mmkay?

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

I am constantly reinventing myself and I keep myself busy with a lot of different irons in the fire because the entertainment industry is constantly changing and so are we. I was working on developing several major feature films with a comedy writing associate, but we’re on hold for right now waiting on funding to be finalized. (What else is new…lol). In the meantime, I’ve refocused my energy on comedy. I have a fabulous, funny female partner, Kristina Montuori, who I’m touring around Florida with. We have a brand new uncensored, live comedy show based on relationships and “dating” in this new era and all the trials and tribulations that come along with being a divorced, little bit older, sensual, sexual woman. We each do our own stand up routine and then do the last portion of the show together, like a talk show with a Q&A and real talk getting to know the audience while helping to solve some of their personal relationship issues. It’s a gas!

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

As a comic, I’ve worked with some big name actors and comedians over the years. I’ve been fortunate enough to have met so many amazing, talented and down to earth people. I’ve opened for T.J. Miller (Deadpool), The Smash Brothers (Ralphie May Filthy Animal Tour), J.P. Sears (Awakening with J.P.), Ismo (Ismo), Michael Quu, Ian Bagg (Last Comic Standing), James Davis (Hood Adjacent), Ben Gleib, Tom Cotter (AGT), Emma Willmann (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), London Brown (Ballers), Ali Siddiq, Erik Myers, Matt Iseman (American Ninja Warrior), Bobby Collins, Jeff Dye (Better Late Than Never), Adam Hunter, Brett Ernst, Guy Torry (American History X), Jon Reep (The Hemi Guy), James Johann and Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold from Entourage). And I’m surely forgetting a few! I remember thinking how interesting it was to work with each of these people and how lucky I was to be able to chat with them and learn from their experiences in the biz. It’s amazing what you can learn if you just open your mind and pay close attention — without coming off like a stalker!

One of my favorite stories happened while I was working with Jeremy Piven in West Palm Beach. After the show at the Improv, we all headed next door to Copper Blues where a live band was playing. Now, I don’t know if you’re aware, but Piven is a very talented drummer. And I’m a professional singer for over 20 years. We looked at each other and I said, “we HAVE to”. We worked our way up to the stage. Piven grabbed the mic and engaged the audience before making his way over to the drum kit. I waltzed over to the mic and the band started jamming some funk/dance music giving Jeremy an opening for a big drum solo. They came back in with me singing Play that Funky Music and the crowd went nuts. It was a pretty cool moment. It’s actually on my social media if you wanna see it!

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

For me that’s an interesting question. I get bored very quickly (who doesn’t now a days?) and need to do multiple tasks at once to keep my brain running at full capacity. The busier, the better. You’ve probably heard, “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person”. That couldn’t be any truer! In fact, I’m doing Voice Over work and learning a new app while I’m answering all of your questions right now! That being said, everyone works on different cylinders. You have to do what works for you…If you’re like me, I’d recommend learning every single aspect of the business and choose an area you excel in to focus on. Do NOT listen to ANYONE who tells you that you can’t do more than one thing or have more than one job if that’s what works in your favor! Why let someone else define you with their limiting beliefs? I’ve been told my whole life that I needed to “pick ONE”. Why? Why can’t I be your favorite aqua aerobics instructor and headline a comedy show the same day or be a UPM and star in my own film? Who’s making these decisions for me? Best advice I can give you? BE YOU, BE GRATEFUL and ENJOY EVERY SINGLE SECOND.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be to educate people on the how’s and why’s of mental health issues and how amazing emotional support pets can be in times of crisis! Because of my history of drug abuse, I started competing in fitness and beauty pageants to keep me on the straight and narrow. Some of us become so hyper focused on something that we need a different outlet to become addicted to; addiction replacement, if you will. My thing became the gym. Sobriety along with Mental Health became my platform and I started working towards helping other fit, sober people become personal trainers and fitness coaches so they could have something to focus on other than their own addiction. I also have my sweet little hedgehog, Fiona, who is an Emotional Support Animal. Like so many others, I suffer from wicked anxiety, especially in crowds. I take Fiona with me everywhere and she has become part of my comedy routine. Unfortunately, a lot of airlines are no longer allowing certain pets to qualify as ESA’s because so many people have abused the privilege and have made it very difficult for those of us with unseen health and medical issues who actually need our ESA’s to thrive. Fiona weighs less than one lb! She sleeps during the day traveling in a tiny purse that is hardly noticeable. She does not stink or make noise or come out of her purse unless she has to go potty. Maybe we can start an all Hedgehog owner airline! If you want to learn more about hedgehogs, or Fiona in particular, you can check out our Youtube series called “Hedge-U-cation”! Long live Fiona Steele!!!

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

  1. Be yourself, be kind and to thine own self be true. When anyone asks for my advice on filmmaking (and it applies to almost anything, really) I always say this mantra. It’s so important to have an opinion. And some of you may not know this, but NOT having an opinion is still having an opinion. Capish? You should know your values and stances and stand behind them with authority or you WILL get squashed in this business. And you have to be you or you’ll have a very hard time on the way up. Be aware that you will most likely still have a very hard time on the way up even if you’re not being yourself. Now I know what you’re thinking; So what’s the difference if I’m being me or being phony if it’s going to be so difficult either way? Well, that’s a great question. I wish I was able to be myself in the beginning and let my boisterous personality shine through. But instead, I pushed myself to act a certain way to try and fit in — which is exactly how I remember high school! People were always mean to me growing up so I made it my business to always be kind. Plus, you never know who your next director/producer/actor is going to be — they may actually be working with you today and will remember how you treat people on set. Oh, and even more important- please always be kind to yourself! When I was coming up in the film making world, I had a very tough time deciding exactly which direction I wanted to go in. I believed with 100% certainty that I was an actor; I’d been doing shows since I was a child and preferred being on film as I got older, for many reasons. But I always had an issue with body dysmorphia so I hated how I looked on screen. I desperately wanted to be pretty and skinny. I wanted to have perfect teeth and perfect hair and a perfect figure. It took me years to be ok with my appearance (and I still suffer from body dysmorphia episodes) and to realize that I could potentially be a great character actor with all of my comedy experience. Along the way I also noticed how much I loved the production side of things. To this day, I still act and I still produce and I’m still convinced that not only is it OK to do both, but I highly encourage it!
  2. Network Network NETWORK. How many times have you been somewhere when that strange/weird/omg moment happens and you don’t have a business card? Or maybe you attended some big networking event and fumbled around trying to figure out how to keep in touch with your new connects. I used to not believe in biz cards. I thought, well, darn, I always just throw them away anyway, so why would I spend any money having my own cards to hand out? Especially nowadays with all the social media stuff and how easily we can connect with each other. Well, your business card is your signature, if you will. It shows people that you take yourself and your situation seriously, whatever that may be. And the cool thing is, you can put anything you want on your card! Head shots, your email, FB, IG, Snap, pictures of your hedgehog, whatever! So my story here? You can also take things OFF of your biz card…I had to take my phone number off of my cards because I’ve had some very odd stalker/prank caller situations. Now I keep it to my social media handles and my email. The thing is in comedy, if someone really wants to find you and pop in for one of your shows, it’s pretty easy to figure out. Thank goodness we’re so stealthy when we shoot films.
  3. Mouth closed, ears open. There’s a reason you have ONE mouth and TWO ears. It always amazes me how much people listen but don’t hear. “You can listen without hearing, but you can’t hear without listening”. And it amazes me even more how much people talk!!! “Believe nothing you hear and half of what you see”. I am most definitely a talker. But I didn’t become a listener until I had a rude awakening with a friend of mine after hours. She told me that she watched me talking to people on set and that it appeared as though I only cared about myself; not by what I said, but that I was talking rather than listening. I was shocked, but really glad she pointed this out to me. You can learn so much more by listening and observing, especially on set. It’s amazing how much I learned as an AC (Assistant Camera), a job I knew very little about, but had to step up to the plate on a commercial where the 1st AC no showed. I watched and listened to the DP and AC (and the AC was super helpful, which is not always the case) about lenses and learned how to slate correctly. I could go on and on here, but you get the idea…Oh, and one more story; I was the UPM on a set where I actually had to fire someone for harassing the talent. Which should lead you to the following conclusions based on what we’ve read in this section so far, reader:
  • be you, be kind, and to thine own self be true
  • network all the time but DO IT ON YOUR OWN TIME
  • always be listening and learning
  • always remember to be kind and respectful on set because you never know who you’re next boss may be
  • mouth closed, ears open

4. Learn every single job/aspect of the business from the bottom up and back again. Have you ever seen a great business owner NOT take out the trash at their place of business? I can say with much certainty this is a hard no. Because, in my experience anyway, a GREAT business owner will always do anything and everything — because they had to — to make their business succeed. And if they are a start up, they already learned every single job/aspect from the bottom and finally made it to the level where they don’t have to take out the trash anymore. I was lucky enough to be indecisive with the direction of my film career so that I worked everything from PA to Director and everything along the way. It was like a free ride to film school and sometimes I even got paid! As a Director, I’ve been told that I’m in it for the people, an “actor’s director” if you will. I think that is one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received in the biz. Also, learning the business from all angles will teach you patience, give you life experiences that no one outside the industry has, and will teach you the true meaning of hard work. No one said this business was easy, but in my humble opinion it is most definitely worth it.

5. Never give up. EVER. I love when people say, “Wow, he/she is so talented. An overnight success.” How many times have you heard or maybe even thought that? Most of the time when an artist appears on the scene, whether it’s a singer/actor/comic/producer/director, it may seem like they came from nowhere. And now they’re everywhere. So to the general public, it looks like the person went from no-one to someone literally overnight. But that takes time, dedication, drive, (and now a very large social media following) and last but not least, talent. If you keep going and going and going, nothing can stop you. You never know what’s on the other side of that wall you keep hitting. Sometimes the best way to get over the wall is to go THROUGH it. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to throw my hands up and quit, but I kept going. No matter what. And sometimes I just shifted the sails. As soon as I wasn’t caught up on the negativity of not getting a part or not getting hired or having to do another gig for free…and I focused on the “hey, it’s ok, this wasn’t my part or another better job came through or this free gig got me booked on three paid gigs”, everything changed. Change your focus. Keep your mind clear. We have so much power and barely know how to tap into it. We can do so much if we believe, and I mean REALLY believe that we can do it. Your day will come, so best prepare for it all along the way…and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!!!

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

I give my fitness students what I call my “Steele-isms”! They’re little quotes I’ve picked up along the way that I love to share and discuss with my seniors…ahem, and your readers, of course!

My favorite is this:

“Remember that when you are surrounded by DARKNESS, all you need is a little LIGHT to see!”

This helped me through some very tough times — I was completely buried and knew I was headed in a terrible direction. I had to make the decision to snap out of it and change my life or I would end up in jail or dead. You may have heard this expression or a variation of it, and it’s got such great imagery in my opinion. I went through some very dark times with my divorce and drug addiction and leaving New York. Moving here was the smartest thing I’ve ever done and the truth is if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a damn thing because then I wouldn’t be the person I am now! If you are suffering in any way, it helps so much to know that someone out there understands what you’re going through.

I also have a few others that are near and dear to me, if you don’t mind me sharing: My motto is “If you can BELIEVE it, you can ACHIEVE it” … my dad always taught me that “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”… and lastly, “we don’t get old and die; we die and then get old”. Think about those. Let them resonate for a moment. So much of life is about our attitude and the way we handle things. If we keep going through the same turmoil, we need to stop and reflect. Ask ourselves why we keep being shown the same lesson. From my experience, that’s the universe’s way of saying we still need to learn that lesson. Do more. Really live. Don’t be afraid of growth! I would love to be able to help people understand and implement that into their lives better.

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?

I did meet someone who I worked with for many years that helped me a lot in the comedy world. I’m so grateful for all the times we worked together and I know without him, I wouldn’t be where I am, for sure.

But I do have to say that it has been a very challenging road to get here…and I wouldn’t want it any other way! I struggled through a lot of jobs, made and lost dear friends, and stayed as true to myself as I could while going home crying all night sometimes. Then right when I would want to give up, a voice inside me would say, “nope, just crawl a LITTLE further, a tiny bit more, one more step, c’mon, Stace, you got this! Do NOT give up” and it was like as I would be collapsing, a bunch of arms would reach out and catch me.

I learned that the best road for me was to do as much as I could BY myself FOR myself! Agents would promise things that would never happen. Directors would tell me how perfect I was for a part and I wouldn’t get cast. Comedy club owners would say I could host or open and then tell me I was double booked by accident. The common denominator was that the client chose someone else. Every time. I started working on manifestation (which is a whole other interview…) and studying some Kabbalah and wow, did things change. I started booking my own gigs for singing, acting, comedy and even weddings! I was getting paid to do comedy and I was meeting people that I could put into our movies! I was even beginning to meet some people that were interested in investing in our movies so that we could actually bring them to the big screen. Although I am not anywhere near where I want to be in this crazy career, I am so grateful for the people, the awards, and the opportunities I’ve been granted up to this point.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. 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 see this. 🙂

I know this is going to sound cliche, but definitely, without hesitation, Duane Johnson. He has amazing character AND charisma! I love that he never seems to forget where he came from. He’s polite, articulate, polished, educated and let’s not forget humble! He started out playing football and became a wrestler. I also used to pro-wrestle (I’ll have to share that story another time, lol). Duane went on to become an actor. I am an actor. Duane uses his fitness lifestyle to motivate and inspire others…I am a fitness instructor and life coach specializing in seniors. He became a master of a craft and made it seem like he moved into the next one with ease. He keeps his private life private and seems to balance family life with stardom as if it’s totally normal. I would like nothing more than to learn from him and follow in his footsteps…and hopefully one day, collaborate with him.

Side-note: Duane, if you are reading this, I’d really like to challenge you to that sushi eating contest….

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website- www.staceysteele.com

Facebook- www.facebook.com/staceysteelelive

IG, Twitter, SnapChat, TikTok — @staceysteele13

LinkedIn — www.linkedin.com/in/staceysteele13

IMDb — www.imdb.me/staceysteele

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

The Future of Healthcare: “The documentation requirement on doctors has become too onerous” with Dr. Michael Lowenstein, MD of the Waismann Method

by Christina D. Warner, MBA
Community//

Tonya Russell: “You’re only as sick as your secrets”

by Ben Ari

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.