Constantly reinvent yourself. It’s never too late to learn a new skill or start on a new career path. Take the time off to figure out what you truly want ( to work vs. to have a lustrous career) Figure out why you want this? If it’s solely for the money it may not be enough to sustain your interest.
I had the pleasure to interview Sahmahrah Guillaume. Sahmahrah is a Haitian American Actress, Performer and Stunt Woman from Long Island, NY. She is currently slayin the seven seas as a Dancer Who Sings on cruise ships. Sahmahrah’s mission in life includes empowering and encouraging others to live their wildest dreams by sharing her story and talents.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been gifted and immersed in the arts. Since the age of 3 I was in dance and modeling etiquette classes. I had always dreaded spending my Saturdays inside doing pliés, whilst all the other kids played outside. For the first few years of dance I couldn’t for the life of me understand, why I was being deprived of playtime with my neighborhood friends. Saturday was the only day of play and Sunday was always church and Sunday school.
It wasn’t until one day I realized “Hey all I have to do is make an effort and then I get a shiny trophy.” Prior to this moment of realization I only danced well when we were given treats for volunteering on the last day. No boogie no cookie! Fast forward past the years to follow. I kept up the focus and hard work and I was awarded high accolades from my dance school “Dancer of the Year” and “Ballet Student of the Year”, “Supreme Model of the Year” and the big Kahuna “Supreme Dancer of the Year”! In those years I dedicated most of my waking hours to dance and the arts. Attending competitions (IDC, McDonald’s Gospel Fest etc.) and conventions (Pulse, Dance Olympus) training with the elite choreographers in the business and attending Long Island High school for the Arts half the day. I loved my dancing yet it wasn’t viewed as a lucrative and serious career by my family. Even after receiving the Presidential academic scholarship and having a successful audition at the university of my choice. I wasn’t supported to study dance professionally.
Although I went to school solely for academics I had no lack of experiences and adventures. I was groomed for the workforce under the STEM grant as a peer mentor, traveled to China with my honors program, and met top business industry professionals like Essie Weingarten during on campus “Lunch with a Leader” sessions . My college was the best choice for me and even offered me employment and a full MBA scholarship. However, I had my eyes set on another job on Wall Street to switch things up. Yet even a plush and successful company didn’t fulfill my passions to spread love through entertainment. Up until this point I had followed the rules and did as I was told. Yet I wasn’t able to find the joy in my life, even as grateful as I was I felt a dark cloud over me.
One day my friend told me while exiting the train after work I looked drained and terrible. I could no longer fake the funk. I was unfocused at work and simply going through the motions. After about a year I left a wonderful job and my family behind to pursue dance professionally on the seven seas on cruise ships. What I had to accept was that some things are great in their own right, just not what’s best for me. I also live more vivaciously when I’m living in my purpose and pursuing my dreams and passions.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Meeting a woman by the name of Lady P. One afternoon after doing an activity with the guests onboard I was looking forward to retiring to my room. However, when I walked past this table with a mature woman sitting behind it giving this confident and fabulously beautiful energy. I felt compelled to turn around and speak to her. A few moments turned into hours of engaging in conversation, meeting her colleagues and attending one of her group’s conferences onboard. She happened to know all about the ship life from a past relationship and had seen me the night before performing. A big thing she noticed and complimented me on was my professionalism during a costume malfunction. She had noticed because she was used to the stage. It was on that day I made a great friend. We stay in touch to this day and she has connected me to many people. I’m thankful for that encounter. I believe it was the universe telling me to keep moving forward with confidence and trust my instincts.
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?
Fear is truly crippling. When I first started I had one quick-change that I siked myself out about. I had instance where I got so nervous and embarrassed that I would mess up that I missed an entire number because I couldn’t get my gloves on in time. I was so in my head and my manager simply asked “what happened?” He didn’t shout or get mad he just smiled and told me it’s alright just go on without them if need be. Looking back I feel so silly to have let things like that scare me so badly.
On my current ship I have an even bigger part in the show with an onstage change. I’ve been slaying no matter what happens to my gloves, dress wig etc.! My confidence has definitely improved my performance and helped me to power through shows! Other props have almost been ditched for slowing me down but I made “fool proof” methods in case I did forget to pre-set or something. I know where the spare props are and I have a checklist on my mirror. Moving forward I tell myself “you’ve trained for this all your life and have done this properly before c’mon girl the show must go on!” Believing in yourself, your talent and your success is very important in this industry!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
An exciting project I’m working on is my YouTube channel about my current cruise ship performing job and travels. There is so much to say and so many great things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Some other interesting things include Stunt projects like being considered for RUNAWAYS and many more exciting things to come. Stick with me!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Actually some of the people I’ve worked with and met on ships have been very interesting. Including the ones I met prior to this career.
Billy Mitchell whom I met during my Lady P adventures is the Apollo Tour Director, In House Historian and Ambassador. The infamous Apollo theater has shaken up Harlem history for years and I got to meet the man behind a lot of the best people. Hearing his stories about his friendship with Denzel Washington and seeing acts who we know and love grind their way through an Apollo audience was amazing!
I met a royal family who was marrying their Prince and his bride one cruise and they knew how to party! The elegant dress and style was like a constant couture parade of art and decor. It was nice to see how tight knit they were and to see them all in their royal element.
Sefeik the seasoned Turkish businessman who owns several Starbucks in California came to cruise recently. He is a true man of means with a hardworking rags to riches story. He was very generous to me and the other ladies in my cast and supported every show and event. Life gets very interesting on the sea.
I’ve also met people who have been influential to my acting career, because they were real life characters! I’ve met many wise people on my journey of life so far and have loved the good company I’ve had the pleasure of keeping.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Hey, I’m still a youngin in the game. I have gained some inspiration and tips from mentors who have taught me a thing or two. These may sound like a post card or IG success quotes page. *shrugs here it goes!
- Constantly reinvent yourself. It’s never too late to learn a new skill or start on a new career path.
- Take the time off to figure out what you truly want ( to work vs. to have a lustrous career) Figure out why you want this? If it’s solely for the money it may not be enough to sustain your interest. In some seasons it’s fine to do something for the money, because you may need it at the time. No shame in taking such a job as long as it’s not a moral compromise. There are a few reasons why you take a job. The money, the career boost or the experiences you will have.
- Sacrifice is necessary and only you can determine who, what, where, when and how. You can’t carry every person, thing and problem with you to each new destination.
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. 🙂
Giving Back & Empowering Black. There are many people that are struggling that could benefit from being given to in terms of mental, medical and financial care. Much as been done yet many are still starving and without clean water. Many of which include Black regions and developing nations. These people also need to be empowered to collaborate more and to be educated properly on their history, proper diet and the power within to create a better life and world.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each
- Confidence is key. If you don’t believe in yourself and understand the severity of your gift being properly used, nothing else matters. It’s only you on stage not them.
- Know who you are and forget about all those “buts”. They will only hold you back. You’ve gotten this far despite your obstacles and differences from those who have been consistently working and living as entertainers. So What if you haven’t .. you are here now!
- Once you find your way towards a secure future keep it. Not everyone is blessed enough to travel and work as an entertainer while being paid to do so. (My dad always said this)
- Consistency is key in terms of marketing yourself on social media, engaging future employers and business partners and pushing out content.
- Know your ish. That can be from the rules and regulations for being ship staff to knowing who is nominated for the award you wish to win one day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Stay ready so you never have to get ready”- My Aries Sister Eu’nice McCoy
It’s a quote that is great for any industry and applies so well to all aspects of life. Being prepared for the day someone texted me asking for my headshot and measurements got me my first stunt job and SAG voucher(still looking for more)! I was on my phone anyways and answered quickly and with enthusiasm. Having key files on hand, looking the part no matter where you go, and reflecting the job/future you want to have is a life lesson that will take you to great places and spaces.
While working on Wall Street my great friend would always encourage me by saying this and she would embody it with what she did. She always had a very clear view of her future and was waiting for the universe to catch up with her greatness! She was praised around the office for not only her work ethic and drive, but especially for her readiness to at the drop of a dime be pulled into a big meeting and to have any important information or file at hand for reference.
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?
My number one supporter, mentor and friend is my Dad! He is the real MVP in my life story. My number one person has never doubted me or my ability to succeed.
Funny story: When I did in fact leave my job on Wall Street to end my misery and I’m sure the push and pull my employer felt of me not being fully present in my position. I made one poor decision; I didn’t ask or consult my father first. When I finally broke the news to him he was infuriated and tried to kick me out. We never argue so that was a big deal for me. I didn’t of course leave.
I gave him space and later I found out he spoke to my best friends mom for advice. Thank God for Tanya Hall Toney! He woke up the next morning full of love, light and complete supportiveness. I’m thankful for my village of friends and family. For continuing to have my back and my front and keeping me sane!
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. 🙂
If I could have a private lunch meeting with anyone in the world I would choose Jeff Bezos! Amazon is the number one online selling platform and has grown far beyond its humble beginnings. I’d love to have a private conversation to understand the line of influence he attributes his direct success to. The power at that table would be absolutely amazing. I’d learn all I could about legacy forming and smart money moves.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook fan page: Sahmahrah Guillaume