A new year’s a time for goals and dreams. A time to make things happen. A time to roll with life’s setbacks and turn things around.
Broadway veteran Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon) did that in spades in 2016. The year started with him landing a lead role as Bill Gates in a musical, Nerds, that was supposed to make its Broadway debut in the spring. But just as the cast had finished learning the production, an investor pulled the plug.
How’s this for a turnaround? With his schedule suddenly cleared, O'Malley ended up landing the role of King George III in the smash hit Hamilton, which had just become a cultural force. In the latest episode of the Fortt Knox Podcast, as O'Malley shares his story, he also offers some tips that will help you get the most out of the year ahead. Stream audio of the conversation below, and follow this link to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play.
Be ready for lightning to strike
“It was one of those moments when there was no way to put lipstick on this pig. It was horrible.” That’s how O'Malley describes the moment on March 8 when the lead producer broke the news to the cast of Nerds that Broadway wouldn’t be happening after all. “Two days after getting back to L.A., my agent called and said, ‘Rory, I know that you just had a really hard experience on Broadway, but would you ever consider coming back to Broadway?’” Someone who saw him run through the Bill Gates role wanted him to join the Hamilton cast. O'Malley got on a plane and flew back to New York.
Don’t fixate on just one path
“My number-one advice to young people is to relax and to chill,” O'Malley tells me on the Fortt Knox podcast. Relax? Do people still do that? The point, he says, is that often the path to your dream gig isn’t direct, and there are other jobs you’ll have to do along the way. Sometimes your dream even changes. “You should be striving for excellence and education and learning, and be open to whatever path that journey and education takes you on.”
Stay satisfied, stay hungry
“It’s not a bad thing to know when your dream comes true,” O'Malley says. After his Tony-nominated performance in The Book of Mormon, he told people that it was the best professional experience he would ever have. They recoiled in horror, as if he’d told them his life was over. That wasn’t what he meant. He meant that other great things would happen, sure, but he felt no pressure to top this. “You don’t get to being an actor without having an out-of-control ambition. … I did have to make a decision in my mid-20s if it was more important to me to be happy or working as an actor. And I know that those two things don’t have to be one or the other, but you do have to decide what’s more important.”
For more on how O'Malley landed his role in The Book of Mormon, his take on Hamilton’s place in Broadway history, what happened when Mark Zuckerberg showed up to the theater with Melinda Gates and more, subscribe to the Fortt Knox podcast.