Sujana Chand is a professional singer, actress, vocal coach, ESL teacher and food blogger based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She studied Acting, Music and Dance at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and ever since has continued to follow her love for the performing arts. Career highlights include the lead singer for three Cirque du Soleil shows; a cast member for the Broadway National Tour of Bombay Dreams; lead singer in Maui’s Ulalena; and premiering Stephen Schwartz’ “Secret Silk” on The Coral Princess as the Old Woman. Recently she produced her first CD, Sujana Chand – R&B Hits of Yesterday and Today -and has taken up food blogging, a new passion she thoroughly enjoys. She is inspired by successful people who remain humble and kind and admires her mother for her consistent and loving support throughout her life. Read on to learn more about Sujana and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Sujana Chand
Heritage: Indian American
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Current City: Las Vegas, NV
Undiscovered Foodie (Food Blogger): email@example.com; Last Performed for Kenny Davidsen’s Bowtie Cabaret at the Piazza Lounge in the Tuscany (January 2021); Recently produced (with AJ Braman) my first CD: Sujana Chand- R&B Hits of Yesterday and Today
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Some of my favorite credits and projects include being the lead singer for three Cirque du Soleil shows (Saltimbanco World Arena Tour, Wintuk at Madison Square Gardens and O at Bellagio); the Broadway National Tour of Bombay Dreams; the lead singer in Maui’s Ulalena; and premiering Stephen Schwartz’ “Secret Silk” on The Coral Princess as the Old Woman. I’ve also had the pleasure of playing The Witch in “Into the Woods” with two different productions, one of which was with an Equity house in Vermont.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Well, to be honest, I think things are so different these days, with YouTube, social media and technical skills being such an integral part of getting yourself out there, seen, heard and to remain seemingly relevant. However, one thing will never change and that is the focus, determination and dedication with which one should go after their craft. It’s very important not to be deterred by “failure” (not getting booked) but rather, to allow it to fuel your fire. You must have thick skin in this business. There will most likely be more rejection than casting or booking and that’s not necessarily because you’re bad or doing anything wrong, it’s just the nature of the business. So, you must pick yourself up and keep going. The wins are so worth the losses in the end.
How did you get your start?
I studied Acting, Music and Dance at Tisch School of the Arts in New York University. I think it really helped that I had already been in the city for four years prior to entering the audition scene. Just knowing my way around a bit and how to navigate the city and the personalities within it made auditions ever so slightly less intimidating. My first paid gig was at The Carousel Dinner Theatre (the largest dinner theatre in the country) in Akron, OH. I played Tup Tim in the King and I. From that point on, auditioning was just a part of life. I was always hustling. At one point, booking gigs becomes a numbers game.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
I once had to go on for Rani (one of the leads) in Bombay Dreams with two hours’ notice. I had never played the role and we were well into the tour. It was at once exhilarating and terrifying to jump in with practically no rehearsal and make entrances in harnesses and dance in fountains with my friends but in the end, when I completed the task (and had actually done pretty well), I felt on top of the world. It was not an easy thing to pull off, but I had the support of my entire cast and they really helped me along. Plus, it was so fun to play a sassy, has- been Bollywood Actress, full of attitude and displaced confidence. Oh, and we happened to be at the Fox Theatre in Detroit and my solo dressing room was stunning, just like something you’d picture in Old Hollywood. I’ll never forget that night.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Consistency and stability. Often, the highs are so high, and the lows are so low. You can never get too comfortable because every contract ends. As an Asian American artist, I do feel that I had an additional set of challenges to face with casting, based on the color of my hair and skin. When people cannot see beyond the exotic, it limits what you can be considered for. Sure, there has been a little progress in this area. But it’s just that, “a little.” There is still a long way to go. Also, when I was in school, no one ever taught us the business side of things and that’s more than half the battle. Managing money, looking ahead, having side hustles, not being too proud to work in any capacity to pay the bills - these are things I had to learn as I went.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I had lived in 40 different places by the time I turned 40; I have been to 30 cities in Japan and I would go back in a heartbeat; I have over 30 completed journals (I love to write) dating back to when I was 11 years old; My parents are both from South India and speak two different languages (there are 22 languages in India) and I understand and can speak one (Tamil); and I learned Bharatanatyam (Indian Classical Dance) as a child and would love to take lessons again someday.
Who do you admire?
My mother. It might sound cliche, but it’s true. She is an immigrant and first-generation Indian American who came to a new country and made it her own. She worked full-time and still managed to put a home cooked meal on the table, every single night, take us to all our activities and lessons and attend all our shows while even throwing dinner parties on the weekends! If only I could do half of what she always did! I often wonder if she got back everything that she so naturally gave (love, energy, time, etc.) and sadly, I don't think so. But she would always say that she just wanted us to be happy. I don’t have that kind of selflessness. She is one-of-a-kind.
Did you always want to be in the arts, or did you have another path before you got here?
I always knew I loved the Arts and had a deep passion for singing but, I never thought I’d be brave enough or have the support to go after it, as a career! But you know how some people say, when you have no support in what you do, it just compels you to work that much harder to prove everyone wrong? While I understand that, I think it works the opposite way too. I’m sure that my parent’s friends and family thought they were crazy for sending me to an expensive private university to study the arts. Indians are supposed to be doctors or engineers or lawyers. However, they believed in me. And they were not wealthy either by textbook definition, so, it was no easy feat to get me through those four years of college (in fact, it took me 20 years to pay off my college loans!). But, they did…and they believed in me….and I’ll never forget that. I think it’s helped me to carry on and push forward when I’ve wanted to give up. Even at 44 years old, I don’t want to let them down. Hahaha- maybe that’s that Indian guilt!
Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between shows to pay the bills?
Geez, which one? Because there have been more than a few! (Trying to) sell time shares in Waikiki? Telemarketing? Trader Joes? Starbucks? Putting on a dinosaur head (Baby Bop) in the Fresno summer heat in parks to entertain kids? Being the Entertainment Director of a theme park in North Carolina and managing about 52 teenagers (I don’t think I’m cut out for that)? You name it, I’ve done it. Being an artist does not give you the license to be lazy when you are not on stage.
Do you have any other “special skills?
I’m a certified English teacher and I’m also a Vocal Coach.
Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?
I just started food blogging this year and it has been so much fun. I’ve always been passionate about travel and food and my blog is aimed at demystifying the exotic. However, it often just ends up being me, sharing my experiences about wandering the planet and eating my way through it! There is so much to learn about culture through food! Please check it out: Undiscovered Foodie: firstname.lastname@example.org. Once I reach about 50 blogs or so, my goal is to either self-publish a book and/or write restaurant reviews for any local publication or newspaper (Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Review-Journal, etc.).
If you come from parents who aren’t in the arts, what parts of them do you see in yourself that have helped you succeed in the business?
Persistence. Dedication. Never giving up. Not being idle. Sharp focus when needed.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
It’s not enough just to be an artist. You must be a businesswoman too! And, don’t let rejection from auditions color the way the world perceives you. Stay confident and strong.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
I’m a very schedule-oriented person and I’ve always been able to navigate the hours of the day, productively. For example: teach for so many hours, run to an audition, teach something else and go home and prepare for the next audition and the next class. I can break things down by the hour and make sure it all gets done. This prevents me from getting overwhelmed and that’s important, especially when you often have only one day to prepare for an audition. I actually really miss having things to juggle! I never thought I’d say that.
Where did you study at?
Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
What is your greatest accomplishment?
On paper, probably being the lead singer for Cirque du Soleil’s “O.” At the time when that was my position, Britney Spears was at Planet Hollywood and Celine Dion was at Caesars and I took pride in knowing that I was there, on Las Vegas Boulevard, among the greats. However, my greatest accomplishment in life is the kindness I show to the people around me. In the end, that kind of thing is what will matter most.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
Honestly, I just hope to get back on stage again and make a living as a singer, touching audiences around the world. I’ve been lucky to have been able to do that already and I just want to continue!
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the fact that as entertainers, we provide a space for others to be transported, to feel emotions in a safe space and to let go of the trials and tribulations of the day. Everyone needs a healthy way to escape, occasionally.
Do you have any self-care practices you do to stay focused and sane?
I do, always, warm up my voice before a show. I eat a light, healthy meal about three hours before I sing so I don’t feel heavy and weighted down and can take the deep breaths that are needed. Now, although I am not performing regularly (like so many other artists), I wake up in the morning and work out, first thing, 3x a week. I am also very involved in Jay Shetty’s teachings (“Think like a Monk”) and participate in his workshops, etc. I’m always working on some music as well (at the moment, it’s 10 different sets for a future piano and voice duo). The mind and body are always connected so I try to address both in daily practices.
How do you prepare for a role you consider difficult personally, whether it hits tooclose to home or goes greatly against your personal beliefs?
There are many tools for actors to help in such circumstances. If sense memory hits too close to home, you can use specific actions to get what you need from your scene partner. The most important thing is just to listen and be in the moment.
What inspires you?
Successful people who remain humble and kind. Who do not believe that they are deserving of more than others because of their status. Also, people who work hard and are grateful for what they have, whatever that may be. And of course, a beautiful, touching, heartfelt song that really tells a story. This will ALWAYS inspire me more than bells and whistles.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
AJ Braman and I just put out a cd last year! It’s called, “R&B Hits of Yesterday and Today.” I’m so happy to finally have fulfilled this lifelong dream of having my music in a tangible place. If you would like a copy, please find me on Facebook or email me at email@example.com.Thank you so much in advance, for the support.
To find out more about Sujana, please visit her at:
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