Rachelle Ann Go's important tips for taking career risks
MANILA, Philippines – It was a rainy Friday afternoon in November and actress Rachelle Ann Go was lazing about in her London bedroom, resting up – she was playing Fantine in the London production of Les Miserables, and the show must go on, in spite of her tonsillitis. (READ: Confirmed: 'Les Miserables' coming to Manila, Rachelle Ann Go to star as Fantine)
By now, though, she must be used to those kinds of conditions. After all, Rachelle is no stranger to the stage, as she first caught our attention when she won Search For A Star in 2004. Rachelle was 18 then. (WATCH: Rachelle Ann Go has her Disney moment in 'Cinderella' video)
In 12 years, it seems as though Rachelle Ann has passed milestone after milestone in her career, moving from rising pop star to acting on West End. (Watch: Rachelle Ann Go sings 'I Dreamed A Dream' at West End Live 2015)
But for Rachelle, the road to Les Miz has been tough. When we spoke to her through Skype call on November 13, 2015, she shared that there was a time she wasn't sure about where to take her career.
"I was so confused and I didn't know which path to take anymore... because even when I was still doing pop, there were lots of people telling me what to do, 'You have to do this, do that,' said Rachelle. "So I've tried every single genre basically, I've done like, pop,rock, I've done like, covers and originals."
While it was good that she tried so many things, she said, it came to a point where she wasn't happy anymore. "I feel like I'm just doing the job, the passion isn't there anymore, it's not sincere anymore, so it's like, 'what should I do?' I feel like I have to do something else."
That "something else" for Rachelle was theater – but going from pop to theater was a huge risk, especially because she didn't have any formal training for it. But it was because she took a risk that she went from playing Ariel in the Philippine production of The Little Mermaid in 2011, to Jane Porter in Tarzan in 2013, and then Gigi Van Tranh in the 2014 West End revival of Miss Saigon.
"After I did [The Little Mermaid] I was like, 'Oh gosh, I love doing theater,' I'm in love with it. And then after that Tarzan came, and then I did it again, and then when Miss Saigon came to the Philippines to have an audition, I was like should I do this?
"I don't have any you know training, I don't have formal training in theater, but I was like, 'Yeah let's try it,' I took the risk and then I got it."
It was after much prayer that she ended up in London. "You know I was alone – I [have been] alone for the past two years, so, which is good, I'm growing, and I think I found my niche."
Surround yourself with supportive people
Rachelle said that for anyone going through the same confusion that she went through, the people you talk to are important. "Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, support you, and who tell you honestly, like if you're doing the right thing or if you're not doing the right thing. I think that's the most important thing."
OPENING NIGHT! i am still floating! I was sooooooi nervous last night but i had fun! i am glad to share the dressing room with these lovely girls(Zoe as Cosette, Carrie as Eponine and Katy as Madame Thenardier! Now... i can relax and enjoy my character more!!!! this is going to be an amazing year!!!! Aaahhhh!!! Thank you Lord for being with me the whole time!! #thelesmisdiaryofrachelle
Earlier in the interview, Rachelle shared that after she discovered her love for theater, she faced another challenge of making a shift in her career – people were discouraging her from doing it. "People were like, 'Don't take it,' you know. 'Because you'll be gone here in the Philippines and people will forget about you, blah blah blah,' and I was like, 'Should I actually listen to them? And at that point, I was so confused.'"
Meanwhile, her parents said the opposite: "My parents were very supportive, I'm very thankful, I'm thankful, they were like, 'Do whatever you wanna do.'"
For Rachelle, one of the reasons she's here today is because she never stopped dreaming. "I always say dream on. You always have to dream. I am a dreamer, since I was a kid, I was like, 'I wanna to do this and that,' ... don't stop dreaming."
But for your dreams to become a reality, you have to have a specific goal. "If you want something, claim it, because words are very powerful," said Rachelle.
"That's what happened to me. When I saw Miss Saigon like 5 years ago, I said, 'I'm gonna do that, I'm gonna do that one day.' And I did Miss Saigon. And then when I watched Les Miserables two years ago, when I saw Fantine, I said 'I will do that role!' And now I'm doing it!"
Performance is finally done in Bali! Seeing this brochure makes me say 'seriously?' In my language 'weh? Totoo? Di nga?'GRABE how God works! He is always full of surprisesHe is just awesome!whew. DREAM big and it will happen! Still can't believe it!I've been awake for more than 24 hrs now, i guess i'm living in a dream If you have a dream, go for it!!! Never give up. Let go of your fears and doubts! Thank YOU to everyone who believed in me since day 1. This is for you guys! This will be the start of... #theLesMisDiaryofRachelle
"You have to dream specifically," she added, "And if you pray for something, be specific, because He will give it to you."
What role is Rachelle dreaming about next? "I wanna do Wicked, I wanna go green!" she cried, when asked. "I wanna be Elphaba. I don't know, you never know right? One day, it'll happen. So yeah."
Hone your craft
Nothing can be achieved just by dreaming. She might have been taking it easy the day we caught up with her, but when she's not doing shows, Rachelle keeps busy by trying to learn new things.
"Hone your craft. Don't stop learning, go to school, education is a must, and here – even here – when I'm not doing anything during the daytime, I try to learn new things. I go to like vocal lessons, stuff like that, which is really helpful, go to acting classes also," she shared.
Below is a photo of Rachelle with fellow Pinays who dreamed big and didn't stop working to reach their dreams – girl group 4th Impact. (READ: 4th Impact: More about the PH girl group, their plans after 'X Factor UK')
Unless you try, you'll never know
When asked for advice for aspiring actors, Rachelle was the first to admit that there isn't much money in theater acting in the early stages. "But if you have the passion, you know, do it, go for it," she said. "I grew up not knowing about theater world, I grew up doing pop music, but then I just did my best and now I'm doing this. This is really unexpected."
"I didn't know that I would enjoy this, because before, when I hear about theater, or musicals, I think about, 'Oh, they're actors, they're really good,' she elaborated further. "I feel like I'm not good enough to do it, but unless you try it, doon mo lang malalaman (that's when you'll know), then you will realize 'Oh God, I can do this."
"If you have the passion, if you know, if you want something, then don't stop doing it until you get that dream of yours... just keep on doing your stuff, keep on doing the best that you can do to reach that [dream]."
Every new role is a dream come true for Rachelle, but it's also a challenge – she admitted to being nervous about her role as Fantine when she first started out. "Yeah, I was really, you know, panicking at first, I was like, 'I need to do this right, I need to do this right,' I was putting pressure to myself. Siymepre (Of course) I feel like I need to please everyone, so I was really nervous," she said.
By then, she was already 5 months into the production and a lot more comfortable with the role, thanks, she said, to their director.
In March, Rachelle is set to play Fantine again, in the Manila production of Les Miserables. "I'm really excited to go home and just you know, perform for my kababayans and just be home and see my family," she said last year.
"What can you expect? I guess I'm just gonna give my all, yeah. You'll see it next year, so I can't say much, but I'm just gonna give my best." – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As an added bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.