Meet Fearless Female: Sabrina Sloan

Faced with plenty of rejection over the course of her successful career on Broadway, now raising kids and touring with the breakthrough hit, “Hamilton,” Sabrina is living her best life by continuing to bravely take risks.

Inspired by her tenacity, gratefulness, and humility, we sat down to hear her story, find out how she keeps going, juggling it all, and is, “Hamilton” really as great as it seems? Turns out it is, and so is she.

You have led such an incredible and successful career on Broadway, with your most recent role as Hamilton’s leading lady, Angelica. How did it all start?

I moved to NY to pursue acting after graduating from Northwestern, but I needed a way to survive while doing so. My parents supported my decision to pursue acting but were hesitant about the move to NY. I had to figure out how to support myself AND live out my dream.

I got a job down on Wall Street – I worked all day and auditioned when I could. When I got a job in my first Broadway show in the original cast of "Hairspray," I was then working all day downtown, and doing the show every night. I would go across the ferry, do my job all day, take the train uptown, do the show at night, and then take the train and ferry back home late at night.

I really found myself in the first few years solo in New York. I arrived in New York just after September 11th, and the energy in the city was incredible. I was so inspired by how people were coming together and showing such resilience. I always thought that if this city could pull together and thrive in the face of adversity, so could I. I was exhausted, but it was worth it. I was proud that I was able to stand on my own two feet and make my way in this incredible city. I was living my absolute dream.

When your first child Jackson was born, how did you manage your career and your family?

When my son was 2-months-old, I started a new job in the original cast of “Catch Me If You Can.” I was the mom pumping at intermission, pumping at rehearsals, having Dad bring him to rehearsals for visits, putting him down for naps in a playpen on the mezzanine level of the theatre, and relying on my actor friends/babysitters to come for the 12 hour rehearsals and help so I could grab a few minutes with him on every break!

This was an extraordinary time for me, because it showed me that this community would support me in being a mom. I could not do this alone and I wouldn’t have to. It was one of the best times of our family life. We were so excited about being new parents, and I had so much optimism that I could make it all work.

And then you decided to take a break, tell me about that?

When the show closed, we moved out to LA and I took a break to be a full-time mom. You go through this period of being at home for a while, being there for every little thing, going to the park, being a supermom, staying up all hours, and just being happy.

But of course, NY kept calling me, and it crept in that I had been away from my career and NY for a little while – and you question yourself, "Can I still do it? Am I still good enough?"

We agreed as a family that the next big thing that came up in NY, we would go for it and move back, and before long we were living in Brooklyn and I was back in the zone performing again on Broadway in "Motown" the musical.

Let’s talk about your breakthrough role of Angelica in "Hamilton." How do you even get to be a part of that show?

I knew when I saw the original cast of Hamilton, I wanted to be a part of it. Lin and I worked together during “In The Heights,” and I couldn’t believe what an incredible 2nd piece he had created. It was so inspiring.

The first opportunity with the show came up shortly after my daughter was born and it just wasn’t the right timing with a newborn. I trusted my instinct and prayed that it would come around again. About a year later, I felt It was the right moment. So I proactively reached out to folks to let them know, “I’m ready to do this!”

I was driving to Boston for a wedding gig, and on the drive there, I got a call to come in the next day for a Skype audition with the Hamilton creative team in London. My phone of course died over night, I got up late, tried my best to warm up in the car, arrived at the casting office in NY in my performance clothes from the night before, and auditioned over Skype.

It was one of the most unique audition experiences of my life - an unforgettable one! But I felt confident walking out knowing I had shown them what I wanted to. The casting director, also a mom, pulled me aside and asked, “Do you think you can get everything with the kids and family together for tour to work?” My agent called me on the train ride home and asked “Are you ready to play Angelica?"

And I said, “Yes I am ready, now is the time!” I got home, and I saw Chip, my husband, in the lobby, and I said, “I got the part,” and he said. “Let’s do it!”! It means the world to me that he knew how important this was to me, and he saw the spark.

When I went on tour to 9 cities, 5-6 weeks in each, Jackson stayed in NY with Chip, and I brought Quinn on tour with me since I was still nursing her. And my mom changed her life around to come with us and help take care of Quinn.

"There were so many "No's." I had to constantly tell myself to keep going, keep going, keep your eye on the dream."

Is being part of "Hamilton" everything you thought it would be?

It is, because it is challenging. There is never a day when I think: "Wow I nailed every single moment!" It is a constant striving to get better, to improve, and to try new things that could develop the character further. I know what I am doing, I have the framework, and now I can continue to push myself. I can grow with this show for awhile.

What has been the hardest thing for you about foraging this path?

The persistence. Constantly trying, not giving up. There are a lot of, “No’s.” I did have to constantly tell myself to keep going and to keep my eye on the dream. After kids, the hardest part of this journey is questioning whether or not I am giving THEM everything they need along the way.

How has motherhood changed the way you think about yourself?

I am more forgiving of myself. On any given day, I am failing at something. I succeed at a lot, but then something else slips through the cracks. I have learned to give myself a break and that there is always tomorrow to give it another shot.

What are some of your hobbies and passions that help you feel energized and whole?

There is a certain level of self-care I need to do with the show. I work out. I do pilates. Honestly, I was not so great at self-care for a while. I performed while I had bronchitis and was forced to take some serious time off from the show for vocal rest and recovery. I didn’t work in the self-care I needed to before that because I was just trying to manage family life and tour life, but I learned from the experiences and now I make it a priority!

I love to cook. I have my mornings with my kids, and then I will cook during the day. I find it relaxing to create food and clean the house. I love preparing a whole meal for my family. So when they get home and I have to leave for work before mealtime, they have something I’ve put my love into to enjoy.

When you feel defeated, or simply worn down, how do you push yourself to keep going?

I remember that I have two things I always dreamed of: a fantastic job in the arts flexing my creative chops, and an incredibly loving family. I am far from perfect, but I’m doing something right. To know that this life is possible - to have both career and family who nurture me, support me, and challenge me every day, I just keep saying, “Yes I can, yes I can, yes we can!”

Sometimes I do have to step away. Sometimes on Sunday at the end of the 8 show week, I just go on a long walk alone, to clear my head, so I can come to my family fully present. This weekend, for the first time ever, I am going away alone, two nights down by the coast, by myself.

Tell us about a time where you felt you didn’t “fit in,” and how you reconciled that feeling.

“Not fitting in” is my life story. Coming from a bi-racial family, and pursuing a career in the arts, I never really fit a mold, and I was ok with that. I was like a chameleon. I found ways to connect with people in different ways. I know who I am, and I am happy in my skin.

Maybe one funny example was the time I spent on American Idol. Honestly, I did not fit in at all. I was not good at pretending to be something that I am not. I think my best friend from college was the most upset when I was voted off right before the top 10, and the top 10 go on tour together. It was a great life experience, but I was already married and had spent so much time away from my husband doing the show, I was honestly so happy I didn’t have to go on the tour!

If you had to choose one piece of advice you want your kids to never forget, what would it be?

Take risks. Don’t let fear drive you.

I cannot imagine having not gone to NY, having not done anything that I have done. If you don’t try, you will never know what could be.

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