Lexie Stevenson: “Surprise yourself, not the audience”

Any great actor will tell you that the goal is not to get a round of applause from your audience. The goal is to drop into a character so deeply that you come out of the scene and realize you forgot the audience was there. If you do that, chances are you will get a round of applause anyway.

As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lexie Stevenson.

Lexie was born in the town of Brunswick, a vibrant, small town in southeastern Maine and home to Bowdoin College and the Maine State Music Theatre. At the young age of 5, Lexie told her parents that she wanted to be an actress and a singer and they enrolled her in voice and acting lessons at Studio 48 Performing Arts Center where she was trained by Rebecca Beck. It was there that she made her stage debut, performing in such musical theater productions as Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, and High School Musical.

At age 12, she remained a remarkably self-motivated child and found a course being offered in New York City by world-renowned vocal coach and performer, Mary Setrakian. Her parents drove her several hours to NYC to participate in the class, and it was there that Ms. Setrakian noticed Lexie’s exceptional singing talent, and offered to work with her one-on-one. Lexie trained privately with Ms. Setrakian for the next 3 years.

Throughout high school, Lexie remained dedicated to acting and singing, performing as Pepper in Annie at the esteemed Maine State Music Theatre (where she earned her invitation to become a member of Actors’ Equity), several productions at the New England Youth Theatre, and as a member of the Brunswick High School Treble Choir, the honors level performance course for female vocalists. Tenacious and determined to pursue professional opportunities in film and television, Lexie self-submitted and was cast initially on small background roles on such productions as The Vampire Diaries, and small roles in Alvin and the Chipmunks 4: Road Chip; Martin Scorseses’ HBO production, Vinyl, and others.

During her busy high school years, Lexie was not only an outstanding young actress and singer, but she was also a competitive athlete whose accolades include being a three-time, bronze medalist (swimming) at the Junior Olympics in Maine, playing year-round soccer (at the club level and for her high school team), and even appearing as “Buzz the Bee”, the mascot for her father’s company — Modern Pests Services — for the Boston Red Sox farm team, the Portland Sea Dogs.

Lexie also proudly participated in the Miss Maine Teen USA pageant (a precursor to the Miss Teen USA pageant) and was 1st Runner-Up in both 2014 and 2015.

Upon graduating with honors from Brunswick High School in 2016, Lexie was admitted to the academically selective Purchase College-SUNY but chose to defer and move to California to seriously pursue her acting and singing career. After just seven months in Los Angeles, Lexie booked her first major role as “Mattie” on the CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless.

Lexie enjoys traveling and has two dogs; a German Shepherd named Bella and a 1 yr old Rottweiler named King. Lexie currently resides in Los Angeles.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

My backstory starts in the state of Maine. My parents constantly tell me stories of me singing in the house, at school or daycare, and on the car rides in between. Once I was in middle school, I wanted to start vocal lessons. I joined a studio called New England Youth Theater and took vocal lessons from the owner, Rebecca Beck. She helped me discover my love for acting by encouraging me to join some of the musical productions. I was hesitant at first, but after my first play, I fell in love with acting, and since then, it’s been the only thing I’ve wanted to do for a career.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway that you took out of that story?

The funniest story that has occurred in my career is TMI, but I’ll share it with you anyway. While filming for The Young and the Restless, there was a day that I had a very upset stomach. Right before we were about to film, I told our stage manager that I really needed to use the restroom, and then I bolted off the set. After I was done and about to return to the set, I realized that I had not taken off or turned off my mic during my time in the bathroom. Walking back to the set was very embarrassing, but to this day, no one has ever said anything to me about it. I can only hope that as soon as they heard the bathroom door open, they switched off the mic on their end but fortunately or unfortunately, I will never know.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

Be kind. Be genuine. Stay in your lane and stay focused. This industry is filled with rejection so be ready to hear a thousand no’s before hearing that one yes. At times you may get discouraged but always remember that you might just be one more audition away from landing your dream role.

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Yes. My self-tape coach Jason Montgomery. He is not only my self-tape coach but also my mentor. Because most auditions are now done virtually, I am in his studio about four times a week, and every time I am there, I learn something new. Just the other day, he reminded me that nobody could play me better than I can play myself. Every role I take on, I find similarities to myself within that character, and that’s part of my normal process of bringing the character to life. Still, as we all do, I sometimes push myself to be someone entirely different, and he can sense that. He pushes me to do my best, even on my off days. He has helped me grow more in the past year than I ever have, and I recommend him to anyone and everyone who wants to act.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

I am using my success to spread awareness and educate people about Endometriosis. Endo is a chronic inflammatory disease that I, along with many other women, struggle with. I am currently on the Endometriosis Foundation of America’s Advisory Board. I work alongside many other strong and inspirational women to raise money for research and help raise awareness so that other women get diagnosed quicker.

Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?

My mother and I both have Endometriosis, and it has caused multiple health problems for both of us. Growing up, I would see my mom curled up in crippling pain when she went through Endometriosis attacks. My first Endometriosis attack happened when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I had no idea what it was. My doctors blamed it on bad period cramps or would ask my parents if I was getting enough attention at home. About four years later, I had to have surgery to remove a growth on my ovaries. After I woke up, I learned the growth was due to Endometriosis which had caused part of my small intestine to roll up into the size of a golf ball. Luckily it had pinched itself off, and my intestine repaired itself but had it not, I would have been staring death in the face. Because of how long it took for me to get diagnosed and how dangerous it was, I wanted to try and prevent other women from going through the same thing.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

Yes! My favorite story is when I walked into a Chop Stop (a salad restaurant chain) in Los Angeles, and the girl behind the counter asked if I was Mattie Ashby from The Young and the Restless, to which I responded yes. This was probably a month or two after I had posted my Endometriosis story on my blog, which she told me she had read. She also told me that she related to a lot of the symptoms I was experiencing, so she made an appointment with her OB/GYN and was also diagnosed with Endometriosis. No one wants to be diagnosed with Endometriosis, but I was so happy that this girl finally knew what was going on with her.

Are there three things that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?

The government can get rid of the Pink tax. Pink tax is a form of gender-based price discrimination. Many items designed and marketed towards women are almost always more expensive than those same items designed and marketed towards men. It also causes basic feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons to be significantly more than what they should be and less affordable for women with lower incomes.

Society (especially medical schools) can help make it a requirement for OB/GYNs to at least understand what Endometriosis is and how to diagnose it.

Individuals can help spread awareness and be there for their loved ones who suffer from the disease.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.

The five things I wish someone told me are:

1. Acting is a forever journey, so never stop taking classes.

Sometimes actors book their first big role, and they think, “I’ve made it.” If fame is all you wanted out of this profession, then I guess you could say you have, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I have found that most actors care more about mastering the art of bringing any character to life. When I booked my role on The Young and the Restless, I stopped taking classes, I stopped auditioning, and expected to book any role that presented itself to me after I came off the show — and oh my lord, that was not the case. There is always more to learn in acting because there is always a new character, a news story, and new experiences.

2. Surprise yourself, not the audience.

Any great actor will tell you that the goal is not to get a round of applause from your audience. The goal is to drop into a character so deeply that you come out of the scene and realize you forgot the audience was there. If you do that, chances are you will get a round of applause anyway.

3. If your mental health isn’t at its best, neither are you.

You can limp into an audition with a broken foot and still give a killer performance. The same is not true if you walk into an audition with poor mental health or feeling burnt out. It took me forever to figure this out. I’ve always been the type of person to put a lot of pressure on myself, and if I ever had a day with nothing to do, I felt like I was failing. In order to compensate for that, I would sign up for a ton of acting classes, schedule photo shoots, create content, memorize scripts, read acting books and ultimately burn myself out and end up in a pretty dark spot. I’ve figured out how to balance myself by doing other things so that acting wasn’t my entire identity. I love wine, so I spend time learning about that or going to wine tastings in my free time. Some days I’ll have a self-care day where I clean my apartment, take a bubble bath, and do my entire 100-step facial care routine, lol.

4. Los Angeles will eat you up and spit you back out if you let it.

LA is an amazing place for opportunities and to meet some really incredible people. However, it is also filled with rejection, beautiful individuals, and very competitive people. I think it’s normal for girls and guys everywhere to compare themselves to others, but that can be a very slippery slope into losing yourself in LA. Make sure you are always rooted in something that keeps your feet on the ground and keeps you humble. For me, that’s my family and anything that makes me feel a little closer to Maine.

5. Take constructive criticism.

I saved the best for last. You don’t know everything you need to know until you die, and that’s just a fact. You also don’t grow as a person if you walk around being a know-it-all. I used to be horrible at taking criticism. I think it’s because there’s a really negative connotation with the word, but it’s a really great thing in reality. I have so many amazing people around me who have already done what I’m trying to do, and I can learn from their successes and failures, which puts me ahead of the game.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am already part of the movement that I would have started if it didn’t already exist, which is to spread awareness and further research in regards to Endometriosis. I am on the Advisory Board for The Endometriosis Foundation of America. Getting Endometriosis diagnosed and treated more quickly is the dream for me. Millions of women suffer from this disease, and little to no money goes into research for a cure or educating doctors on how to diagnose the presented symptoms.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite quote for anything is, “The only thing stopping you is you.” My mom always said this to me growing up when I felt discouraged or faced adversity. It’s such a simple phrase, but it holds a lot of weight. Anything that we feel is stopping us besides ourselves is just an excuse. People are capable of seemingly impossible things, and often, our own minds limit us.

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Zendaya. Growing up and even now, there aren’t many people in the Entertainment industry that look like me… an extremely light-skinned mixed girl. Zendaya was the first actress I saw on TV that looked even remotely like me. The inspiration I get from her is more than skin deep, though. She is an extraordinary actress and humanitarian. I love everything she stands for and how she carries herself. She is the role model of what I want to be myself when I obtain that much success.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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