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“It’s in My Blood”: Roy George – A Dramatic Life with a Short Bowel

“It’s in My Blood”: Roy George – A Dramatic Life with a Short Bowel | www.achronicvoice.com

The Wonderful Randomness of the Internet

To tell you the truth, I hardly know a thing about Roy; he isn’t in my usual online circle. In fact it was another stranger who linked us up with a few quick words on Twitter and voilà, I have a new, interesting person to feature in this series! 😀 Don’t you just love it when the internet gives instead of receives sucks you dry?

Editing Roy’s interview gave me a glimpse into his amazing life, and the general impression I got is that he’s a joyful person whom I’d like to meet in real life (and I don’t even like to get out of my house!). Take a look at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean 🙂 I hope you enjoy this feature as much as I do!

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When the kids ask you to take a picture, you do it! Summer 2017
When the kids ask you to take a picture, you do it!

ON MUSIC

  • What kind of music do you make?
    I am a musical theatre, jazz and pop modern person.
  • What kind of instruments do you play?
    I am a pianist and singer.
  • Favourite and least favourite instruments and sounds?
    Favorite is a saxophone, harp, piano and least favorite is bad oboe, bad strings and bagpipes (sorry y’all).
  • Playing at a hotel doing what he does best!
    Playing at a hotel, doing what he does best!
    With Friends Ella and Christine Taylor Summer 2017
    With friends, Ella and Christine Taylor
  • What kind of music do you enjoy/least enjoy?
    I’m not a rap or country person although I have seen Rascal Flatts in concert quite a bit. I love me some good vocal jazz and a great musical theatre piece.
  • Do you mostly go solo or do you have a band?
    I love to banter so I LOVE to go with friends.
  • Best musician you’ve seen live? Why?
    Natalie Cole. The grace, beauty, history and elegance she exuded on that stage was absolutely unreal.
  • Musicians you dream of collaborating with or seeing live?
    I would love to see Streisand live. I also would love to collaborate with so many people. They’re fantastic and brilliant in their own right. Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, Beth Leavel (though friends I’ve never played for her), Lucie Arnaz (though friends I’ve not played for her). The list goes on.
  • With friend and mentor Lucie Arnaz - yes THAT Lucie Arnaz
    With friend and mentor Lucie Arnaz – yes THAT Lucie Arnaz
    The woman who kept him alive. Mom Madalyn Spring 2016
    The woman who kept him alive – mom Madalyn
  • Do you have playlists for different moods? What are the main ones if so?
    I don’t! Just shuffle haha.
  • How does music make you feel?
    Music is the universal language. Everyone can speak it. Even if you don’t like their specific type of music there IS common ground. There ARE ways of relating and achieving the goal.
  • Tips for aspiring musicians?
    You will hear more Nos than Yes’ don’t give up. If it’s the first thing you think about in the AM and last thing in the PM, be a musician with your full heart.
  • Favourite goto resources, if any?
    YouTube. Truly one of the best inventions because there’s so many different ideas, concepts, versions, and styles out there.
  • Do you think that the starting age matters for picking up an instrument/singing?
    Yes – educate your children early and get them interested in music of today and the artists that came before them. Don’t axe out some of the most incredible (Sinatra, Garland, Streisand, Whitney, Michale, etc).
  • What is the best thing music gives to humanity?
    A universal bond and options. Music is there for everyone. You can find your musical choices ANYWHERE. You can be a Christian and find your musical genre, you can love country, rap, swing, hip hop R&B the list goes on. Music provides a platform for people to express their heart and to share their feelings.

Preshow picture with the cast of Broadway Baby! Starring Amazon’s Just Add Magic’s Kirrilee Berger May 2017
Preshow picture with the cast of Broadway Baby! Starring Amazon’s “Just Add Magic’s” Kirrilee Berger

ON THEATRE & THE PERFORMING ARTS

  • What sort of theatre do you do?
    I’ve ranged from children’s theatre, cabaret and off-Broadway.
  • Why did you choose this form of theatre?
    Giving back as well as filling my own cup was very important to me.
  • What other sort of arts do you do or partake in?
    I do a lot of benefit concerts as well as teaching at performing arts camps, and teaching or accompanying masterclasses.
  • Is there some form of art you admire but aren’t so good at?
    Drawing. I am THE WORST AT IT hahah. Pictionary gives me anxiety ha.
  • What would you like to explore next in this area?
    Producing. I’m looking into television producing. As well as law and contractual agreements.
  • What does theatre give to you?
    A sense of being someone else. Forgetting that I have medical illnesses and just gives me the opportunity to express, chat, and share.
  • What does it give to others?
    A moment to forget about all the craziness that’s happening in our political world. It allows people to breathe, not stress and have a moment to themselves. They can laugh, they can enjoy, they can be removed from their lives for 3 hours and just take in theatre.
  • Playing a Muse in Hercules Summer 2017
    Playing a Muse in Hercules

  • How can it be used for good?
    Theatre saved a lot of kids I teach – it saved their lives. It allowed them to come and be a part of a community they weren’t bullied in. Something they found they were good at and could contribute to.
  • Can it be used for evil? 😉
    Theatre has such a high expectation as well as such a high level of pushing a person to achieve greatness always. Unfortunately, that’s not always appreciated. Depending on the age level of the individual involved they may not be able to critically think through how to navigate, balance, and pace themselves.
  • Where do you usually perform?
    I don’t get on a stage near as much as I’d like to. I love to do cabarets. I just performed at The Triad in May, and then in a staff show at camp this summer. It was pretty fun.
  • A Music director and his talented cast Summer 2017
    A music director and his talented cast

  • What’s your audience like?
    My audiences are filled with friends, family, and people i don’t know but in some way know me. It’s such a blessing to connect with people through music.
  • Favourite kind of artists or people to work with?
    It sounds stupid but generous and kind ones. I love having the opportunity to collaborate with people (no matter the age) that keep me on my toes and inspire me to strive to push myself to be better even though I’ve been playing for 20+ years.
  • Hardest thing about performing?
    The schedule and stamina. For however long your show is, you have to captivate the audience no matter what. They have paid to see you (in most cases) and they are stuck there and god forbid they leave.
  • Any tips for aspiring performers?
    Giving up is NOT an option if its what your heart and soul want to do. Giving up is something you’ll face but you’ve got to make the conscious effort to push through and continue on in your goals and passions. Fall in love with the process albeit crazy and exhausting. Fall In love.
Sight seeing in Washington D.C. Summer 2017
Sightseeing in Washington D.C.

Attempting to be smart with Albert Einstein

ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL

  • You seem like a very active and expressive person! Of all sports, why basketball?
    I used to play – was absolutely NOT good at it – but my brother played and Syracuse New York has an amazing basketball team, and I used to teach the coaches’ children in theatre!!
  • Why the ‘college’? Do you only play it at a certain level or place? (Pardon me I’m not American so maybe it’s a cultural thing?)
    I haven’t played since high school and I was begged after my first few years of playing – I was begged not to play anymore as I was no good!!
  • Favourite position to play and why?
    Bench Warmer cause that’s what I played the most 🙂
  • Which teams do you follow and support?
    Duke and Syracuse University occasionally some others but it’s rare.
  • Most inspiring sports people for you?
    I don’t follow them that closely. Jackie Robinson because he broke through racial and cultural barriers so that’s pretty incredible.
  • How often do you play? Do you have a regular group?
    NEVER I sit at home in my Pjs and watch!!!
  • On down days, what do you replace basketball with?
    I like World Cup soccer when it’s on!! I played soccer for about 5 years in high school and middle school and 2 years in college.
With best friend and musical inspiration Kayla
With best friend and musical inspiration, Kayla
With Mentors Sharon (Top Left) Lois (Bottom Left) and Bram(Right) Fall 2013
With mentors Sharon (top left), Lois (bottom left), and Bram (right)

ON ADVOCACY

  • You mentioned an interest in both patient advocacy and short bowel syndrome awareness. Tell us a little about both?
    When I was growing up, it was rare for someone to be my age and be willing and open to talk about their life’s struggles and all. I wanted to be someone that could be an open book and talk about everything from how to play contact sports, to intimacy, to thinking on the fly when things go wrong.

    We have so many celebrities that speak up for cancer and other chronic illnesses, but it’s RARE that you’ll find a celebrity who wants to speak about bowel function or lack thereof. I have nothing to lose so why not help people and be a part of that?

    As a patient, to me, it seems as though we walk into a room (doctor’s office) and we somehow lose our rights. We lose the ability to speak for ourselves as people feel as though we’re not competent enough to speak clearly about our lives and what our bodies can or cannot endure.

  • What about advocacy do you enjoy?
    The look on people’s faces when I tell my story and they realize that I actually have a pretty chronic illness. Outwardly with clothes on I don’t look like I have a problem. I don’t look “abnormal”, I don’t look “sick”, but I’ve worked hard for that and some days are more difficult than others.
  • Anything about it that you dislike?
    I’ve often been asked ignorant questions. I have a very expressive face so I have to work hard to keep that in check, but people make it very difficult to remain neutral sometimes. They border on offensive which is difficult to not react to.

    Growing up, I was a fight or flight kind of person so I really worked hard to advocate for myself. Not always the most eloquent (my mom has a book of stories) but I did my best. Still learning 20+ years later.

  • 3 sisters and one of their favorite counselors. Summer 2017
    Three sisters and one of their favorite counselors

  • Which do you think is the most important audience to raise awareness to?
    16 – 30 year olds. Yes parents are so important and caregivers. However, there’s this weird time in people’s lives that are teenagers, puberty, intimacy as well as college and all that comes with it including partying. Educating people on the ‘dos’ and ‘do nots’ as well as the ‘how to’ we hurdle this obstacle. I wish I had someone that told me that growing up. I had a lot of trial and error growing up. It is comical now but I certainly took a lot of risks. Many of which I shouldn’t have.
  • Have you encountered any obstacles along your advocacy path? Would you like to describe them?
    The obstacles I’ve faced are people that want to ask questions that are specific and they often forget I am just like them. The difference is I have some knowledge and some extra idea of what’s going on. I’m not a doctor or a nurse, I cannot diagnose you, and I cannot or should not be telling you what is wrong with you. I can help you and relate to you and allow you to have a sounding board, but I cannot speak for your medical professional.
  • How do you go about raising awareness?
    There’s so many platforms: a blog, websites, YouTube, word or mouth, I’ve spoken at quite a few national conferences and smaller regional conferences. Many of those clips are available online. I believe it’s about networking. I’m willing to go ANYWHERE I’m asked to (hint hint) to speak, educate, and allow you to feel like you got something out of it as well as a laugh.
  • Speaking in Arizona in 2017 with Mighty Well creator Emily Levy
    Speaking in Arizona in 2017 with Mighty Well creator, Emily Levy
    Near or far with Best friend Shawn in a Sunflower Garden Summer 2016
    Near or far in a sunflower garden with best friend, Shawn
  • Do you often collaborate with anyone?
    My mother who is a pediatric nurse for over 30 years – she and I speak together quite a bit from the patient to caregiver perspective. I also speak with Mighty Well and Emily Levy. I’d like to meet more people that want to collaborate. I’m willing to work with anyone. As long as we can somehow be positive, informative and passionate let’s change some lives.
  • Any upcoming projects? (You don’t have to give it all away…even a hint would be exciting ;))
    I’m recording an album that will be out in December (if you can guess what kind of album it is). I also am in the process of writing a song cycle. I’ve got a few musicals on my desk that I’m working on music directing also. I keep busy thankfully. I also host a podcast available on iTunes and Buzzsprout called Triple Threats & Beyond!
  • Where do you meet most of the other people with short bowel syndrome? Is it mostly online?
    Instagram, Facebook support groups, Twitter hashtags. The internet is a crazy place and so awesome all at the same time.
  • More students more flea 2017
    Broadway Flea Market 2017 with students!

  • Have any of them ever reached out to you for more support?
    They sure have. I have friends from all around the world and it’s a humbling and incredible thing. Truly it is mind blowing and so incredible.
  • Tips for those who are thinking about raising awareness for their own illnesses too?
    Find your voice. I was told blogs are the way to go – I’m not a huge writer and don’t really like to write all that much. I like speaking with people directly so that was a new experience for me to really figure out how to find my place in this advocacy world. I’ve learned to use humor, music, and personal experiences!
  • Bonus info about Roy:
    Through music, I was able to meet my childhood heroes and they are now mentors to me. I was a Make A Wish kid in 1999 and my wish was to meet the Canadian singing trio Sharon Lois & Bram. I firmly believe they made me the musician, teacher and performer I am. Lois died 2 years ago of cancer and Sharon, Bram and I have stayed in contact and I try to get up to Toronto to see them at least once a year. They were recently my guests on the finale of my second season for my podcast. I think that’s one of the most fantastic and really awesome things. Through them I’ve also gotten to meet some incredible friends and had a beautiful article written about me in my hometown.

Long days of teaching kids and great moments to relax with friends and colleagues. Summer 2017
Long days of teaching kids, and great moments to relax with friends and colleagues

*All images here used with permission from Roy George. Want to be featured too? Click here to sign up! You can also read more interviews on that page 🙂

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Roy Lives with the Following Illnesses:


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Roy George is a talented musician who's also very much into theatre, basketball, and advocating for short bowel syndrome. Check out his great smile! Click to read or pin to save for later. | www.achronicvoice.com | #itsinmyblood #achronicvoice #chronicillness #spoonie #spoonielife

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