Side Hustle Diaries: I'm A Vegas Showgirl
Meet Kaylee Randall, a life-long dancer who has worked her way from Orlando to Vegas. She even finds the time to pursue her other passions, like writing.
What is your side hustle(s)?
My side hustle is freelance writing, and my main hustle is my career as a professional dancer. As a writer, I work on blogs, articles, web copy, email marketing, and social media campaigns. I have a variety of clients, so I use Upwork (a website) to find freelance jobs, which has worked really well for me.
I'm also currently a dancer in Vegas! The Show, located in, you guessed it, Las Vegas! It's an hour-and-a-half-long show, right on the world-famous Strip. It’s a fun show that celebrates the classics of being in Vegas.
Tell me a bit more about your career as a dancer. How did you end up in such an epic show?
Well, I went to college at UCF (University of Central Florida, located in Orlando, FL), and pursued a degree in advertising and PR. I minored in dance, because I’ve been dancing since I was 3, so I figured, why not! I never imagined I’d be a professional dancer, and I was ok with that. After college, I started performing as a puppeteer at SeaWorld Orlando in their various Sesame Street shows, and I learned so much. Here, I found that it didn’t really feel like work when I was on stage.
Soon after, I auditioned at Universal Orlando Resort and was cast in their new Superstar Parade, which has just recently hit its six-year anniversary. I was a sub for a LONG time, meaning I didn’t have guaranteed days at the park. I worked my way through the ranks, while also maintaining random server jobs and public relations internships. Eventually, I became a dance captain for the parade, was part of the opening cast of Marilyn Monroe and the Diamond Bella’s (another show at Universal Orlando Resort), spent a year dancing in various shows at Busch Gardens Tampa (my favorite being Kinetix, for the Summer Nights event), and I also performed at Treasure Tavern on International Drive (a hot-spot for Orlando entertainment).
I then booked a cruise ship contract with Royal Caribbean on Adventure of the Seas. I spent nearly a year and a half (with a brief three-week hiatus) on that ship, performing throughout the Caribbean, and it was a life-changer for me. Ship contracts are hard, though, because they always come to an end. You wind up stressing about your next job, which is not a fun aspect of this career. I just got off the ship this past January, and immediately auditioned for the New York City Rockettes in April. I got cut (from the auditions), then flew out to Vegas and booked Vegas! The Show! So, here I am.
Why did you decide to get into your side hustle?
I flew out to Vegas to audition for Vegas! The Show in April, and in a crazy whirlwind of events, I booked it! I had 8 days to figure out how to get from Florida to Nevada. With the help of my mom and a bit of problem-solving, I made it! We rehearsed for a month, and I've been performing in the show for three weeks now. It's a lot of fun, and when I'm an old lady, I'll be proud to say that I was once a Vegas showgirl!
I decided to dive more into writing recently because I'm really feeling a pull away from performing full-time. To be honest, it's not fulfilling me as it used to. It's been an identity crisis for sure because I've been a dancer since I was 3. It's become less about actual dance lately, and I'm looking for something to challenge me, creatively.
I started my blog when I was on my first cruise ship contract, and I found that I really enjoyed it, so I kept it going after the contract. It's always been an interest of mine, as I have a degree in advertising and public relations. It's nice to start seeing it really come to life! Being a writer is flexible, and I can do it from anywhere, and on my own time. My hope is that my writing will give me the freedom to find more ways to express myself through dance, even if I make no money from it. I still have a passion for performing, and my writing side hustle is helping me maintain my love for dance.
Do you have a full-time job as well?
I do not. I'm only part-time at Vegas! The Show, while I continue working on a handful of writing projects. I'm contracted three nights per week at the show, and that gives me enough of a balance to pursue my myriad of interests.
How many hours a week do you devote to your hustle?
I work pretty consistently on my writing projects throughout the day. I'll usually start at 9 a.m. and work through to the evening on my days off from the show. I have to be at the theater at 6 pm on show nights, so that's usually my stopping point when I'm scheduled. I do take breaks to go to barre class or to do yoga in my living room, though. I really just make my own schedule and prioritize accordingly.
Describe your day from waking up to sleep:
Morning: I make coffee and avocado toast, then start planning for the day. I check my emails and my to-do list, then I get started on whichever project I'm working on at the moment.
Afternoon: I'll make lunch and either go to a barre class or do some yoga to relieve anxiety and get moving. I continue working through the afternoon, depending on what assignments I have due.
Evening: From 6 to 11 pm Thursday through Saturday, I'm at the show. I get to Planet Hollywood (where the show takes place), I put on my makeup, and curl my hair. I'll set aside 30 minutes to warm up, including a bit of stretching, planks, and crunches, and just getting in the zone. I have my headphones in, either listening to a Malcolm Gladwell podcast, or some Tame Impala. But when I'm off, I'm usually at home working on my next move, whether it's applying for more freelance work, or doing research on my next city.
What are your goals and dreams for the hustle?
I'd love to have enough freelance clients that I can support myself from just my writing. I really like the idea of working online so that I can do it from anywhere. I have the opportunity to live abroad, so being flexible is important. I want to be able to provide for my life, while also having the headroom to enjoy my other interests, like photography. Ultimately, I'd love to create my own show, be able to market it, and then write about the process. Or, maybe do public relations for a theatre or something. Who knows! So many options in the entertainment world.
How do you organize your finances?
I make my own budget on Excel, and I write everything out on a whiteboard calendar. It's nice to have consistency at the show so that I have an idea of how much money I'll definitely be making each week. I try to live below my means so that any money I make from writing goes straight to credit cards, or into my savings.
What are some of the challenges you face?
There's a lot of pressure in the dance world to give yourself to your craft 100%. I used to very much live in this headspace. If you weren't in class all the time or going to every audition, what were you doing? Now that I've grown up a little bit, I've realized that I'd rather have a balanced, well-rounded life, so I make time for writing and photography (in addition to my dance career).
It's also hard when so much of the industry depends on what you look like. If they're looking for a brunette, see ya. If you're too curvy or too skinny, better luck next time. It's frustrating when it's more about your look than your skill, but that's just how it goes many times. It feels like the industry is starting to change here and there, but it still has a long way to go. I guess I also struggle with my own judgments on what success looks like, in a lot of ways. I'm learning to reassess my values and to look at things in a new light, which is a real challenge. The biggest battles are within!
What’s one piece of wisdom you’ve picked up along your journey?
There will always be problems, so choose the problems you'd rather face. Take smart risks in your 20’s that you'll learn from. And always trust yourself.