We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Baldwin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrea, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
When I was early on in my career, I thought that if I wasn’t suffering, I wasn’t working. It meant I was living at the office-pulling all nighters, living on only coffee and granola bars, only sleeping on Sundays. I thought that was the only way, and then I just crashed from the stress and unhappiness. A mentor of mine once told me that, while an 8 hour work day is fine for a few, its not fitting to all work styles.” so now I make a point to just always have a cut off point on the work day. So even if I put in a full day of work and I feel there is more to do, instead of pushing through, I force myself to stop at 4 or 5pm. I find I am more effective at work when I have a good nights sleep and schedule in time for fun. It means that once I found that balance, knowing my daily cut off point, I went from just working my job to really even enjoying my career. In truth finding the balance means that while I might love my job, I am not my job. And once I realized that , suffering for work was not necessary for me to feel of value.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I teach Public Speaking and Intro to Mass Communication but I am a Performance Studies Practitioner. I spend a great deal of my time writing, managing rehearsal and putting on productions of shows that aim to answer social questions. I do this alongside my students, so I am often teaching first time performers the workings of the stage and how this space can help them find your voice. I love it and I advocate for it because it did so much for me.

When I was and undergrad, my mom passed away from cancer and I failed out of college and after a year, I was able to come back to finish my degree in Communication Studies. At the time, I just wanted to get my degree and be done with it, so I would enroll in any class that would get me there quickly and had room. One of those classes was “Performance Art” and it changed my life. In three months I went from, “I just want to get my degree and leave” to “I want to do this in any capacity for the rest of my life.” I was not a theatre person by any stretch of the imagination when I entered this world, but the stage allowed me to find a space to feel at home and express myself.

I made it my life career, then going to their Masters program for Performance Studies and on to my Ph.D. in the same field. It was the hardest time of my life- my cohort was incredibly competitive and I often felt lonely as I was one of two Black Women in the entire program. During my Ph.D because I was alone a lot, I spent a lot of time focusing on my craft. In sweet serendipity, I found that directing ensemble work was my passion and I thrived doing it. It is why I still create and focus on giving first time performers show opportunities. My goal is not to make every cast member an award winning performer, just to give them community in work and confidence in their voice and a respect for the arts.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
*Cracks Knuckles* I ADORE THIS QUESTION. Like some typical Texans I love this state and the people and culture in it, so I spend a good part of my waking time thinking about if a friend comes to visit what would they want to do! Houston is diverse and cool and lovely to me and I am happy to share.
We’d begin after I pick you up at the airport – we’d head for lunch at a Mai’s in Midtown for Pho and other Vietnamese delights. After lunch if the weather allows, a walk in Hermann Park, so we can enjoy the ducks in the water, the Japanese Zen Garden and the rose garden. For the evening, we’d go for drinks at one of my favorite bars in the city, Posion Girl for old fashioneds and pinball games. Then Dinner at Ninfas on Navigation- because TexMex is a must.
The next day, we’d take our time, then go to the Contemporary Art Museum for some art gazing. For lunch a bite to eat at the Pit Room for some BBQ brisket sandwiches, then to the Heights for a little shopping. The night would take us downtown, a walk to see the lights at Discovery Green and then a night cap at my favorite Downtown bars, Reserve 101 and One Armed Scissor. Houston is about good food, great sights and wonderful people.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My best mentors are all teachers, and I think that says a lot about who I am and who they are. I have past professors and teachers that have helped me become the person I am right now. From my Mentor professors, Jay Allison, Kelly Taylor, and Elyse Pineau, to my yoga instructor, Inga Seals; the people who shaped my life and who deserve a shout out are those in the profession of teaching and instruction. It is a labor of love to give of yourself that way, they deserve all the love back.

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