We had the good fortune of connecting with Juan Sebastian Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Juan Sebastian, do you have a budget? how do you think about personal finances?
I don’t necessarily have a budget, but I am extremely conscious about my finances. I think this is a crucial component in the life of an artist. At this stage in my career all of my income comes from artistic related work. In the beginning, I absolutely needed to have some sort of additional job to sustain myself while I built my resume and my experience. At some point though, I decided that in order to make the transition to a full arts income, I would have to be very careful with my money and not indulge in lifestyle inflation. By keeping or reducing the expenses I had in my personal life and being very strict about saving, I was able to maintain myself solely off of educational and artistic gigs even though they were very inconsistent at first. Over time, as I built up a name for myself, I was able to improve certain aspects of my life in a sustainable manner. I moved out of my parents’ house, finished paying off my car, and now live independently. However, I still don’t buy certain things that many of my peers do because I don’t want to get caught in the vicious cycle of having to make a certain amount of money every month just to keep everything you have, which can often lead to getting stuck in a job that prevents you from having more time to pursue your artistic work. I don’t have a TV, I don’t have any streaming services, I don’t have a Wi-Fi or a large internet plan, I use an old phone and laptop that I take very good care of, I cook often, I don’t upgrade my car, and I try to prioritize free hobbies over costly ones. Now, I have savings, a retirement fund that I contribute to every month, I’m able to pay all my bills, and still have a little surplus money to do other fun activities. I have the time to dedicate myself to family, friends, and the career of my choice. My life looks a little different than others my age but these are the choices I’ve made so that I can live my life the way I want.

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.
Probably what sets me apart from others is the diversity in my skillset. I’ve studied many different disciplines across the theatre, music, dance, and circus worlds. I kind of like to think of my interests and skills as pawns on chess board, slowly but surely advancing one a couple squares, then a different one, until hopefully they all make their way to the other side. It’s a slow path, but I decided early on in my career that I did not want to sacrifice any one particular ability just to dedicate myself to another. I had people tell me all the time, “That’s cool that you do so many different things, but at some point you’ll have to pick one.” Well, here I am, 5 years into my professional career, and I still haven’t been able to pick. So I’ll just keep doing everything that I like to do. I understand I may not make it as far in any one particular discipline. I might never make it to Broadway without focusing exclusively on theatre, I might never make it to Cirque du Soleil without focusing exclusively on circus. But what I get in return is an incredibly rich, fulfilling, and varied career that allows me to explore and experience so many different beautiful things. I have this wonder feeling that I can never truly get stuck, because all I have to do is simply advance a different pawn.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooo what a fun question! Houston is so large and there is so much to do. You just have to know where to look. First off, one of my favorite things to do is explore different public parks around the city. So I would definitely line up some classics like Discovery Green and the Houston Arboretum, but also maybe make time to visit some different ones like the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens or Emancipation Park. For food, I am a big fan of checking out local eateries. Some places that I love are Coco’s Crepes and Waffles, Champ Burgers, and M&M Grill. But who could forget about Houston BBQ – we gotta make a stop at The Pit or Gatlin’s BBQ too! I’ve been to a fair share of classic bars but honestly that’s not really my scene. I’d much rather take someone to an arcade that also happens to be a bar! A couple of hot spots are definitely JoyStix and Cidercade. Lots of modern games but also plenty of classic to choose from at both locations. Finally, I would of course want to take them to see some kind of show. I would probably check out what’s poppin’ over at Warehouse Live or House of Blues, or even go out for a fancy night to the Theatre District and see the nationally recognized orchestras, ballets, theaters, and symphonies Houston has to offer.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh man… so many. Life is equal parts working hard for yourself and accepting the help of others. At least my life has been. I can distinctly name certain individuals who have been absolutely pivotal in my career at different moments, but I’m going to go ahead and use this space to shout out my mom. She has supported from day one but has always asked me to prioritize my health and happiness above all else. I think this has kept me very grounded. She never let me forget what is most important in life. We share all of our successes and failures together and I would not be where I am today without her.

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