Daffodil Princesses have long been known throughout Pierce County for their passion for education, love of their community, and a penchant for big thinking, too: it seems like every Royal Court is full of Princess bios that profess dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and more. Still, when it comes to career ambitions, you might not necessarily pick “Broadway Star” to be one that comes true!
Gerianne Perez, a Spanaway Lake Princess from 2009, made just that happen, as she made her Broadway debut in In Transit, Broadway’s first-ever a capella musical, this past October. The musical premiered to much critical fanfare, but don’t just take our word for it: celebrities have been stopping by to see it, as well, with the cast most recently getting photos with Bill and Hillary Clinton backstage!
Gerianne told us, in a recent phone interview, that Broadway was something she has always been preparing for, even as a high schooler at Spanaway Lake. “I was a part of Music Company, the show choir, and I did that all three years of high school,” she said. “It helped hone my skills, because it was a lot of singing and dancing – and doing both at the same time – and the performance opportunities that it gave me made me know that I wanted to perform for a living.”
After graduating later that Spring, Gerianne made the move across the country to NYU, where she planned on pursuing a major in Drama. While she acknowledges that venturing so far away was difficult, she remained confident that New York was the place she wanted to be. “I was excited about New York City, and being in a new place, especially one that known as the most prosperous for musical theater.
“If you want to be on Broadway – or if you want to be in the most competitive field for musical theater – then you have to be in New York. So I think I was most excited to
just come to NYU, which I already knew had an incredible program, and kind of dive right into what I wanted to do!”
Of course, that meant pursuing musical theater as a career... but it also meant earning a degree first. As it turns out, Gerianne’s passion for academics was one that defined her collegiate career as much as Drama did.
“It was equal parts artistic as academic,” she said. “I had a rigorous academic schedule alongside the more performance arts, conservatory-style training. That was really important to me, because even in school, my favorite classes had been Biology and Anatomy & Physiology, and it was all a good blend for stretching my mind.”
It even helped her carve out an unexpected minor: “I found a love of Psychology,” she said. “I actually ended up getting a minor in Child Psychiatry, which I never anticipated, as well as my Bachelor in Fine Arts for Drama.”
That penchant to pursue curiosity and appreciation for adventure helped drive Gerianne to succeed in not just college, but a completely new environment, which explains the advice she’d give today’s Daffodil Princesses, about to embark on their own collegiate journeys: “Push yourself outside of the box of normality and what is familiar to you, because that’s the only way you’re going to grow.
“This is the time to take a big leap of faith and try something new, and not be afraid to explore outside the zone of what’s comfortable to you,” she said. “That was essential to me, because I liked doing what was routine and habitual for me, and I didn’t become my best self until I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone.”
When it comes to having been a past Princess herself, Gerianne has only fond memories. When asked to pick just one, she chose the event that means the most to every girl who has donned a golden Daffodil in Pierce County: the day of the Grand Floral Parade!
“Myself and my fellow Runner-Up, Robin Olson [Gerianne won 2nd Runner-Up, while Robin won 1st] were in the very front of the float, and I’ll never forget singing along to our song and dance during the Parade. It was the most beautiful day, and the weather was perfect, and we got to one of the final stops of the float, and we actually paused to do that dance! It was honestly one of the best experiences.”
Because, of course, the Princess who would become a Broadway star would her favorite memory was performing in front of her community.
Her happy recollections of being involved in a large community event like the Festival, also speaks to one of Gerianne’s favorite things about New York City: there’s always something to be a part of.
“The best thing about New York is that it never stops... there’s always a show to be in, or a concert to be a part of. Everything is at your fingertips. It’s such a compact, small island, that you can meet up with someone at the last minute – it breeds spontaneity.”
Even though Gerianne has nothing but love for her new city, it only took her about two seconds to come up with what she misses the most about living in Washington: “Mount Rainier!”
“We used to visit a lot, and I miss the nature aspect of Washington so much,” she said. “The East Coast doesn’t have mountains in our scenery. I got used to what my world looked like with the mountains in the background. Then, I moved to New York, and now, skyscrapers are my background! Nature isn’t something that’s necessarily tangible here, so that’s definitely the thing I miss most.”
But for now, Gerianne is busy working towards her future in the Big Apple. When asked about her career plans, she doesn’t necessarily have anything determined beyond enjoying the present, but knows what she wants her stage career to look like as a whole: “I think my goal is just to create a consistent career, that I’m happy and fulfilled by.
“My goal is to choose roles that fulfill me artistically,” she said. “I have the luxury that my chosen career and industry is truly my passion, and rarely do people get to do that. My job is something that makes me the happiest I’ll ever be. But in that, I have to make sure that the shows I’m a part of make me happy, make me want to work Tuesday through Sunday.”
In terms of greater career aspirations, her focus is on the quality of the work she produces, not in the accolades it brings her. “I don’t know if I’m one of those actors who says, ‘I have to win a Tony by this age,’or ‘I want to be on TV’... my passion is consistency, and to create a well-respected career. If I can inspire people with my path and career, that’s one of my biggest goals.
“I hope people look up to me. If someone can look at my life and career, and say, ‘She did things right,’ that’s what’s important for me. Obviously there are many shows I’d love to be in – like Hamilton, or In the Heights, “ she says, “but mostly I’m just looking forward to whatever may come my way next.”