The International Cast on Broadway Series: Robert Walters
Photos taken by Roberto Araujo for The Ensemblist
The Ensemblist and TheatreArtLife got together to find out which Broadway cast members are not from the USA. In this International Cast on Broadway Series, we talk to those who have come from all corners of the world to perform in NYC. We ask them about their work, their life and the path they took to living the Broadway dream. This is Robert Walters from Australia who is currently in Hamilton.
Robert, what got you started in performing arts?
Honestly, I never was looking at doing this as a career, it sort of just fell into my lap. All of my friends were going to this college called Ed5 International (Sydney, Aus) after graduating high school so I just followed them cause it seemed like a fun thing to do at the time. After 1 year of full time, Monday – Friday, 8-4pm dancing all day I graduated and was offered work in the industry straight away and just followed where the winds took me!
Tell us how you went from Australia to Broadway.
Broadway was never on my horizon – being from Australia I didn’t even think that there was much point in setting a goal like that. I actually moved to America to continue the relationship with my now wife, Jennifer. We had met working overseas in Singapore at Universal Studios, once our contract was coming to an end we decided to make a choice to continue seeing each other, which meant deciding where we would live.
I had already (luckily) ticked off all my career goals within Australia so we both decided on America. I came here on an 01-B works visa, then a few months after moving here my wife and I got married and I became a Green Card holder, the second I put Green Card on my resumé Hamilton made me an offer! That was at the 1 year mark of me living in USA.
How does being Australian help/hinder your work on Broadway?
I think just like with anything in our career, anything that helps you stand out can work in your favour if you play it right. The only thing it doesn’t help is when they ask how your American accent is (ha ha).
What did your wife think of relocating across the globe? Is she also in the industry?
She’s actually from Houston, Texas originally. So for her, it was more a case of returning to America with a new set of goals. She has never lived in NYC before so we both thought it would be a good place to try! My wife is in the industry. She’s just booked something but I won’t say what it is as I don’t know when this article will come out. Being in the same industry helps us sympathize with each other about the struggles that we go through as artists.
What was the best thing about participating in the original Broadway production of Hamilton?
The material we have been gifted by the creative team, still to this day I enjoy. That’s the greatest gift I could ask for as an artist.
Was there any level of culture-shock upon arriving to the USA? Any particular adjustments you needed to make when you arrived?
It’s strange, yes and no. I think the biggest one is everything in America is abundant. That’s to say – whatever there is, has an abundance of it – food, shows, high schools, shopping, houses – there’s just an abundance of everything – I still am not really used to that.
It took me a while to adjust my diet – everything is so rich in sodium, sugars and fats that I kept getting ulcers in my mouth from the overload of products.
Describe a typical day of Robert’s life.
Wake up, sit on my balcony or couch and look out at Manhattan – I live on top of the Hudson River in Weehawken and look right out at midtown, so I just think about life and try to appreciate the gifts I’ve been given. I try to spend a few hours for myself, just enjoying relaxing, spending time with my wife, getting fresh air and getting outside if I can.
Then before the show, head in to the city, go to the gym, spend about 2 hours there, workout, warm up, condition and stretch then shower and go straight to work. If I know that I’m on for a track I haven’t done in a few weeks or months I like to get onstage and review, that way it’s more of an auto pilot – I can focus less about the steps or if I go upstage or downstage of this person and I can focus on the actual quality of the performance I’m giving.
Show’s done and I head home, have a little snack before bed and then put the TV on as I get ready for bed.
What do you see are your strengths as a performer and what skills do you think you still need to work on?
My strength is my attention to detail.
Things I need to work on ha, well dang, there is a long list. My technique – and also maintaining a standard of body conditioning that allows me to manipulate my body to be versatile. I think I need to work on my mindset too, to make sure I don’t ever stop thriving and wanting more – I don’t want to be stagnant in this industry so that’s something that can happen easily when you’re in a long running show like Hamilton.
Do you have a mentor or a role model?
My Dad. He supports me in every decision I’ve ever made. He also came home one day out of the blue, he had rented out a DVD of ‘You Got Served’ because he knew I had just started dance classes. It was such a nice gesture that I still remember as a defining moment for our relationship. He’s also the hardest worker that I know.
There’s a lot of people I admire in the industry who inspire me, for different reasons. That’s a far greater list. A few are, The Rock, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, a whole bunch of dancers from LA who I used to follow on YouTube 15 years ago when I started exploring dancing. The list really is endless.
What are your goals for your career?
Honestly – Hamilton was my goal. It seems surreal, but I’ve been lucky enough to tick off every goal I’ve ever had – I think it’s time to start making new ones. I would love to return to Aus for sure – I just don’t know when that will be – I think I’ll know when the time is right though.
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Published in collaboration with The Ensemblist