If you’re down in the dumps after a failed relationship, Alison Chace may be the one person who can pull you out of your rut. She’s the face of the relationship site Wake Up To A Break Up, where she tells women the cure to what ails a broken heart. That includes everything from laughing it off to seeking retail therapy. But aside from being a web entrepreneur, she’s also a commercial actress, lifestyle and entertainment television host, voice-over talent, and a mother. And she recently won More magazine’s 2012 Beauty Search! Uh, what can’t this woman do?!
Check out our exclusive Q&A with Alison about how she came to create Wake Up To A Break Up (when her first job was selling long distance service for a phone company!), juggling life as a mother and busy career woman, and why she thinks pole dancing could be in the cards in the future.
Minted: Did you always know that you wanted to be an actress and TV host?
Alison Chace: When I was younger I dreamed of being the next Carol Burnett. I couldn’t master her Tarzan yodel, but I could do a mean Woody-wood pecker. Like many young girls, I was always putting on skits and starring in school plays.
I loved doing pretend interviews with my relatives and friends. In high school, I had magnetic fascinations, first with Barbara Walters and then Jane Pauley on the Today Show. So, I suppose yes, I have always wanted to be an actress and TV host.
However, I did not start my acting career until I was 26-years-old. I was either too practical or too “chicken” to pursue my dream of becoming an actress when I graduated from UCLA. Instead, I got a ”real” job with salary, commission and health benefits, doing door-to-door sales of long distance service for Sprint. This turned out to be great experience for the door slamming rejection of acting later!
After my gig with Sprint ended, I worked for both Conde Nast and iVillage selling what was then known as advertising “banners” on the top of their online publications. Finally, after I got married in 1996, I gathered my courage and did the one thing I’d always wanted to do—I enrolled in acting school. In some ways, I wish I’d gone right for my dream when I got out of school, but I don’t regret getting experience in sales. No matter what you do in life, you’ll always be selling something, so it’s an enormously important skill to learn.
M: Can you explain to our readers how your show Wake Up To A Break Up came to fruition?
AC: As an actress, I finally realized that I needed to create my own show—my own personal vehicle of self-expression and creativity. Even though I have an excellent agent that sends me out on auditions frequently, I got tired of relying on others to decide whether or not I got the job. There is an enormous amount of rejection as an actress and it is important to maintain your momentum and self-esteem after all those doors slamming in your face. (Now do you see why door-to-door sales experience was so helpful?) Seriously, if you don’t create your own opportunities that you can get excited about, you may as well curl up in a ball and cry all day.
I’ve come to see that the best plan is to have many pots simmering on the stove, or as Warren Buffet puts it, “many eggs, many baskets,” so you never really feel like you’re sitting around waiting for the phone to ring and you can earn money from multiple sources! It requires constant vigilance not to lose confidence with all the rejection in this business, and this is the solution.
Four years ago when I launched Wake Up To A Break Up, publishing online seemed like the way to go. It was clear that online video and internet-based television was an emerging web trend with a ton of momentum.
In regards to why “break-ups,” I have always been fascinated with the psychology of relationships, particularly romantic ones, so it was a topic that I was excited to explore. The original concept was it was going to be a weekly morning show, hence the title ”Wake Up!” to a break-up and all things relationship-orientated—kind of like Oprah, but with a focus on interviewing people going through break-ups, relationship experts, therapists, comics, bloggers, authors, datelogists, matchmakers, and more.
Interestingly, during the process of creating this online “break-up” destination, I mustered the courage to spilt from my own marriage. Maybe it was a case of the teacher needing to learn the lesson.
I had experience hosting a live morning show for Plum TV and before I ”became” an actress, I was one of the original employees of iVillage, so I felt I could couple my hosting/producing talents with the online world. Being a self-starter by nature helped, and if I do say so myself, I’m pretty fearless.
M: What role does social media play in the development of your show and business?
AC: I liken our site to an old Peugot or a well-worn patchwork quilt. It’s not new and flashy with all the latest technology. For better or worse, it’s more homemade, all warm and fuzzy, like a steaming cup of hot chocolate. That works when one is seeking relief and support from heartbreak. As far as social media goes, Twitter is a major component for us in delivering daily content; we have close to 5,000 followers. It is with Twitter that we can really connect with our audience offering daily inspiration and advice and directing them to fun items and articles around the web.
M: You have interviewed countless celebrities and public figures. Is there one particular interview that stands out in your mind as being the most memorable?
AC: Jessica Lange. I interviewed her in an intimate sit-down for Plum TV in a show that covered the Hamptons International Film Festival. She had just done a movie with Drew Barrymore called Grey Gardens which was filmed in the Hamptons and featured in the festival. I was a huge fan and very star-struck, which I told her and she was lovely about it. By the end of the interview, I was convinced we’d be meeting for lunch soon and maybe go shopping in the city together, most likely in Soho or Tribeca. As fate would have it, a week later I happened to run into her at the Matrix Awards at the Waldorf. I practically tackled her, smiling brightly with my arms spread wide saying “Jessica! Oh my gosh, hellooooo!” and it was clear she had absolutely NO idea who I was.
M: If you weren’t in the entertainment industry, what field do you think you would be a part of?
AC: Being a mom to my two sons is my first career, so it would probably have something to do with parenting. Or maybe I could be a pole dance instructor at S Factor—wouldn’t that be fun! I’m good at getting people to open up and share their deepest truths, so I’d make an excellent spy, maybe a pole-dancing spy, but I’d have to wait until my boys grow up to do that. As a responsible mom, I’m forgoing all dangerous pursuits until my children can function independently.
M: What has been your greatest career obstacle and how did you overcome it?
AC: I am really trying to work on my own limiting self-beliefs. So often our potential is greater then we can even imagine. When I want something, I love imagining my desire coming to fruition in ways beyond my wildest dreams. That helps the fear melt away. I remind myself that life is just a ride and to have fun on the journey. Seriously, if you’re having fun, it’s hard to be scared.
Another obstacle for me has been truly “getting” the concept of “be yourself.” It never felt enough to not do anything and just “be” instead. The good news is that with age comes wisdom and perspective, and that has helped me considerably. I’m constantly seeking inspiration in this area using tools like therapy, personal growth courses and seminars; then I try to use what I learn in the real world—writing, creating new shows, interviewing women I admire, and taking risks in hopes that through example I can inspire and empower other women. That has been the key.
M: You are a commercial actress, lifestyle and entertainment television host, voice-over talent, entrepreneur, and the mother to two young boys. How do you juggle it all?
AC: My kids are 11 and 12 now, an age where they have their own activities, interests and friends. And of course, they’re in school from 8am to 3pm, so I actually have quite a bit of time to pursue my career goals. If you love what you do, you enjoy working hard and it doesn’t feel like a chore. When the kids were younger, I did not spend even a tenth as much time on my career as I do now. My latest site, Pink Wisdom is launching next month; creating it has been a labor of love! Like Wake Up To A Break Up, it is an online destination for people seeking relationship advice and support, but it is all video-based, which is a better business model.
M: Any words of wisdom to offer readers who are hoping to break into the entertainment industry?
AC: Email me and let me help you in any way I can. Seriously, helping you helps me. I have found that the more I give, the more I get in return, so you will actually be helping me! Does that sound corny? Well, I am from the mid-west, so corny comes naturally to me. Go ahead! Don’t be shy. Write to me at email@example.com.
M: Minted is “for the Modern Career Girl.” What’s your definition of the Modern Career Girl?
AC: A Modern Career Girl does not wait for a handsome Prince to ride up on his white horse and save her. She has her own horse, thank you, or at least, she’s working and saving up to buy one.