Chattin’ with Chelsie Hightower
Sweet, sweet Chelsie Hightower. Easily one of the most chill, grounded, and positive people you’ll ever meet. And a super amazing dancer. So much so that she spent eight seasons on “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as multiple seasons on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
She’s worked with amazing people that are at the top of their game while maintaining her humility and groundedness. Despite seeing all these successes, Chelsie was very open with me about feeling inadequate to be on the show. She felt a lot of anxiety through the process but used it as fuel to perform to the best of her abilities.
Finally, after years of personal growth and development, she realized that everyone had their inadequacies and were all “faking it till they made it.” Learning these valuable lessons, she’s creating multiple dance programs teaching young girls that you don’t have to place your value on any external award from dancing. They can learn that they have infinite value already, and dancing can be an expression of the value they already have.
Powerful messages. Chelsie has an incredible story and I’m grateful she came on the podcast and shared! Hope you enjoy!
Who Is Chelsie Hightower?
Chelsie Hightower, professional ballroom dancer, choreographer, and partner to many celebrities on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” is an inspiration to anyone who chooses to express themself through dancing. She also performed on “So You Think You Can Dance” and went on to return as an All-Star for multiple seasons. Chelsie Hightower has recently ventured into the business world and started her own line of dancewear, Inside Out, and also organizes many dancing courses for individuals and couples, including Date Night. She’s an inspirational dance trainer encouraging a positive attitude and combatting performer anxiety.
Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and raised in Utah, Chelsie discovered her love of dancing at just nine years old. She began her official training at 14 and has since become an expert in ballet, ballroom, jazz, and hip-hop. Chelsie also has experience in musical theater and competed in international dance competitions such as U.S. Worlds and The British Open. Because she started dancing at such a young age, she understands the pressure young dancers go through and is now a committed dance trainer and choreographer as well as a performer.
“Dancing with the Stars”
Chelsie made several appearances on “Dancing with the Stars” from 2009–2013, competing in seasons 8 through 15, with celebrity partners ranging from Michael Bolton to Romeo. She was a regular on the show due to her popularity and continued to wow audiences with her talent and grace. Chelsie also appeared in the live show of “Dancing with the Stars” in Las Vegas. As well as dancing on the show, Chelsie helped out many big-name celebrities with their choreography, including Justin Bieber and Whitney Houston.
“So You Think You Can Dance”
“Dancing with the Stars” might have been where Chelsie made a name for herself as an inspirational dance trainer, but her first TV appearance was actually on “So You Think You Can Dance” when she competed at just 18. Her most memorable performances on the show were to Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” with Mark Kanemura, who worked as one of Lady Gaga’s male dancers, and “A Los Amigos” with Joshua Allen.
Chelsie returned twice later in the series as an All-Star and choreographer. She has also approached her involvement in both “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars” with modesty and admits that she didn’t expect to achieve such success on the shows. Chelsie has also spoken publicly about struggling with anxiety during her time on both shows. She has since then learned to use coping methods and therapies to overcome her anxiety and hopes that speaking openly about this will encourage others to do the same.
Date Night is just one example of how Chelsie’s current business ventures make a difference in the community. Date Night is a dancing course for couples that also includes live events and performances. Chelsie also mentors young dancers at her own dance camp, Dance Elevated. She’s devoted her life to teaching people to express their true value through dancing, rather than solely focusing on winning awards. Chelsie now works mainly teaching dance and collaborating on choreography projects in Utah.
Chelsie continues to make an impact in the dance industry and has even launched her own range of dancewear, Inside Out. The name of her brand relates to her mission to encourage young dancers to believe in their inner value, instead of any external award. She’s proven herself to be an inspiration, not only as a dancer but as a businesswoman as well.
Faith and Love
Chelsie is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and her faith has inspired her career. When she was living in Salt Lake City, she was a member of the Hillside Young Single Adults Ward of the Church, where she served as a teacher and hosted community activities. A combination of her faith and love for dance is what has given her drive and helped her overcome many challenges over the years.
Though Chelsie grew to fame on competitive dancing shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” she now lives a more humble existence, concentrating on encouraging people of all ages to feel free to express themselves through dance. Even off-screen she is continuing to make a positive impact on the dance industry. Chelsie’s incredible story is one of inspiration and courage.
Chelsie Hightower Podcast Transcription
Charan: Oh man, this is great. Everyone in the world is going to see and hear what we’re talking about right now.
Chelsie: Holy cow.
Charan: Yeah, this is it.
Chelsie: This is a huge podcast.
Charan: It’s a huge podcast.
Chelsie: I had no idea.
Charan: Well, it just reached a global level very quickly. And so now we’re going to hit the intergalactic level. It’s going to be so great.
Chelsie: Wow. Okay. Well, had I known I was getting ready for the whole world today.
Charan: Universe, if you will.
Chelsie: Yeah. I would have prepared, maybe done a little more meditation, but that’s okay.
Charan: The thing is you need to be able to ground yourself not just on Earth but in the universe.
Charan: If you will.
Chelsie: Yeah, I’m going to just get a little more grounded right now.
Charan: Oh man. Yeah, we’re not even going to get to … This is going to be so great. In fact, I think I’m going to have all of this banter be in the podcast.
Chelsie: Oh yeah.
Charan: We absolutely need to.
Chelsie: For sure.
Charan: But let’s get started though, shall we?
Charan: Shall we get started officially?
Chelsie: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s do it.
Charan: Okay. Well, welcome guys. This is Charan Prabhaker with the Lemonade Stand podcast and I’m here with the glorious, the gorgeous, Chelsie Hightower, who is actually, if you’re seeing this, she actually did some rad dance moves. And if you’re hearing it, I hope you felt the rad dance moves that she just barely did. It was amazing.
Chelsie: My energy transcended.
Charan: Her energy transcended into the ears-
Chelsie: To the ears of the listeners.
Charan: Of the listeners right now. But Chelsie is an incredible dancer, if you have ever heard of that small indie program that only goes on a couple little networks called “Dancing with the Stars. “Honestly, nobody would have ever heard of.
Chelsie: Who would have thought?
Charan: Who would have ever thought?
Chelsie: It would be-
Charan: What it was.
Chelsie: A big dance show or a big show. But yeah.
Charan: Or a big show.
Chelsie: But the other one was an indie show.
Charan: Yeah, very indie show.
Chelsie: “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Charan: “So You Think You Can Dance.” No one’s heard of that one. For sure.
Charan: There’s no chance.
Chelsie: Super underground. Yeah.
Charan: Yeah, it’s super indie, super grunge, but Chelsie-
Chelsie: A great niche following.
Charan: A massive niche following. In fact, it was [crosstalk 00:03:33]
Chelsie: Just way underground.
Charan: Super-duper underground there.
Charan: But Chelsie happened to be on both of those shows. So it was amazing and it was awesome. What was funny was, I’m not a dancer, as you know, as you’ve seen me walk, you realize, “That man could never dance.”
Chelsie: Yeah, you can always tell by the walk.
Charan: Yeah, by the walk and you’re like, “Yeah, that guy, he shouldn’t be allowed to wear shoes.”
Chelsie: Yeah, the first five steps I knew.
Chelsie: From you.
Charan: Don’t even get on the dance floor. Please.
Chelsie: No, absolutely no way.
Charan: Yeah, not a chance.
Chelsie: But you have other good qualities though.
Charan: I don’t think I do. No, it was interesting because I never really watch a ton of the dance shows, but what was interesting was, I heard your name in those circles a lot and especially because I knew that you’d come from Utah, you’d come from Orem, Utah. And we talked about this before, but we have a mutual friend, Donny Osmond, who was on the show, “Dancing with the Stars.” And I know you worked with him a little bit. But it was interesting because yeah, I heard of your name in these different circles and stuff and that you were just doing some incredible amazing things.
Charan: And then we ironically met on a film set, which is amazing, where I played a French doctor, which was hilarious. And you were the lead actress in this movie called “Stocked,” which we can talk a little bit about and it was really cool to get to know you and just to see your personality and just how fun and grounded and level-headed you are and kind you are and-
Chelsie: Oh, thank you.
Charan: And I was just so humbled actually and honored that you would even take the time to be a part of this podcast. So thanks for coming on, it’s very exciting.
Chelsie: Yeah, thank you.
Charan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Chelsie: We got to go back to Stocked as soon as possible.
Charan: We absolutely need to go back to Stocked.
Chelsie: We’ll move on for now.
Charan: Yeah, we’ll move on for now.
Chelsie: I’ll let you take the lead of course, but.
Charan: Let me take the lead just a little bit. But man, you’re excited to talk about that maybe. Just so excited to talk about your first lead role in a movie.
Chelsie: You guys, I’m about to hit it big.
Chelsie: It’s going to be nuts.
Chelsie: No, but if we’re lucky, we’re going to be able to hear a Charan’s French-Polynesian accent.
Charan: Oh man, yeah. If you’re really lucky.
Chelsie: That’s really what I’m here for more than anything.
Charan: I’m so sorry for those of you who have been betting on that, because I don’t think it’s nothing.
Chelsie: It was good though.
Charan: Yeah, it was fun.
Chelsie: Keep going.
Charan: So what I was going to tell you was, you got into acting as a side hustle almost, like on the side thing. It was like, “Hey, I want to try exploring some other stuff in the performing space.” Which was very cool by the way, and I thought you did a great job in the small few scenes that I saw you. The way you said “thanks” was really good. That’s the only scene I have with you.
Chelsie: Oh man, I really felt that though too. When I was just like, “Thank you.”
Charan: Yeah, I was like, “Oh my gosh, she really meant it.” Yeah, it was really great.
Chelsie: Honestly, that one scene will go on my reel.
Chelsie: For sure, yeah. I don’t know about anything else, but for sure. Yeah.
Charan: So a bunch of dancing and then “thank you.” Yeah, it’s going to be so great.
Chelsie: Yeah. It was good.
Charan: So the Lemonade Stand podcast is all about entrepreneurs, creators in different forms that are trying to do something with their lives and create goodness in the world and whatnot. A lot of the entrepreneurs I’ve had on the podcast have started their first business when they were eight, maybe selling lemonade, that was their first, first podcast which is why … Not podcast, first business, which is why we call this the Lemonade Stand podcast.
Chelsie: I love that.
Chelsie Hightower Talks About How She Got Into Dance
Charan: What was your first lemonade stand experience? And it could have been in dancing. What was your first experience getting into what you decide to be as your career?
Chelsie: So like when I first got into dance?
Chelsie: So actually, my first experience with dance was not good because my … So what led to, I guess, what you would say today, what I do today, which would be my career of dancing, started out as me hating dance.
Charan: I love it.
Chelsie: And I was just really, really shy and just really in my head about it. And so I really didn’t capture it and I didn’t catch on until I was nine years old and I was at my elementary school. And I was watching the end of the year performance by the program that the elementary school puts on, and I remember watching these kids, and some of them are still my friends to this day. I actually just talked to James [Toylivette 00:08:18], I don’t know if you know who he is, but he was actually on “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Chelsie: He still works in LA now, but he was one of the boys in that program. And I remember him specifically and a few others that just made ballroom look so appealing and so cool. So after many attempts by my mom, failed attempts, I must say ,of trying to get me to dance, so I was actually, I’m the baby of five older brothers.
Chelsie: And so my mother’s excitement to have a girl was big.
Chelsie: You can imagine to be able to dress me up and dresses and bows and put me in dance and like all the girly stuff and little did she know I would not come to like any of it initially. But yeah, I hated, I just wanted to play sports for some reason because my brothers did it. And so it looked really cool. One year, my mom got me a dress for Easter and my brothers all hockey sticks and I just cried.
Charan: Oh man.
Chelsie: Because I couldn’t believe she would give me a freaking dress when I wanted a hockey stick like the boys.
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Charan: And now you haven’t forgiven her since, right?
Chelsie: It’s been a long time that we finally got over that hump eventually. But so yeah, so she was pretty surprised. Fast-forward, she was pretty surprised when I came home and said I wanted to join this ballroom program. Two of my brothers had joined with me; they did not last. One of them I think lasted maybe three months. Actually, the other one lasted about two years. But it was probably two months into that program where I was dancing with one of the boys, one of the boys randomly had just pulled me aside. Anyways, he does marketing here actually, you might know Bronson Christensen.
Charan: I don’t know him, no.
Chelsie: He does Lonely Ghost, anyways.
Chelsie: So he’s a brander now and it’s just so funny if you see him now because he’s got these really long locks and he was in that ballroom program with us. It was just a wild group of people that have all now gone off to do very random different things. But he pulled me aside and this was within the first two months, and he just started dancing with me. And I remember just following along and I didn’t know any of the steps he was doing and I was in the beginner program at the time.
Chelsie: And he goes up to the person who was running the program, and he was like, “Watch this. She’s just following along, she doesn’t know any of these steps.” And I remember here I was, I just started and there was with these two-year, three-year people who’d been in the program for that long. And anyway, so I was just like, oh, this is cool. The person who ran or who started the program is watching me dance. And so it was just one of those moments where it was when I had realized that I had talent for dance and when it just clicked, and so she ended up putting me with her son and that is how I started dance.
Charan: Well, it’s interesting because yeah, I love the fact that you hated it at first.
Chelsie: Yeah. It was the worst.
Charan: And then you got to that point where you’re like, “You know what? This is actually fun.”
Chelsie: Yeah. I think it was I finally got out of my head and that was not learning steps formally, it was just a boy taking me and me just following along.
Chelsie: When I sat down to really, and I still actually work that way to this day, I really have to just be thrown into things and just figure things out as I go. That’s the best way that I learn. I just have to typically figure it out for myself as I’m going, it’s the best way that I learn, but yeah.
Charan: Well, I like that. I grew up really shy, which is weird because I’m a social person. But I grew up really shy and I think a lot of that shyness came from being in my head a lot. I grew up in Provo, Utah, and where I went to high school, I think I was the only Indian person there. And that got in my head. I was like, Wait, I feel different. I don’t feel like I belong and stuff. And so I would have all these negative thoughts in my head that would stop me from succeeding. But then I took a drama class in high school for the first time because there was some weird thought in me when I was in seventh grade thinking, Oh my gosh, whoa, being an actor would be so cool.
Charan: I remember having that thought. I don’t know how that thought came, it just suddenly came. And I remember being on stage and performing in front of the whole class. I was so nervous, just like the first time I’m going on stage and doing something until everyone started laughing. And I’m like, “Whoa, people seem to enjoy what I’m doing.” I was thrown on stage, I was thrown on a place where I had to get out of my head.
Charan: And I think getting out of your head is such an important piece in succeeding in whatever we’re doing because so many times we have these … Our heads, which is a great tool for learning certain things, can also enslave us. Have you ever felt that way before in other ways? Just kind of being enslaved by your own mind?
Chelsie: Oh yeah. It’s still something to this day that I think we all have our things that for better and for worse we’ll always have to work on and that for me is something that I just, I know I’ll always have to work on, I have to make certain things as part of my daily practice and meditation, and I joke about meditation, but it’s really … It’s just something I know that I’ll always have to work on. It’s something that is very innate within me. And I know that at certain points, I get better at it and other times, I’ll have more different challenges that bring it back. And so I’ll have to just continually work through it and work on it, but yeah.
Chelsie Hightower Talks About “Stocked”
Charan: Yeah, I think that’s an … And we’re going to actually get into daily practices in a little bit here. But I think that’s so key because we talk about like, “Hey, you got to stay present, you got to not live in your head so much.” And when you were doing “Stocked,” it was an interesting experience. We’re talking about this because it was a totally different element that you weren’t used to, we were having all these lines and stuff.
Chelsie: Oh my gosh, yes.
Charan: Yeah, how did that go for you?
Chelsie: Oh my gosh, oh man, it’s just interesting because it’s a different way of expression. With dance, it’s actually easier to get out of your head I think in dance because you’re using your body so much and in acting, the camera is right up on your face. So you’re like, “Oh, I hope it looked okay. I hope I delivered that line okay.”
Charan: I know.
Chelsie: And so it’s just like, it’s actually easier to get out of your head. I worked with someone before the film though and he just said, “Get into your gut. Just speak from your guts.” And that helped a lot. But it’s a really, really great art form. It’s really different than dance. It’s really easy. It’s harder to take something really, really, really seriously when you’re still not sure what you’re doing.
Charan: Yeah, of course. Of course.
Chelsie: I think half the time I was like, “Is this right? Am I doing this …”
Charan: Yeah, I know.
Chelsie: When in dance, I have so much more experience and so much more training and background in it that it’s just so much easier to take it very, very seriously and have that commitment, I guess, is the difference and in finding that same level of commitment in acting when you’re like, “I have no idea.”
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Chelsie: At certain points I was like, “I think this is all right.” But yeah, it was a really, really awesome experience and I loved it a lot, but.
Charan: Yeah. It’s so interesting to trust your instincts when you’re in a different world.
Chelsie: Oh yeah.
Charan: You’re like, “Wait, what?”
Charan: Because I remember I auditioned, oh man, this is just the worst. They asked for background dancers to be a part of “High School Musical.”
Charan: And I’m like, “Please don’t send me to this audition. Please don’t let me go because this is not going to go well for anybody.”
Charan: And I remember auditioning as a dancer in the background and we were doing it for a couple hours. And they’re like, “Okay, well, thank you for this group. We’re not going to see any of you.” And I’m like, “Thank you God for letting me leave this embarrassing situation.” As I’m walking out, the director is like, “Hey you.” And I’m like, “Yeah? Please don’t.” He said, “Are you an actor?” I’m like, “Yes. Yes I’m an actor. I can say lines.”
Charan: And so he’s like, “Hey, we want you to audition for it.” It never actually ended up coming through, but then the second one I actually ended up acting in it.
Chelsie: Oh cool.
Charan: So that all worked out. But it was interesting because I didn’t have dancing in the background of the first one. And I remember thinking … I felt so awkward the entire time. I’m like, “I can’t trust my instincts.”
Chelsie: I don’t know what my instincts are.
Charan: Yeah, my instincts are not telling me good things to do with my body. I had no idea.
Charan: So it’s interesting when you get thrown into a role like that, how you have to just trust and go for it and get thrown in the deep end. You know what I mean?
Chelsie: Yeah, I think the biggest thing, I just kept imagining what kind of actress I wanted to be. And then I just tried to pretend I was that actress so-
Charan: I love that. Yeah.
Chelsie: Anyways, but yeah, there’s definitely it’s a process, right? There’s moments of doubt all the time, but there is an element of just, yeah, throwing yourself into it [crosstalk 00:18:22]
Charan: Yeah, I think that’s what it takes as an artist.
Chelsie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chelsie Hightower Talks About “So You Think You Can Dance”
Charan: So let’s talk about “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” and stuff, because a lot of people have like the dream of like, “Yeah, I want to be in ballroom and do that.” But not very many people are like, “Cool. Now that that happened, I’m going to go do ‘Dancing with the Stars.'” So how did that come about?
Chelsie: “Dancing with the Stars” or “So You Think” [crosstalk 00:18:43]. So I grew up dancing ballroom competitively, grew up here in Utah dancing. I was fortunate enough to get sponsored training, which was really nice, because ballroom is really crazy expensive and just a really different world. And so when I was 16, I think, “So You Think You Can Dance” came on air and I watched it. And I was like, “That’s my dream.” And I was like, “This is exactly what I want to do.”
Chelsie: And it was everything that I loved, it was all the different styles. I was also trained from 12 to 14, I trained in ballet and jazz and hip-hop and all that stuff. So I saw “So You Think You Can Dance” and I was like, “Yes.”
Chelsie: I am called to do this.
Chelsie: That feeling that you get where you’re like … The first time you really see something that you’re like, “That’s it. That’s the thing.”
Chelsie: So it was not until I graduated high school, because I had nine months before, or after I graduated, before “So You Think You Can Dance,” before I auditioned for it because I had to be 18. I graduated when I was 17. Anyways, it was just like eat, sleep, breathe preparation for “So You Think You Can Dance” was all I wanted to do. So yeah, so then I auditioned it Salt Lake. I was so nervous.
Charan: Yeah, I was going to ask you how that was.
Chelsie: Oh my gosh.
Charan: How did that go?
Chelsie: I was terrified. Yeah, it was just like the first time you’re putting yourself out there potentially to be rejected in front of everyone watching you.
Charan: Sure. Yeah.
Chelsie: When I was younger and competing, it was like my coaches would know if I didn’t get the placement that I wanted or whatever. But then it’s like all your family and peers and friends and everyone now potentially watching you fail which was scary, but not kind of scary, it was very scary.
Charan: Yeah, kind of scary as in very scary. Yeah, yeah.
Chelsie: As in extremely scary.
Charan: Yeah, as in extremely scary.
Chelsie: Yeah, I think I was telling my mom the day before. I was like, “I’m so nervous. I don’t know if I want to do it.” And I’ve been preparing the whole year too and I knew I wanted to do it, but I think there can be that moment sometimes where it’s like something that you know that you really, really want, you start to question, I don’t know if everyone is like that, but you start to question if you really do want it, because you’re like, “I don’t know if the risk is worth the reward.”
Charan: Yeah, sure. Yeah, that moment.
Chelsie: And it’s this scary thing to think of like, “Man, yeah, I want it, but do I really want it that bad?” And the fear starts to set in. And I remember my mom just being like, “Chels, just fake it till you make it.” And I was like, “I can fake it. I can do that.”
Chelsie: And so that was my mentality going into it. And then I made it through. Actually, I was really nervous the day of, too, and I remember I was the last one. I was in the very last group to audition. So there-
Charan: So there’s so much psychological things.
Chelsie: Thousands of dancers that had gone before me. And luckily I was ballroom, but there’s so many dancers in Utah and so much talent and people that were good getting cut, and I remember the director, the executive of the show, gets up, who’s doing the first cuts, and he’s like, “Look, everyone who’s a contemporary dancing here, raise your hand.” And everyone raises their hand. He’s like, “If you’re not as good as these guys, walk out of the room right now.” We’re like, everyone’s freaking out because part of the thing too is the psychological like, “Can you handle the pressure?”
Chelsie: So I think they do that on purpose to an extent. So I’m the last one of the day and I’m so nervous, sitting in my chair and I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen?” I remember getting up right before I went out, and I was like, “Just dance. You know how to do this. That’s all you have to do is just dance.” And then let go of everything else.
Charan: I love that.
Chelsie: So let go of the result, let go of what could happen and just dance and just having that courage to step out on stage and anyways, so I made it to Vegas. Vegas comes around, it was very hard, got on the show. Absolutely, I just loved it. It was just a dream come true. I was an 18-year-old from Utah, and just getting this chance to be on stage and work with these choreographers.
Chelsie Hightower Talks About “Dancing with the Stars”
Chelsie: Oh man, I loved every minute of it. It was hard, but it was so much fun. So and I felt like I had just like prepped so much for it and I was like, “Okay, I’ve taken that …” Anyway, so it was great. I loved it. And then did the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour and who called me? Somebody called me from the show from “Dancing with the Stars.” And they said, “Hey, we want to have you come in and interview with us to be on the show.” And I was flying home from the tour and I called Staci Weiss who was head of 19 Entertainment and I was still under contract for “So You Think” for a year.
Chelsie: And at the time they weren’t letting anyone out of their contracts and she’s like, “Well, there’s no way, but I’ll talk to Nigel anyways and I’ll see.” So I’m like, “Okay.” Wait two weeks, hear nothing, text her, sent her a message. Do we have texting back then? Yeah, we did.
Charan: Sure. I think so. I think so. I think we’re okay. Yeah.
Chelsie: I’m pretty sure we did. So I don’t know, I sent her a message and maybe I called her and she’s like, “Well, I guess Nigel is going to consider it.” I dance for two weeks after that, I dance for Nigel’s charity thing. And yeah, and I see him there and I’m like, “Nig.” Him and I had a fun relationship, put my arm around him, I’m like, “Nig, what’s the answer?” And he’s like, “Well.” He’s like, “All right.” He’s like, “You can do it.” So it was sick.
Chelsie: So I was at that time … Yeah, I’m just glad that they decided to change their minds because I was the first one that they actually let out of their contract to be able to go over to “Dancing with the Stars.” And maybe they felt bad for me because I had gotten kicked off a little earlier than I wanted to. So maybe they’re like, “Oh, we feel bad. Let’s just let her go.”
Chelsie: But so they did that with the agreement that I would go back to “So You Think.”
Charan: Following a year or whatever.
Chelsie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Make some appearances on “So You Think.”
Charan: Yeah. So then “Dancing with the Stars” came in, with a totally different vibe than “So You Think.”
Chelsie: Yes. It was totally different. So first of all Karina Smirnoff, Louis Van Amstel, they were my coaches two years previously to that. So it was a weird thing to digest going from like my coaches and idols to now working with these guys and being expected to be on that same level or my own personal pressure and my own personal expectations. So it definitely was challenging and it made me grow and yeah.
Charan: Yeah. And it’s so interesting, just the dancing world, I know there’s a lot of pressure in the acting world, but the dancing world seems like that times a billion.
Charan: I don’t know why, I just I see … We talked about this before, Benji Schwimmer and I were roommates in California. And I know he won “So You Think You Can Dance” his year and Lacey, his sister, was on “Dancing with the Stars.” I think you may know her from probably working with her, whatever. But it’s interesting because yeah, like I remember, even just the pressure and the hard work ethic that Donny went through even when he was doing that show. And you were telling me it was an incredible experience, but it was also very stressful and full of some anxiousness and anxiety.
Chelsie: Yeah, it was good, but I don’t know if I’d say bad. It was good, hard, amazing, challenging. It was the gamut of emotions. Gamut of emotions.
Charan: Yeah. Why do you think it was such a range of emotions?
Chelsie: Overcoming my own, I just felt intimidated going into it. I just felt intimidated by these people that I idolized, I was just this Utah girl who grew up with a family that struggled and didn’t have a lot of money, and I didn’t have connections in the dance world, I didn’t have parents that were successful before me. And most everyone I would say had family in the dance world and had connections. And I don’t know, it was just me and I’d had good training, but I just felt this humble little thing from Utah that was just now thrust into this big world. And it was just a lot to take on and yeah, it was a lot.
Charan: It’s interesting to take a lot of stimuli, right. It’s interesting. I’ve started out acting here in Utah.
Charan: And then I knew from other actors and so forth that if I wanted to really take my career to the next level, I had to move to LA. And I never initially considered it. I was like, “No, I think we’re just going to stay in Utah.” And then these other actor friends of mine that had been on tons of movies were like, “Charan, you’re good, but you can never go further if you’re only going to be here.” So at the time, it felt right and I moved to L.A. and it was awesome. But especially when I got on some of those big sets, it was intimidating.
Charan: It was intimidating because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve seen you guys on TV.” I did a scene, I remember, this one day, I had an audition for this TV show called “Code Black.” And it was just one line, just one line. But sometimes those one-liners are the worst.
Charan: So you go in there, I went in and there wasn’t anyone else in the room, but I saw this folder with pages and pages that people auditioning for this character that I’m auditioning for.
Chelsie: Oh my gosh.
Charan: And I’m like, “Oh great.” And so of course, I go in, I totally bomb it. It was one line and they’re like, “Wait, what did you just?” And I’m like, “Let me go ahead and … Yeah, let me just. Wait, was this rolling? Okay, you’re rolling now. All right, let’s do it for sure.” And the line was, “You and me both, that mudslide half of Malibu in.” But that’s a weird … Because there’s like a big mudslide that’s going on in Malibu and I’m looking nervous, tech guy that’s like trying to … A nurse guy tried to manage this whole situation.
Charan: But it’s okay, “You and me both, that mudslide half of-” Wait, and they’re like, “Excuse me?” And I’m like, “Nothing, nothing, nothing happened.” And so anyway, I somehow got the line out and I left that audition feeling so rejected. I was just like, “What am I doing here in L.A.?”
Chelsie: Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh.
Charan: No, laugh please. I’m just like, “What am I doing? What’s going on?”
Charan: And then the next day, my agent is like, “Charan, you got to go to the table read.” I’m like, “What? What are you talking about? Table read for what?” They’re like, “‘Code Black.'” I’m like, “Why?” And they’re like, “You booked it.” And I’m like, “Why?” And so I go to this table read and the room is just filled with just … To the brim with all these people and the director came up to me, and he’s like, “Oh my gosh.” He’s like, “I loved your read.”
Charan: And I’m like, “Are you sure? Are you sure you didn’t mistake me for somebody else? Because I remember my reading. I didn’t feel very good about it.” He’s like, “No, no, no dude.” He’s like, “The way you delivered it was so great.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, people are seeing something that I clearly am not seeing.” But in that room was like Rob Lowe, and like all these people, and so my scene was with Rob Lowe. And so I’m just like [crosstalk 00:31:02]
Chelsie: That is amazing.
Charan: It was incredible, but it was also so intimidating. But being thrust in a place like that, you suddenly start questioning your own talent and your own worth. And you start questioning like, “Do I belong? Do I have an identity? Do I have a place among these seasoned pros?”
Chelsie: Yeah, yeah.
Charan: How did you overcome that? Because I know you were on “Dancing with the Stars” for years.
Chelsie: Yeah. I just, I don’t know.
Charan: Faked it till you make it?
Chelsie: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know if I ever really did.
Chelsie: I don’t know if I ever really fully overcame the insecurity of like, “Do I really belong here? Am I really, really, this good?” Or good enough I guess. And I think that that’s something that maybe a lot of dancers feel, because dance is so subjective, it’s so hard to know whether you’re like, “Okay, I’m doing it.” And because everyone has their opinion. And of course, there’s the technical side, but I don’t know if I ever got over the fact that everyone else had so much more experience than I did.
Chelsie: And I knew, and I did rely on my talent, and I relied on my identity and who I believed I was as a daughter of my faith and a daughter of God, and that helps me a lot. But I don’t know if I ever really fully overcame that thing of, “Do I really belong with my idols?” I don’t know. But that definitely, that made me work really, really hard. And not sense of intimidation. I don’t know. There is a part of me that was just, “I just have to prove to myself that I belong here.” And so I just worked really hard.
Chelsie: And then I’d gotten nominated for an Emmy three seasons in and yeah, but it was still there. So it’s this weird thing of like, I’m kind of understanding it more now and understanding where that came from, which is I’ve probably told you a little bit about, just like healing old childhood wounds and trauma, which I think I’m just such an advocate of now because I’m seeing so many things in my life that didn’t make sense.
Chelsie: Even that situation where I was, “I worked so freaking hard.” And still remember that feeling of like, “Man, I’ve turned into a machine.” To be good enough and to overcome this deep thing that I’m feeling and still didn’t. And now I’m seeing why, but yeah, I don’t know. I just worked really, really hard. And I think on an external level I overcame that insecurity. I think there was an insecurity of, “Oh, what if other people don’t see me for …”
Chelsie: I think there’s this imposter syndrome that you feel. And I think I overcame that part of it where I knew I was respected and I knew that people will recognize my work, but on a deep internal level, it was still nagging I guess.
Charan: You know what’s so interesting, what you’re saying speaks volumes to me really because it’s like here you were, achieving these amazing dreams and stuff. And with the with those dreams came this really deep-seated insecurity of like, “I don’t feel like I’m good enough for this. I don’t feel like I deserve any of this stuff.” And you started learning. “Oh, this actually stems from something much further back, much longer time ago. And it’s very interesting how much our childhood shapes us and how certain instances or memories or things that happen still affect us.
Chelsie: Oh, it’s incredible.
Charan: It’s incredible. What’s weird is, I remember when I was seven years old, I was playing pretend with my buddy and these two girls. And this thing happened that made me feel very unwanted as a seven-year-old. And I remember experiencing a panic attack at that moment.
Chelsie: Oh wow.
Charan: I was seven.
Chelsie: Oh, so scary.
Charan: I remember running away and I had this panic attack because I felt so unwanted and it scared me how much that felt. What’s weird is I’m almost 40 now and there’s still certain instances that I’m like, “Wait, why did I panic about that?” And then I’m like, “Oh my gosh, the seven-year-old.”
Chelsie: Yeah, yeah.
Charan: It’s still amazing how much something from the past can still affect you today.
Chelsie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And I shouldn’t say, it sounds really depressing just to be like [crosstalk 00:36:20]
Charan: Oh no, the worst, yeah.
Chelsie: But I don’t know, I will say self-talk is huge, right? So there is the two wolves and which one you feed is the one that will win and that’s huge. That type of stuff is huge. I just think at the end of the day, I did just practice extreme amounts of belief in God, to be honest, because I’m like, “If I don’t believe Chelsie can do this, I know God can.”
Charan: I love that. Yeah.
Chelsie: And that was a huge anchor for me and that was a huge way that I overcame that intimidation, especially initially, it was always just like, I know God can and I know God can lead me through this.” And I know that I might be feeling insecure, but God can … He’s bigger than all of this, he’s bigger than the show and he’s bigger than this … He created all of this. And so that was a huge anchor for me. And that was a huge guide for me, and even the way that I would deal with executives, because you know how they can be crazy in Hollywood.
Chelsie: And just not allowing any intimidation of other people to get to me, because it was always, maybe I, Chelsie, might feel intimidated, but God is bigger than all of this. And I know God, and I know that he’s here for me. And I know that he believes in me and so I can believe in me as well. So that I guess too, that would answer your question a little bit better. And then on a deeper level, there was more work that I’m learning now that I had to do that I didn’t understand at that time. But, yeah.
Charan: Wow. No, you know what? It’s crazy because … Excuse me. I’ve had very similar experiences where I had to get to a point where I had such an intense belief in God and in a partnership with him that made me realize, Wait, I don’t have to be intimidated by anybody. I don’t have to be intimidated by like studios and stuff and what they have to say because I’m partnered with God who’s the greatest.
Chelsie: Yeah, totally.
Charan: When I got to that frame of mind and that belief system, I went into Amazon Studios, and I would pitch them TV shows and I never felt afraid. I just didn’t because I’m like, Well, why do I need to be afraid? What’s the thing? What is it you have that I won’t ever be able to get because I’m with God?
Chelsie: Well, and I think the cool thing about that too is it started becoming so clear to me how insecure everyone else was.
Charan: Yeah. Isn’t that amazing?
Chelsie: Yeah, and the more I was … You said that in partnership with God, the more I just saw things more clearly. And as I saw other people’s insecurity, and you just see things more clearly and you’re able to have compassion on other people, and also just not being intimidated by other people because you realize that they’re just people. And yes, they may be in these big powerful roles in Hollywood, but at the end of the day, we’re all made of the same thing and we … So that was big and then I started seeing how in Hollywood everyone just feels like they’re all faking it.
Charan: Yeah, seriously.
Chelsie: And I’m like, “Oh, there’s very few people who I’m like … Oh, this is going to sound bad.” I hope this doesn’t get out.
Charan: It is. This is literally, we are recording and everything.
Chelsie: Oh yeah. Okay. Well, I’ll just say it like this. I just realized everyone seemed like they were just faking it.
Chelsie: And that seem like yeah. There’s a lot of people that are just faking it. And that’s okay.
Charan: You know what?
Chelsie: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but.
Charan: To me, I think that’s just where they are in life. I got to this point where I don’t know, I got to see some really, really awesome, awesome people in Hollywood, and then all the people that were faking it as well. I got to see the difference. I was in this acting class that I would recommend it to. And I’m sitting there and this is the first day of class, before orientation, we’re playing these games. And there’s this guy in the corner that’s like, “Good job guys. You guys are doing awesome.” And everything. I keep staring at him because I’m like, Wow, that guy looks so familiar. I’m like, Is that who I think it is? It was Tom Cruise.
Charan: And I’m like, What is Tom Cruise doing in this acting class? This is crazy. And the thing I felt from him was absolute kindness. He was so kind to everybody. He was dressed like the way I am right now, a flannel shirt, jeans, nothing fancy or whatever about him. And he was just so kind to everybody. I remember thinking, Wow, he doesn’t need to be anything other than who he is.
Chelsie: That’s awesome.
Charan: And I’m just thinking, You know what? I want to be an honest and authentic person in L.A. And because I try to be that … When I try to be very relaxed in the way I was, I felt like people were coming to me because they were like, “You have something that I want, and I don’t know what it is.” And so I’m like, “Okay, I can show you.”
Chelsie: I love that.
Charan: And I remember one of the girls that we were doing this acting exercise outside of class. And she’s like, “Hey, can I ask you something?” And I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, what’s up?” And she said, “Well, it seems to me like you’re always working. Other people are like trying to and trying to hustle and stuff. It just seems to me that you’re working.” And she’s like, “How do you work so much?” And I said, “If I can be totally honest with you, I believe in God. And I believe he’s hooking me up.”
Chelsie Hightower’s Lemons-to-Lemonade Story
Charan: And it was one of the things that I remember her being, “I am so grateful you share that with me.” So many people who would not say that, or be open about that. And I’m like, “I got to say it as I see it.” And I think that’s amazing, because one of the one of the questions I ask people on this podcast is do you have like a very specific lemons-to-lemonade story where there was a single moment where you’re like, “This sucks. I’m the worst.” And then you change it to a lemonade story which was like, “Wow, that was an amazing experience.” Do you have anything like that specifically?
Chelsie: Oh gosh, that’s interesting. Where I was like, “This sucks.” And then it got better?
Charan: Somehow you figured out a way to make it a positive experience.
Chelsie: Oh gosh. Hang on, give me five more hours on this one.
Charan: Yeah, I know. This is great.
Chelsie: I’m going to be here for a while.
Chelsie: I don’t know. Okay. Like a small story?
Charan: It could be small, it could be big. It doesn’t even have to be a one specific moment.
Chelsie: Okay, well, hang on. Let me just think about this for a second.
Charan: Because the thing is I do feel like [crosstalk 00:43:35]
Chelsie: I did put Michael Bolton in the doghouse.
Charan: What’s that?
Chelsie: I put Michael Bolton in the doghouse.
Charan: Tell me more.
Chelsie: Well, do we need to go any further?
Charan: Yeah, we need to actually.
Chelsie: Can it just end there?
Charan: Yeah, I think you should just end there.
Chelsie: No, yeah, I put him in the doghouse and it never ended up good, though. So it was just like lemons.
Charan: Yeah, , it was just a lemons-to-lemons story.
Chelsie: Just straight lemons to lemons. I will say that week, so that was a hard week, Michael Bolton, Michael had bronchitis. And him and I had gotten along really well up until this week. So the first week, he did really good, for Michael. He didn’t know that though. He just wanted to win the show. And that’s really hard for me because I’m like, “How do you tell someone the honest truth, but not crush them at the same time?” And he’s an amazing singer. We’ll just leave it at that.
Chelsie: But he just wasn’t as much of a dancer as he is a singer. And so he didn’t get the remarks that he thought he was going to get and so he just … That second week was really hard for him. And therefore, it was hard for me because now everything was … It’s on your shoulders and it’s your responsibility. The silver lining in that is that I had my brother out in L.A. with me that week and him and I grew up together and he was always a big support for me.
Chelsie: And so there was a silver lining in that where yeah, but I would say on a grander scale, my L.A. experience was amazing and it was challenging. And it was like I said, the whole gamut of emotions. And the way when I left L.A., I was really … There was just so many things I didn’t understand. And so many … Okay, how do I put this? I just left feeling … Yeah, I just left feeling like I wasn’t the person that I wanted to be. I wasn’t the person that I had promised myself that I would be.
Chelsie: And so that was hard. And I would say the lemons that, so that was the lemon. And now what I’m building now with the things that I’m doing now is what’s all the positive that’s come out of not being the person that I wanted to be and that experience not going the way that I fully wanted it to go. And it’s helped me to see some of the things that can be changed within what is the narrative. I think that as a dancer, you’ll come to understand about yourself and about dancing and about your worth being attached to the level of dancing that and the skill set that you have and the level of success that you have.
Chelsie: And so it really helped me to see all that really, really clearly and set out to … Yeah, just help young dancers to not feel that way that I felt. So everything I’m doing now is a direct-
Charan: Like a byproduct almost.
Chelsie: A byproduct of things not going the way that I wanted them to go. And had they gone the way that I wanted them to go, I wouldn’t have had the motivation to do what I’m doing now, so.
Charan: One of the things I tell people is something far worse than having none of your dreams come true is to have all of your dreams come true only to realize you’re not happy at all.
Charan: I think that’s far worse. Because you have this expectation, you have this thing of like, “Oh my gosh, once I get this, and once I get that, yada-yada-yada.” I had a dream that I was going to move to L.A. and I was going to become, maybe, I don’t even know if it was a famous actor, but a working actor which I was, I was working there. And yet, I wasn’t happy. There was something about it where I had this feeling where I kept thinking, “I’m doing these cool shows, I’m meeting cool celebrities, I’m working with all these different things and yet I feel empty inside.”
Charan: I feel the sense of it’s almost like the purpose for which I was put on Earth was not fulfilled at all. And if I kept going down that path, it was just going to get me further and further from what I was meant to do. And it kept eating at me. And I remember getting auditions from my agent, and I would dread them. I’m like, “Oh no, not another audition.” And thinking, “I’m an actor for crying out loud, I should be craving these auditions and yet I’m not.”
Charan: And I had to get really real with myself, which was tough, because getting really real with yourself sometimes means, “Oh, this expectation, this forced thing that I’m trying to create, this narrative that I’m trying to uphold is not really leading me to happiness. In fact, it’s making me feel more hurt and pain inside.” And I knew I wanted to keep acting, but it’s like I wanted to change the terms of how I acted. And I wanted to change the narrative of saying, “I’ve got to be in Hollywood to make it big or to do whatever.”
Charan: So I started thinking, Well, why did I even want to get into the business to begin with? And it was like, I want to make awesome memories with my friends, I wanted to tell good stories and I wanted to help people feel God’s love for them. I’m like, How am I doing that in L.A.? And I’m like, Not really at all. I’m not really working with my friends when I’m acting in L.A., just working on projects. The projects themselves don’t really have good messages, a lot of them do not, and not really helping people feel God’s love for them on those shows.
Charan: So none of the actual goals, the things that I really wanted was actually being fulfilled in that way. And so I started thinking, Well, if I came back to Utah and creating my own stuff, what would that look like?” So as in response to that, I suddenly got a TV show here in Utah which kept me here for a while. And so I started exploring a little bit. And I started seeing, Oh my gosh, there’s so many more opportunities here for me right now than there ever was before. So I kept at it. But what I realized, which was so important for me, and I think you’re discovering this for yourself is your soul seems to be coming back alive again.
Charan: Being here and doing the program that you’re doing and now you’re taking all the experience you’ve learned from L.A., and realizing that was not a waste at all, that was an amazing experience and it let me realize, Okay, these young girls, if they go down that same path, they’re going to end up maybe over the same experience that I did, or maybe even worse. So I think it’s really admirable what you’re doing and taking ownership of your life and saying, “Okay, I want to find out what’s right for me, and what’s real for me.”
Chelsie: Thank you. Yeah, and some of that is combination, of course, of what I’m learning about my own childhood trauma. And so I’m like, I want to talk to women and I also want to talk to younger girls. I want to talk to both sides of the spectrum because A, yeah, there are certain things that just need to be talked about more than I want to talk about. And I also want to help parents to understand, “Please keep your children safe from the narrative of … I don’t know, in dance, just their worth is not attached to their level of dancing.” And I remember that rings so true to me now because I was a good dancer.
Chelsie: I really knew that I was talented, but that I know who I was outside of that. And so the process of going from being on “Dancing with the Stars” to learning how to find my worth outside of that has been massive and it’s been a challenge or a process I guess of the whole five years that I’ve been home and seven years that I’ve been home.
Chelsie: I don’t know, [crosstalk 00:52:21] together.
Charan: It’s 2020, it’s the year of COVID.
Chelsie: Yeah, I can’t remember anything. And I look at that process even and it makes me a different teacher, it makes me different with the way that I interact with my students when I go into a classroom because I want every kid to feel important and loved and to know that they’re all important no matter their skill set. And also even just experiencing that on the show in L.A., experiencing some of the mistreatment that … And I don’t want to play victim by any means. But just felt like I was mistreated by certain people out there, certain people who ran the show.
Chelsie: And at the time, I don’t know, but I know how that affected the way I felt about myself as human because it was like you’re attacking who I am when you attack-
Charan: Those things that you’re saying?
Chelsie: Well, and yeah, and there’s more to that for sure. But it’s when my performance started to fall, it felt like that was an identity hit to who I was and I think that’s something that any performer, that’s a trap that any performer can get into.
Chelsie: But it’s something that I just want young girls to be aware of as they’re building their foundation, what are they building that on. Anyways, but you speak to the emptiness that you felt and I was just like, “Oh, I can feel all that.” Even I remember certain performances, there was one … I was sitting at a football game with my aunt and uncle down in Las Vegas and I had just been kicked off the show and the executives had called me and they said, “Oh, we want you and this other dancer to do a pro-dance.”
Chelsie: And I just remember immediate anxiety and dread and it’s just hard when it’s something that you love and it’s so ingrained in you and it’s such a big part of you that becomes something that’s not enjoyable anymore.
Charan: It’s so interesting when value is placed on the creation versus the creator, what happens as a result of that. I’ve seen that happen tons and tons of time with me. As an actor, I was working on this movie years ago and we were working so many hours a day, 16, 17 hours a day, non-stop, just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And I’m the lead actor so I had to be on all the time, right?
Chelsie: Yeah. I know how that feels.
Charan: Look, I was talking to somebody, I’m like, “Oh, I have to explain that to you.” But not to you.
Chelsie: No, you do not.
Charan: No, you get it.
Chelsie: Totally, yeah.
Charan: And it’s the same situation because I was in a hot, hot dungeon type stuff and you were in Tahiti? So it’s the same thing.
Chelsie: Yeah, yeah. Probably the same level of acting.
Charan: Same level.
Charan: No, it was crazy, because there was a point when I hated it. I hated every bit of it, I did not want to go say another line. I didn’t want to go out and perform, but then I realized something. It’s not that I hated acting, it’s just I had no life to give to my performance. And it wasn’t I hated whatever I was doing. The life source that was in me had diminished to nothing because I had thought, Oh, my life’s come from acting, but it does not. It doesn’t.
Charan: And the problem is we sometimes allocate outside external things or creations and stuff as the source of our life and it never will be. And if ever you make that the source of your life, watch out, you’re about to crash and it’s going to suck.
Charan: But, I remember at that moment, and we were talking a little bit about meditation and what not, but there was this moment where we had a bit of a free day. And that one particular day, I went into a closet, and I shut the door, it was totally dark and I just fell on my knees and I prayed. And I’m just like, Oh my gosh, why do I hate acting so much? What’s the deal? And I realized, Wait, no, I still love acting so much, I just don’t have any life in me.
Charan: And when I don’t have life in me, I hate everything. I’m exhausted, that’s what it is. I’m just utterly exhausted. And when I started getting life back in me because of my relationship, with higher power or God, whatever you want to call it, it was as if this energy, this source of endless energy suddenly entered me again. And I was so relaxed and happy again. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, here I was thinking I hated this creation, but it’s not, I love it. It’s just if I don’t have any life in me, I can’t love it anymore.
Chelsie Hightower Talks About Overcoming Anxiety
Charan: Unfortunately, a lot of times, that source of life gets misplaced. And we see it a lot of times in performers. You’ve seen it a bit in dancing, I’ve seen it a bit in acting. But how is your messaging to these girls that you’re helping out empowering them and encouraging them to define value in themselves outside of the world of dancing?
Chelsie: How am I doing it or what is the messaging?
Charan: Both. Give me a bit of both.
Chelsie: I like that analogy or what you were saying though just to touch on that really fast. I remember feeling that same way and I remember just feeling like … I remember being nervous, I knew that the only way I’d be able to survive was keeping my priorities in line. I remember being nervous about my own vulnerability of stressing and anxiety and my vulnerability to doubting myself ,because I knew that that would take me out of alignment with my priorities.
Chelsie: And then I just remember just being so tired of trying so hard. And I think it was also the point … It was that summer that I had been nominated for an Emmy and these amazing things that happened. There’s so much that goes into it, right? But I remember that was the point where I was like, I’m so tired.
Chelsie: And I just don’t know, I think at that point, really the true question was is what now? Because my whole life I’ve been working to get to this point of notoriety that I think as a dancer, I was like, When I get to that point of notoriety, I’ll be good.
Charan: Sure. Yeah, that was it. You’ve ended it.
Chelsie: Yeah. And I was just thinking about this the other day, because I hit that point and I remember just thinking, I have the rest of my life now in front of me. What the heck am I going to do with the rest of my life? And I think just those things lost their purpose to me. And once they lost their purpose, I lost my life source, like you were saying, I lost that life source of motivation, that life source of finding fulfillment within what I’m doing, and it’s so clear that it’s not the result, but it’s the process. It’s finding fulfillment within while you’re doing the work, that’s the goal and not the result of getting there and-
Charan: The fulfillment is in the act of doing it.
Chelsie: Yeah. Totally. And loving the process, loving that process. And I didn’t love … I think it was at a point when I was like, I didn’t love that process enough to … I don’t know, to keep wanting to do it. And so that’s really in L.A .when I started to really struggle more with my anxiety and stuff.
Charan: Sure, sure, sure, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Chelsie Hightower Talks About Her Dance Company
Chelsie: But so what I’m doing now, so I just launched recently, we haven’t launched our product yet, but I’m launching in the process of launching a dance line for younger dancers that just has messages inside the clothing. So we’re setting out to really do a dance company in a different way. We’re not promoting, “Go win first place and get out in front of everyone” or promoting “live your life.” Do dance in the way that makes you happy, because one thing that I saw in L.A. is, I had to learn how to define my own success, because the world is subjective.
Chelsie: And at the end of the day, I had to decide what was going to make me satisfied. And I think that’s a big thing in dance, you may never get first place, but what’s going to make you satisfied in your journey, that same thing that we talked about, when you’re connected to your purpose, that’s when you’re fulfilled. And so that’s part of our messaging is messaging like in the clothing is to find your own journey, find your own success, really promoting worth again because of my experience and having to find who I was outside of dance.
Chelsie: I wish that someone would have told me when I was struggling that it didn’t … Someone who was influential, that it didn’t matter how good I was, I was still important. And I was still worthy. I remember feeling like I had to be good to be cool, to be in with the cool kids. I had to be good and I had to be talented. I remember feeling when I didn’t have a good performance, I remember being like, Oh, they’re not going to want to be my friend.
Charan: Oh man, yeah. But I’ve faced that before. It’s like, Am I in the “in” crowd? Am I not in the “in” crowd?
Chelsie: Yeah, and how good I am is going to depend on whether or not they’re going to accept me or not. And I look at that now and I’m like, Man, I just hate that. I just want to obliterate that. And I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that. But I want to make a change in that way. And in the dance industry of just like, “Hey, let’s just … You’re going to be more satisfied if you work harder, you’re going to probably feel better if you work harder and you’ve reached your potential. Absolutely, I believe in excellence.” But let’s not diminish each other because someone’s better than somebody else. Let’s continue to see each other’s worth. And in so doing, you’ll be able to feel your worth more as well.
Charan: I love that.
Chelsie: So that’s part of our messaging and just promoting a full life, not just excellence in dance, but excellence in … One thing I love about dance is that it just made me a better person. And it just helps me to grow in all the areas of my life. And I think that that’s really important. And that was a life source for me for dance. I love that feeling of that dance could be a catalyst to me living a higher life. And not just a higher life in dance, but I could be more present with my family and my friends and I could just enjoy my life more when I was progressing in dance, and when I was progressing as a person, I just benefited in all the areas of my life.
Chelsie: So just promoting that type of stuff, lots of different things. So that’s what our dance line will be and then I’m also working on building courses for dancers that help take them through the model of what I believe success is and helping them to find their own purpose and success in dance. So and then performing at their peak. So helping them with pressure and self-doubt and anxiety and performance anxiety and knowing their worth and self-talk and self-love and anyways, so.
Charan: Oh my gosh, I love it. I love it.
Chelsie: And for you couples out there, I’m also releasing a course called Date Night. I wasn’t sure if I was going to say the name.
Charan: You should have.
Chelsie: But yeah, I just threw it out there. So for couples that want to learn how to ballroom dance, I’m doing a course for them. And then we’ll have live events as well where they can actually take their dance steps to the floor and it’s very exciting. So I’m really excited about that too.
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Chelsie: So yeah.
Charan: It’s just so awesome. It’s so awesome to hear you do all the stuff that you’re doing. And it’s such a great message and the thing that I was going to just coming to say, and we might even be able to wrap up on this because it’s such an important message is the idea of not feeling like you have to be the number one in the world to feel fulfilled, and to not feel you have to be so overly competitive and be “if they win, then I lose.” That’s a troubling mentality and it’s like this weird mentality of competition that I don’t think needs to really exist because-
Chelsie: Not like the “Talladega Nights” quote?
Charan: Go on with that quote. Now that you mentioned that maybe.
Chelsie: Sorry, I just got you off.
Charan: No, you’ve got to. You’ve got to. No, no, no, do it, do it. Please.
Chelsie: “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
Charan: Yeah, I got you. I got you.
Chelsie: But we all know that that’s a joke.
Charan: We all know that’s a joke.
Chelsie: Sorry, you had a beautiful thought, keep going.
Charan: I don’t think I did, no.
Chelsie: No, it was beautiful. I really did.
Charan: No, I just feel it’s so important that we realize that it’s almost like you dance because you’re happy, right? And that’s a way of expressing yourself. I act because I’m happy. Sometimes people think when this happens, then I’ll be happier, when that happens, I’ll be happy. But what I’ve learned is when you start placing your values in other areas of a more of an eternal nature, like, so, God or universe or through meditation or whatever resonates with you, you become happy and fulfilled right now just as a result of that.
Chelsie: Yeah, you were telling me this recently.
Charan: Yeah, I think so and then [crosstalk 01:07:10]. Yeah, and it was just you become happy and fulfilled right now. And then as a result, then you can express yourself creatively with dance or acting or whatever. And it’s just a way of resonating with the world. One of the things that I’ve really felt so strongly is just through my own personal experiences and studies, I’ve learned that nothing you do in life will ever be any greater than who you already are. But it’s up to you to realize how great you already are.
Charan: When you realize how great you already are right now, then you don’t have to chase, you don’t have to chase, you don’t have to … A person who thinks so hard or do this or do that because people I feel like that are chasing so hard and pursuing things so hard or trying to do to fill their identity up to say, “Oh man, I’m struggling and I need that to help me be fulfilled.”
Charan: But when you realize, Oh wow, as with our faith, as like a son or a daughter of God, I’m already infinitely loved, and just accepting that love in your life and valuing yourself that much, you’re like, “I don’t need all this stuff.” And so then the pressure is off and you can just do it for the joy of it instead of some big need to show the world who you are.
Chelsie: I love that. I love that. Amen.
Chelsie Hightower Talks About What Brings Her Joy
Charan: Amen. Any last comments Chelsie? Anything? What specifically would you say brings you joy right now?
Chelsie: To me, right now, my most joyous moments are coming from doing the inner work to heal things. And to shed the layers of that mentality of working, go, go, go to fill a need that you’ll never end up feeling at the end of the day. I’m finding a lot of … Some of the most peace I’ve ever felt and hope I’ve ever felt in my life and having the courage I think to step into some of those places that was hard to do before and I’m finding who I am without the … I’m just finding more of who I am. So it’s exciting.
Charan: Oh man, I tell this to people all the time, but the greatest journey you could ever take in this life is to discover who you are.
Charan: And honestly, discovering who you are and becoming awakened to who you already are, there’s nothing greater. And if dance and if acting and if all these creative outlets are ways for us to discover that, then wonderful, but if those are things that distract us from discovering who we are, then they become less joyous.
Chelsie: Yeah. For sure. For sure.
Charan: So I love it. I love it.
Charan: Chelsie, this has just been a therapeutic treat. Thank you because I really needed therapy from you and this has been-
Chelsie: Oh, same. Thank you, yeah. I needed the same.
Charan: No, you’re awesome. I’m really excited to see your courses go. I’m excited to see how the future unfolds for you.
Chelsie: Thank you.
Charan: As you live joyously right now.
Chelsie: Check out “Stocked” too.
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Chelsie: It might be all dubbed in French-Polynesian, but-
Charan: Yeah, “Stocked” is going to be off the hook. S-T-O-C-K-E-D. Chelsie is the lead actress. I’m just a small little peon character that just suddenly showed up, but somehow rather we connected and it was amazing so I love it. All right, well, thank you so much, and we will talk to you soon, okay?
Chelsie: Okay, sounds good.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to the Lemonade Stand podcast and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome lemonade stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.