“Miss Saigon” star, 21, on skipping college and saving for retirement
When Eva Noblezada learned she had been nominated for a Tony Award for her lead role in “Miss Saigon,” she did what any sane 21-year-old would do.
She started cleaning her apartment.
Five minutes later, the reality of his Tony nomination set in, prompting tears and phone calls. Still, the newcomer has learned to face the big news, having been catapulted from high school to the West End as a teenager.
Noblezada was cast for the lead role in West End’s ‘Miss Saigon’ at the age of 17, after being spotted by casting director Tara Rubin – who said she was struck by her voice as well as by her “incredible sense of self-control and determination” – during a high school musical theater competition.
Months after winning the competition, Noblezada moved to London and made a brief stint as an ensemble member in “Les Misérables,” another show from “Miss Saigon” producer Cameron Mackintosh, so she can learn the ins and outs of professional theater. before playing the lead role. “I could have been a ghost. I wasn’t even in the program, ”Noblezada said.
Now on Broadway, she landed a Tony nomination for her role as Kim, a young Vietnamese girl who falls in love with an American soldier at the end of her deployment during the Vietnam War. She is shortlisted for Best Leading Actress in a Musical alongside veteran actors Bette Midler, Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole and newcomer Denée Benton.
Noblezada was a few classes away from graduating from high school when she moved to London for the role. Her initial plan, however, was always to bypass college and move to New York City and become a waitress while trying to become an actress. She has since taken to studying anatomy, physiology, Spanish and French “as a hobby”, but she still resists the idea of going to university.
“I would have wasted so much money to go to university, to have the same [repertoire] like everyone who looks like me, being told my natural, wild game needs to be tamed, ”she said. “I think the best learning I have had has been the experience. It was harder, it wasn’t tens of thousands of dollars a year, and I was able to make some amazing friendships during my trip.
Noblezada recognizes that going to college can be the best path for others. Still, the degree does not necessarily lead to employment in the field, as there were around 700,000 bachelor’s degree holders who majored in drama or theater in the United States in 2015, but only 70,000 people. about were working as actors at the time, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, using data from the US Census Bureau.
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As she plans for her future, which may include a return to London or a foray into the cinema, Noblezada has said she tries to be responsible for her paycheck. But she doesn’t want to “be the girl who sits in her apartment and just saves.”
This means that she sometimes splurges on clothes or accessories like a recent vintage bag that she plans to bring on her next vacation, the first since she’s been on Broadway. But she balances that out by putting money aside for retirement. “I started because my dad can’t call me without mentioning a Roth IRA,” Noblezada said. “I did it to appease him, but I felt like an adult as soon as I did.”
Financial advisers recommend that 20-year-olds create “strong savings habits” for the future, which may include putting money into a Roth IRA. But they also recognize that young people may be pressured to move on to short-term life experiences and pay off debts such as student loans.
On Broadway, actors can create a savings plan based on $ 1,974 per week, the basic minimum wage for a leading role, but that amount can increase based on contract negotiations and producer additions.
Noblezada learned to budget very early on. She attended a performing arts high school in North Carolina, but largely did not have the opportunity to formally train outside of it before embarking on the professional circuit. She had to surpass herself as an actress. “I couldn’t afford dance lessons, I couldn’t afford singing lessons in high school, I had to work my butt in my bedroom, on my own,” she said.
Now her Broadway diet includes working with a vocal coach to tune and strengthen her voice, in addition to staying in shape and taking two shows a week, during which she is contractually obligated to rest her voice.
As for the Tony Awards on June 11, Noblezada said she hasn’t picked a dress yet and hasn’t written a speech. The nomination itself is an honor, she said, but in addition to an increase in press and casting meetings, she goes about her business as usual.
“I don’t take myself seriously enough to focus my whole being on the rewards because I am not doing my job for the rewards,” she said. “But I really appreciate the recognition the show is getting.”