When you watch Renée Elise Goldsberry take command of the stage in Hamilton, it’s hard to believe that she’s ever faced failures. Every performance is so brilliant, nuanced and effortless that you almost start to believe she’s always been this powerful onstage. But Goldsberry sat down to tell us one of the worst moments in her career and how she used it to catapult her to success.
Goldsberry says during her very first job on Broadway, she was cast as Nala in The Lion King. She found that during her one big number, she could sing it every night before she went onstage, but as soon as she was in front of the thousands of people in the audience, she could never pull it off.
Every night, she said, “I would sing it, I would fail, I would go offstage and find a corner in the stairwell and I would cry.”
It got so bad that the producers of the show were about to replace her as Nala. They held a special rehearsal to confirm that Goldsberry could pull it off. It was her last chance to prove that they weren’t wrong for casting her in their production.
What did she do to ensure that she would succeed? She changed her prayer. Her prayer gave her the strength to perform perfectly.
“And I went from what I think is one of the worst Nalas ever on Broadway, to one of the best,” she said after that rehearsal.
What that experience taught her was more than just perseverance and the power of prayer. It taught her to love herself. She said, “I love that I know that I can be brilliant and I can also bomb. I love that about myself.”
And really, what more can someone ask from an experience?
There aren’t many people who can take such a scary situation that could ruin your confidence, and possibly career, and turn it into fuel for your success. Not only use it, but turn it into a reason to love yourself. But Goldsberry finding a way to do that is exactly what makes her a superstar.