Josephine Lancuba is the Creative Director of Musical Makers Club and Next Move Studios Talent Agency and worked as a professional singer and performer for over ten years. Josephine made the decision to literally drop the mic and focus on helping others realise their dreams. We spoke with the resourceful Josephine to find out more about her and how she has creatively pivoted her business – producing the world’s first self-taped musical!
Tell us a little about yourself
I am a mum of two and the Creative Director of Musical Makers Club and its in-house Talent Agency, Next Move Studios. I’ve been working professionally in the entertainment industry for over ten years. Growing up I had always dreamed of performing and absolutely loved the buzz of being on stage in school musicals – that’s when I first caught the acting bug!
My passion evolved into directing and producing work and inspiring others to perform. So I formed the Musical Makers Club and devised programs where every child can be a star.
I love my role of managing professional youth talent but more importantly mentoring them, as I strongly believe in the social, emotional and physical benefits of performing arts training for young people.
What did you do prior to starting your own business?
As well as managing talent for children’s entertainment companies, I worked professionally as a singer and performer for many years. My last gig came when I was four months pregnant with my first child. I was singing in a band on a club stage, it was late at night and after the gig wrapped – and I was exhausted – I thought to myself… “yep, I’m done”. I hung up my microphone and have not looked back since! It was the best move I ever made in my creative career.
What do you offer at the Musical Makers Club?
At Musical Makers Club, we offer theatre programs for preschoolers through to young adults. It is a non-competitive environment that is nurturing, supportive, development focused and most of all fun! We create happy and confident kids through our inclusive programs which result in developing quality musical productions – where all kids are the stars. No child is left in the back row and goes unnoticed!
The Musical Makers Club is more than just about skills development and wonderful experiences, it is a community that nurtures growth and meaningful connections with others.
What inspired you to set up Musical Makers Club and what do you love about your job?
The arts saved me. I didn’t have an easy childhood and didn’t always have the support and resources to facilitate my passions. As a child, I often dreamed of being on stage and would recite my favourite songs in my mind or create full-scale productions with my dolls, which included costume changes, staging and various character plots. Looking back, I was a producer in the making!
Growing up, I was happiest when I performed and I knew that it was something I wanted to make a career out of. I was truly in my element every time I was on stage and had an audience. As I got older, I would jump at every opportunity to join the school musical or a band. It was a dream that became a passion that became a career. That childhood dream never left me and when I became a parent, I realised that I could play a part in facilitating that dream for others.
My goal is to provide a safe and inclusive, creative space where children and young artists could thrive. I believe I have achieved that and feel very grateful for the opportunity to teach so many children.
The focus on nurture and creating a positive community culture is so important to me. I often find myself thinking, I wish the Musical Makers Club had existed when I was young.
What advice would you give to parents of aspiring performers?
Never allow others to dictate your path in life or creatively. Do what feels right for you. Your gut is usually right! There are so many myths out there but there is enough room for everyone in this industry, no matter who you are or what you look like. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Most importantly, do not let others dictate your worth. Allow that star within you to shine.
What makes the Musical Makers Club different to other theatre production groups?
In a nutshell, it is our philosophy that every child is a star, regardless of experience and ability. At Musical Makers Club there are no auditions. When joining a program, every student is given the time to get comfortable with that program, the coaches and fellow students. After four weeks, they are given a role – everyone has a part to play. We’ve had children go on to do professional work in huge productions like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and School of Rock, to name a few. Children just love having fun performing and enjoy being part of a production and a musical community.
How has your business pivoted due to the pandemic?
We have quickly become a hybrid business with online and in-person servicing. It is my opinion that this is the way forward and we should adapt and be open to this new way of learning.
Seven days before the first lockdown started in NSW, we essentially turned a stage production into a film production – Peter Pan Breaks The Internet! It is the world’s first self-taped musical movie, made by and starring kids. It was guided by our coaches with a combination of Zoom lessons and pre-recorded tutorials.
It was chaotic (to say the least!) to create and produce, but it became our business’s lifeline, as this virtual program retained a high volume of our students and also meant we were able to open our doors wider and enrol new students nationwide. With the addition of virtual programming, we have been able to enrol students across the country. We now have students in QLD, VIC, Regional NSW and WA in addition to our Sydney members.
Can you tell us a bit more about how Peter Pan Breaks the Internet! came about and what were some of the challenges you had to overcome?
As a production-focused program, we needed a solution to maintain our active members that was going to inspire the kids involved and allow them to continue their creative development whilst at home. We called an emergency team meeting and it was there, Peter Pan Breaks The Internet! was born. With the support of my team, we created a plan and executed it.
We had less than a week to create an online course and record the content for our students. I had to rescript the stage show and adapt it to film.
The biggest challenge was the speed in which it happened and the uncertainty around it. Normally a project like this would take us months to create and roll out. We had less than a week! It was long nights, lots of editing, team zoom meetings, script rewrites and the uncertainty that anyone would buy into the new virtual program. I felt like we created a new business in one week.
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I love the local theatres and venues. From Leichhardt Town Hall, the New Theatre in Newtown to the Enmore Theatre. There are so many great places to perform and be entertained. The buildings have such character that the inner west people appreciate.
What has inspired you recently?
I just finished listening to an audio book called “That Will Never Work” from Netflix creator Marc Randolph. I absolutely loved it! My favourite quote is when he refers to business and startups… “no one knows anything”. How true that is.