7 Questions With @10kShakespeare
Micaela Mannix is the ultimate Shakespearean multi-hyphenate. She is an actress, content creator on TikTok, and the host and producer of her own Podcast. I interviewed Micaela on all things Shakespeare and content creation!
1. You are THE Shakespeare queen. When did your love for Shakespeare start?
It was when I studied in London at the London Dramatic Academy. I was two and a years into a Musical Theatre program and was putting two and two together that maybe that specific career path was not going to work out for me. Going into London, I thought ok this is going to be the make or break moment. Am I going to be in Theatre at all? Am I going to move on from this and graduate and do something different?
I ended up with a teacher, Yolanda Vazquez, who did a great job teaching us the basics of Shakespeare, and initially I wasn’t head over heals for it but I enjoyed it. But halfway through the semester she had a check in with us. And I told her that I was really struggling with this and told her that I didn’t know if I was good enough for this. And she said, “Well good enough is subjective. You have to decided if you are good enough and If you want to continue to do this”. From that point forward I decided okay, I want to do this. So I put a lot of work into the semester.
The day before our final we presented our Shakespeare pieces for our class. I did Juliet’s poison monologue. When I finished, my teacher stopped us and was like, “That’s what Shakespeare should look like. That’s what it looks like when someone puts the work in”. And that was the first time in my whole schooling experience that a teacher had acknowledged the amount of work I was putting into something and that it amounted to something. So yeah that whole experience gave me a new confidence and because I found that confidence through Shakespeare I also fell in love with it. I enjoy doing the extra work it takes to make Shakespeare tick, so that’s where I ended up finding my love for it.
2. Your TikTok account, @10kShakespeare, has an amazing following! When did you first get this idea to put your love for Shakespeare on Social Media?
I initially started with major resistance. I was in a zoom production of Macbeth in the middle of the pandemic, and one of my producers of the show said they were interested in the people playing witches (me) making Witch Toks. I didn’t know how I felt about that because I had never been on TikTok before. But as we got closer to the show no one else had done anything and I decided that I could make a video of me making my Mom’s chicken noodle soup in a cauldron and make a Witch Tok. So as I was making it I was like wow I haven’t made videos like this since high school and I didn’t realize I missed this!
So for a while it wasn’t Shakespeare at all. I was a little scared to do Shakespeare content because I saw a lot of other creators were already making it and I didn’t want to step on those creators toes. But finally my boyfriend encouraged me to do it and showed me that there are a lot of content creators that talk about the same topic.
The first year of content creation was really rough. I didn’t really gain anything. I gained an initial following that was from about standardized patients because that was one of my jobs at the time. And the unfortunate thing about TikTok, is if you go viral for something like that then they say oh yeah that’s your thing. And I was like no, that’s not my thing! So it took me months and months to realize that I needed to put that video on private for any of my Shakespeare content to get pushed. I went through so many strategies to try to get my content to move and it was just stuck.
But I am appreciative of the time it was stuck because it allowed me to see what I was doing wrong. Now I am like oh I was not as good at this as I am now. And the stuff that is being shown now is great. I have finally started to build a following. It’s so cool to be able to engage with people through social media and learn more about the people in this Shakespeare community.
3. How do you come up with the ideas for your content? There are so many Shakespeare plays and characters!
It’s a little bit of structured chaos. I am very big on creating the content the day of which is very hard to do. I am very fortunate that I have a work from home job, so it’s easier for me to put two hours aside a day to brainstorm and record.
A lot of it for me revolves with what is trending and asking the question, “How can I apply it to a Shakespeare character and who does it align with the most?” Sometimes there are videos where I am just talking. A topic will pop up and I decide to rant about what’s on my mind. Other times I will make a meme video or followers will comment and have a questions and I can respond back to their questions. I have also been taking Exploring Shakespeare classes hosted by Ester Williamson where we have great conversations, so sometimes I bring those conversations to TikTok as well.
4. You have your Podcast, Bowls With The Bard. Can you tell me more about about the Podcast and why did you decide to have your hosting persona Cakes?
I created Bowls With The Bard in 2017. We started as just a Youtube Series. When we first made it, my initial idea was to get to know more people in the Shakespeare community. It’s just an umbrella concern that Shakespeare’s work is inaccessible and for most people who are reading it, they are not excited about it. My hope was to get Shakespeare to become more accessible through the Podcast. If two people could smoke a bowl and talk about it on an intelligent level, it’s not really as hard as we think it is.
The first years of it were just that. Interviewing Shakespeare professionals on how they started their careers and then at the end I would ask them to pitch a creative Shakespeare idea that could be anything. I really committed for the first year but then I started to stop as my life got a little crazy. I thought that during the pandemic I would feel inspired to create more of the Podcast, but that isn’t what happened.
But in the last year or so as theaters have been opening up from the Pandemic, I have started to notice that there are theaters where they have taken steps forward in being more inclusive with casting, but there are also a lot of theaters that are in my opinion are very performative. They will put a lot of different bodies on stage, but then you look at the production team and they all look same. I got frustrated with that so I asked myself the question, “What can I do? I don’t have a major space in any theatre scene that gives me a lot of influence, but what can I do”? So I thought I could use my Podcast platform and talk to people from these communities and ask what we are missing and how can we move forward. At the very least, if I can have these conversations and put it out there, maybe someone can hear it for the first time and it can make a difference.
So for the past 7 months its been a full on Podcast and we have been having some really great conversations. I have had conversations with the Neurodiverse community, Latinx community, Black community, and people who represent different genders. My biggest worry was that we would have the same conversation with every guest but it’s been the opposite. Every new person brings in something completely different.
The persona of Cakes I initially created in 2017 because weed was less legal than it is now. So to get my parents on board I told them I wouldn’t give out my real name. But it has evolved a little bit too because I am an introvert, and sometimes I am doing interviews with people I have never met before and that can make me nervous. Having the persona of Cakes gives me an extra layer of confidence to talk to the people I am interviewing.
5. What do you see happening with your Shakespeare brand in the next 1-2 years?
Now that I am moving out to Colorado in a few weeks I want to do something similar to what Drunk Shakespeare is doing but with weed. I want to get a small theatre space where I am hoping to have a rep of actors that can come do Shakespeare shows at different times and hopefully have three different kinds of shows that can run. I would like a silly one where the audience can get drunk and stoned, a version where we have actors who are just doing good quality Shakespeare, and then one show in the late evening where we let the actors do the show fucked up.
That is what I am hoping to do and I want to take a lot of what I have learned from this season from Bowls With The Bard and apply it to how I run the theatre. One of the benefits of moving to Colorado is that the theatre scene is not as established. It will be easier for me to do things differently than how a typical theatre usually runs and I don’t think as many people will challenge my ideas. I am also hoping to open a Shakespeare BnB in conjunction with the Bowls With The Bard show…and hopefully there will still be some time for me to act as well!
6. What is your favorite Shakespeare comedy and tragedy and what is your dream role to play?
My favorite Shakespeare comedy is As You Like It. I love Rosalind. I love Jaques. I love the plot. I think that Rosalind and Orlando’s love is adorable and every time I see it I fall in love with them. Going along with that, Rosalind is my favorite dream role and I would love to play her. She is so smart and she gets more to say than most of the other female characters in Shakespeare. I never stop finding new things in her text about her.
My favorite tragedy is Macbeth. I love it so much. I have been in it multiple times and seen probably a hundred different versions, but I never get sick of it. There are so many different things you can do with that play. I definitely get sick of hearing some lines in other plays, but I get so excited every time I hear the text for Macbeth. Every character is so juicy and fun!
7. I would consider you a multi-hyphenate creator now. Do you think that this multi-hyphenate era is important for artists moving on in the future?
Yeah, I think it is. Especially for artists and I think the industry is starting to see that. Each year I keep seeing more and more creators being invited to the Tonys. They are starting to pop up on red carpets all over and the people at the top are starting to see the value of influencers who can market themselves and other brands in a creative way.
It is an extra step and hyphenate to market yourself this way, but ultimately all I am doing is taking skills I already have an applying it to a 20 second video. It takes time out of my day sure, but if I am busy that day, I don’t have to post today.
It’s so easy to put yourself out there now. TikTok is a platform where you get to just be you. Be yourself. And share whatever it is that you are experiencing in your life. And the algorithm might just bless you one day. It’s just as easy as that. Putting yourself out there and hoping that something will come and scoop you up.
And the benefits that can come from that are just amazing. Like just beyond any sort of financial gain. In the past year since my TikTok has taken off, one of the things that I have gained the most is forming relationships with people who love Shakespeare just as much as I do who I would have never had had the chance to meet. I’ve connected with so many people just by the comments and they have been on my Podcast and I have been on theirs. If I went to an audition in Portland today, there’s like 6 people in the Shakespeare scene that know who I am now, all because of Social Media!
Thank you, Micaela! Please follow Micaela on all her channels!
Podcast- Bowls With The Bard