Monday, October 31, 2011

Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Kay

Written by: Jillian Toyad

In today’s Alumni Spotlight, we are featuring Elizabeth Kay from 99.1’s The Morning Mix radio show. Elizabeth shares her experience and the lessons she learned at First Stage.

Elizabeth Kay: Host of 99.1's The Morning Mix
and proud First Stage alumni

Elizabeth was not always the confident, energetic personality one hears on 99.1’s The Morning Mix. In fact, she was the volleyball-playing class president who never thought she would be the person she is today.

And then came that one summer day when she walked through the First Stage doors.

Prior to her first day, Elizabeth had never even considered First Stage until her mother convinced her to join the Summer Academy. That day sparked a long-lasting love for First Stage in Elizabeth, who up until this very day values everything she learned and everyone she met at First Stage. “It really is the best place on earth.”

Elizabeth enrolled in First Stage during her sophomore year in high school and continued until her high school graduation. During her three years, Elizabeth was involved with the Summer Academy and Company Class, and performed in First Stage’s productions of PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH and COMEDY OF ERRORS. Through the people she met at First Stage, Elizabeth also got involved with the Jewish Community Center (JCC), where she performed in ANN FRANK AND ME during her junior year in high school. She enjoyed her time with the JCC so much that she chose to complete her necessary service hours at the daycare/nursery during her senior year of high school.

Her favorite memory of First Stage was after Academy when everyone would just autograph each other’s t-shirts and everyone’s t-shirts would be covered in an array of colors and handwriting, something she claims truly embodies what First Stage is: a mix of totally unique people from different backgrounds.

Elizabeth went on to pursue a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Advertising/Public Relations with a minor in Communications at UW-Milwaukee and following her graduation, found herself hosting a radio show in Green Bay. After a few years in Green Bay, Elizabeth and her husband moved back to Milwaukee in 2008 so her husband could pursue firefighter and paramedic training and Elizabeth returned to First Stage for a position in the marketing department. Elizabeth remained a member of the First Stage staff for a year and a half before agreeing to host The Morning Mix.

When Elizabeth’s mother forced her out of her comfort zone and enrolled her in First Stage, Elizabeth did not realize that she was being groomed for her career. Elizabeth said that her time at First Stage taught her much of what she needed to know to be a radio show host: stage presence, improv, people skills, vocal exercises, and more. In fact, she still recites “Unique New York” (a tongue-twister used in vocal warm-ups) to herself every morning on her way to work. “First Stage gave me the confidence to be in the media,” said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Kay gets pulled on stage with Kidd O'Shea during
First Stage's THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER
Elizabeth said she left her job at First Stage with a heavy heart because it felt like she was leaving her family. Throughout her years with First Stage, Elizabeth developed strong bonds with people she still keeps in contact with today. She said she had her family and her First Stage family – both of whom helped her get through rough times. She credits First Stage for all the support they have given her during both the good times and the bad.

If there was one great quality about First Stage that Elizabeth had to single out, it would have to be the amount of positivity that First Stage radiates, “There is no other place in the world that is oozing with such positive energy, creativity and encouragement like First Stage.” She mentions that in Academy, they always have a session at the end of the day during which the students acknowledge one other student for something good. “If people took the time to do that at work, can you imagine how different the productivity level would be?”

Her message to current, past and future students of First Stage,“Don’t take for granted how positive and awesome First Stage is. There’s no other place like it! But if some of us took some of that positivity to our jobs and families, just imagine how awesome a place it would be! … If it all had a little bit of First Stage.”

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